The Island of California refers to a long-held European misconception,dating from the 16th century, that California was not part of mainland North America but rather a large island separated from the continent by a strait now known instead as the Gulf of California.
One of the most famous cartographic errors in history, it was propagated on many maps during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, despite contradictory evidence from various explorers.
One of the greatest opportunities before us is aligning our financial system with our local living systems — with our people, our culture and our natural environment. Currently, if you map out out and make visible our “financial ecosystems” you will find that the incentives in those systems are often at odds with what optimizes the living systems and build wealths locally. Bringing transparency to our financial systems and living systems within a place and finding opportunities to realign is an activity worth considering.
Data in your local area is typically collected by enterprises and agencies responsible for public and private operations and investment. Many years ago, I created a taxonomy of local investment categories to describe the basic areas of data collection.
1. Adult Education/Community College/College/Training
2. Agriculture and Food
3. Arts & Culture
4. Child Care
5. Courts & Judiciary
6. Economic Development
7. Energy (gas, electric, nuclear, solari, wind other)
8. Fire and Emergency Services
9. Health Care
11. K-12 Education
12. Land, Weather and Natural Resources
14. People Who’s Who: People Who Live and Work in Our Neighborhood and Our Core Competencies
15. Military, National Guard, Troopers, Sheriff, Police, Enforcement, Prosecution & Public Safety
17. Sewer and Garbage
18. Social Services
19. Sports and Recreation
20. Taxes, Time, Regulatory Powers and Assets Paid/Given to Federal, State and Local Government
23. Jurisdictions and Boundaries: Who and What Are We a Part of?
24. Risk Issues
25. Neighborhood Balance of Trade: Imports/Exports
26. Total Debt Per Person: Federal, State, Local, Consumer, Mortgage and Other
27. Parking Lot
An introduction to some of the key economics literacy you need to understand your local economy and to make sense of all the data available, see my curriculum Economics 101.
For an example of what communities are doing to build local literacy, see the many reports in the US on Consolidated Financial Reports. Participatory budgeting is a very interesting idea that emerged from the economic problems in Latin America. Check it out here. I always thought that community questing would be a great way to learn the economic history and assets of our communities. See: Questing: A Guide to Creating Community Treasure Hunts.
Step one to understanding the economy and finance is simply understanding the accounting and financial terms that are new to you or which you do not understand. I usually start with a good dictionary or encyclopedia. A complete Oxford-English Dictionary or a good finance or accounting dictionary should have most of what you need. I always start with Wikipedia and Wiktionary. They usually have the basics.
You can link to both in the links section at this blog under “Get Data.”
If you don’t understand a word, look it up. If for some reason, you feel you still don’t understand, post a question here and I will see if I can answer or get one.
The financial fraud known as “pump and dump” involves artificially inflating the price of a stock or other security through promotion, in order to sell at the inflated price. This practice is illegal under securities law, yet it is particularly common.
One example of a highly successful pump-and-dump operator is Jonathan Lebed. Lebed was 15 years old when the SEC accused him of manipulating several securities — he settled the charges by paying a fraction of his total gains. While Lebed has many apologists who note that his promotional activities are similar to those used by analysts every day, they fail to take into account that he not only made false and misleading statements about companies, but purchased enough shares to temporarily move the market, creating an artificial burst of activity that provoked investor interest. In fiction, a good example of how this works can be seen in the movie Boiler Room.
By Catherine Austin Fitts
In the summer of 2000, I asked a group of 100 people at a conference of spiritually committed people who would push a red button if it would immediately stop all narcotics trafficking in their neighborhood, city, state and country. Out of 100 people, 99 said they would not push such red button. When surveyed, they said they did not want their mutual funds to go down if the U.S. financial system suddenly stopped attracting an estimated $500 billion-$1 trillion a year in global money laundering. They did not want their government checks jeopardized or their taxes raised because of resulting problems financing the federal government deficit.
Our financial profiteering and complicity is not limited to aristocrats and the elites who do their bidding. Our financial dependency on unsustainable economics is broad, ingrained and deep.