Currency as Religion

One image that stuck with me from Occupy Portland was a man burning a dollar bill. There couldn’t be a more apt protest technique than destroying the tool which allows bankers to control the people.

It says “In God We Trust” on the dollar (The phrase has been on coins since 1864 and paper money since 1957), which is appropriate since the people who control our currency try to play God.

They use pieces of paper with no real value to dictate our lives. We have no choice but to worship this money because it has given wealthy bankers a monopoly on trade. These people can pick and choose what they want to fund, usually for their own benefit, and tell the majority of people how they should act because they control how our money is spent.

Our monetary system works like a religion in many ways. Both are based on faith. In the case of religion, a person’s acts can be exchanged for faith that he/she will receive God’s grace. This faith based currency has been used to justify everything from charity to war.

Likewise, US currency is based on faith. Once upon a time we used to use the gold standard, which backed our money with something tangible in the form of gold. Now we print money out of thin air. We continue to borrow from countries like China with the understanding that we can be trusted to pay our bills. Although this causes inflation in the global market and makes the dollar virtually worthless in other countries, Americans depend on it.

Our deficit pays for schools, health care and social services. It also pays for our wars and subsidizes things like oil and farms.

As a result, we must continue to believe in the dollar.

Even if you strive to be self made you need sponsorships to fund your business. However, you can only get sponsorships if sponsors approve of your business.

Likewise, if you want to start a community based program you’ll need a grant. The only way you can get a grant is by competing with other programs, resulting in many important initiatives not getting the funding they need.

In a perfect world, our government would use it’s ability to print money out of thin air to fund all the programs that could empower communities, but like most religions, there is a hierarchy that manipulates the image of God to their advantage.

Our currency is controlled by the Federal Reserve, whose largest shareholders are private banks.

They have made a killing during the current economic crisis. When the economy collapsed, they bailed themselves out with taxpayer dollars. Since, they’ve done nothing to alleviate the pain of the people they victimized with schemes like subprime lending.

Judging by history, they have no reason to. The same thing happened during the Great Depression.

Uncertainty is good for stock traders, which is good for bankers. It’s also good for big business because it allows the wealthiest to buy struggling companies for pennies on the dollar.

Thus, the deficit has taken on prominence during the Obama Presidency even though we barely heard about it while Bush was in office. The same self appointed gods who gambled away our money are asking us to practice austerity.

Bankers and big business are using their control of the wealth to push for decreased funding for social services when people need them most.

Just like religion, they use the threat of a judgement day. We are threatened with the idea that countries like China will demand us to pay them back in full even though lending countries depend on our debt just as much as we depend on being able to borrow from them.

The politicians who bankers and big business use to push this message are well aware that a little research can dispel their myths. Thus, they use their money to broadcast their message through the media at a frequency that makes your common sense a victim of blunt force trauma.

We’re taught to acquire wealth so we have the power to fight against these forces on a more level playing field. However, as long as we trade in the bankers’ currency they’ve got us. No matter how much money we attain, the bankers will always have more and most likely we’ll depend on them to build our fortune in the first place.

There’s no way one percent should control the majority of the wealth and resources of the other 99 percent but control of currency allows just that to happen.

The solution is unclear because trading in different currency is not an option for most people. Most can’t go back to a time where we literally worked for food and shelter, rather than money to buy food and shelter.

However, if people were to unify and protest by trading in an alternative, tangible currency it would not just shake Wall Street, it would negate its only advantage over the masses.

In the meantime, we must educate people by destroying the illusion that causes so many to buy into this system.

This is what happened when one protester at Occupy Portland burned a false god for all to see.


14 Responses to “Currency as Religion”

  1. May I respectfully ask about what your preference is to replace currency? Or, do you believe there is no need for currency, which is an effective method of barter? I’ve been searching for real plans coming from real people that also see we have serious financial problems.

    • As I alluded to in my piece, that’s the $14 trillion question. I wrote this to get myself, as well as others to start thinking about feasible alternatives. I think currency is an effective method of barter but the issue is that we have no control as long as we run on the dollar. Even a violent revolution (which I don’t advocate) couldn’t seize all the money that has permanently tipped the scales. I’m happy to brainstorm and discuss real alternatives with anyone because I think it’s becoming increasingly necessary.

      • [Bruce Quote: …Even a violent revolution (which I don’t advocate) couldn’t seize all the money that has permanently tipped the scales.]
        Sincerely, why would it be necessary to seize that money. There is another perspective. Overall, our American economy is in a phase of development during the last fifty of unprecedented growth for the largest number of citizens. The unreasonable collection of funds by a few was created by the public willing to buy into promises and instant gratification thereby gifting their money to them. (willing to continue discussion…)

      • Seizing the money is a conventional form of justice. Putting someone in jail doesn’t give back to the people he/she stole from. Ultimately it’s about the shift of power. Anyways, I agree with you that America is going through unprecedented growth simply because it is obligated to take care of more people than ever. The so called good old days didn’t exist for many because they were second class citizens at the time. Now that we’re keeping track of these communities, the competition for jobs and resources is loaded.

  2. In all countries, including the USA, Greece, and Spain, there are considerable portion of the population of each generation that might be labeled as the “Half-wayers”. These are the unsuccessful but still they are grateful and defendant of the socio-economic system in place. They are mostly of older ages, but still you can find them in less ambitious youth.

    The Half-wayers are middle-classers who feel indebted to the unjust and corrupt system because deep in their hearts and minds they believe that they have achieved and acquired more than what they fairly and normally deserve. This kind of people might not be corrupt; but they assume that without such system they would have been ruined and abject losers. This is the only reason why they defend the system meekly and brutally; or at least fear and reject any movement that might bring possible change.

  3. [Teriganter Quote: they believe that they have achieved and acquired more than what they fairly and normally deserve.]

    I never imagined this concept existed. Thanks for adding it to the mix of viewpoints. Start your list, Bruce, you could get quite busy piecing everything together!

  4. [Bruce Quote: “Seizing the money is a conventional form of justice. Putting someone in jail doesn’t give back to the people he/she stole from…..]

    I agree – when one suspects that money has been stolen, it must be charged, indicted, proven guilty, and justice applied by the current laws of the land. One problem in recent past, has been that new unexpected and unregulated behavior in the financial market did not break any law. That alone should catch the attention of the public – and instigate discussion of how to prevent that category of theft.

    [Bruce Quote: “Ultimately it’s about the shift of power.”]

    There actually has not been a ‘shift of power.’ It is more a matter that a few entities and government leaders, in unison, have exerted a power – while the consumer was unaware of the real power they had. The correction in the real shift of power will come from the consumer, in my opinion.

    [Bruce Quote: “The so called good old days didn’t exist for many because they were second class citizens at the time.”]

    From my second class citizen status growing up, I see the old days differently. True, we had far less material things than others; but, we had a pride in our family, our church, and our work ethics. We never felt ‘poor’ in our hearts – it was just that the money we had didn’t go as far as we needed. When a person, any person, can value himself by the character of his being, as opposed to how much he has, there’s never a reason to feel lesser than anyone else. That one thing, Bruce, has been the greatest sin perpetuated against millions of people in our nation. And that can be addressed by the people. One fine example of one who gets it – check out Lisa at thebutterflyjourney dot wordpress dot com. She is an incredible woman that cares.

    • As far as the people that essentially gambled away our money, you’re right that technically, they didn’t break the law. The issue with changing the law is that these same wealthy thieves are the ones that write and/or hire people to write the laws. When I talked about a shift of power I meant the need for the people (consumers) to have the ability to exert their will in the same way that these elites have. Although consumers have considerable leverage, at the end of the day we don’t have the control over our money or the security complex of this country. At any point we can be subject to theft and/or force. It doesn’t happen as often (well force anyway) as in other countries but when the people push hard enough you see this repression. JP Morgan Chase just made something like a $4.6 million donation to the police in New York after the Occupy Wall Street protests started. It’s no secret why. As consumers in our current state of limited power, we have little to combat that. Are biggest weapon is economic protest, which literally means not putting money into people tied in with those who have abused their power. That works for some things but these corporations have control over a lot of the products we find indispensable. How many friendly neighborhood camera phone producers are there? I understand what you’re saying about valuing yourself as a person. In a sense that’s another form of currency that has more or less been eviscerated by the consumer culture. What I was referring to was the call by some to go back to the old days because they’re not doing as well as they used to (even if they’re doing better than most). My parents grew up during Jim Crow in the south. I’m the first generation in my family to grow up with some privilege and not know what it’s like to not have the same human rights as some of my peers. If someone were to talk about the good old days to my parents, they wouldn’t have a clue because one person’s glory days came at their expense. The point I was trying to make is that the US is not in a place where it can go backward, especially when it comes to social services, simply because their is an obligation to take care of more people than in the past where many were unfairly denied resources.

  5. Good post, Bruce. Your brief summary helps with placing each idea in context. In trying to break it down to specific issues, which one do you find should be priority in discussions to seek solution options? Your last point appears to be important to you.

    • I see justice as a key issue. There are a lot of historical crimes that can still be felt today because of the wealth denied to oppressed people (and consequently allotted to the descendants of history’s criminals). In order to get true unity against the financial system that abuses us all, we need to heal those wounds. This is evident by the Occupy the Hood movement that has accompanied Occupy Wall Street. A lot of communities were going through recessions before the Great Recession and many people worry that once the privileged get back on their feet no one will care anymore. As long as these historical wounds persist, there will always be a sense of distrust among races, classes, sexual orientations, etc.

  6. It is a riddle–what do poor people have a lot of and rich people have none?–debt. Credit cards, we’ll trade ’em like baseball cards. Seriously though, I think we should worry about the question of a new currency/trade system after the revolution.

    • It see it differently. When poor people had debt, rich people were “paper millionaires,” with liquidity at less than zero, the opportunity rose for the wealthy to write their own entitlement claim – and they did so in a big way. In their quest for even more power, they melded the wealthiest to buy Washington to control yet the Treasury. The quest for world dominance has been moving forward to decades. The twists and turns for them to gobble up some economies and excrete onto others has been phenomenal. The next steps will be most interesting, as they continue to divide and conquer, and use us like pawns playing on the weaknesses of our history. Open your eyes, my friends, you are being plated for dinner. [copyright:Texasjune]

  7. To achieve healthy capitalism and to protect the people from corporate abuses and corruption a new universal system of labeling of all products and services must be designed and implemented globally. The ingredients of each product or service are composed from not only the physical components but more importantly from the processes involved in the final output.

    All corporations and businesses in general must be held accountable and be observed by consumers, employees, the community, and the state departments. For this purpose a tagging system shall be put in place to measure and publicize on any product and any service on the performance of the production business for the total and each of at least the following issues:
    Executive pay
    Excessive advertisement
    Unfair advertisement
    Labor welfare
    Unions’ participation
    Capital distribution
    Political leverage
    Environmental responsibility
    Social contributions
    Fair play
    Equal opportunities
    Financial transparency

  8. From my long experience in dealing with governments in more than a dozen of them I assure you that if you slash more than half of government officials or the so-called public dis-service and throw them to the streets you will definitely get better, effective and efficient administrations.

    I am sure they are the source of corruption and corporate greed support. I have never seen in my long life any government department or an office functioning properly.
    They are excesses, idles, and the antithesis of innovation, ethics and productivity.

    People must have regular and uninterrupted access to monitor what are going on in any government office, low or high, including the judiciary, the police, the security, and the military.

    When you deal personally with a successful private business you feel your power as a valued customer even if it was unethical business. But when I personally deal with any government office I feel their arrogance and wickedness; I wish I could spit on their faces.

    The public service anywhere in the world is ten times it’s optimal size, and they are very good in employing the failures and the dishonest for life.

    To Occupy Wall Street and bring social, political, and economic justice people must axe useless officials first.

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