Young people expose money creation myth


An Open Letter to the Dean of SBE and all Economics Professors at Maastricht University (UM)

Young people are increasingly stepping up to demand systemic change on many fronts — not just ecological but economic.

Here, it’s economic students blowing a hole into arguably THE greatest financial myth of all time — that banking corporations only lend money that they have. Total and complete BS. They create it out of thin air as debt. Why does this matter? When you add the fact that most money creation in our society originates from financial institutions as debt and that corporate money creation is THE greatest example of corporatization/ privatization in our society (a mammoth corporate coup since Art 1, Sec 8 of the U.S. Constitution gives Congress the power to coin money), what we have is a political and financial system controlled by financial corporations.

We’re all in debt to financial corporations — individuals, governments, even non-financial corporations. That means we’re all serfs to financial institutions. Even if you personally have no debt, a portion of everything you buy is priced to account for the debt of the producer.

Democratizing our money system goes hand-in-hand with democratizing our political system and Constitution. Good luck trying to having a real political democracy when banking corporations can create money out of nothing and convert their financial power into political power. The FIRE (Finance, Insurance, Real Estate) industry remains #1 in legalized bribery (political donations) and right up there in lobbying. It’s been this way (sometimes dropping all the way down to #2) for a long time.

It’s also is directly connected to saving the planet. How? Under the current debt-based corporate money system, the only way to collectively to pay off debt (not just the principle, but interest — which wasn’t created by financial corporations) is to race and compete with one another in a system where there isn’t enough money to pay off our loans. We must race as fast as possible to earn as much as we can in competition with others, which for many in our economy means working at jobs which convert natural resources into stuff that can be sold/consumed as quickly as possible, which of course results in massive amounts of ecological “externalities” (trash, garbage, pollution). We absolutely MUST plunder the planet to collectively pay off our debts. Of course, it’s in the end a losing proposition for the losers of this race. The result — like addicts, more debt to pay off past debt (which of course means more interest payments due which weren’t created). It’s why we have cyclical financial bubbles and bursts of those bubbles when people/governments/non-financial corporations see more of their debt payments going to pay just the interest.

We’re now in the midst of the mother of all bubbles (what some call “the everything bubble” — the bursting of which in the next year or two will be devastating.

The alternative is publicly-created debt-free and inflation-free money. WE decide how much is created and where it should be spent, not financial corporations. Human and physical infrastructure is the priority. It’s how to fund any real Green New Deal. It’s what the NEED Act of a few years ago was all about.

Of course, we don’t have the people power to force the end of the banking coup of money creation. That must be the first step. And that’s where the #WethePeopleAmendment sponsored by #MovetoAmendcomes in. We have to take charge of our political system.

It won’t be easy.

The Second National Bank of the U.S. threatened to cause a financial depression (by calling in all their loans) when their corporate charter was not going to be renewed in the 1830’s. Cleveland’s banks threatened default of the city (and followed through) when then Mayor Dennis Kucinich refused to sell the city’s public electrical utility to CEI, the private electric utility (tied to the banks). By the way, Kucinich was the main sponsor of the NEED Act when in Congress. He gets it. We must too.

Financial corporations have the most to lose to democratize our political and monetary systems. They will both push (lobbying and political investments/contributions) and pull (call in loans) as means to disrupt, demean and distract.

What choice to we have?




The rich rules over The poor, and The borrower is The slave of The lender. Proverbs (of Solomon) 7:22


“A power has risen up in the government greater than the people themselves, consisting of many and various powerful interests, combined in one mass, and held together by the cohesive power of the vast surplus in banks.”


Madison signed into law a bank bill in 1816 creating the Second National Bank of the United States. Chartered for 20 years, the bank amassed economic power, which led to the successful efforts of President Andrew Jackson to abolish it in 1836.


“Those who own the country ought to govern it.”

“Legal value belongs to anything which represents actual value, or capital. Its existence depends upon actual value. The worth of things of legal value depends upon their capability to be exchanged for things of actual value. Since money is our monetary system is created as debt, the ‘legal value’ of money includes both the principal debt and interest — which exceeds the ‘actual value’ of a nation’s real wealth or claims on collateral at any point in time. The only means to close this gap and cover interest payments is to create additional collateral (goods and services) via economic growth. Of course, this additional debt-based money used to pay the previous interest has its own interest. Thus the downward debt cycle never ends until it collapses.


Treasury notes are promise to pay notes to borrowers to raise revenue. The US needed funds to fund the War of 1812. Rather than print US money (such as “Continentals” – an interest- and debt-free money issued by the Continental Congress to pay for the Revolutionary War), the US government followed a different course – to issue notes to borrowers with promises to pay the principal with interest at a later date. The original interest rate was 5.4%. Wars cause indebtedness. Bankers tend to like wars since they tend to create financial dependency of nations to bankers. Thomas Edison would later say about Treasury bonds, “If our nation can issue a dollar bond, it can issue a dollar bill. The element that makes the bond good makes the bill good…”

“While economic textbooks claim that people and corporations are competing for markets and resources, I claim that in reality they are competing for money – using markets and resources to do so. Greed and fear of scarcity are being continuously created and amplified as a direct result of the kind of money we are using. For example, we can produce more than enough food to feed everybody, and there is definitely enough work for everybody in the world, but there is clearly not enough money to pay for it all. In fact, the job of central banks is to create and maintain that currency scarcity.”

“The very idea of a government that can create money for itself, allowing banks to create money that the government then borrows, and pays interest on, is so preposterous that it staggers the imagination. Either everyone in government in charge of the procedure is lacking in intelligence or they have been bought and paid for by those who profit from their skullduggery and their infidelity to the public interest.”

JUNE (not certain of exact date)

“The actual process of money creation takes place in commercial banks. Banks can build up deposits by increasing loans and investments…This unique attribute of the banking business was discovered several centuries ago…At one time, bankers were merely middlemen. They made a profit by accepting gold and coins for safekeeping and lending them to borrowers. But they soon found that the receipts (bank notes or IOUs) they issued were being used as if they were a means of payment. These receipts were acceptable as if they were money since whoever held them could go to the banker and exchange them for metallic money…Then bankers discovered…that they could make loans merely by giving borrowers their promises to pay (bank notes). In this way banks began to create money…More notes (IOUs) could be issued than the gold and coin on hand, because only a portion of the notes outstanding would be presented for payment at any one time…Demand deposits (checks) are the modern counterpart of bank notes. It was a small step from printing notes to making book entries to the credit of borrowers, which the borrowers in turn, could ‘spend’ by writing checks.”


The Second National Bank of the United States (a private financial institution) on this day reversed its financial course from monetary expansion to contraction. They called in loans and cut future loans. They required payments from state banks in gold alone. This caused deflation, leading to a two-year recession/depression – called the “Panic of 1819.” This is what happens time and again when private financial corporations control a nation’s money system instead of We the People through their government.

The United Nations Monetary and Financial Conference, known as the Bretton Woods Conference was a meeting of 44 Allied nations in New Hampshire, where the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank were created. Participant nations agreed to fix their currencies to a set value of gold. Debtor nations were to be helped with payments. The actual program was the use of loans (to be paid back with interest) to create political and economic dependence to loaning countries and their bankers. Agreements to receive further loans were often conditioned on “Structural Adjustment Programs” which called for privatization/corporatization of public services, wage cuts and perversion of economies to service debt payments.

Opposition from commercial banks prevented the postal savings system from fully developing. The United States Postal Savings System was a postal savings system operated by the United States Postal Service from January 1, 1911 until July 1, 1967

“You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”
This is what proponents of a democratic monetary system are doing – calling for the creation of US money (rather than borrowing from banks) to rebuild our national infrastructure, democratizing the Federal Reserve system, eliminating “fractional reserve banking” (which allows banks to loan out more than their deposits) and other provisions.


In describing the motives of the owners of the new Bank of North America, Morris stated,
“The rich will strive to establish their dominion and enslave the rest. They always did. They always will…They will have the same effect here as elsewhere, if we do not, by [the power of] government, keep them in their proper spheres.”

“Whosoever controls the volume of money in any country is absolute master of all industry and commerce, and when you realize that the entire system is very easily controlled, one way or another, by a few powerful men at the top, you will not have to be told how periods of inflation and depression originate.”

The Sherman Act was an attempt to prevent unlawful restraint of trade and commerce and prevent monopolies – including banking monopolies. The Act was more aggressively enforced under President Teddy Roosevelt, including against the corporate practices of JP Morgan, the most powerful banker, if not corporate titan, of the day. In response to this increased enforcement of the Sherman Act and the Hepburn Act, Morgan created a financial panic by having his banks and those he controlled call in loans and refuse to grant new ones. The economic crash of 1907 followed. The “Panic of 1907” was a direct cause for the creation of the Federal Reserve System several years later.

“How did you go bankrupt?”
“Two ways. Gradually, then suddenly.”
From The Sun Also Rises


Why this calendar? Many people have questions about the root causes of our economic problems. Some questions involve money, banks and debt. How is money created? Why do banks control its quantity? How has the money system been used to liberate (not often) and oppress (most often) us? And how can the money system be “democratized” to rebuild our economy and society, create jobs and reduce debt? Our goal is to inform, intrigue and inspire through bite size weekly postings listing important events and quotes from prominent individuals (both past and present) on money, banking and how the money system can help people and the planet. We hope the sharing of bits of buried history will illuminate monetary and banking issues and empower you with others to create real economic and political justice. This calendar is a project of the Northeast Ohio American Friends Service Committee. Adele Looney, Phyllis Titus, Donna Schall, Leah Davis, Alice Francini, Deb Jose and Greg Coleridge helped in its development. Please forward this to others and encourage them to subscribe. To subscribe/unsubscribe or to comment on any entry, email

Using the Public Power to Create Money to Create Jobs, Repair Infrastructure & Reduce Debt

Audio of AFSC Monthly Conference Call Conversation


Speaker: Joe Bongiovanni — Co-Director of the Kettle Pond Institute, second generation monetary reformer, annual speaker at the American Monetary Institute national conference.

Joe discussed the topics of money and how it’s created by banking corporations, how monetary policy connects to the economy and our lives, and why it’s important to become monetarily literate, He talks and answers questions about the National Emergency Employment Defense (NEED) Act, which if enacted would infuse debt-free money into our economy to meet our basic physical and human needs, create jobs and reduce our national debt.

High school course on democratizing money creation


Boy do I wish I had been exposed to this in 12th grade…however, it’s never too late to become monetarily literate. it’s imperative to try to get on the other side of the learning curve ahead of the next soon-to-come (and much more severe) economic collapse — to understand and counter the PR blather that will be rolled out by the power elite and be in a position to offer and organize around fundamental change to democratize money creation.


“Without knowing how money is created and managed, all other topics concerning money are out of context. This is crucial: regarding trillions of dollars of economic power, you have no idea where money comes from.”

“When you understand the power of creating credit out of nothing, your mind will eventually take the next logical step and ask: why don’t we create money out of nothing to pay for public goods and services directly rather than surrender this awesome power to the banks? You’ll wonder: why doesn’t government create money to hire unemployed workers for all the infrastructure work that needs to be done?”

Debt-damned economics: either learn monetary reform, or kiss your assets goodbye

11 Talking Points of President Obama’s Speech Today in Cleveland


These should be the 11 “Talking Points” of the President when he speaks at the Cleveland City Club this afternoon. Of course, he won’t say any of this, but, hey, we can only dream…

1.    Our democracy is near death I. Money is pouring in from the super wealthy and corporations in historic sums – to by Republican friends and to my own party. Most elected officials, including me, aren’t hearing the voices of people without money – except at photo ops when we drop into local eateries to buy a hamburg. I encourage Congress to pass the Move to Amend constitutional amendment to abolish corporate personhood and the doctrine that money equals speech.

2.    Our democracy is near death II. Gerrymandered political districts in Ohio and across the nation drawn by winning political parties marginalizes and weakens all other political parties. Voter ID laws disenfranchising “minorities” (which soon will become the majority demographically), seniors and students harken back to the days 50 years in places like where I just visited – Selma, Alabama – and other communities in the South. We need legislation making it easier for all citizens to register to vote and to vote. Maybe the right to vote needs its own constitutional amendment.

3.    The “middle class” in this nation is hurting…and declining. It actually should be called the “working class, ” members of whom earn less, have less wealth, are in more debt and face uncertain time in an economic “recovery” that’s more mirage than real. Too many of the jobs being created don’t pay a living wage and/or are part time.

4.    The “workless class” is really hurting…and growing. The “labor participation rate” has dropped. Poverty levels are a disgrace. Federal spending, tax and monetary policies don’t help working class and workless class people enough. The minumum wage should be increased to become a “living” wage.

5.    Income equality is scandalous, shameful and unsustainable. Time to end the Bush era tax cuts and dramatically increase, at the very least, inheritance taxes. How does receiving huge inheritances to from one generation to the next encourage innovation, creativity and work?

6.    I challenge the nation to become more monetarily literate. We’ve been hoodwinked by economists for generations into believing we should leave the issue of creating and circulating money alone to bankers and financiers. That has only resulted in depressions, recessions, growing inequality, exploding debt, and a rapid economic and political concentration benefiting financial corporations – the most powerful subset of all corporations. Stop watching the monetary propaganda on commercial TV, which only confuses and distracts. I propose funding a national program of monetary literacy in all schools and throughout society developed by real monetary reformers, including those at the American Monetary Institute.

7.    Exploding national debt has been used as the excuse to slash federal social and economic development programs. So how exactly has austerity been working in Greece, which has followed the austerity measures of the European Central Bank and IMF over the last few years? Public debt is fundamentally different than private debt in that the federal government can wipe it away by creating its own money (vs you and I who are not allowed to print money in our basements). I proposed that Congress pass the National Emergency Employment Defense (NEED) Act, introduced in the last 2 congresses by Representative John Conyers and Dennis Kucinich. The Act would move the private and misnamed Federal Reserve Bank under the Treasury Department, end the ability of banks to create money out of thin air as debt, prohibit banks from loaning money that they don’t have as reserves and introduce US money (just like what Republican President Lincoln did in creating “Greenbacks”) to hire millions of citizens repairing our nation’s physical and human infrastructure.

8.    The “defense” budget is out of control. Check that, I mean the “military” budget is out of control – since most of the money spent on planes, tanks, bombs, bullets and soldiers doesn’t “defend” our shores. The Pentagon hasn’t been audited in years. Billions are spend on weapons we don’t need, don’t work and can’t afford. We spend more money that the rest of the world combined. Half of the budget needs to be cut – for starters. Workers will be retrained building goods and services that are economically useful and environmentally sustainable – like alternative energy technologies

9.    It’s time to end the US military empire. We need to shut down hundreds of military bases and installations; stop launching wars and occupations and end the practice of install dictators and puppets; cease being the world’s policeman. We need to let people determine their own policies, politicians, and practices. We will reverse course especially in Ukraine – a nation that we stuck our nose into and toppled their leader, replaced with extremists and now are using as a surrogate to weaken Russia economically and militarily and seek to break the growing alliance between Russia and Europe, which threatens US superiority.

10.    I no longer support Fast Track legislation in Congress, which would weaken their ability to oversee and amend so-called “trade” legislation like the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) deals. These deals would weaken US labor, environmental and consumer laws and empower transnational corporations to circumvent national laws via judicial “Tribunals” made up of unelected trade attorneys.

11.    Go Cavs!

Different problems. The same solution.


Tomorrow is the 5th anniversary of the Citizens United v. FEC Supreme Court decision — which extended first amendment “free speech rights” to individuals and corporate entities. It’s also the 5th anniversary of the launch of the Move to Amend coalition. What follows are a few reflections to mark these anniversaries.


Trying to keep up with, let alone respond to, the staggering number and severity of problems in our communities, state, nation and world is virtually impossible. The threats — whether political, economic, or environmental — are real, imminent and severe. They numb the mind, paralyze the body, and stunt the soul.

Many of the our most series problems…
Be they local budget crises
The Ohio budget crisis
Or the federal
Efforts to “privatize” Ohio’s prisons
And municipal services
Drilling or “fracking” for oil or gas in our state parks
Or in our back yards
Hot and cold wars for oil
Or oil spills
Buying elections
And politicians
Home foreclosures
Lack of living wage jobs
Exponentially increasing public debts
Attacks on the rights of people to collectively bargain
(Insert any other pressing economic, political and environmental problem here)…

Spring, derive, emanate and originate from a single source:

Business corporations, almost always very large business corporations, exerting their influence.

Their authority.

Their power.

Their supposedly “inalienable” constitutional “rights.”

There are, of course, other factors that contribute to the aforementioned problems.

But arguably no other single factor has been more responsible for these problems through, by and because of…

– Corporate political contributions.
– Corporate lobbying.
– Corporate political advertising.
– Corporate influence in writing laws and regulations directed at corporations.
– Corporate mobility that, by playing one community, state or nation against each other, exert leverage for favorable tax breaks, funding, incentives, guarantees, and protections
– Corporate placement of chain stores, toxic dumps and drilling pads protected by constitutional 14th amendment “equal protection” rights that trump local and/or state rights – which hurt local economies, environments and self-determination.
– Corporate takeover of many of our public assets and services, including the license to print money.

The list goes on.

And on.

And on.

Corporations were never intended to possess political, economic or constitutional powers and rights.

Corporations are legal creations of the state. They wouldn’t exist and couldn’t function with their legal protections unless governments shielded them.

Such protections in the past came with a condition – a democratic condition:

Public control and definition through the corporate charter (issued mostly at the state level) that specifically defined their parameters. Early in our history, those parameters included a prohibition against anything directly or indirectly related to political influence and governing.

That was until corporate agents won rights and powers in our constitution that were reserved exclusively for human beings.

– Inalienable rights.
– “Personhood” rights.
– Rights “found” in the constitution for corporations by Supreme Court Justices that were never intended.

Talk about “judicial activism!”

Corporations should possess certain protections to conduct their business.

But only by statute.

Only by laws passed by We the People and representatives after debate and discussion.

Only to the extent people and elected representatives feel comfortable with.

Such protections shouldn’t be equal to, let alone surpass, the rights of people.

The created should never be more powerful than the creator.

Only humans have inalienable Bill of Rights and other constitutional rights.

So what do we do?

What can we do?

How do we prioritize?

Where do we place our limited time, energy and resources?

Especially when problems, crises and chaos seem to be coming from all directions?

Three suggestions:

1. Recognize and internalize that many of the different problems we face derive from the single source of never intended corporate constitutional rights. If this means you say to yourself every morning while eyes closed and tapping your shoes together “Corporations are not people” then do it,

2. Continue to educate, advocate and/or organize on the problem(s) you care most about. As you do so make the connections to corporate constitutional rights. Acknowledge and publicly proclaim at least in part why the problem(s) you care about spring, derive, emanate and originate from corporate power and rights. This also requires that you shift some of your time, energy and resources (10%? 15%? 50%? That’s your decision.) away from responding, reacting and resisting to these manifestations of corporate rights. Time to act, proact, create and initiate by…

3. Work to directly end corporate rule. Become involved in Move to Amend, the national ( and state ( movement to amend the US Constitution to abolish corporate “personhood” and legalize democracy.

The two tenants of Move to Amend are:
– Corporations are not persons and have no inherent inalienable human rights under the Constitution.
– Money is not speech. Money is concentrated capital and it cannot speak.

If you agree with these, become involved.


Six suggestions.

1. Educate yourself. Many resources are at and

2. Sign the national petition to abolish corporate rights online at More than 106,000 people have already done so.

3. Download and circulate the Move to Amend petition to your friends, co-workers, neighbors, etc. The petition is at

4. Organize a meeting in your home and/or community on abolishing corporate constitutional rights. Circulate resources from the aforementioned websites. Invite a speaker. Organize to pass a city council resolution or citizen ballot initiative.

5. Get organizations you are connected with to endorse Move to Amend.

6. Become connected to Move to Amend Ohio. Join our monthly conference calls. Get active.

The solution to maintaining a healthy psyche as well as being political relevant and prophetic is developing a balance between reacting and responding to pressing problems that cry out for immediate attention and creating and initiating alternatives that address root causes.

This is a long haul struggle transcending current state or federal political administrations or is can be fixed by changing a few faces or a political party.

It’s structural.

Nothing short of a social movement is required. It’s happened in other times, in other places and on other concerns as daunting as this one.

It’s now our turn.

It’s now our time.

“Top” 10 Democracy Realities in 2014


This is the second of a two part series. Like part 1, “top” is in parenthesis to acknowledge the relative nature of the selections. There is no presumption that this is the definitive list. Readers will, no doubt, have their own ideas.

The lens used to determine both lists were what were impediments/possibilities for We the People to have genuine opportunities to have their voices heard and ability to shape decisions impacting the world around them.

Overall, 2014 saw a surge in participation of people seeking to build power for just and peaceful change. The quest to build mass movements linked issues, strategies and people in ways unseen for many years.

1.    Protests against police brutality
“Black Lives Matter” not only became a refrain of street protestors in 2014, but a movement sparked in response to the killings of blacks in Ferguson, New York City, Cleveland and many other communities. Participants are racially and age diverse – with some police officers among the growing ranks. Issues extend beyond issue of police mistreatment of people of color to militarization of police forces, disproportionate imprisonment of blacks, and institutional racism throughout society. Demands are equally expansive – from local to national, from political to cultural, from short- to long-term.

This growing movement has forced the mainstream culture to begin facing issues of race and prejudice as they relate to power and privilege. In doing so, it offers the opportunity for mass awareness and solidarity. Any progress in understanding and meaningful dialogue also strategically makes it more difficult for the power elite to use race as a divide and conquer strategy to maintain illegitimate power and authority.

2.    Movement to end corporate personhood and money as speech
The Move to Amend movement to end the inane constitutional doctrines asserting corporations are “persons” and money equals “free speech” continues to grow from its inception is 2010 following the Citizen United vs FEC Supreme Court decision.

More people in more places educated, advocated and organized in their communities for an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to achieve these duel objectives.  Fueling the movement were the McCutcheon vs FEC and the Burwell vs Hobby Lobby Supreme Court decisions. The innumerable local, state and federal examples of growing corporate power and corruption associated with money in elections also contributed to a surge in awareness and attraction to this solution.

Many communities organized for passage of city council resolutions. Each and every of the two dozen communities that organized ballot initiatives were successful with most of the citizen driven ballot measures winning with landslide margins. That these these victories took place during the same elections that saw Republicans make gains at the federal and many state levels is evidence of the trans-partisan appeal of these concerns.

3.    Growing environmental movement
The state of New York’s ban on fracking may have been the most tangible victory in response to organized citizen pressure, although no doubt the science and economics of gas drilling were also factors. Resistance to fracking grows both in the U.S. and Europe.  Resistance included marches, rallies, forums, lobbying, civil disobedience and Community Bill of Rights initiatives.

The climate march in New York City drew hundreds of thousands of people. The Keystone pipeline continues to be delayed due in part to growing popular pressure (the fact that major Obama supporter Warren Buffett owns railroads that could transport the oil rather that pipelines was also a consideration).

The Vermont legislature passed a mandatory labeling bill for all food containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Voters in Jackson county, Oregon and Maui county, Hawaii banned GMO crops. Voters in Oregon came within an eyelash of passing a statewide ballot measure on GMOs – only losing because of massive political campaign spending by the pro GMO food corporations.

4.    Exposing the truth of money creation
Two of the fundamental sources of financial power of banking corporations worldwide are (1) most people believe a nation’s money is created by government, and (2) most money in a nation is actually created by private financial institutions, including private central banks.

So long as financial institutions control the issuance of money – whether by a private central bank (i.e. the misnamed Federal Reserve in the US) or by banking corporations (when they create money out of thin air as debt when they issue loans), financial institutions will not only possess the ultimate economic power in a society but the ultimate political power, since economic profits are translated to political power via lobbying and campaign contributions/investments.

More people worldwide are shedding the myth and understanding the reality of actual money creation – a major step toward the democratization of our money. Leading the way in 2014 was Britain.

Bank of England officials admitted in March that banks don’t loan out pre-existing deposits, they simply create it out of this air.  Martin Wolf, the chief economics writer for the Financial Times (the Wall Street Journal of England) wrote an article in April “Strip private banks of their power to create money.” And the U.K Parliament debated money creation in November – for the first time in 170 years. All of this was in part the result of the ongoing education, advocacy and organizing of the pro democratization of money group, Positive Money.

5.    Alternatives to dollar
The U.S. Empire hasn’t just been military. It’s been economic. The bomb and dollar operate hand-in-hand to maintain control and thwart democracy. There’s growing resistance to not simply U.S. military installations worldwide, but also to US-dominated World Bank and IMF policies, as well as to the US dollar as the world’s “reserve currency” – meaning nation’s must have dollars to purchase oil (the “petrodollar”) or conduct trade. This is changing.

The BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) nations announced plans to launch their own rival development bank to the IMF and World Bank. Russia is setting up its own SWIFT banking transaction system. Nations began trading with one another in their own currencies. This movement is led by China and Russia, with the later willing to sell oil for Rubles and Yuans. England, Canada and other countries also began to accept non-dollar payments with other nations.

Breaking away from the dollar is a key ingredient for nations to achieve national monetary sovereignty.

6.    Global resistance to corporate trade deals
Opposition to the proposed U.S.-Asian Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and U.S.-European Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) were global. Whenever and wherever negotiators and their corporate “advisors” met behind closed doors (where it should be acknowledged labor, indigenous, consumer, and environmental representatives were not invited), people were in the streets, lobbing their respective national elected representatives and educating the general public.

The message was clear and direct:  these “trade” agreements are in actually about global rule which, if enacted, would circumvent democratically passed laws and regulations on labor, environmental, consumer, health, the internet and financial controls. Fast Track (which would have allowed the President to ram these measures through Congress) was at least temporarily derailed from a vote.

7.    Increased revelations of spying and surveillance
The continued revelation of documents by Edward Snowden, Julian Assange (founder of WikiLeaks) and others detailing US domestic and international snooping of citizens en mass using the sweeping pretext of “terrorism” provided strengthened resolve to US citizens to take action to protect privacy and basic civil liberties and human rights under the U.S. Constitution. Actions calling for fundamental change at the legislative, executive, bureaucratic and judicial levels are all essential requirements for anything approaching a real democracy.

Snowden’s story received further attention when the documentary Citizenfour was released in the fall. He was honored in December with the Right Livelihood Award, an international award to “honour and support those offering practical and exemplary answers to the most urgent challenges facing us today.”

8.    Technology
The flip side of technology as a tool of spying, surveillance and suppression is the way technology can be used for mass education, awareness and mobilization.

As “mainstream” media in all its forms becomes more corporatized, the Internet has become a more important source for alternative information and analysis. This made the nationwide struggle to maintain net neutrality all the more important in 2014.

Pictures and videos documenting police brutality as it happened from mobile phones sparked mass reactions. Twitter was used to mobilize mass actions, be they in the U.S. against police brutality or in Hong Kong for democracy, in an instant.

9.    Local alternatives / sustainability
The more local the institution, the better chance people have to define it.

The last few years have seen a significant increase in the forms and numbers of local “micro” alternatives to large national or transnational “macro” political and economic institutions.

The rise of local independent businesses, local food production and distribution, local renewable energy, community internet broadband, community money (in both electronic and paper versions) sustainable housing, and decentralized transportation are among the many localized ways people are building democracy from the ground up.

10.    Increasing disgust with US politicians and Supreme Court
A majority of U.S. residents feel public officials don’t represent their interests, given the massive disconnect between what the public desires on issue after issue and existing public policy. A national Rasmussen Reports survey in 2014 found that an all-time high 53 percent of all Americans believe that neither major political party “represents the American people,” while 65% of Americans are dissatisfied “with the U.S. system of government and its effectiveness,” according to a 2014 Gallop poll – also an all time high.

Public views on the Supreme Court weren’t much better. Just 35% in a 2014 poll gave the court a positive job performance rating and a strong majority believes that Justices are influenced more by their own personal beliefs and political leanings than by a strict legal analysis. A huge majority, 74%, believes there should be a fixed term of 18 years for Justices.

This growing awareness that our government is broken because the system is fixed is a very positive sign for achieving real democracy. It reflects that the U.S. “democracy myth” that keeps people on the sidelines, believing all is good and that others should make decisions for them is evaporating.

We have to take charge if we want real democracy, self-governance or self-determination. It won’t happen by magic or physics, only by intentional, deliberate and genuinely inclusive engagement with others.