Beyond the Ouroboros

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I recently published a new book, SLAYING THE OUROBOROS—Why Modern Money Theory is a Game-Changer for Climate-Change.

The Ouroboros—the mythical snake eating its own tail—is the metaphor I use to describe the monetary “framework” we imagine market society is using. The first goal of the book is to visualize and understand how the constraints we imagine the Ouroboros imposes do not, in fact, stand up to the reality of the fiat money operations used every day, as a matter of course, by the US Treasury and Reserve Banking System. I strive to accomplish this goal with a non-technical narrative supported by diagrammatic illustrations.

What’s new, for me at least, are three nuances of logic these diagrammatic operations of the Reserve Banking system uncover. Namely:

  • Because the same basic Federal Reserve System operations generate fiat money for Private Enterprise and federal spending (Public Enterprise), it is not logical to say (or believe) that one is the legitimate “creation” of money, while the other is the illegitimate “printing” of money.
  • Because both the spending for Public Enterprise and the spending for Private Enterprise can trigger, as a matter of course, the creation of new fiat money to pay for new goods and services being produced, it is not logical to say (or believe) that the one is inherently guilty of generating inflation, while the other is innocent.
  • The essential distinction between fiat money-creation for Private Enterprise, and fiat money-creation for Public Enterprise, is that the former requires the money be used to generate profits, while the latter specifically does not require the generation of profits at all.

This last point leads to the book’s central premise: Because of the way modern fiat money works (as illustrated in the diagrams) it will be impossible for the operations of Private Enterprise, on their own, to generate the scale of fiat dollars that will be required to make the staggering not-profit-making investments mitigating and adapting to Climate-Change are going to demand. In other words, if market society is going to effectively survive and adapt to global warming, it will have no choice but to abolish the perspective of the Ouroboros framework, and fully acknowledge (and embrace) the reality of modern fiat money.

“Simply” getting to this perspective, however—and bringing a few hundred million thinking people into agreement about it—(HA!)—is different than imagining its actual implementation. In a market society dominated by powerful interests hell-bent on maintaining the oppressive framework of the Ouroboros, the barriers to a rational transition are enormous.

Slaying the Ouroboros makes a first conceptual stab at this dilemma by framing the federal government as a “Customer-of-Last-Resort”—a framing which maintains the ideal of “free” markets managed by Private Enterprise (including all those powerful interests) but adds a new “customer” to the market-mix—a customer who wants to buy (and is uniquely capable of paying for) what nobody else can afford.

Finally, the book acknowledges that, for now at least, effectively breaking through the barriers surrounding the Ouroboros is the realm of science fiction. Thus, the narrative concludes by diagramming the modern fiat money formula imagined and dramatized by Kim Stanley Robinson in his recent novel, The Ministry for the Future (headlined on its cover as “Barack Obama’s favorite book of 2023)! As Robinson imagines the tale of our near-future, human society (and the natural systems supporting it) collapse to the brink of chaos—only to be rescued by, guess what? The remarkable “discovery” that sovereign nations can pay people to save the planet—and, by extension, themselves.

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