CCEC Blog
Search
 

The Trans Pacific Partnership is a mammoth '6000' page agreement reached in private among 12 developed Pacific Rim nations, including Canada and the USA, comprising 40% of the world's denominated economic activity. The agreement is championed as a trade deal, but it is much more; stretching into the realms of health services, consumer protection, environmental regulations, employment law, and much more.  Opposition to this massive agreement is being voiced by many; including the Council of Canadians, Doctors Without Borders, and 350.org,  The Canadian government proposes to hold hearings before ratification is considered in parliament sometime in the next two years. Beware.       

Beyond the various technical issues that can be debated, such as intellectual property rights, dairy producers' quotas, and projected employment 'gains', there are deeper issues that relate to the very heart of democracies.  While sometimes these concerns are represented as a loss of 'sovereignty', that language is misleading.  The TPP (and the 'CETA' with Europe) erode fundamental democratic rights and institutions.  Under these trade agreements governments, and those people who they represent, are substantially limiting or conceding the powers they have to govern 'themselves', and to resolve their own disputes fairly.    

For community groups, advocacy groups, small enterprise, local governments, and others, the rule books are being totally re-written, principally by the international corporate elites. Joseph Stiglitz, the notable Amercican economist, made a bold appeal to oppose the TPP before an audience at UBC several weeks ago; arguing that it will simply fuel greater inequality. Henry Mintzberg, a prominent business professor at McGill, argues that it would consolidate 'corporate' power when what is needed is a re-balancing of the powers between private sector, public sector and the community-based sector of democratic societies.  A piece in Rabble is most succinct.  

Are you willing to 'sell' your liberty, and your democratic heritage?  That is the bargain.  The TPP sets out special rules for international players, such that people in a nation state may not intervene or limit the activities of Big Business, or may do so only up to a point. Disputes are not tried in a public court that is both independent and scrutinized by the people; for these players the 'arbitration' is in private, using hired international lawyers who may indeed be conflicted, and without right to appeal. The proposed TPP grants these elites such privileges with the promise that there will be more 'jobs'.  Is this a new feudalism? 

Democracy requires vigilance from citizens. Question authority.  

Currently rated 0.0 by 0 people

Yuri Yerofeyev, founder of Taurus Exchange says, “Cryptocurrencies, namely Bitcoin, have turned upside down the way I think about the world.”  To understand Bitcoins and why they are popular, Yuri says that you need to look at things from a global perspective. 

Bitcoin came to be during the financial crisis of 2008 when, after losing their assets, people started questioning the existing monetary order.  The realization that all the money is controlled by a handful of moguls gave rise to a plethora of writers, bloggers and journalists who focused on exposing the unsustainable financial system we live in; and a group of programmers worked to create a new way to transmit value from one person to another.  Yuri says, “ Enter Bitcoin, a decentralized peer-to-peer value transmission protocol that doesn't depend on any central bank or government.”

Yuri learned about Bitcoins by reading the white paper published in 2012.  He started trading as a hobby and co-founded The Bitcoin Co-op, a non-profit organization whose main goal was to educate individuals and businesses about the benefits of using Bitcoin in their daily lives.  Today he runs Canada's first fee-free bitcoin exchange called Taurus.

Here is how it works:  if you want to exchange Canadian dollars for bitcoins, you place an order and wait for a match to occur.  You can also match your bid with an existing asking order for an instant trade.  He says that while bitcoin payments are automated and easy to set up, the main challenge is the ability to provide quick and reliable funding methods on the Canadian dollar side of the deal.  Thus, most customer requests have to do with money transfers, especially when it comes to fast payment processing and alternative options.

Bitcoin is still in its infancy and can be compared to the Internet as it was in 1994.  Yuri says that bitcoin transactions are not anonymous and there are complex issues, such as scalability and financial privacy, that need to be addressed.  While there are a growing number of financial institutions and venture capitalists interested in the advantages of the "blockchain technology" considered to be un-hackable, it doesn't always mean they are into Bitcoin itself.

He feels that financial institutions like CCEC can benefit from this new technology if used for transactions, record keeping, notarization services and smart self-executing financial contracts.  He says, “Imagine a credit union that is free of human error and whose cash flow is fully automated, transparent and incorruptible.”  As the industry develops new opportunities appear including remittance, instant global payments, point-of-sale systems and derivatives markets.  While admitting that another challenge may come from the financial regulators, his hope, however, is that no significant changes are made in the law and this segment of the market will remain truly free.

Why I belong to CCEC: “One of the most important moving parts in running a cryptocurrency exchange is solid banking relationship.  CCEC is one of the few financial institutions that recognize the potential of cryptocurrencies.  The credit union's board is open-minded  and forward-thinking.  CCEC is leading the Vancouver financial space when it comes to promoting and educating people about the peer-to-peer economy, decentralization and personal freedom.”  Yuri Yerofeyev, founder of Taurus Exchange

Contact Yuri at to yuri@taurusexchange.com or visit Taurus Exchange 

Read more about alternative currencies in a previous blog:  Digital Darwinism Bridges the Gap Between Community and Finance 

Currently rated 0.0 by 0 people

Nobel prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz spoke at UBC last Friday and made the case that growing inequality in modern day America (and Canada) is a result of political choices we have made; the failed experiment of trickle down neo-conservative policies that have been advocated since the 70's. He boldly advanced the need for a new political agenda that will give ordinary people a bigger share of the pie. 

The presentation included graphs on income distribution, wealth distribution and other factors over the last 100 years, and the data clearly indicates the fact that the very rich have benefited handsomely since 1970, while others have barely held their own. He then provided comparisons between nation states to show that social equality was not so skewed elsewhere; in Scandinavia, western Europe, Japan and Canada the inequalities are modest compared to the USA. Approximately 20% aggregate 'income' in the USA goes to the top 1% of the population. 

He asserts that the rules of the game (video, Democracy Now), that is the legal and tax systems in the USA, the UK and New Zealand (and to some degree Canada), have been set to ensure the rich get richer. The analysis has been set out in two books by Siglitz over the last 6 years; The Price and Inequality and The Great Divide.  He argues that it is time for ordinary people to challenge the privileges given to the very wealthy. He referred attendees to the Roosevelt Institute for additional insights and proposals. He eloquently argued that the erosion of the 'equality of opportunity' will lead to potentially immense social and economic costs. And he held up a copy of his just published book Rewriting the Rules of the American Economy.

He closed his remarks with a pointed critique of the Trans Pacific Partnership ("TPP"), an international 'trade' agreement now being promoted in Canada and the USA. Stiglitz represented the deal as entrenching benefits for large corporations and international finance, and undermining democratic governments. He specifically noted that the TPP went well beyond 'trade' to impose limits on government regulation, government purchasing, and tax policies; and would have disputes settled by 'private' arbitration rather than in public courts. It can be noted that opponents to the TPP include the Council of Canadians, Open Media and Doctors Without Borders. 

 

 

Currently rated 0.0 by 0 people

The New Economy – still mostly a concept, lots of people have a different vision for the kind of economic environment we are all moving into.  What was the vision for the Impact Economy Whistler, event held in October attended by CCEC Board Members, Tammy Lee Meyer and Marty Frost?  If there was a common word that could be applied to all the visions that were present, it would be “open” as in “open-source” technology - hardware and software; and “open value networks” as a way of organizing groups of people who choose to work together. 

The people who showed up all saw themselves of members of an emerging economy.  They were computer software and hardware engineers, community developers, co-op advocates.  And if there was a common word that could be applied to all the vision that was present, it would be “open”.  The computer people were all working on developing new generations of computer operating systems, applications, communication protocols and hardware, all open source.  Open Source is a concept applied to developments (computer hardware and software primarily at this point) that have no ownership applied to them.  A piece of open source software, for example, carries no license, no proprietary rights attached to it.  Anyone has a right to download a piece of open source software, modify it and put it back up on line for open sharing.  The same principles are being applied to hardware as well. 

Some of those present were also employing “open value networks” as their form of organization.  No incorporation, no legal “rights of a natural person” applied.  Simply a group of people who choose to work together, share projects, share any resulting revenue that may be produced, well, openly.  A couple of examples that people may wish to check out on line would be Sensorica, in Montreal (www.sensorica.co), or 99% Media, also in Montreal ( www.99media.org). Neither has a legal structure, they are networks of workers who get together on a project-by-project basis, and share facilities, tools and revenue. 

The other significant “group” of people were the community development folks, most of whom are involved with local, non-State currencies.  Among these was BC’s own Michael Linton, founder of the LETS system that some of us will remember from its 40 year or so history in and around the Comox Valley on Vancouver Island.  The Mutual Aid Network was represented as well, and profiled for us their highly successful time-banking system they have developed under a co-op umbrella in Madison Wisconsin.  Time-banking is in some ways another form of local currency, certainly a local trading system. (www.mutualaidnetwork.org)

In this video podcast, Michel Bauwens chats with Art Brock, Michael Linton, and Matthew Slater about money and new currencies: accounting systems, "open money", current-sees, exchange in the post-monetary economy, trust, and value exchanges.

Is this to be an aspect of the “New Economy”?  An escape from individual ownership – or any form of ownership at all – into an economic paradigm based on sharing?  If you have a need it will be there for you, if you have something to offer you have ways to offer it, and all free of state-based currency transactions?  To people like me, who has spent most of my life assisting people to work in more sharing – but certainly “legally” structured – forms of economic relationships, it raises all sorts of questions:  how scalable can these organizations be?  How are disputes – those that are now “settled” through the market – be settled?  how would “value” of goods and services be determined?  These are questions that need to be answered as we move forward.  For my part I am thankful that there are people out there who have the passion and nerve to just get out there and do it.  Test these models in the crucible of the capitalist economy in which we live, find the challenges and develop solutions. 

Marty Frost

For more information: 

http://www.impacteconomy.io  and other podcasts  https://soundcloud.com/impact-economy

Currently rated 3.0 by 5 people

Is bitcoin the future of money, privacy and payments, the end of greedy banks and the fall of government fiat currencies; or is it an elaborate scam, the currency of cyber villains, and a threat to sovereign states?  

Drew of BitNational, a CCEC Member, says: “We all cherish money deeply, but most don’t truly understand what it is or from where its value is derived. Researching bitcoin and cryptocurrencies enables you to understand a lot more about how fractional reserve banking and quantitative easing only benefit the extremely wealthy, while constantly devaluing every dollar you earn. Bitcoin is honest and transparent at the lowest level.”   

Could bitcoin prevent a future global currency crisis like the ongoing Greek example? Earlier this year, there was a freeze imposed on fund transfers out of Greece and a daily limit placed on how many Euros that Greeks could withdraw from their own bank accounts. If all Greeks used bitcoin, their funds could not be frozen or rationed. We know that Fort Knox doesn’t have enough gold to support the paper currency in circulation, and lots of people are unaware that gold has not been tied to fiat currency since 1971. Is bitcoin, a currency created by the people for the people, the answer?

Bitcoin is not an easy concept to grasp, but at the moment, it’s the only currency without borders. There are many people who are now buying bitcoin in an attempt to learn more about digital currencies that are, for the most part, completely misunderstood.  According to Drew, of the DDP & BitNational, “People are infatuated with saving money, but they don’t really know what it is. The ‘money’ in bitcoin is stored fully in your control, on your cellular phone, in paper (cold storage) wallets, and now many hardware wallets are also coming into the market. There are however still risks in this fledgling industry, if you don’t know what you are doing. For example, the ‘address’ you use to transfer bitcoin must be correct or your funds could be sent to a different person and not returned. Bitcoin is a push system, rather than a pull system like credit cards and traditional banking. You are in full control of your money, if you want to be.” 

So, how are businesses using bitcoins? CCEC Member, the Decentralized Dance Party (link to blog) is selling “Peace Bonds”, exclusively using decentralized currencies, such as bitcoin, to complete The Global Party Pandemic AKA The Grand Unification Tour. The DDP’s recent European Tour was 100% financed by crowdfunding (see blog article on CrowdGIFT) using bitcoin.

So, how does it work? It is said that the blockchain technology behind Bitcoin could be a game-changer in the world of finance. It is virtually unhackable. The blockchain is the systematic ledger that keeps track of all bitcoin transactions. It can never be erased and is constantly growing as more transactions are added in chronological order. Because blockchain technology appears to remove the need for the middlemen of finance — banks, governments, notaries and even paper currency — it is thought that its system of decentralized consensus could be applied elsewhere. "Think about digital signatures, digital contracts, digital keys [to physical locks, or to online lockers], digital ownership of physical assets such as cars and houses, digital stocks and bonds and digital money," noted venture capitalist and bitcoin booster Marc Andreessen in a 2014 op-ed for The New York Times. He continues, "All these are exchanged through a distributed network of trust that does not require or rely upon a central intermediary, like a bank or broker."

Drew wants CCEC Members and their peers to be open to change. He says, “We all know that something is wrong with the current system and that we need to do something. Bitcoin is honest money… We all need to take more control of our finances and put in the effort to understand money. People don’t realize the power that they hold, and they need to understand that they can truly vote with their money.”

BitNational currently has 13 Bitcoin ATMs in Canada, 6 in Waves Coffee Houses in Vancouver and due to consistent transaction growth, will be expanding aggressively in the coming months.

For more information visit bitnational.com, bitcoin.org OR coinmarketcap.org

CCEC will be featuring more articles on decentralized currencies and bitcoin. Be sure to leave your comments on our Blog.

Contact Drew: drew@bitnational.com

Currently rated 0.0 by 0 people

A CCEC member goes beyond the Forbes top 15 Fintech startups to watch for this year.  CrowdGIFT is a values based crowdfunding platform with a philosophy of unconditional generosity.  Their clients tend to be groups with a mandate for social responsibility or political justice.    So, who uses CrowdGIFT?  Turns out our CCEC members do! 

Ben West (TankerFreeBC, the Great Climate Race) worked with CrowdGIFT to sell his book on Fossil Fuel and more recently to fundraise for the Great Climate Race .  Last month we featured The Decentralized Dance Party ,  who also uses this platform.  Why this platform and not the others?  And why enter a market that seeds to be crowded?

Scott Nelson, a Director for CrowdGIFT says, “We are living in interesting times as we are in a world where there is dissatisfaction with the current crowdfunding platforms and a general dissatisfaction with our mainstream banks.”  The better known crowdfunding models are exclusive, use Paypal or other ‘invasion oriented’ payment methods, and the campaigner is penalized with higher service fees or non-payment if you don’t reach your target.

A key differentiator with CrowdGIFT is their use of digital currencies.  Scott says, “People have the right to economic privacy.”  As our foundation is unconditional generosity this includes anonymity and privacy for the gifter.  He believes in digital currencies for two main reasons:  they operate on the principles of decentralization, where no one is a controlling agency as is the case with our current paper money; and privacy.  Read more about digital currencies in the blog (insert link).  Scott has been a strong advocate for digital currencies since 2010 which is aligned in his following of Austrian Economics.  The quote from Julian Assange (Wikileaks) rings true for him,

 “Transparency for the powerful, privacy for the weak.”

Scott sees crowdfunding as an expanding market as more fundraising will go this way.  CrowdGIFT is about showcasing generosity. 

There are five key reasons to choose CrowdGIFT:

1.       We never hold your funds. All contributions flow straight through to you, almost instantly.

2.       You keep all funds you receive, whether you meet your funding goal or not.

3.       Our "offline direct payment" option allows your supporters to give via cash, wire transfer, money order or any other method you can figure out. This offers greater privacy and eliminates PayPal and credit card processing fees.

4.       You can easily accept modern digital currencies including Bitcoin, Dash, Litecoin, as well as Dogecoin.

5.       With crowdgift.ca, you choose how much to gift back for our service: anywhere from 0% to 20%.

So, what’s next for Scott?  While currently he is playing in the field of converging technologies:  web, mobile and alternate currencies, he sees the next wave as machine learning and its’ application to personal growth and development. 

For more information visit https://crowdgift.ca/
Currently rated 0.0 by 0 people

The Ministry of Finance is now reviewing credit union legislation, a process that will proceed over the next year.  Every ten years there is a review and consequently an opportunity to think critically about how financial services are regulated.  In BC, the two principal statutes are the Financial Institutions Act and the Credit Union Incorporation Act.

The last decade has seen some big changes in technology and also in the way international banks are regulated. Technology has changed the way credit unions do business (new service channels online, and mobile), process transactions (paperless payments), and communicate generally.  In addition, technology has introduced a host of new non-traditional service providers; virtual banks, online lenders, private payment services, digital currencies, and more. The failure of some large banks has prompted scrutiny of large scale financial engineering arrangements and of the role of regulators.

CCEC has made a submission to the Ministry in September that attempts to ensure the potential for communities to continue to organize and provide themselves with financial services; using the co-operative model. CCEC is vocal in asserting that the credit union model, at the local level, is to be facilitated and not burdened with regulation. CCEC substantially endorses a consistent legal framework for all credit unions with transparency and accountability among the government authorities.    

Currently rated 0.0 by 0 people

The Decentralized Dance Party (DDP) was founded on the belief that partying has the power to save the world because it is inclusive, and that anyone can dance or carry a boombox.  They feel they will win a Nobel Prize for Partying twice in a row and that the Occupy Movement didn’t achieve its mission because it really didn’t have one.  And, yes, these are CCEC members.  

The decentralized community is a revolutionary initiative that applies the principles of open-source software to longstanding social issues.  The intention is to unite those who are suffering with those who can help, enabling individuals who were previously isolated to devise creative, long-term solutions to their problems.
 
The Decentralized Community was first conceived by Gary Lachance in November 2008.  Then he started the  Decentralized Dance Party and The #BYPASS Movement.  The Open-Source/Decentralization revolution has given rise to technologies like Crowdfunding, P2P Lending, and 3D Printing.
 
But, will these tools create decentralized communities and autonomous societies?  To learn more, read Grand Decentralization Theory or Privacy Is The Enemy, a Grand Decentralization Theory that examine the fundamental nature of the decentralization revolution and propose how these movements can potentially give rise to a completely free and open society.
 
Not withstanding the naysayers, and with irreverence and technology, the AKA team of Tom  and Gary have financed  The Global Party Pandemic, using Crowdfunding and Bitcoins.  Just now, they raised EURO 10,000 in less than one month and a private donor paid their airfare to bring 6+ Parties to Europe!  They started the movement because they believe, “Partying is the most misunderestimated artistic medium in existence.”
 
They’ve thrown 60 insane Parties across North America and the participants with up to 20,000 people at each party.  Their objective is 
celebrating  life, enjoying music, and connecting with complete strangers on a deep and fundamental level- not getting drunk and being idiots.  They are partying by elevating consciousness, not destroying it.  More than a Party, the DDP is an interesting social experiment; showing that you can unite thousands of people of all ages, cultures and social groups to peacefully celebrate our common humanity.

 
That is why the DDP is also known as “The Party Revolution”. It is a unique force that has the power to overcome negative conditioning and unify and inspire the people of the world in ways never before imagined.

  
Follow the DPP in Europe!  https://www.facebook.com/theddp They come back to Vancouver in October.

Currently rated 0.0 by 0 people

Vigilance or evil prevails.

Don't take what we have for granted.  We must be vigilant in defense of our democratic rights and our freedoms.  With the Federal election coming this October 19th we urge all to get out and vote. For specific insights you may want to check out LEAD NOW.

CCEC is rooted in community development and democratic ideals. We believe that ordinary people, collectively, can ensure themselves a better future.  We also know that our democracy is bigger than periodic elections, it is built upon traditions and has many components.  When you vote, understand that there are efforts underway to undermine our democracy and your vote is one way to counter them.

Elections represent the people's voice.  Recently riding maps were redrawn to add new seats, yet still the average population in a riding in BC is @150% the size of one in Atlantic Canada, making our votes less important. Voter eligibility rules were also changed, with new demands for identification; likely making it harder for first nations and immigrants to vote. Is the game rigged?  And should proportional representation be used in parliamentary elections?

Parliament is where the people's representatives approve legislation and hold the government to account. Increasingly, members of parliament are told what to do by the prime minister, rather than the other way around.  Should we not expect more from our MPs?   

Cabinet is the inner circle of MPs that direct government. Over the last twenty years the role of these ministers has been eroded and greater control has been centralized in the prime minister's office ("PMO"). 

The Senate is the second house of law making, where reasonable people are to give proposed laws one last good look.  Now it has been turned into a partisan den that simply does the bidding of the PMO.  

The civil service provides expert administrative resources, scientists, and diplomats that serve the broader public interest with consistency over the long term. Yet the recent past has seen these people characterized as the enemy (of the esteemed leader) and severely cut back, at least in part resulting new risks to the public in rail safety, food safety, environmental protection, and elsewhere.

The courts are the arbiter of disputes and the means to seeking criminal justice, as directed by the Constitution and the law.  The Supreme Court and lower courts have been under unprecedented attacks because they insist that the Constitution be respected.  The emerging single-mindedness of the PMO seems to find this offensive, and it should not.

The media are the means by which the electorate learn about our government actions and may hold government accountable.  The lack of transparency of our government, the insistence on careful messaging, and the failure to respect freedom of information requests has left mainstream and alternative news sources unable to play their role.  The CBC is severely cut back.  Government advertising purchases distort the editorial perspective of private operators and gloss over the failures of government programs. 

Civil society is the way people organize to pursue larger public goals in social, arts and environmental realms.  Non-governmental organizations are fundamental to modern societies.  Yet our government has labelled advocates as 'terrorists' and pursued exceptional efforts to revoke charitable status from many groups.  

International trade agreements effectively out-source law making to international tribunals, usually denying democratically elected governments the power to withdraw from or re-open agreements for extended periods of time.  These pacts are among the most insidious tactic used to limit the power of popular movements and to restrict debate.

The subversion of our democratic institutions and traditions is real. When you vote, choose to support those who will enhance our democratic system of governance. VOTE!

Currently rated 3.0 by 5 people

Distraction, apathy and disengagement are rotting the foundation of western democratic traditions.  While it is tempting to repeat well known aphorisms about what a great place Canada may be, there is an underside of inequality, poverty, plunder and amorality that is both present and ominous.  For many, the challenge of these political 'realities' provides purpose and for many others this emerging global corporate empire is overwhelming.  

But the temptation to watch sports and reality TV, to binge in online games or HBO offerings, and to turn hotel chefs into celebrities is actually part of a a larger social pattern,  The Four Horsemen is a feature length documentary film that lays out a cogent and constructive overview of just what is going on; how certain ideas have become mainstream and blinded us, and how democratic institutions have been subverted.  The film, from the Renegade Economist  (Ross Ashcroft), features several notable thinkers and writers, including Joseph Stiglitz, Herman Daly, Noam Chomsky, and John Perkins.  

Notably, it outlines the need for local institutions and projects to counter this global 'financialization' project. It also emphasizes the need to participate, apathy serves the interests of the rich and privileged.   

 

Currently rated 0.0 by 0 people

Search

home | memberdirectprivacy policy | contact | site map
© 2015 CCEC Credit Union. All Rights Reserved.