The Good – The Bad – The Possible

Over the years, I’ve written about Peak Oil, Community Exchanges, Shop Local, Campaign Finance Reform, Education Reform, Alternative Healthcare, Big Pharma, Corporate Monoculture Farming, Sustainable Living, Renewable Energy, Self-Healing and Spirituality.

I’ve read, listened and researched.

I’ve talked, argued and thrown my hands up in despair.

I’ve ranted, I’ve raved, tried sharing information through humor and How – Not – Too.

I’ve been on fire with enthusiasm and sick with despair when I believed that my passion for these subjects had no interested audience.

I’ve dreamed, I’ve hoped, I’ve struggled to make a difference through my lifestyle choices, purchasing decisions, writing topic choices and personal belief system improvements.

And now, all that experience has been encapsulated into one extraordinary two-hour film, “Thrive: What on Earth Will It Take?”, which I discovered this morning via a post by recOveryhealth.

(I embedded the film below – yes, it’s that important – I don’t want you to even have to click twice to start watching it  –  *You can donate to the producers here.)

So instead of digging through my archives, you can now glean all that info with the simple investment of a couple hours of your time – you can even watch in increments if you like…

The Good

From the beginning to about 33 minutes – the film highlights the creator’s background and reason for researching.  His quest for truth and the form he found it in echoes the conclusions found throughout the history of the spiritual, the religious and the scientific.  It has been postulated by the prophets, the holy men, the gurus, metaphysicists, cosmologists, cellular bioligists and quantum theorists:

There is a code to the Universe – to Life

If we  figure it out, we can work in harmony with it,

Instead of paddling upstream all the while…

And though I’ve had my crisis of faith moments and believed the Universe to be one big Chaotic mess, bent on destroying me – – I’ve found the only way for me to continue in this life with any semblance of happiness is to embrace the Code story in it’s many variations.

The Bad

Around 33 minutes, you enter the Bad phase – the phase that examines the problems facing our world and the inter-connected,  complex structures  that are contributing to or causing-on-purpose the disasters we fear and seek refuge from.    It digs deep into systems and mind-sets that contribute to the misery of our lives –

You may not agree with all the viewpoints referenced as causing our global problems, but only the truly oblivious could say we have no challenges regarding our continued existence given our present course.

It’s not always a pleasant or comforting place to be, confronting our fears – though I believe this film does it’s best to present the information within a space of hope – – which brings us to…

The Possible

At around 1 hour, 38 minutes – after you’ve delved into a story you really hope isn’t true -but suspect is –  you get to watch the What’s Possible portion.

(If you’re already worried and depressed about the state of things and you feel powerless in being able to do anything about it – skip from :33 to 1:38 on the film.

Choosing not to wallow in the problems portion will not keep you from being inspired by the Possible section; however, if you’re one of those who must know Why? before you do – best just take your lumps and confront your fears.  Watch with a friend and the lights on if it helps – – )

The Possible portion will inspire you – it will show you easy-to-integrate ways to make a difference, right now, today, with what you already know and  have, with who you already are.  To quit contributing to the problems and instead, become part of the solution – you don’t have to do them all – – any forays you make into your favorite arenas makes a difference – just pick one and start.

Without further ado – here’s “Thrive: What on Earth will it Take?”:

For myself, I’m continuing on through my day ‘off’ by meandering through the ThriveMovement website – – – they sound like my kind of folks….

Listening…

Even though I’m under strict Doctor’s orders of no stress, no over-exertion, etc., to recover from my recent stroke, I seem incapable of not talking or writing about serious issues.

Hard to truly discuss anything of importance in 5-10 minute increments, which is the medical directive.

Shall I let that deter me from discussing current events?  Heck No!

I’m guilty of not listening, too.

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Note* –  I believe the ‘bubble burst’ of 2008 was the predictable end of an economic game that has been played in a large continuous cycle  since sometime in the 14th century, and in smaller more local scales since we became civilized.

You may disagree and rightly so, as each cycle ends looking slightly or vastly different due to the details, but if you research the history of money, credit and high finance, I think you will find I’m not making this up.

Some knowledge of history floating around in the file cabinets of my grey matter (apparently undamaged by the stroke, as I can still instantly retrieve this info), means I simply cannot let casual comments regarding where the blame lies for our current situation pass by without commenting.

I’ve discovered it’s  impossible for me to state in 5-minutes or less all the pieces that form our current economic puzzle.   I try, but when I do, brains that have been well-schooled in the current social tactics of “Divide and Conquer” quickly jump to conclusions – meaning,  I spend 3 minutes sharing historical or mathematical facts and 30 minutes retrieving the listener’s brain back from pastures I never intended them to graze.

(Scratch motivational speaking or running for political office off my ‘Possible Career Choices’ list…)

Here’s an example:

Me: “Capitalism in it’s current form requires at least 3% growth every year in order to remain stable.   Translated, that means unlimited growth in a reality that is awash with evidence we are over-consuming natural resources to our detriment.  When you cannot sustain 3% growth in desired goods and services, then System Stability Needs dictate creation of growth out of thin air  – over-valuation of goods or  inserting fee-based paper-pushing activities between production or service steps are just two examples of how growth can be realized.”

John Doe: “What!?!   How can you even suggest we get rid of Capitalism?  Why it’s the best system on earth.   Are you a Socialist?  Marxist?  Communist?   Our country is the greatest on earth!  Now you tell me this – if we are so bad why does everyone want to immigrate here?  Huh?!?   Tell Me!” (envision Marvin the Martian’s chest huffing in and out due to angry breathing)

Me: “When did I say I wished to get rid of Capitalism?”

John Doe: “(Blank look)…well, you didn’t… not in so many words….but that’s what you meant….”

And the 30 minute retrieval process starts.

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The example given is one of many.   I used to think it was because people didn’t listen.

I don’t think so anymore.

I think it happens because of Fear.

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I propose our current problems are not close to being solved because there is a large majority of the population that does not have the time (or perhaps the inclination) to become well-versed in understanding the System in which they live and labor.

Not understanding, they secretly hope it continues to truck along in a  hunky-dorey manner.

When it doesn’t, deep down, individuals realize they don’t understand, don’t know how to fix it and feel powerless to do anything about it.

Feeling powerless means our “Fight or Flight” mechanisms are more easily triggered and we will fight with each other even when we don’t  know what, exactly, we are fighting about.

Not knowing  and in need of some kind of comfort, we easily move from Fear to Scapegoating.

Scapegoating makes it possible for us to feel in control again.   If we can identify who/what is to blame, we can destroy it and things will return to normal.

Who wouldn’t like to have that easy solution?

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I’ve observed with interest how the public outrage towards Systems (aka banks/insurance/mortgage industry)  in 2008 has slowly been turned towards Individuals (aka the Ubber Rich or The Stupid Middle-to-Lower Class people who bought more house than they could afford, or the rotten politicians or the greedy corporations – take your pick and you’ll soon find a group with which to align yourself).

In fact, these past few months, when the subject comes up, I rarely hear about the Systems in place that create the fertile ground for untold fortunes to be made and total collapse to occur.

I had hope the Occupy Wall Street movement was going to help educate the nation in the pitfalls of our current Systems and come up with some solutions on fixing them.

To my mind, media coverage indicates the movement has disintegrated into yet another example of blaming Individuals instead of examining all the pieces parts of the System in which we live.

Sigh…

Seems like everyone has been well schooled by their chosen group on Who Is to Blame.

If history is any indication, eventually, heads will roll in one or more sectors (figuratively, of course.  We are civilized, are we not?), more regulations put in place in a superficial attempt to once again fix the System and the game will start over.

Just like it did in France after the Mississippi Bubble … Which I direct you to, if you’d like to see how the 2008 version of the game was played in 1720…

An example of having more money than available goods or services dictate can be found in

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So now I’ve written in excess of 5 minutes – and will take my arse-chewing by the doctor next week with meekness.  And promise to listen and do better…

If you would like to spend your 5-10 minutes of exertion in better understanding money, financial systems and discovering how you can make a difference without waiting for some entity or ‘ism’ to save you – here’s the link:  New Money for Healthy Communities.

(And in case your brain jumped to “She’s endorsing Counterfeiting” here’s the retrieval speech:

“Read it first, then decide.”)

(Other Free or low-cost Resources include: The Ascent of Money, documentary series produced by PBS, The History of Money book by Jack Weatherford, or Wikipedia – List of Recessions in US, List of Stock Market Crashes)

Note – I love Wikipedia and use it frequently – this morning I found they are in need of funding to continue operation Advertisement Free.  I add my voice in requesting you to please consider lending your financial support in whatever capacity you can to Wikipedia.   I donated my paltry sum this morning and hope you will give whatever you can to keep Wikipedia advertisement free.     Just think, what a million people donating $1 each could do to keep this wonderful tool free to use and free of the demands (often unreasonable) of advertisers who wish to skew published information to their benefit!

Support Wikipedia

Spend Your Way out of Debt…

WTF?!?  Really?

Today’s post title came about via a documentary series entitled, “Turning Points of the 20th Century.”

Apparently, the United States was the last  developed country to go to gold standard.   1900 or 1903, if my memory serves.    Supposedly, this ratification stabilized our economy and allowed us to join the world market made up of all the other countries who had already realized the benefits of tying the symbols of wealth (currency) to something of value (gold).

Unfortunately, President FDR had to take us off the gold standard a couple of decades later.   Why?  Well, according to this documentary, it was necessary because,

“He needed to spend the country out of debt.”

Amazing.   I thought the way to reduce debt was to quit spending more than you had in abundance.   Apparently, that’s not so.

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This tidbit came to my attention 2 days ago.   This morning,  Ms. Capricorn Bookkeeper informed me that some organization is forecasting that by the end 2011, a loaf of bread will cost $20.45.

This concerns her.    Anyone who does the shopping of food, cleaning supplies, etc., for any household knows prices for “essentials” have been steadily rising these past months.    Overall, I’ve seen a $2- $4 increase in many items since last February.    Fortunately, the number of things I purchase for my household at traditional stores is only about 1/4 of my food/cleaning/personal care  budget – 3/4 of my budget goes directly to the producer, and quite frankly, I’m pretty pleased with their prices.    Yes, I don’t always get what I want, right when I want it.   Yes, I need to plan ahead and make do sometimes.   And sometimes, the supplier I count on to purchase (insert item) from once a year, in season, has gone under since my last yearly purchase.   Sigh….

But overall, the bulk of what I spend my money on has not increased that much in price since last year.  Thank goodness!

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I did mention to my friend that the battle cry for recessions, panics, wall street and mortgage industry collapses has always been, “Spend, spend, spend – once consumer spending and confidence returns, everything will level out.”

So my question is,

“Are we really headed towards things being so bad that bread will be twenty bucks a loaf?  Or is this a clever fear-based mass marketing campaign to get people to rush out and spend their money stocking up on food?”

See, I do sometimes read mainstream media – and the big stories for months have been, “People cutting back on spending – If consumer confidence does not rise, our recession will get worse”.

No matter what you’re spending your dollars on at traditional stores, you’re still spending into the system that depends on your consumption and confidence in order to exist.

(Sort of reminds me of the fortunes poured into the black hole known as the “Stock Market” of 1929 – – pour in enough money, folks, and we can save it!!!)

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Does anyone else see the gross (il)logic of “Spend your way out of debt”?    Are we really willing to continue to buy into, support and try to salvage a system that can only survive using this kind of logic?

Am I just a cynical ole fart that doesn’t have a PhD in Economics, so am simply too dumb and unsophisticated to grasp the real truth?

I’m pretty sure any system that is so complex, the average person cannot grasp or understand it, has probably been made so to hide the simple truth:

It’s not sustainable, It doesn’t work for all or long term and it will, sooner or later, collapse.

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I’m not really an Armageddon/2012 true believer – I really do have faith in human ingenuity, compassion and creativity.  And if everything goes you-know-where in a handbasket, well, then, guess I’ll find out which berries are poisonous in my neck of the woods….

I just get frustrated because history tells me the you-know-what has to hit the fan big time and over a wide geographical area,  before we band together,  put our individual desires for fame and fortune aside and instead focus on the well-being of both ourselves AND our neighbors.

When if we had banded together before and put our time, energy and resources (in other words, our wealth) into what really mattered, the fan wouldn’t have been struck in the first place…

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So, shall we wait until we hit rock bottom before we say, “Hmmm….this ain’t working…..” or are we willing to make some changes now?   Are we willing to change our priorities on what we buy and who we buy it from?   Are we, as consumers, willing to spend our way back to true wealth and abundance by taking what we do have to spend or trade and see just how much of our daily consumption needs we can get from those in our own communities?   Are we willing to invest in ourselves and our neighbors, rather than a far away company that may or may not be providing useful things that have true long term value?

Can we quit ‘making money’ and start generating true wealth and abundance?    Can we insist our symbols of wealth (currency) be actually tied to something of value (wheat, beef, carrots, sunshine, rain, etc., etc.) instead of seeing money as a commodity in and of itself?

Money is paper, folks.  You don’t control how much of it is printed, you don’t control what value it has and you often don’t control, really control, how much of it you can get.

You Do Have control over your own ingenuity and your ability to put your energy into things that sustain life – whether brain power or brawn or a combination thereof – That is what your real resources are.   And you may not think they are valued or worth much “money” today – but I’m telling you, band together with those in your neighborhood who are feeling undervalued by the system too.   Find out who grows food, who aids the body in healing, who knows how to go to the dump and find the parts to make a wind generator… or solar cooker…  They are out there And they are looking for you just as much as you are seeking them.

I say lets spend our way out of debt  – albeit not in the traditional fashion

Let’s invest in ourselves by investing the things we do have control over, our local renewable resources, our creativity and our effort.

I’ll say it again…strength in numbers.

Not My Problem….

I was going to take the day off.   But my email inbox lured me in…

Lynne McTaggart, author of The Field and The Intention Experiment, posted a blog regarding Codex Alimentarius this a.m. (Here’s my view on the subject.)

In a nutshell, she is calling for help.   Seems conferences designed to unite and inform those who would be detrimentally affected by the passage of Codex, resulted in poor attendance (hey, not my problem) and also in bickering among those who DID attend (remember the motto, “United we Stand, Divided We Fall”?).

Those organizations who have shown steadfast in their efforts to fight this legislation are broke.  And worn out…. and discouraged…

So over I mosey to read the final draft of the 33rd session of Codex Alimentarius European Position.  For your reading displeasure, I submit the following text, direct from the horse’s mouth:

“This is a continuation of the lengthy discussion on the definition of consensus. Some delegations have insisted on developing a definition for consensus because in their view it would add transparency in the Codex decision making process. Many other delegations, including the MSEU, were not in favour of creating such a definition as in their view a rigid definition for consensus could be counterproductive for the Codex decision making. As there was not enough support for creating a definition for consensus at CAC 32, Malaysia proposed additional text to be inserted in the Guidelines to Chairpersons in the Procedural Manual containing elements of earlier proposals for a consensus definition. CCGP 26 agreed to insert the Malaysian proposal to the Procedural Manual: ““Where there is opposition to an issue under discussion, the chairperson should ensure that the views of concerned members be taken into consideration by striving to reconcile conflicting arguments before deciding whether consensus has been reached”. (Text compliments of: 33rd Session of Codex Alimentarius European Position, Final Draft .pdf, Page 4, near the bottom)

In case you pooped out reading in the first line, I’ll give you my paraphrase:

“In 33 sessions of discussing this, we can’t even agree on what constitutes agreement.

We also have a goodly number of members supporting a purposefully murky definition, so this insane issue can become world law, based on the votes of 2 or 3 members, although we will give appearance of valuing dissenters’ opinions by ensuring you bark eaters get some floor time.”

(I’m reminded of, “Define sexual relations.”)

Again, I am by turns, relieved and worried.

Relieved because if 33 sessions has not resulted in a consensus regarding the definition of consensus, then these folks will continue running around in the dark trying to find their own arses with their own hands and Codex will remain a pipe-dream.

(Although Sexual Harassment suits may increase, due to unknowningly grabbing what you thought was your arse, and Surprise!  it’s not….)

Worried, because recent local election results tell me if you keep folks distracted long enough with pretty campfires, the evils we say we are so ardently against will become law or the next  elected official because we were too busy fighting among ourselves,  denying  proposed regulations have anything to do with us, too busy to research or to0 lazy to ask the hard questions.

Or we simply got tired and worn out.

Or we’re not independently wealthy enough to continue surviving without donations from our fellow Freedom Fighters or (worse) a paycheck from those who commit fraud and blackmail on a daily basis.

Or we blindly believe committees formed and backed by government and big business truly have our best interests at heart.

C’mon now, look at your circle of friends.   Who among them would starve while giving you their last crust of bread?

Do you really think these national and international committees are more interested in your welfare than those you know and love?

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I will say I canceled my subscription to one of the Codex Freedom Fighters email list, simply because:

  • Messages were consistently full of typos and hate-filled speech
  • Allegations (but little verifiable proof) were continuously made regarding Big Brother shutdown  via internet communications.

It’s not that I didn’t believe them – I’m open to conspiracy theories.   But I also avoid Raving Fanatics as much as I can.  Even when we have a foe in common.

Simply because, from my viewpoint – “You’re making us all look like a bunch of uneducated, illiterate and prejudiced jackasses.”

Yes, I know you’re mad.  And scared.   And discouraged that what you so vehemently oppose and have so arduously fought against is seen as ‘not my problem’ by your fellow man.

But, please, give me some verifiable information and research regarding the different sides of the issue, so I can become informed on what the Real Issue is.

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I realize that Lobbyists, Organizations and Freedom Fighters hold the front line while us troops in the back get our crap together.

But I also submit my ardent belief that lasting change only comes about via grass roots movements.

Our War for Independence was not won by well-dressed, well-fed, well-paid troops, riding expensive war-horses.

It was won by those who marched barefoot in the snow, on bleeding feet, with boiled shoe leather causing great pains in their tummies and brains full of, “What if the British are at my house, raping my wife and killing my kids, right now?”

Slavery didn’t end because someone made a law against it -or even because a war was fought.  It’s demise began when enough average citizens said,

“I don’t care what the law is.  This is wrong!  And I will follow my heart and do what is right, imprisonment or death be damned.”

I refer to the Underground Railroad.

Raw milk isn’t available in our state because some representative said, “Let’s give people a right to choose where they get their food and support our local entrepreneurs.”

Nope, it came about by average citizens doing their homework and saying,

“Hey, guess what?   We’ve figured out how to get the nutrition we deserve and want, all while playing by your complex rules.”

(Although, in all fairness to opposing views, I will admit most historians agree the witch hunt borne out of the Salem Witch Trials came to an abrupt end when the Governor’s wife was accused.)

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Are you feeling overwhelmed by all the disagreement and not sure who is right?   Are you wondering what the heck you can do when an international committee cannot even define ‘consensus’?

(It means casting informed votes and counting those votes, you…you…Margarine Eaters.

Thanks Sharon for sharing this wonderful non-curse word label that speaks volumes about my beliefs)

Think your voice is not heard and not heeded by those elected for the sole purpose of representing you?

Do not despair, dear reader.   You do have power.   You do have a voice.

It’s called daily life actions.

Know your farmer, rancher, neighbor.   Put your means for survival in the hands of those who live within walking distance of you.   Band together and form your own local Community Exchange System.

Quit looking at campfires and instead, say “No” to the chains that enslave you, via promises of safety and security.

Figure out your plan for the worst case scenario (Yellowstone Blowing) and tell me who, exactly, is going to save you then.

From there, start working back towards current reality.

Turn your back on those who make promises they not only have no intention of keeping but aren’t even capable of fulfilling.

The New Robin Hood

Okay, brace yourself.   The following information will contain contradictions galore.   It is not going to be an answer or solution for anything, but will raise a lot of questions…

You’re still reading?   Okay, but never say I didn’t warn you.

Fresh off the presses some days back (I have a bookmark file labeled “To Blog About”) was the following story: Credit Card Fees transfer Wealth from the Poor to the Rich.

Not any shocker there.   Any thinking person realizes that merchants must raise their prices in order to sustain profit margins in the face of per-swipe and transaction fees.   Credit card companies with the best ‘customer rewards’ also charge merchants the highest fees – c’mon, those ‘free’ plane tickets have to come from somewhere and you can bet your boots it’s not from the credit card company’s profits.

The not-so-well-qualified buyers pay the same price or more for something than the well-qualified buyers.

Because of my first hand knowledge of the exorbitant merchant fees by Discover and American Express and the lower (yet still costly) fees by other brands, I have tried very hard to limit my use of debit/credit cards.   Cash is how I like to deal and have done so for years.

This does, of course, cut off my nose to spite my face – not using credit means your score becomes the subterranean level of the whole building.   On the plus side, you’re naturally safe from identity theft without paying $39.95 per month for protection.

On the other hand, I have a sneaking feeling that if everyone did this, the banks would have the same problem they encountered in 1929 and other well-known years.   We’ve been lured into the ‘electronic, paperless’ banking system for so long, I really wonder if there is enough printed money for everyone to function off cash alone.

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Which brings me to my next thought.   IF we all went to paying cash for expenditures, would there be a rash of DEA seizures and arrests?    ‘Cuz, ya know, one of the first alarm bells for those folks regarding where to search for large scale happy plant growing is when a local corn farmer pays cash for a new John Deere tractor with all the bells and whistles….

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And ultimately, my brain winds it way back to what ‘cash’ really represents.

It represents the ingenuity and labor of workers who take raw materials and turn them into something life sustaining, useful, beautiful or entertaining.

Which leads me to thinking, if unemployment is so high, and people aren’t working, then the symbols that represent that work should be in short supply too.

And if fewer people are working, there should, by mathematics, be less to oversee, manage, regulate and invest in, meaning government, CEO’s and stockbrokers as well as gamblers (I mean ‘investors’) should be hunkering down with everyone else.

I don’t observe  this to be happening.  It seems government, regulations and the financial services markets are expanding.

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I see too, that I’m a day late/dollar short on starting a local community exchange currency system.   Apparently, California is starting to issue voucher money.   (translation, their own currency)  If they have followed in the footsteps of South American communities who did the same in the ’80s and ’90s, and have done their homework, I suspect they will realize success.

Other states will follow – soon communities everywhere will have wrested back the control of their economy via their own efforts, instead of waiting for Washington to decide if they are worthy of the fruits of their own labor or not.

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I still question how much the Free Market movement will save us, given the basic fact that for Capitalism to work, it must gain 3% growth each and every year, which means, it’s a system that cannot function within limits.  As much as sustainability efforts try for a goal of 100%, it’s a goal that is, to our current way of viewing the world, unattainable.

On the flip side, the metaphysical groups will cite “Energy can neither be destroyed nor created, only transformed” and that we need only function within the laws of the universe in order to realize untold abundance. (aka, “No Limit Living”)

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My friend Tish, owner of The Good American Post and That’s Natural, has been quietly encouraging me to get off my duff and get started with the Create A Community Exchange system.   I

‘m hesitating.   Primarily because I’m focusing on getting well so I have enough energy to pull off this endeavor.   I hate starting something and petering out before it’s realized. (Which I’ve done many times in the past years – remember my tendency for my mind to write checks my body can’t cash?)

I’ve also hesitated because initial conversations with local merchants didn’t show much interest.   Can’t figure out if I didn’t communicate properly, if it really sounds to good to be true, or if in this day and age, anything suggesting that you really can be the master of your own domain is so unbelievable that I just sound like a charlatan.

Also, for those who are busy actually running a business or working for a living, there isn’t a lot of free time to do all the researching and reading I do.   And the concept of having your own local currency and how to make it work is not something I’ve figured out how to succinctly explain in 500 words or less.  (I am working on it – 2 drafts sit in my “in progress” folder as you read this…)

So in the end, I decided to start writing short little ditties with links to the full story.   I’ve come to the conclusion that perhaps my job is not to realize anything, only raise the interest and point people in the direction of further information.

If it is, then I’m up to the challenge, right now.