Tuesday Sep 26

EXCERPT FROM The Clean Money Revolution: Reinventing Power, Purpose, and Capitalism By Joel Solomon with Tyee Bridge: The $100 Trillion Question

Humanity is on the edge of a precipice. We know the headlines. Ecological emergencies. Mass refugee flights from failing states. The distortions of late- stage capitalism eroding basic trust, tolerance, and hope. Common decency and respect is starting to seem anachronistic. Worship of money and celebrity rules the media, while our ties to land, loyalties, and love are severed. Yes, it’s also “the best of times.” Many diseases have been eradicated or are manageable. Modern science and industry have brought sanitation, clean water, and industrial food to billions worldwide. Smart phones and the Internet give us access to unfathomable volumes of information. There are competing trends. Decay and chaos on one hand, integration and regeneration on the other. As $100 trillion changes hands in the next twenty years, the question is, which future wins? Will this generational wealth transfer help us rebuild, or will it throw gasoline on the fires of rampant greed? There are so many ways we can turn that money to transforming the world. We can rethink taxation to make it more fair. We can price carbon. We can create schools and hospitals for all. Feed the world sustainably. Make pollution and other externalities illegal and guard smart use of resources. What else could the clean money revolution accomplish with $100 trillion?

Thanks to the passion and wisdom of so many great leaders over the past fifty years, our basic ethical premises about self- interest, ecology, and life itself are starting to shift. We have further to go as a global culture that will only become more intertwined. Despite what some segments of our society would prefer, there’s no going back. What if we agreed that the meaning and purpose of life was not only to enjoy it, but to use our energies to ensure a liveable future for dozens of generations into the future? What if our Golden Rule and central religious belief was that we be responsible for leaving the Earth better than we found it, restoring it rather than degrading it?

Here are some foundational elements for a resilient future civilization.

• Fair taxation
• Gender, race, class, or sexual preference equality
• Global carbon pricing
• Elimination of fossil fuel subsidies
• Legal ownership of pollution and externalities
• Life cycle manufacturing responsibility
• Money out of politics
• Proportional representation voting
• Degrowth prosperity
• Slowing population growth
• Minimum guaranteed income
• Just social safety net
• Housing as a human right
• Prison and drug law reform
• Gun control and demilitarization
• Quality public health care and education

Clean Money Transition Costs (2017–2050)

Reparations for colonialism and slavery $10t

Transition to renewable energy $20t

Sustainable transportation $10t

Green and living buildings $10t

Soil restoration and carbon capture $10t

Guaranteed income, health care, education $10t

Zero waste $10t

War and weapons industry reduction $10t

Steady state economy transition $10t

Total $100 trillion

These numbers are symbolic. Please tear them apart. Do your PhD on the precise ones. Debate, skewer, and improve them. Map out more accurate visions with research. At this early stage the exact numbers are less important than recognizing the need for a massive shift of capital from destructive uses to regeneration.

That is our chance for a soft landing and a resilient future civilization.

There are precedents and estimates to get us started. The World Bank noted in 2010 that moving global economies to a net- zero emissions trajectory will take $700 billion to $1 trillion per year of investment. The sustainable business advocacy group Ceres has called for $36 trillion to be invested in clean energy between 2014 and 2050 in order to have an 80 percent chance of capping global warming at 2°C.

At Davos in 2014, World Bank president Kim Jim called for removing the $1.9 trillion in global subsidies to the fossil fuel industry — a number that includes externalities the industry itself causes — then turning that money toward clean energy investment.46 Many statistics exist to inform a $100 trillion shift.

The point is, are these numbers wrong? How would we know? We need to study, discuss, map, design, and empower solutions strategies that show the way.

We now see how much money we will lose and how much human suffering we face from global warming and other ecological and
social catastrophes. One scenario shows that up to $31.5 trillion of pension assets are overvalued with respect to climate risk.

There are no doubt efforts already underway to determine the costs of achieving needed changes. They are probably rapidly emerging for scientists, academics, economists, insurance companies, governments, and military. We should fund those doing the modeling, and popularize a map for shifting to a positive future history. We may still avert massive disaster, and empower a steady- state society of enlightened self-interest.

We need a financial plan for achieving a safe world in the next thirty years. This period will be crucial as social and ecological externalities come home to roost. We need a rapid reinvention of capitalism, finance, and wealth management. We need to rethink power and purpose. Otherwise this revolutionary moment where “the 20 percent could consciously shift trillions of dollars” will be replaced with “global meltdown, all bets are off, retreat to your bunkers, hope the military can protect you.”

Let’s remember our responsibility for the long game. To a “seventh- generation” vision, quarterly and annual results are only minor blips on a chart. We need MBAs and academics and investors and citizens to consider the world in five hundred years. Then we can map out the first fifty- year stage. Part of that is identifying a viable human population total that Earth can sustain, and planning for that. That’s evidence of a wise society.

I hope smarter people than me will help us clarify this roadmap to the future. Those of us with resources and influence can complement the visioning process by pushing intelligent conversations and policy change, and shifting our own investment decisions.

Find your purpose. Connect your actions to it. Step up and run for office. Lobby for fair taxes. If you own a business, shift toward a generative rather than a zero- sum extractive model.

We all have a role. We are ancestors. We are responsible for future generations.

We should listen, and admit that how we make money cannot be separated from our morals and ethics. We need new ways of closing the gaps and creating wealth for the global poor that “leapfrog” old power structures and distribute capital and jobs more fairly.

There are charitable foundation boardrooms managing billions in financial assets, with directors who are focused on growing those assets but ignoring what they do to the world. Meanwhile their grants put bandages on the damaging side effects their investments create. Major universities have invested endowments so large that they are often referred to as “hedge funds with universities attached.” They concentrate more and more wealth while doing more and more damage. It’s the same with pension funds, insurance companies, sovereign wealth funds, banks, charities, and family offices. Each have enormous power to change how money is used. It’s time for these entities to include the well-being of the commons in their definition of “fiduciary responsibility.”

Fiduciary responsibility has traditionally meant making the highest return rate for owners, exclusive of the damage such investments cause. That mindset must be reinvented. It must change to include the long- term health of the whole planet. Anything else is a form of blindness, And insanity. It is not just imprudent to make extra money by poisoning water, people, or future generations. It’s immoral, and should be illegal. These pools of capital must begin moving 50, 75 or 100 percent of their endowments and assets into the emerging clean economy.

Pension funds can’t continue investing in ways such that retirement becomes more dangerous. Foundations need to direct assets to restoration and fairness, not degradation. Universities should invest in their local communities and a safer future world for their graduates, along with the economic stability of their workers’ families.

As Peter and Jennifer Buffett of Novo Foundation say: “The most radical way to advance meaningful change is to shift economic, social, and cultural power to those who don’t have it.”

This is a crucial part of the needed equation. My allocation of $10t for “reparations for colonialism and slavery” refers to this point made by the Buffets.

With a stroke or two of a pen, those of us in the 20 percent can shift our money away from terrible mischief. Examine whether “highest return rate” is the true test for your wealth. If you need high return rates, narrow the field to drivers of the clean money transition. Decide how much is enough, and do that first. We can no longer morally justify “as much as I can get” as a reasonable or ethical answer.

Do you have a well- developed intention for how you intend to use the “more than enough” part of your money for the good of others? Will you risk passing excessive wealth to your family assuming it will make them better, happier, more realized people? Might the ownership gift you are giving instead cause suffering to them, and to those affected by how they use the money? Be sure they understand how money is created, down to the source of who and where is impacted.

I invite you to make your own journey of discovery. If you have wealth, use what you need for your own evolution, personal and financial. Look at the origins and supply chains you profit from. You are smart and have smart people who can help. Do a study of your financial transactions, your investments, your stock portfolio. Look into who worked for what wages, under which conditions, for the low- cost materials needed to earn your profits.

As Gandhi pointed out, history will judge us for how justly we act toward those who are most vulnerable. It’s the unborn who are most vulnerable of all. “Intergenerational justice,” like “rights of nature” or reparations for colonialism and slavery, remains obscure. These concepts are moving toward the center, as other once- ignored and now obvious truths have done.

The change is happening. We are now past the vision, invention, and seeding of these ideas. We are in the early growth stage. Social entrepreneurship, enlightened investors, the questioning of conventional wealth management assumptions, and the emergence of a new generation of values- aligned leaders are combining into a powerful formula.

The clean money revolution is gaining credibility, proof of concept, and momentum toward mainstream acceptance. Wealth managers feel the trend via pressure from clients. They’re struggling to provide comprehensive, satisfactory solutions. Firms now highlight their efforts in these directions. New products are being launched. Wealth management firms that understand this demand, its value to the world, and how to relate to clients that want it, will grow robustly.

I return to the incredible example of organic food. Decades of early adopters persevered with businesses that grew, processed, manufactured, distributed, and retailed organic foods. They worked in virtual obscurity. Only a small committed consumer helped this early stage. Organics then began to show up on mainstream grocerystore shelves in the 21st century. Growth has seen doubledigits, outpacing conventional food. In the United States, what was a $3.6- billion-dollar market in 1997 was valued at over $39 billion in 2014.

Organic food remains well under 10 percent of North American food sales, but it will grow ever larger. The common sense of healthy food, people, and ecosystems is too compelling. An entire agricultural and manufacturing system that jeopardizes health, worker safety, rivers, topsoil, and other areas is now facing the threat to reform or die.

The same cycle is steadily evident in renewable energy, efficient transportation, green buildings, carbon pricing, regulations to protect the commons, worker’s rights, taxation reform, and many other areas.

People are making exciting moves in every arena. Forward- thinking entrepreneurial mayors are recalibrating cities like Vancouver, Paris, Stockholm, and Portland. They are thinking longer term, taking sober looks at coming challenges, and acting boldly now to prepare for soft landings.

Spiritual leaders like Pope Francis, the Reverend Lennox Yearwood, and Joan Halifax are speaking truth about the pickle we have created, making a call to action to put our intellect and resources into a global movement for a safer future.

Every sector of the economy needs overhaul. Yes, clean energy will be massive. But so will clean transportation, clean buildings, clean water, clean air, clean food, clean mining, clean logging, clean clothes.

Do any of us deserve to make gigantic profits because we own distribution systems? Because we are clever at selling things people don’t need? Because we can take advantage of regulations, corporate welfare, tax loopholes, or the exploitation of impoverished people who have no choices about their own labor?

For this transformation to root permanently, we need awakened spirits, healed emotional bodies, examined lives. We need clarity of meaning and purpose. We need we: all of us. Those with wealth and power are lucky we still get the choice to step into this movement.

We’ve been fitting into norms we have been taught are correct. We need to step up as visionaries, leaders, honorable citizens, and world- changers.

Let’s do it while we still have the chance. We need to look at every company and every fund, and ask ourselves if it reflects our values and the change we are looking for. There is no easy way, but the world of investment is luckily maturing to meet this challenge. It will be easier with time.

I’ve shared the stories. I’ve communicated my own doubts and inadequacies. This is written in the hope that people like you will help push the clean money revolution forward — joyously, successfully, and pleasurably as you can. There is grave seriousness aplenty. I hope you find your own way into the positive revolution around the meaning and purpose of money, in all its dimensions. Be driven by love whenever possible, and by tough love when needed.

The wealthy can model what is needed by moving assets, personal or financial, toward the grand planetary effort needed today. We have a job to do. We must fulfill our generational responsibility to the future. Accumulating infinite wealth, with no higher purpose, is naked greed at worst, self- imposed banality at best. It’s simply not right.

It is imperative that all of us, at our own scale, with or without money, use our power and passion to bust open the truth about what money is doing right now, and to change that story. The time is now. We can now move money further and faster, toward a safe, resilient, soft landing for the future of civilization.

True security is a strong peace, where a fair, regenerative economy thrives. True love is love of the future, of the whole. Let’s be billionaires of good deeds, billionaires of love, billionaires of meaning and purpose.

The return on that investment will be a great blessing. Dying with the most money is pointless. It’s about what we do to help those who will follow us.

Remember the land.

Remember the future.

Remember love.

Joel Solomon is chairman of Renewal Funds and a long time social entreprenuer and philanthropist. This excerpt is from his new book with Tyee Bridge, The Clean Money Revolution: Reinventing Power, Purpose, and Capitalism available from New Society Publishers at www.newsociety.com

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