Title : “15 Minutes Of Fact : Want to Transform the Economy? Start by Transforming Your Thinking?”
URL : http://youtu.be/TLio1YWOkzY
Organization : 15 Minutes of Fact podcast :
Web Site : http://writtenoffamerica.com/
Host : Jerry Ashton
Contact : firstname.lastname@example.org
Guest : Zeus Yiamouyiannis
Contact : LinkedIn Profile , Email : email@example.com
Jerry Ashton : We’ve had some interesting guests on “15 Minutes of Fact” over time, and explored some compelling topics. When it comes to the intricacies of economic theory and abstract financial systems, however, I get a bit nervous. Even my bravest listeners are brightfully weary, even though they know that they will be subjected to no more than 15 minutes on one subject – hence, “15 Minutes of Fact”. So, I don’t propose that we’re going to lose even one member of our audience today with our audience with our guest Zeus Yiamouyiannis. Is that the correct pronunciation, Zeus?
Zeus Yiamouyiannis : Yiamouyiannis.
Jerry Ashton : Yiamouyiannis. Thank you so much. He is reached by way of Skype at his home in the Philippines.Here’s why you’ll be interested. Somehow Zeus is able to deliver – in understandable English – clear answers to today’s economic train wreck. He magically reduces the complexity of trillions of dollars of currency, trade and debt, and reduces things down to simple accounting – almost the type of thing you’d be able to do at your kitchen table, but not quite. Because he is a PhD, after all, he’s an economics blogger, a futurist, and author of the newly published book “Transforming Economy : From Corrupted Capitalism to Connected Communities”. He writes for zerohedgefund.com and oftwominds.com – two top alternative economic web sites – and is considered a performance educator in the way that he delivers information that informs as well as excites. Let’s see if he can make that happen on the show today. Welcome to “15 Minutes of Fact”, Zeus.
Zeus : Thank you so much for having me Jerry.
Jerry : Well, it’s a pleasure.So let me start out with that rather slippery word that you seem to use when you talk about the work that you do in economics – and that’s “transform”. Now, is this a use of semantics to get past everyone’s natural disinclination to accept change?
Zeus : Well, I think there are a couple of issues when you use a word like “transformation”. The first is the notion of resistance to change. I address this specifically in my book. I mean, many people are under the delusion that you can choose not to change. We’re in an era – as I said in my book – that things cannot go on as before. We know we will change. The only issues are, “Will change be done to us, or will it proceed from us?” So I think at this point the only thing that you would be doing is essentially using your perception to avoid reality that is already upon us. The second is also important, and that is romanticized notions of change that sort of substitute ineffective replacements – a kind of “new age fantastic thinking” that if we just hold hands together enough, or there’s a technological solution that’s going to come out of the woodwork and save us all –
Jerry : Wait…. wait,… wait. You’re telling me that “Kumbaya” and Google is not going to save us in this particular world we’re living in?
Zeus : Not without human consciousness and decision to let that change and transformation in consciousness work. And that’s what I really advocate for, and work with others to provide. I mean, there’s a necessity of change, there’s a reality of change , and then there’s the opportunity for change. I’m excited by that notion, and I think we could get more people on board if we show that change can be an exciting and purposeful and deep way to live.
Jerry : Well, let’s get to the subject at hand – the economic disaster that we’re calling the “Great Recession”. I’ve read through some of your earlier works and two stand out for me. One is called “Five Courageous Steps” – I like it when people give me numbers and quantities to work with. The other is called “Ten Shocking Practices”. Now, are they part of your just-released books? Or are they precursors? Tell us about them?
Zeus : Well, they’re both companion pieces to the book. The first one “Five Courageous Steps to Transform Your Economy” really is about what you can personally do to, sort of, see through the haze provided by our current economic situation. It’s actually available to your audience for free – if they just go to transformingeconomy.com and sign up for the newsletter, or email list signup – they will get a free copy mailed to them through their email. That’s, again, more focused on how you can translate some of the broader principles I have in my book to actual personal practices. The second, “Ten Shocking Practices in the U.S. and Global Economy” are really a “greatest hits list” of some of the most outrageous things happening in the economy – and then some follow up questions to stimulate discussion. It’s meant to be a companion piece to my book, and if people do get it – for the first people doing this, especially activists – I’m writing out a personal email and sending that along regardless of whether you buy just one book or more.
Jerry : Well, I want the listener to know that there are some really excellent, shocking items there that we’re aware of, but not aware of how really horrendous they are. Can you name three of them for us?
Zeus : Well, my greatest hit is “fraudclosure”. I’m astounded that two things happened with “fraudclosure”. One, there were hundreds of thousands – maybe millions – of forged documents, that are clearly – I mean, there’s no dispute that they were forged. People have admitted that they were forged. Basically, there was an electronic system set up to do an end run around filing requirements, for property.
Jerry : Oh you’re talking about the famous “robo-signing” and things like that.
Zeus : “Robo-signing”, and there was nothing done about that. There was no real prosecution. There was not even really any investigation. What I found when I did research is that this $25 billion Attorney’s General solution ended up being – most of it, only about $8.5 billion was supposed to be in cash – that was never really done. Only $1.5 billion was spent on consultants. And I found out as recently as January of this year not a single dime has really been spent on a homeowner. So it’s really a big, huge smokescreen. Money is the whole chain of private property, which is supposed to be the bedrock of economy in terms of who owns what, and what an asset really is – and nothing has been done about it. It’s been swept completely under the rug.
Jerry : Which, of course, leads me to my next statement of dismay, and that is one of the unquenched calls of anger regarding the recession is that the culprits – the big banks, their thieving executives – have not been held accountable for what are clearly financial crimes. Now, nobody else has answered it. Why is that?
Zeus : Well, there are two parts to that that I can see in writing this book. The first is simply this. It is obvious that the people who are working on enforcement have been members of these banks that are not being investigated – as it turns out – and they are trying to protect their own former turf and relationships. They cannot separate their own lives and what they consider to be of benefit to themselves personally, and their official duties. That’s the first part – the more obvious. The other one is really sneaky – and incredibly condescending – and that is this notion that we have to excuse high crimes to prevent the suffering of the “little guy”. If these firms collapse, how many people will be thrown out of work? Lenny Brewer , who was part of the criminal division of the Department of Justice, resigned after a “Frontline” piece in which he said, “If we indited them, the company might fail.” It’s like, “Really! A criminal company might fail if you indict them.”
Jerry : The people I want to see thrown out on the streets are exactly the people you are talking about.
Zeus : Exactly. The main point is this. There can be no market without accountability, and in the present system there really isn’t accountability. This is what I want to say to them, “You’re trying to protect what? The market? Well, if you’re trying to protect the market you need accountability, which means you need to prosecute people who do crimes.”
Jerry : Well, that brings up the larger picture of debt. Something that seems to afflict everyone but the famed 1%. Some people say that we should simply walk away from debt as individuals, and even as a country. Now, are these debts so toxic that they cannot be converted into something that is usable? What is your opinion about this?
Zeus : Well, many of them are. The entire derivatives market, and the debt that was created out of them – something like a trillion dollars of so-called “toxic derivatives” were bought up by the Federal Reserve – are nothing but junk. They were constructed vehicles that referred to, basically, fantasy assets and collateral – and had no real purpose, except to generate fees and cash flow from nothing.
Jerry : And bonuses. Don’t forget the bonuses.
Zeus : Absolutely. Wall Street rewarded themselves – after they collapsed the world economy – with a near-record $144 billion in compensation. And they do that by basically extending counterfeit value in the form of these constructed, “fantastic” – not fantastic meaning, like, pure fantasy – economic vehicles that are not backed by anything. They just simply refer to assets, and then they make off with the transaction fees and bonuses on false paper profits. So this gets at the core of debt as asset. Debts have been considered assets, and this is a very twisted notion. And they certainly aren’t assets if people start defaulting on them. Debts require ability to pay, and because that has been forgotten we now have a situation where these so-called “toxic assets” and “toxic debts” really are junk. I advocate, in two chapters in this book, not only debt forgiveness but also finding ways to administer debt forgiveness. Because when you have something built on fraud – I mean, one of the titles is “Endgame : When Debt is Fraud, Debt Forgiveness is the Last and Only Remedy”. So we don’t expect a person to pay for a crime. If they are extended money in a fraudulent way, why should they have to pay it back? Now there is intricacies in how to deal with that, but we really should get –
Jerry : Well, I was listening to an interview you had done with Max Keiser on his show “On The Edge”, and I was struck by two things. First, the show was all about – and this was two year ago. As a matter-of-fact it was on September 17th, 2011. It was all about the Wall Street meltdown, and coincidentally enough on September 17th that’s the exact day that Occupy took over Zuccati Park. Is this something coincidental, or something you just pulled together yourself?
Zeus : Hahaha! I would call it auspicious – a meeting of the minds. What it is showing is that voice is a way to coordinate and pop-out in ways that we don’t expect. And it gives me real hope, because voice is the start of action. Real people need real food, water, clothing and shelter. They can’t go on extend and pretend. Finally, especially with Occupy Wall Street, people are finally saying, “And we need real accountability.” They’re starting to come out, and we’re finding that one of our basic needs – which people have forgotten about – is our need for community, and our need for voice. So to me I see it as a universal upsurge, and an auspicious coming together of people who care.
Jerry : Well, how could your book be of value to Occupiers and activists – not even considering the mainstream “Mom and Pop” out there, who haven’t given it a lot of thought, except a lot of their pain and blood, sweat and tears to surviving. How can your book possibly help in the face of the implacable and resolute enemies that we have both in the government and in banking. How would you, for example. counsel students with their staggering debts?
Zeus : Well, first of all, I would simply say, “Get active, creative, imaginative and organized.” One of the best ways to do this is to “stop feeding the beast” – that’s one of my steps in the “Five Courageous Steps To Transform Your Economy”, and there are specific ways to do that in the book. I think the most important thing about that is to start taking leadership, not to be reactive to the current system. To take as much energy away from it as you can, identify toxic practices – which I do in my book – and then take as much of your time and money away from that system as possible and use your leadership to organize and create the creative alternative. The last chapter in my book is called “Youth of the World Unite : How the Younger Generation Can Lead the Way To A New Frontier”. There is so much talent and ability there, and so much responsibility and liability being dumped on young people. I think they just need to go ahead and face that. Organize together and find ways to be really resourceful, and pull themselves out of that – essentially “death spiral” that former generations have provided for them – and develop their own leadership going forward. There are specific ways to do that.
Jerry : Okay. So what would it look like if we actually had an economy and a society built around the things that matter most to us. What would those things be, and what would that world look like?
Zeus : Basically my book is about going toward a democratic capitalism. We’ve never had it, but basically it is money serving people – not the other way around – people serving money. It also involves – because we have a sustainability issue – us really going from a more material to a non-material basis for our purpose of living. That is already kind of happening. We want to move from a : taking, exploiting and consuming society to a creating, giving and sharing society. Now that’s not kumbaya. That tag line that I like to use sometimes, that I’ve created is that, “I am a more fulfilled me by a more effective we.” If we can begin to develop that notion – and it is already coming up for the younger generations who not only believe that but experience that as a quality of life for them – then we can begin to turn the tide.
Jerry : Well, I can’t think of a better note on which to conclude our “15 Minutes of Fact” today Zeus. So allow me to ask you to give our audience some contact information on you and your book so that they may reach out to you directly. Now I know your email address is firstname.lastname@example.org – and that’s your website as well. You’re also on LinkedIn and I notice that you’re also on Facebook. How else can people reach you and how can they find this book?
Zeus : Just type in : http://www.transformingeconomy.com . That will bring up the main page with email signup where you can get the “Five Courageous Steps To Transform Your Economy”. There’s a book link there where you can click on “Get The Book” where you can actually pick up the book. And I’m trying to develop community forums and so forth – but that is more in the works. You can also get at my main site – just having to do with transformation – and that is http://www.citizenzeus.com. It really focuses on transformation in economics, education and spirituality. So if you have interest in those areas go to http://www.citizenzeus.com and you’ll see some of my past essays there are well. So those are the two main resources I would point people to, and again you can contact me anytime at email@example.com.
Jerry : Well Zeus, I can’t thank you enough for the time you have shared with us. You are living up to your reputation. I didn’t fallen asleep once. [laughter]. I hope that will also be true of the audience. That’s a good start – not falling asleep – I actually think you’ve activated me. I think that just might be happening. So, once again, this is Jerry Ashton with “15 Minutes of Fact”, searching out people with interesting ways of dealing with what we call “The Great Recession” – different and more likely fruitful ways in which to be able to build a stronger “we” so that you can become stronger yourself.
You can find me, of course, at Huffington Post – where I blog – my web site : http://www.writtenoffamerica.com, on Twitter as @WrittenOffUSA, and on LinkedIn.
Jerry Ashton signing off for “15 Minutes of Fact”