Peoples Geography — Reclaiming space

Creating people's geographies

The Story of Money Animation: ‘Money As Debt’

An accessible and educational animation explaining money creation, Money as Debt is a 47-minute presentation created by Canadian animator and videographer Paul Grignon and narrated by Bob Bossin.

A member of the American Monetary Reform Institute in the USA described Grignon’s cartoon as “far and away the best explanation of fractional reserve banking” he had ever seen (from producer’s comments) and requested it to be used educationally, and I can see why. A lot of people will know that cartoonists with a conscience are amongst my favourite groups of people in this world.

It is more prescriptive and explained in more simple terms than The Money Masters, which is also recommended (posted here, dedicated website here). The dedicated websites are recommended and chock-full of interesting reviews, quotes featured in the videos and related links, including the dvds should you wish to purchase them. One of the many stand-out quotes featured in this video (towards the end) comes from Marshall McLuhan, who said:

“Only the small secrets need to be protected. The big ones are kept secret by public incredulity”

17 comments on “The Story of Money Animation: ‘Money As Debt’

  1. Jack
    17 May, 2007

    Hi Ann!

    I wish I would have had this video back when I was teaching! When we touched on this topic I would get SO many questions.

    There are only two things I differ on. If the monetary system had remained as the video suggested, I don’t think we would live in a world of unprecedented advancement. I don’t think we would be as far along technologically. Because our elastic system, we have seen the end to some terrible diseases, the invention of many life saving technologies, and a much higher standard of living and quality of existence. Yes, there is a tradeoff, but I think the assets far outweigh the liability. The video fails to take this into consideration (as it should, because its only about the monetary system).

    Another difference I have is the suggestion that money would best be returned to the hands of government vs. the private sector. I base this skepticism on a little common sense and the following passage:

    Proverbs 22:7 The rich ruleth over the poor, and the borrower [is] servant to the lender.

    It would be switching one form of slavery for another–in spite of the promotion of money as value, the somewhat scary thing is that it would have the full force of government behind it. We have witnessed systems like this in the past, and we could very well see a return of the debtor prisons of old. We are between a rock and a hard place with really no viable solution.

    Excellent video!


    Still strongly recommend “The Creature from Jekyll Island” :)

  2. Servant
    17 May, 2007

    The only thing I know about money is that I don’t have any. And that’s by design. “A man is rich in proportion to the number of things he can afford to leave alone” and “I’d rather sit on a pumpkin and have it all to myself than share a velvet cushion.”

    For everything important you’ll ever need to know about economy see Henry David Thoreau.

    : ( )

    Wake me up when we get to the credit system they have on Star Trek

  3. peoplesgeography
    17 May, 2007

    Hi Jack,

    Thanks very much for your thoughtful comments. I knew you taught the subject, but its great to hear you were teaching on this topic particularly — would that more were teaching it on a much-needed back-to-basics/ foundational concepts basis these days.

    Thanks also for the recommendation “The Creature from Jekyll Island”. I saw it featured as a recommended link on the Money Masters website, I think, and I’m keen to check it out.

    I’m up to my third viewing of this video (I listened to it the first time whilst I was working on something else, watched it intermittently the second time and have scheduled to watch it properly a third time) because it is generally excellent and explains important processes in clear, simple terms. It fairly cuts a swathe through all the economic jargon and convolutions to get to the heart of the matter. For these reasons (and taking on board the reservations you have), I believe it deserves to be widely circulated and debated.


  4. peoplesgeography
    17 May, 2007

    :) “Wake me up when we get to the credit system they have on Star Trek”

    My dear friend, how do you manage to mention two subjects close to my heart? I’m a fan, as you know, of both Star Trek and Thoreau’s writing (and I also love what he writes on solitude).

    I completely concur that “A man is rich in proportion to the number of things he can afford to leave alone”. Someone else once quipped, “You can’t have everything. Where would you put it?” (Of course, one of the fastest growing industries in the affluent world is storage :roll: ) There’s that other truism too, of course: “Poverty means watching the world go buy”.

    I think there is a certain liberation in giving away and only holding onto only our most essential possessions. I suffer from acquisitiveness only when it comes to books, and even here I’ve been feeling a kind of oppression from owning far too many. I’m looking into donating them or creating a commons library for others to access. Its ridiculous how much “stuff” can clutter our lives.

    Anyway, slightly off-topic. I think your stance is to be commended.

  5. Servant
    17 May, 2007

    There has always been an exception for books in every tomb and glyph unearthed. Aristotle’s great student was the only individual we know of who conquered all known civilization, and the first thing he did afterwards was to build universal housing for books. Which is his greater accomplishment?

    The only currency is knowledge, and wisdom is the only master who serves the slave. Hoarding of wisdom containers should be encouraged whenever possible. I love hoarding friends like you who read widely and well.

    I also recommend hoarding as many writers as you can – the people who fill the containers. They’re delightful while they’re still alive. Although one writer I know complains too much about being with others, I know he feels right at home with his readers.

  6. peoplesgeography
    18 May, 2007

    Although one writer I know complains too much about being with others, I know he feels right at home with his readers.

    Artists and writers gotta have their solitude, its the sine qua non of our operation — we’re gregarious loners at heart ;)

  7. Servant
    18 May, 2007

    Gregarious loners – nice apposition!

  8. Jack
    18 May, 2007

    Keep in mind though, my dear dreamers, that money does have a purpose, and without the lowly transaction we would still be in caves grunting at one another and never living to see our 20th birthday. A balanced perspective is the best one! :)


  9. Servant
    18 May, 2007

    I don’t know who you are referring to as the dreamer, Jack, but your comment seems condescending in its apparent assumption of ignorance where the utility of money is concerned.

    Yes, money is a very nice tactical tool which affords those who have it very nice conveniences. But don’t forget that money is a means toward and not an end. The utility of money says nothing about the wisdom of us who spend it nor on the quality of justice in the means we use to get it nor the priorities of the educated or the ignorant.

    I watched the video link you contributed and which Ann posted. It was indeed informative as to the mechanics of currency and the politics of lending. But it provided very little in the way of moral guidance.

    Adam Smith’s principles assert that the free market shall be the final arbiter of all moral questions and that everyone can spend their money on anything they like without regard to the maintenance of the commons. If all pursue their own interest than justice will be done.

    How balanced is that perspective? How does it explain what we are seeing now? How does it explain the vicious race to the bottom by those who have wealth and power at the expense of those who do not have it? How does it explain why it is a good thing to breath clean air? How does it inform our choice between the health of the economy or the health of the planet?

    How naive is it to assume that all people everywhere are the same – that everyone has the best intentions and they will contribute their fair share to the common good without doing harm to those with less economic power than themselves?

    Would that we were in caves and grunting. It would be more satisfying than the current discussions in America about how money should be applied.

    Why is it that we never discuss in the United States whether it is a better thing to drain the treasury into the sands of the Middle East for Israel’s sake or whether same amount might be applied to teacher’s salaries in order to train the next generations and send ignorance the way of Polio? Tell me true, my dear non-dreaming friend.

    We are still in figurative caves in as much as the concern for money is the final thing that informs all of discourse.

    What does the utility of money teach us about anything, Jack?

    The good is that at which all things aim, and philosophy is the only science concerned to deal with matters of better or worse. All other technologies are means to an end, but none of them can finally say what is good.

  10. peoplesgeography
    18 May, 2007

    Well I agree that a balanced perspective is the best one, and that’s where our “dreamers” are often most needed, in the envisioning of new, alternative, better systems.

    Just to add an observation to Servant’s comments, “dreamers” has become a somewhat pejorative term, though I know that wasn’t Jack’s intention. That is, it is as if they are out of touch with reality, but the best dreamers are the ones that envision new realities we can implement, that is, they make/ create (and improve) reality.

    In this manner, Albert Einstein famously said that “Imagination is more important than knowledge”. Dreamers here, in the best and highest expression rather than its lowest, are the architects of reality, progress and positive change.

    As we know, we are never impotent, and reality is not static, a fact you posit well Jack when you write that we’d otherwise still be in caves without an evolving economy and an evolved (-ing) form of exchange.

    So I would like to think that at the moment we are not completely “between a rock and a hard place with really no viable solution” in part because things are still evolving, with possible new innovative systems and proposals on the horizon, some already in place and thriving in parts of the world as Servant suggested (for example, LETS, barter, other exchange systems, cooperatives).

  11. Servant
    18 May, 2007

    If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.
    – Henry David Thoreau

    Your point about realities that can be implemented is excellent Ann. The pejorative form of “dreamer” works in the conservative mind because they imagine those of us who ask “why not” (JFK)* dream of things that are impossible or implausible.

    These are two orthogonal views of the same object. Shift the paradigm and it becomes its opposite. That’s because everything contains its opposite.

    The idealist imagines the way to live is to think of an idea and test whether it works or not. The idea precedes the thing itself.

    The extroverted pragmatist on the other hand believes that ideas are not substantial in and of themselves and that “facts” and “reality” are the substance of control. First comes the real world as it is seen and observed to which possibilities are later attached.

    It’s too late for an essay on Jungian models, but there are many things that can be learned about how people prefer to perceive and act based upon whether they are introverted or extroverted, whether they rely primarily on internal or external stimuli.

    Those of us in the visionary business – I am an architect – start with very practical considerations. We ask the client what they would like to achieve. We find out how big their dream is and then we remove the material obstacles which cover up the reality that is the object of their desire.

    The hardest thing about architecture is convincing people that they really can have anything they envision. All things are possible without any limits as long as your vision is aligned with your budget and the scope of your authority. All you have to do is use your imagination. That’s a major puzzle for a lot of people believe it or not. Because we all live inside compartmented control rooms where our imagination is thwarted by cumbersome and unresponsive systems with complicated interfaces which prevent us how simple everything really is.

    We look at the cluster mess that is the government and we ask how can one person influence something that big? We look at it and shake our heads. But functions that same government put human beings on the moon.

    A friend has a little granite paperweight on his shelf which questions: What would you attempt if you knew you couldn’t fail?

    Sorry for the American indoctrination torture, but there’s been so much bad news about America lately I feel like I just want to crow about all the great things that are possible if we can just co-opt these few negative thinkers who are in our way.

    * [Ed.: That inspirational quote originally comes from my favourite playwright, as it happens, George Bernard Shaw, though it is sometimes attributed to Kennedy since he made it so well-known – Ann]

  12. peoplesgeography
    18 May, 2007

    Just on nomenclature, to be fair, I think the term ‘conservative’ (and ‘liberal’ too for that matter) have been used and misused as well, either as misnomers or pejoratively.

    There is a universe of difference between ‘conservatism’ and ‘neoconservatism’, for example, just as there is between ‘liberal’ and ‘neoliberal’.

    Arguably, the ‘neo’ versions represent distortions and degradations of the original philosophies and the better contributions they have to offer.

    While neoliberals imbibe Adam Smith as their own, he was in fact a moralist as well as an economist (and thus, an economist in the best sense) who never foresaw what the market would become on a global scale and whose writings can not be uncritically plucked from his own time and used wholesale as a template for our own, vastly different, times.

    The better contributions of conservatism, for me, is currently represented by libertarians like Congressman Ron Paul and one of my favourite writers, Justin Raimondo, who defines himself as a conservative, but certainly not of the description commonly attached to the term.

    Perhaps in seeking to do away with defining “our own limitations by convincing ourselves that we’re not entitled to have things the way we want them to be” (Servant astutely wrote that), we might consider dispensing with limiting labels as well, or at least relegating them to secondary importance.

  13. Jack
    18 May, 2007

    Sorry, Servent, I had no idea “dreamer” was a negative term–was not intended as such.


  14. Servant
    18 May, 2007

    No worries M8.

  15. Servant
    18 May, 2007

    The ‘neo’ versions represent distortions and degradations of the original philosophies and the better contributions they have to offer.

    It’s work product like this that makes me keep taking your classes, Professor Ann.

    My comments were clearly aimed by my perception, perhaps mistaken, that Jack is a member of the new gang of conservative which lies and distorts and manipulates instead of true principles. I like people who speak the truth. Doesn’t matter anything else as long as they don’t lie. Jack still needs to clear up my perception. Trust but verify said one conservative whose name I’ll never say.

    But as I wrote elsewhere I feel like someone has pulled a sack over my head and tied it off and they beat me whenever I try to squirm out of their restraints. I think of those people as conservatives, and I hold them responsible for the current state of affairs in the world. Call em slices of rightie whitie, neofarticons, rethugnicans or neoretentives – I don’t care what they call them in educated circles. They’ve taken over my country and dishonored her forever. Someone has to be accountable for that. I nominate the conservatives to clean up the mess they made and stop spitting on the rest of us and telling us it’s raining.

    I’ve been kicked out of better places than this for speaking my mind with the incendiary vocabulary that I use, but this is the only vocabulary I have until I finish this class.

    So please excuse my French. And please excuse me for over simplifying Adam Smith. I was trying to characterize the truisms that conservatives subscribe to and not the man himself. I missed terrible. That’s a sin for a Marine sharp shooter. I characterized Adam Smith based on what conservatives attribute to Smith to justify modern economic policies. He’s not responsible for people screwing up his ideas going forward.

    I’ll take more care to make my straw man a little more life like next time. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain. I am the great and powerful Oz.

  16. Jack
    22 May, 2007

    I’m sort of lost on the comment string on this post. I am not sure I understand Servant and his characterizations. I also don’t understand where it is that I lied, but will be happy to retract anything I said if I did.

    Also, the path to understanding is not one of hatred. That is fundamentalist thought. Fundamental thinkers live a life of fear and hatred. Such intolerance fueled racism in our country for centuries. In our country it is the same fundamtal and over-simplified thought process that leads people to call others fag or nigger. Servant, you do tend to oversimplify and paint with a very broad brush. I certainly hope you continue to take Ann’s courses as they will broaden your perspective and make you a much wiser person I’m sure.

    As my friend Yoda says, ““Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.”



  17. peoplesgeography
    22 May, 2007

    Jack, thanks for your gracious comments. Yoda’s sentiments are wise.

    Over to you Servant, if you wish to please elaborate/ clarify.

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Timely Reminders

"Those who crusade, not for God in themselves, but against the devil in others, never succeed in making the world better, but leave it either as it was, or sometimes perceptibly worse than what it was, before the crusade began. By thinking primarily of evil we tend, however excellent our intentions, to create occasions for evil to manifest itself."
-- Aldous Huxley

"The only war that matters is the war against the imagination. All others are subsumed by it."
-- Diane DiPrima, "Rant", from Pieces of a Song.

"It is difficult
to get the news from poems
yet men die miserably every day
for lack
of what is found there"
-- William Carlos Williams, "Asphodel, That Greeny Flower"