Monday, March 18, 2013
Last March 12, at the Institute of Noetic Sciences in Petaluma, California, we hosted two remarkable speakers, Irish journalist Jacqui Dunne, and Belgian central banker Bernard Lietaer. They are the co-authors of Rethinking Money, How New Currencies Turn Scarcity into Prosperity. Together they have over 50 years of experience thinking about this most human invention we call money, and Bernard is the person most credited for designing the Euro in the 1990’s. Their entire Rethinking Money presentation can be seen here.
Jacqui and Bernard reported that the two centuries-old monopoly central bankers have in issuing money is ending, and this transition will become obvious as governments start accepting the new currencies for payment of taxes. If you think this is an outrageous claim, please think again. The descendants of the creative Greeks that inspired our democratic system are busy launching new local currencies, and their cash strapped authorities are considering accepting them in payment of local taxes. Here is a short BBC News clip on this.
While Europe is thinking about it, a complementary currency is already being accepted for the payment of taxes in South America, where the economic crisis started at least a decade earlier. The pioneer currency is called C3 and is being used in Uruguay and Brazil. Last year, at the Institute for the Future in Palo Alto, California, the Uruguayan currency designer Camilo Ramada gave a presentation on how C3 works.
In his talk, Bernard also recognized initiatives to improve the present system, like the efforts of the Public Banking Institute. Last April, the institute’s founder, attorney Ellen Brown, made a presentation at TEDx Silicon Valley: From Scarcity to Abundance–Re-imagining Money. Last year’s PBI convention was in Philadelphia and one of its presentations went viral, a moving short lecture by Canadian student Victoria Grant. PBI’s next national convention will be this June 2-4 in San Rafael, California: Public Banking 2013, Funding the New Economy.
Surprising many participants, Jacqui and Bernard predicted during their presentation that in the near future most of us will have many options to settle our purchases, and that we will often use specialized currencies to do it because they will be more convenient than paying in US Dollars. Far fetched? Well, not really. At SergioLub.com we have been accepting commercial barter at our online shopping cart for years. Customers that belong to one of our barter clubs can pay for our jewelry in trade credits as easily as they pay with credit cards. My family and I did a quick inventory and we found out that we are using already at least 15 complementary currencies to pay our bills with: Thankyous (used online since 1999, Thankyous are the mutual credit units used in the Friendly Favors network) + Credit Card Points through Capital One + 5 Commercial Barter Networks (Itex.com, Bizx.com, Irta.org, Ces.org.za and our newest local system: Bay-Bucks.com) + 8 Frequent Flier Programs (American, United, Southwest, Northwest, Delta, Air Canada, Virgin Atlantic and Continental).
With the many ways we have now to procure airline tickets, top hotels and great meals at local restaurant without using US Dollars it is clear that Jacqui and Bernard’s prediction is realistic and it proves once again what William Gibson said: “The future is already here — it’s just not very evenly distributed.”
Thursday, April 12, 2012
ScienceDaily (Apr. 11, 2012) — Copper — the stuff of pennies and tea kettles — is also one of the few metals that can turn carbon dioxide into hydrocarbon fuels with relatively little energy. When fashioned into an electrode and stimulated with voltage, copper acts as a strong catalyst, setting off an electrochemical reaction with carbon dioxide that reduces the greenhouse gas to methane or methanol.
Various researchers around the world have studied copper’s potential as an energy-efficient means of recycling carbon dioxide emissions in powerplants: Instead of being released into the atmosphere, carbon dioxide would be circulated through a copper catalyst and turned into methane — which could then power the rest of the plant. Such a self-energizing system could vastly reduce greenhouse gas emissions from coal-fired and natural-gas-powered plants.
But copper is temperamental: easily oxidized, as when an old penny turns green. As a result, the metal is unstable, which can significantly slow its reaction with carbon dioxide and produce unwanted byproducts such as carbon monoxide and formic acid.
Now researchers at MIT have come up with a solution that may further reduce the energy needed for copper to convert carbon dioxide, while also making the metal much more stable. The group has engineered tiny nanoparticles of copper mixed with gold, which is resistant to corrosion and oxidation. The researchers observed that just a touch of gold makes copper much more stable. In experiments, they coated electrodes with the hybrid nanoparticles and found that much less energy was needed for these engineered nanoparticles to react with carbon dioxide, compared to nanoparticles of pure copper.
A paper detailing the results will appear in the journal Chemical Communications; the research was funded by the National Science Foundation. Co-author Kimberly Hamad-Schifferli of MIT says the findings point to a potentially energy-efficient means of reducing carbon dioxide emissions from powerplants.
Reprinted from materials provided by Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The original article was written by Jennifer Chu.
Wednesday, April 4, 2012
I wrote in 1995: “In the last 25 years I have seen and interacted at craft shows with thousands of people. While it may sound strange, I concluded that there is a genre of ‘copper bracelet’ people. They are friendlier, perky, alive, and they care more about their personal appearance. In short, copper bracelet wearers are fun people.”
This casual observation from 17 years ago received a scientific corroboration last month from Dr. Michael Lesser, an experienced Ortho Molecular Psychiatrist from Berkeley, CA who has researched and published with Dr. Linus Pauling (who was twice a Nobel Prize Laureate).
Dr. Lesser is well known for replacing prescription drugs with vitamins and mineral supplements – a specialty that has earned him much appreciation from liberated patients but it reduces drug sales – so we do not hear much about his pioneering work in the corporate news.
Dr. Lesser knows of my interest in copper and in a recent conversation he taught me that it is not enough to have our blood readings of copper and zinc within normal range but we should also monitor how their levels relate to each other. Physicians are trained to check blood tests for something that is off the norm, so if results are within range then they quickly move on, but Dr. Lesser discovered that not only the levels of these essential minerals is important, but also how they compare to each other because, for example, if copper is lower than zinc, then depression is far more likely to develop.
Add to Dr. Lesser’s observations the recent indicators that our industrial farms are depleting our soils of trace minerals. Reports indicate that we need to eat now 50 cans of spinach to get the same amount of iron that was in one can when Popeye was written. It is therefore obvious to relate copper deficient diets with low copper in the blood, and thus suspect this to be a cause for the increasing use of antidepressants.
Further validation perhaps can be provided by anthropologists, since I have seen copper and brass bracelets being worn in every continent by natives that seldom or never had contact with other cultures.
Our ancestors were smart and very practical, a nomad or an African hunter takes only essentials in their long journeys, but their minimum equipment often includes a copper bracelet. Why?
When anthropologists look further they may find out that copper bracelets are not just worn for decoration but they have a deep belief system behind them, long held traditions on how to make and wear a copper bracelet that we should record and study even when they do not fit our present beliefs.
Native cultures have lived in harmony with their environment for millennia, while we are already facing unsustainability.
I believe this is a good time to listen to doctors that cure us naturally, with fewer drugs, and to develop a humble attitude so we may rediscover how our ancestors stayed healthy. ~ Sergio Lub
Friday, March 2, 2012
Our german silver, the white metal used in our bracelets, contain 16% nickel. Based on our experience, about one in a thousand people may show an allergic rash from wearing a bracelet with german silver.
Nickel is used in small proportions to make 14K white gold and to make german silver, which looks like silver but it has 65% copper, so it allows the wearer to maintain a silver look while having substantial copper/skin contact.
Our alternative to german silver is sterling silver, which it has no nickel but is only about 7% copper. We believe that it is good to wear copper so we often choose german silver, knowing that the nickel content may inconvenience a few customers that may need to exchange their bracelet.
If you notice a skin rash next to one of our bracelets, please remove it for a day or two, and then wear it again after the rash is gone. This is done to confirm the allergy, since a skin irritation could have many other reasons. If the rash reappears then stop wearing the bracelet and exchange it for another without german silver.
You can gift your nickel containing bracelet to someone without allergies, or you can return it to us with a self addressed stamped envelope, and we will exchange it for free with a design of the same value and made with copper, brass and/or sterling silver. Many of our stores will also exchange one of our bracelets for free as a courtesy, even if you did not buy that bracelet from them.
Our models with sterling silver can be found by doing a design search at SergioLub.com for “Sterling” or “Gold & Silver”.
Alternatively, you may choose any design with pure copper, pure brass, or brass and copper combined. Our jeweler’s brass is 85% copper and 15% zinc, both essential minerals, meaning that no one is allergic to them since we need them to stay alive.
In the United States nickel is considered safe to use in coins and in jewelry, while the European Union presently does not allow nickel to be used in jewelry. I personally sold our german silver bracelets while traveling through Europe in the 1970’s and 80’s and never had a complain there. I believe that the European policy is a reaction to new cases of allergies they experienced after they allowed cheap electroplated imports which had rough edges and 100% nickel in contact with the skin.
An interesting note is that the purest nickel in nature is from out of this world. It is found inside metallic meteorites.
Thursday, December 22, 2011
- Our own trained and trusted bank employees will manage our capital instead of gambling it in risky and convoluted Wall Street schemes that loose our money and then require us to bail them out to cover the losses of their irresponsible investments.
- If our bank employees try to imitate Wall Street banks fraudulent schemes then we shall be able to catch, fire and prosecute them earlier and as needed since they will not enjoy Washington’s political cover.
- With our capital at home we can self-finance our infrastructure and capital intensive improvements.
- Our bank management will receive reasonable public employee compensation which will save us a bundle in the outrageous salaries and bonuses that Wall Street bankers now give to themselves even after loosing record amounts.
- The savings in operating expenses will allow us to offer better rates to our local banks , who will in turn issue more loans for local projects adding liquidity and jobs to our economy.
- Any profits from operations will stay in California and be used for our common needs.
- After being established, our own bank can act as a clearing house to trade our manufacturers and merchants accounts receivable – this is being offered already in Uruguay and Brazil through the C3 platform – thus increasing the velocity of commerce now being handicapped with businesses having to offer ever longer terms in order to secure a sale.
Three months ago, while visiting an investment banker friend in NYC, he casually authorized the purchase of a $4 Million California Bond with a maturity date of 40 years and an interest rate of 7% compounded annually. My friend bought it for $240K, or 6% of the amount of the obligation. This is how much money is costing us now to get money from Wall Street because we do not have our own bank to borrow from.
Compare those outrageous costs of financing with the pitiful interest we receive from keeping our money in the big commercial banks. And then they loose it and asks us for more money so they can keep their incompetent and wasteful ways. I firmly believe that the crooks of Wall Street do not deserve a second chance, we must get what is left of our money home and keep it here.
By the way, $240K is not even enough to pay for one year salary and benefits of a newly hired police officer ordered to limit my constitutional right to peaceful address my grievances. It also means that in 2051 my children will have a $4 Million bond to pay for the repression of their father’s freedoms in 2011.
Any one studying how our debt service is growing understands clearly that the present system is unsustainable and any attempt to postpone the inevitable will make it harder later to rebuild. A Publicly Owned Bank will provide our State with a way to break out of Wall Street and Washington’s madness. There will be those that will always be tempted to invest in the derivatives casino and they should have the freedom to do that if they wish, but our state deserves the right to choose the more prudent alternative of keeping our money home, working for us.
The author, Sergio Lub, is an adviser to the Public Banking Institute – www.PublicBankingInstitute.org
Sergio has been in business since 1969 – His enterprise supplies over 500 retailers and supports about 30 families, most of them in Northern California – SergioLub.com
Saturday, December 17, 2011
Barter is older than money and is now experiencing a Renascence thanks to two factors: One is the increasing scarcity of money due to the global recession, the other is new software that increasingly allows people to earn and spend their barter credits as easily as they use PayPal. Our shopping carts at SergioLub.com and WearCopper.com, for example, accept barter as well as credit and debit cards for the payment of online orders.
Barter will grow even larger if it were to overcome the persistent problem members have when most of their suppliers do not belong to the same barter group as they do. Understandably, suppliers do not want to incur the time and expense of joining another system, while barter administrators need filled applications to check references, and the application fees to pay commissions to their recruiters.
This old Catch 22 problem will disappear once barter administrators allow their trusted members to make barter payment to their suppliers, even when they do not yet belong to the system.
We users will enter the needed data as we process the online transaction, so there is no typing work for the barter office.
The new account does not need extensive credit checking since it is known and recommended by a trusted member. It also does not need an initial credit line since it starts by earning barter credits and therefore with a positive balance.
A common objection from new potential barter members is: “What if I cannot find where to use my Barter Credits?”
I suggest to address this problem by allowing the inviting member to reassure the supplier somehow, for example by offering a “One Year Money Back Guarantee.”
So, instead of paying my printer cash at 30 days (and then asking for more time a month later because others are not paying me), my printer will be able to spend the trade credits right away. If my printer cannot find anywhere to spend them, then I will buy those credits with cash after a year. Even in the rare case that this happens I still would still enjoy extra free financing and my supplier gets a chance to play barter with no costs or risk.
An extra benefit of having members sponsor their suppliers is that our new members will deliver goods and services that we normally consume, thus reducing the present disproportion of luxury items and this should also help with the problem of having members “on reserve” because they cannot find where to spend their earned credits.
One last objection may come from the barter’s Road Reps that recruit new members for a fee, since for them, for barter administrators to allow members giving memberships for free, could be considered unfair competition.
The barter administrator should explain that the free memberships are gift certificates that members have traded for or have earned, for example one per year of membership. Furthermore, the barter administrator can gradually switch compensation for road reps to a percentage of the transaction fees, so their earnings become proportional to the volume of transactions their customer’s make. Doing this will give road reps the incentive to visit existing clients and help them become more knowledgeable and efficient in the barter economy.
As more businesses accept Barter Credits it does not take long to see a future in which we could choose to issue Barter Credits to all our vendors, to be used on a trial basis, during the time it takes for their bills to become due.
In the era of networking, tapping into our established relationships is the viral and sustainable way to go. Imagine what will happen when my suppliers will in turn earn the right to invite their suppliers, eventually closing my trading loops and making the use of money increasingly optional.
Writing this in December, with the spirit of the Holidays all around, it is quite easy to visualize barter group administrators acknowledging their senior members with free memberships to gift to their suppliers, and with a little effort I can see a few innovators empowering their barter members to recruit their suppliers year-round, thus helping unleash the huge potential of barter.
Sergio Lub – Dec 17, 2011
As most artists, Sergio Lub has been using direct trade during his entire 43-year career and presently he is active in 3 online barter systems: ITEX, BizX and UC-Universal Currency. In 2009, at the Dallas Convention of IRTA – International Reciprocal Trade Association – the late IRTA President Dave Wallach, honored Sergio as a “Legend of Barter”.
Tuesday, December 13, 2011
My wife and I were part of a small group of networkers that gathered last September in Santa Cruz to watch a preview of THRIVE, the documentary that took Kimberly and Foster Gamble 8 years to make and features some of the best thinkers of our generation.
Among cultural creatives, this movie has raised more expectations than any other that I remember. It has two trailers at www.ThriveMovement.com – and a vast website of documentation to support and expand on the facts mentioned in the movie. The accumulated body of evidence is so large that I heard people say “the movie is a trailer for the website.”
The expected deluge of traffic is such that a sophisticated international network of servers in the US and abroad have been enlisted to prevent crashing due to high volume or attempts to undermine the disclosure.
THRIVE was successfully launched around the world simultaneously and in many languages on 11/11/11. Its premiere was in the magnificent Craneway Pavillion by Pt. Richmond’s waterfront – www.craneway.com – This is the converted historic factory where Rosie the Riveter worked making tanks during WWII and showed a woman’s worth to the world with her iconic poster Yes We Can!
Thrive Premiere 500 tickets sold out on September 9, two hours after they went on sale.
THRIVE the Movie
Going to this private showing I had a nagging suspicion that all this secrecy and elaborate launching plans could be more hype than substance. I know Foster Gamble as a very conscious man, but how can a documentary be so interesting?
Half way into the showing I understood what was happening, and a chill ran up my spine. This movie is exposing why we have wars, famines, poisoning of our biosphere, junk foods, censorship of alternative energy sources, suppression of meaningful education and institutional attacks on effective natural remedies.
THRIVE allows us to clearly ascend the pyramid of power until reaching – and bravely naming – the few at the top who control most of the world.
It goes on to expose their detailed plan and why they are doing it. Driven by a mentality of scarcity and fear that includes culling the population of the world by reducing fertility, by covert sterilization, toxic food and water and by wars of aggression – strategies that have been applied already for decades.
Then I understood why THRIVE had to be kept secret until it needed to be launched in such a big scale that it could no longer be contained.
When you are exposing people that have already killed millions with their policies, you have to be not only very brave, but you must do it in such a massive and well documented way that attacking the messenger may no longer stop the truth.
Learning How to Thrive
The THRIVE team was committed to providing solutions that are a match to the problems we face. The first and last of THRIVE’s four chapters are an in-depth and detailed exploration of solutions, the actions we can take, as individuals and in large groups, in order to grow out of our present predicament – to not only survive, but to thrive.
These solutions are all organized on the website, so you can just enjoy the beautiful, compelling journey of the film, and after you have had a chance to digest this incredible feast of knowledge, I believe you will be tempted to work on the strategies for solutions, and thus add your shoulder to the Thrive movement – www.thrivemovement.com
Below is a link to a slideshow of Thrive Premiere in Pt. Richmond, CA from 11/11/11 :
Nov 11, 2011
Thursday, December 1, 2011
Our Love bracelets allows you to wear the most romantic word in 10 of the most spoken languages:
Chinese: AI QING
Love Bracelet in Jeweler’s Brass – 63 S, M, L
Love Bracelet in German Silver – 64 S, M, L
Monday, October 10, 2011
Recently I had a glimpse of my own mortality. It happened after The Jane Goodall Institute sent us a short article announcing that one of the $40 Chimp Family bracelets we make for them, was the most fought after item in an auction and the winning bid was for over $400.
I called to find out why someone will offer to pay over 10 times the normal value and I was told that it was the last bracelet they had in stock, the bidders somehow understood that there will be no more… and assumed that the artist (yours truly) had died.
Calm was restored, Jane ordered more bracelets, they are back selling them at their normal price and she is allowing us to sell them to our stores now, as a way to promote her environmental work.
But, what really happened there?
I read somewhere before that over 90% of the money spent in art in America is to buy the work of dead artists, which adds zero to our culture. Think how much more beauty and creativity our world would have if people were supporting the work of living artists.
Next time you see original work that moves you, and is from a living artist, go for it. Pay no attention to salespeople trying to sell you an obscure print from a gone painter, they will try to tempt you with charts showing how much it has appreciated and predicting that it could become your best investment yet. Sadly, most people listen and buy old art, often without even liking the work. Ironically, if they pay high enough for it, chances are that they will not even show it since it will be locked up in a vault somewhere.
The lesson here is to stay away from $400 copper bracelets made by a famous dead artist and to avoid speculative schemes. Buy something because you like it, and because it is made by a living artist. This way the money you spend to add beauty to your life, it will also help create a more sensitive and creative world.
Sergio Lub, Oct 10, 2011