Celebration of Life for Stephen Zarlenga

A Celebration of the Life and Work of

Stephen Zarlenga

Founding Director of the American Monetary Institute

Author of The Lost Science of Money

 

A Collection of messages from some of our friends who couldn’t be with us in person:

 

Tribute to Stephen Zarlenga from Congressman Dennis Kucinich:

 

 

Message from Dr. Kaoru Yamaguchi:

This paper, “Public Money, Debt Money and Blockchain-based Money Classified – EPM as Money of the Future,” presented at the 13th Annual AMI (American Monetary Institute) Monetary Reform Conference in Chicago, Sept. 14 – 17, 2017, is dedicated to the memory of Stephen Zarlenga, director of the American Monetary Institute, who passed away on April 25, 2017, at his home in Chicago. Without his vision on monetary reform and guidance through his work The Lost Science of Money, our present research on the public money system would not have gotten started. The first author is the director of the Japan Futures Research Center (Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley) and the second author is its junior researcher (Erasmus Mundus Joint European Master in System Dynamics).

 

michael clark

Message from Dr. Michael Clark:

I am very sorry I cannot be with you this evening to share memories and pay homage to Stephen Zarlenga.

My own experience was brief, even meteoric, but life changing. It began early in 2010, when Dennis Kucinich handed me a thick sheaf of paper and said, “Hey, Mike. I’ve been holding this bill for a while, but I think it’s about time to introduce it. Could you look it over, make sure you’re comfortable with it and have it ready to go by next week?”

I won’t name names, but I am sure those of you who had dealings with Dennis’s office in those days were well aware that the bill did not enjoy strong support among the staff. Most professed not to understand it, and more than a few told me that they were counting on me to kill the bill once and for all. I learned years later that some of the staff called me the “Dennis whisperer”, and they thought I could find a way to persuade Dennis to quietly shelve it.

When I read the bill, I found it took me a while – days, actually – to understand what was being said. In part, the bill was made unwieldy because of the great care that had been given to process issues, and in part because it tried to address the many concerns that readers might have about the radical monetary reform ideas it embodied.

I felt the bill needed help – and that I needed help. So I asked Dennis for more time. I asked if I could meet with the people who had drafted the original bill, and I told him we would need the help of a Parliamentarian with knowledge of legal and procedural issues the bill would raise.

Dennis agreed and set up a meeting with Stephen – I would soon understand that there was no way Stephen was going to let me touch that bill without his involvement! Staff supported the approach thinking I was being especially methodical and clever in my effort to deconstruct the bill. And I read and reread the bill trying to understand what was going on.

The problem I soon came to understand wasn’t just the complexity of the bill, but that the monetary ideas it proposed were completely alien to the common sense of the time – a common set of seemingly natural understandings that I now realized I largely shared.

You see, before I met Stephen and before Elizabeth lent me a copy of Stephen’s book — what she called Stephen’s gold brick – I was convinced that money, or at least the resources that back it, is scarce. I believed that banks took in deposits and lent out the same money loans. I believed that through the wonder of what was called “financial intermediation” that mobilize funds from savers, and made them available to people who need them. I also thought the job of bankers was particularly challenging because of a temporal mismatch between the need to allow depositors to access money on demand and slow return of money, and that therefore banks were prone to runs and runs were prone to panic and crisis. For which we had central banks who acted as lender of last resort to provide liquidity, restore confidence and calm markets.

This was the common sense – it was what every economist I knew believed. (I did have one close friend, chief operating officer of a major US bank, who told me once, well before the financial crisis, that in his opinion, commercial banking was driving the economy through a huge Ponzi scheme – but I was sure he must be joking.)

But in Stephen’s version of the American Monetary Act, there was this very different view of money and of the role it should and must play in the functioning of the US economy. I have to confess that I didn’t understand it fully, at least not at the time. But the core idea was clear – money creation is a constitutional authority that has been delegated to private banks (this was undeniable), private banks create money at no cost to themselves (how they did this was the part I didn’t quite get – the reference to “fractional reserve banking” didn’t work for me), and a large number of problems enumerated in the Act could be attributed to the private creation of money (the ongoing deepening of the financial crisis made this seem obvious).

Meeting Stephen for the first time was a bit daunting. I had already decided that the real purpose of the bill would be propagandistic in the best sense of the word. Its purpose would be above all to present this new view of how money should come into being and should be managed in the public interest. I began a sharp paring of the language removing whole sections, and streamlining each and every line as far as I could to make the core view is as clear as possible. I knew that there were endless details to be sorted out, and that true legislation to implement the Act would end up being hundreds, if not thousands, of pages. And I did all this without consulting Stephen and his team. I approached the first meeting with more than a little nervousness, but convinced that in general, if perhaps not in detail, the approach was the right one for the time.

What we needed was to change the conversation at a time when a lot of people were working on financial regulation, but with operating assumptions completely steeped in the conventional orthodoxy that had created the mess we were in.

Well, we met. He was as nice as could be, greeted me warmly, and thanked me for what by then was becoming a major investment of time. I wondered if he would thank me after he read what I had done. But Stephen listened carefully as I explained what I was trying to accomplish, and told me he agreed with the general approach but would need to talk with his team (I soon learned that he ALWAYS gave credit to his team).

To my great relief, Stephen came back to me quickly. The team had had a difficult conversation, I gathered, but were eventually persuaded by Stephen that this would be the best way to go. They corrected some errors and restored some language, but by and large accepted the reorganization.

The last thing we needed was a real expert in US law and the legislative process to help put the Bill in proper form. I thought this might be a deal killer since just about everyone who had any knowledge of money and banking was tied up with Dodd-Frank or the numerous hearings taking place. And even if there were people available, they would probably not be supporters of the legislation and would find ways to beg off.

Enter Jim Wert on a white horse. Jim was as busy as could be in the spring of 2010, but it became very clear from our first meetings that Jim had a history with these issues and that his heart was in it. Somehow he made the time, and saw the Bill through to its formal submission.

The experience of drafting the NEED Act, or rather redrafting the American Monetary Act (Dennis came up with the new title), was an accidental privilege that, as I said, changed my outlook and life.

Certainly, when it comes to monetary affairs, to government funding, to banking regulation, there is no going back for me. The Act was right in asserting that our delegation of the Government’s constitutional authority and responsibility to create money has contributed materially to growing inequality; led to unbridled expansion of debt, both public and private; weakened our capacity to finance public infrastructure, including education and health; and made us vulnerable to prolonged spasms of unemployment and dislocation.

Today, thanks to Stephen’s work and the work he inspired, it is no longer possible for experts to believe the fairy tale stories about financial intermediation and the role of banks in mobilizing savings; we have now seen the Central Banks create (we said “originate”) ex nihilo literally trillions of dollars, pounds, euros, renminbi, and yen without causing even a ripple of inflation; and we can see the possibilities more and more clearly than ever that real reform of America’s monetary and banking institutions can bring extraordinary benefits to all Americans.

I shall be forever grateful to Stephen (and his team) for his generous, public-minded spirit – the unwavering spirit that carried though the enormous effort of The Lost Science of Money, the courageous spirit that enabled a small band to stand against all “reasonable” and “knowledgeable” opinion, and the generous spirit that embraced the work of a neophyte who had the temerity to unilaterally rewrite the work of many others far more knowledgeable than himself.

May he rest in God’s peace, and may his memory inspire in us the strength to carry on this noble, vital work of restoring democracy to our economic and political life.

 

Prof. Joseph Huber

Message from Prof. Joseph Huber:

I would like to send you my warmest greetings, in the hope you are once again having a good and fruitful time at this year’s AMI monetary reform conference – the first of its kind that is not conducted by Stephen Zarlenga; a situation I am still struggling to grasp in full.

My first contact with Stephen was in 2004, when James Robertson and I were made aware of Stephen’s magnificent work on The Lost Science of Money. There was so much in it on the eventful history of money from antiquity to the recent past, of which I have learned a lot. In the following years we kept contact, exchanging information, ideas, papers, and discussing various aspects of monetary reform. Finally, from 2011 until 2016 I was able to attend the annual Chicago Conference four times. It has always been a successful mix of continuity together with new people and new inputs, and it has always been an international event bringing together people from both sides of the Atlantic and beyond. And I was pleased, of course, when Stephen conferred me the AMI Award in 2013 for my “work in New Currency Theory”.

The monetary reform movement in various European countries, too, has received the news that Stephen had died with great sadness. After a while of dismay, the question arose of whether and how the legacy of Stephen’s great work and dedication for monetary reform might be continued. From my point of view, an international monetary reform movement would not really make sense without an important American tier that makes itself heard among social movements, the media, experts and policy makers in the United States and abroad.

Last year, during a meal, Stephen and I mused about future perspectives of monetary reform. We discussed two questions. One was, whether he saw the N.E.E.D Act as a fixed blueprint for legislative implementation 1:1, or whether it might be possible to concentrate on single elements of it, for example, funding public infrastructure by way of sovereign money creation; or whether it might be possible to develop a somewhat lighter, less detailed, somehow scaled-down version of the N.E.E.D act, while keeping the full-fledged version as the groundbreaking model or benchmark.

The second question, relating to the first, was on cooperation with other reform groups in the field, even if just temporarily for joining together in some special project or campaign. It is of course imperative to have yourself a distinct reform profile of recognition value, but politically, in order to muster critical mass, it is instrumental in ensuring success to build on the elements one has in common rather than insisting too much on the differences.

Well, Stephen was not exactly thrilled, but he wasn’t entirely disinclined either. We agreed on the need to be more concrete about the question of what kind of project or campaign to consider, and tackle it with whom and how. At this point, I do not want to venture out too far, the more so as I am not truly familiar with the situation in the United States. Instead, let me say a few words on reform perspectives currently discussed in a number of European countries.

A full-fledged approach to monetary reform – designed for replacing bankmoney with sovereign money overnight – is on the political agenda in Switzerland and Iceland. In Iceland, after repeated changes in the composition of the cabinet and parliament, the reform process has come to a halt in a situation of political stalemate, but sovereign money reform is still on the agenda.

Switzerland is different, in that the country’s Constitution offers the opportunity for it to be changed by popular vote, and such a vote will be held next year (in 2018). It is about whether or not to entrust the Swiss National Bank with the exclusive right to create all money as legal tender in all technical forms (solid cash, money-on-account, and in digital wallet). To have achieved the vote is a great success of the Swiss group by the name of ‘monetary modernisation’. One should know, however, that such a vote is not normally won in the first run, and if an initiative is successful in the end at all, it may take three attempts. In any case, however, such a popular vote creates a national platform for gaining attention and having discussed the subject matter intensively on a broad basis. And that exactly is the way things are now going in Switzerland.

We definitely know through quite a number of channels that our critical monetary system analysis has gained decisive influence across Europe in revising outdated doctrines on the monetary system. There are official publications by the Bank of England and the German Bundesbank in fact explaining that our analyses are correct and most of the present textbook wisdom on money and credit creation is wrong. In the last one to two years, a number of our people, including myself, have been invited as speakers to conferences and workshops of central banks and other financial institutions. This, of course, does not mean they are changing sides on a broad front, but it certainly indicates that a growing in-group in central banking and finance has begun listening to what we have to say, including our monetary reform perspectives.

Another campaign in a number of countries in the last two years, following a British initiative by Positive Money, has been helicopter money, or monetary financing of government expenditure, or Green QE and QE4P (Quantitative Easing for People). These are different words for basically the same thing, which is, creating central bank money for directly funding government expenditure or a citizens’ dividend. This has been launched as an alternative to the sort of QE practiced in recent years, which poured huge amounts of central bank money (‘reserves’) into the banking sector and other financial institutions, money that has prevented banks, funds, insurers and over-indebted governments from collapse, but has paved the way for future asset inflation and bubbles, and did not contribute to real-economic recovery, especially not in the most hard-hit Mediterranean countries. As QE by the Bank of England and the European Central Bank is now bound to taper off, the topicality of helicopter money or QE4P might also be bound to lose attention and relevance.

A third project or campaign which is currently gaining momentum is central bank issued digital currency, based on a blockchain or distributed ledger, or some other upcoming ICT (information and communication technology). This is about nothing else but sovereign digital cash – which will certainly play a role in the International Movement for Monetary Reform as well as in newly set up Positive Money Europe located in Brussels. A number of European and Asian central banks (England, Sweden, Denmark, Estonia, Singapore, China) have announced their intention to come up with some version of digital currency. Sovereign digital cash circulates from one digital wallet to another, much like traditional cash circulates from hand to hand, with no need for a bank account and banks as trusted third party in public payment processes. Sovereign digital cash has the potential to compete successfully with traditional cash, money-on-account as well as the emerging flood of private crypto-currencies. If central banks are not up to profit from the opportunity, then, I am afraid, commercial banks might not hesitate for much longer to come up with some sort of digital currency of their own.

Sovereign digital cash, furthermore, might be particularly interesting in the US, because the American tradition and Constitution make one think of digital ‘Treasury Coin’ in the first instance, rather than leaving the field to ‘Fedcoins’.

At Monetative, the sovereign money reform initiative in Germany, we were discussing since 2013 the side-by-side approach of having commercial bankmoney-on-account and sovereign central-bank money-on-account in parallel in public circulation. This would give normal people and firms access to the central-bank balance sheet, either directly through a ‘central bank account for everyone’ or indirectly through ‘sovereign money accounts for everyone’ in the form of (fiduciary) customer omnibus transaction accounts managed by banks and other payment service providers.

This is in fact quite similar to having sovereign digital cash in parallel and competition to bankmoney-on-account. We are fully aware of the fact that such side-by-side halfway house approaches are ambivalent. The desired final outcome, i.e. a monetary tide change that replaces private monies with sovereign money, cannot be taken for granted. But these are the current real-world developments, and I think we do better by being in on them rather than staying offside. Even future chances of putting forth again a full-fledged N.E.E.D blueprint are better if we are in touch with ongoing real developments.

I am hopeful that Stephen is not murmuring too much when hearing these words right now. He anyway knew that I would be telling such things. And I want to reassure him of my sincere and warm feelings for the good friend, brilliant intellectual and outstanding monetary historian, system analyst and reformer he became in his lifetime.

Fare well, Stephen, and wishing again all of you a pleasing and successful conference.

 

hudson

Message from Dr. Michael Hudson:

I have known Steve Zarlenga for many years, going back to before he organized the AMI. We were introduced by Nic Tideman. Steve showed me his wonderful article countering Carl Menger’s barter theory of money. I urged him to make this the first chapter of his Lost Science of Money, because the conflict between the Barter Theory and the State Theory of money provides the best frame for his historical research and notes that the published in his book.

He rightly grounds his approach in Aristotle’s point that money is a creation of law and custom (nomos), and on the Lycurgan reforms in Sparta treating iron with vinegar to attest to the fact that use value was not the source of its worth.

I attended all the early meetings of the AMI, usually staying with Steve.

The question is, where to go now that Steve is not around to self-publish and sell his book? I think that the best thing that could happen would be to edit and prepare an edition of the Lost Science that could be published and widely distributed, at least via Amazon if not by bookstores.

I would be glad to help if any of you are interested. His memory certainly deserves it.


Message from Prof. Elizabeth Kucinich:

We never know the roles we are to play in another’s life when we meet them, but Stephen and I played the most extraordinary roles in each other’s.

It is hard for me to describe who Stephen was for me and what Stephen meant to me, but I think many of you know the depth of our devotion to each other.

Stephen was a visionary, a prophet, a historian. A birther of new possibilities through revealing the truth about material reality. Stephen was a servant for humanity. A conduit for the universe to reveal the truths of the nature of abundance, while Stephen himself lived a focused monastic life of simplicity, devotion and purpose. A modern day biblical figure, Stephen all but locked himself away in upstate New York in order to study monetary history, theory, and reform, relying upon the charity of those close to him to support his soul’s mission.

Stephen was the miraculous gateway through which my own future was revealed. We miraculously met at the House of Lords in London and soon after led me to Dennis:

My first task on my first day of my first week working with Stephen in America was to secure a meeting he had been trying to have with this illusive Congressman for two years…The rest is history.

Through our entwined life paths, I met my soul mate and Stephen succeeded in getting his reform theories introduced in legislative form. Stephen was my teacher, my friend, my confidante, my American father. Stephen was a warrior for justice, a believer in a better way and dedicated his life to highlighting the path to abundance and peace for current and future generations. Stephen was a genius. Stephen was both a comforter and a nightmare. He was a bear and we fought like cats and dogs. But we loved each other with deep devotion.

I find it hard to believe that my bullish, strong fellow swimming fanatic is not with us any more. It didn’t seem possible that this man, my dear friend, who lived a life of such deep purpose, would pass when he did. We spent such valuable time together during the period before he passed. The night I flew into Chicago on a 12-hour layover to surprise him, he had other plans. I felt urgency when the plane landed. Instead of waiting for the car rental shuttle I hailed a cab. With my first step from the taxi upon the path leading to his home, I could smell the sweet scent of the full lilac blooms at his front door. And I knew. I knew that Stephen had left us. That he was waiting for me to find him.That he had slipped away hours before. How somehow it was planned that I would be the one who quietly found him and, in the hours between my 6pm landing and 6am departure, his home would transition.

Stephen and I were always there for each other when we needed to be. In those key moments when only we could do what the other needed. Stephen was the conduit through which the universe revealed my path to Dennis and to a new life. It was the greatest honor of my life to be of service to Stephen, and his family, at his passing into the next life.It is both beautiful and terribly difficult to write these reflections as I sit alone at a table in Inner Mongolia.Though I cannot be with you today, I feel Stephen and I were together when it mattered most. Thank you for honoring our dear friend.

Thank you for loving the beautiful bear that he was and for carrying his legacy, his dream and his vision for the world forward.

Be at peace my dear friend. You came here and did what you were meant to do.

Rest now, until we meet again. Then we shall do battle, side by side once more.

I love you forever.


Message from Jesse DeGroodt:

Steven Zarlenga was a singular individual in my life. It was a friendship that sprung up totally unexpectedly. In the early 1990s, I was serving as assistant editor for The Chatham [NY] Courier, then a well-respected weekly newspaper, when Steven one day appeared with a stack of words he one day planned to turn into a book. Would the paper publish some or all of this?, Steven inquired. With some pushing and shoving on my part in the face of a somewhat recalcitrant editor, we did. Much of it, in fact. For once, as least as far as I was concerned, someone was writing something about the monetary system that made some sense, no mean feat.

Several years later, Steven asked me to join he and Lucienne as trustees of the American Monetary Institute. It would have been tough to turn him down, even if I’d wanted. Clearly, that was among Steven’s many gifts, that of persuasion. Furthermore, for every question I had, he had an answer. Sometimes I’d like it, sometimes I wouldn’t, but all the while I was full well aware that at the heart of Steven and his work was, well, heart. He was a fantastic example of diligence – the man just didn’t quit, regardless of the obstacles. As we all know, genius without sweat equity is wasted, and he surely put in the time and effort. To help someone such as myself realize there was more to “money” than stodgy old men guiding things with an unseen hand took some doing, but gently, inexorably, he made me understand.

The years shot by — as they are wont to do — far too quickly. I made sure never to take Steven for granted. Sometimes he made me laugh, sometimes he made me quizzically furrow my brow, but always his sense of humanity shone through.

 

Message from Dr. Lewis Coleman:

Steve Zarlenga was one of my dearest friends, and his loss is great. I met him several years ago after discovering one of his essays on monetary theory in the old “Spotlight” newspaper, whereupon I wrote to him for additional information. I soon realized that I had encountered a kindred spirit, and what I learned from him quickly revolutionized my understanding of the nature of money, and exposed the fallacies of my primitive libertarian beliefs about metal money.

Our friendship was based on our mutual idealism. My passion is to revolutionize and reform medicine by introducing a previously unrecognized mechanism that explains the stress theory of Hans Selye. His was to expose the evils of presently prevailing monetary systems, and introduce reforms that would revolutionize civilization.

Nevertheless, his monetary ideas and principles, which are detailed in his book, will pave the path for future monetary reform that is essential lest civilization perish. May his memory endure.

 

Message from James Robertson, UK

I was shattered when I heard of “The Director’s Passing” on the 8th May.

I saw Stephen Zarlenga as someone who had given us outstanding vision and action in the field of monetary reform. I felt his passing would be a huge loss. I widely spread news of his obituary.

I am now looking, as on every day, at “A Lifetime Achievement Award to Mr. James Robertson from the American Monetary Institute signed by Stephen A. Zarlenga, Director, on September 27, 2008.” It dominates the window shelf in my study. It will remind me every day of him and you, and I wish you well in carrying out his work.

My very best wishes to you all.


Message from Cullom Cahill (AMI Assistant):

I first met Stephen 8 years ago when I interviewed for a secretarial position at something called the American Monetary Institute.  At the time I had no idea what AMI was and especially didn’t have a clue as to what our country’s monetary system was; I was just a broke college student looking for some extra cash.  I remember coming away from that interview very impressed and excited.  I had never before had the opportunity to work with, or even talk much with, someone of his intellectual caliber.   Instantly I admired him and felt fortunate when he offered me the position.

I worked with Stephen for around 2 years.  During that time I got to know a lot about his thoughts on politics, philosophy and life.  Something that struck out to me in every conversation we had was how driven and motivated he was to make the world a better place.  His motivation was inspired by his deep love for humanity.  Stephen was a man who cherished human life and cared deeply for every individual he came into contact with.  I remember once when we were driving to Chicago we passed a homeless man on the street.  This is not an uncommon situation to encounter and I, like many of us, was fairly desensitized to it. But Stephen approached the situation humanely: he instantly reached for money and expressed how tragic and terrible homelessness is.  He then did what he often did when confronted with a social ill: he explained this man’s personal struggle in the context of the greater socioeconomic and political forces which contributed to his “bad luck”.

Stephen’s ability to personalize complex overarching systems, most importantly the monetary system, made him unique.   His passion for making the world a better place was impressively unending.  We can all be inspired by how determined and focused Stephen was, despite facing enormous obstacles.

I feel very fortunate to have had the chance to get to know Stephen and for the impact our relationship has had on my life.  He was a great, kind, and caring man that will be missed.  I applaud all of you who have taken up the struggle of changing our monetary system for the betterment of all people.  Through you all and the AMI, Stephen’s life work will not be in vain.  We should all hope to take his passion for change as an inspiration to dedicate our lives to what we think is right and just.  Rest in peace Steve.

 

Message from Ben Dyson (Bank of England, formerly Positive Money):

I’m sorry that I can’t be there in person for the conference.

The first time I spoke to Stephen and Jamie was to discuss some technical details of the H.R. 2990 back in 2009.

I was always impressed how much knowledge Stephen had about the history of the monetary system and money reform.

Stephen has worked tirelessly to educate people about the problems with money, and it was a great inspiration to come to the AMI’s annual conference in 2009, 2010 and 2011, when I was still just learning about this massive issue. Luckily, although we’ve lost Stephen’s knowledge and expertise in person, he has painstakingly documented it all in The Lost Science of Money, so we can all benefit from his work.
I wish everyone the best of luck for the conference this year, and hope you can help Bob and Jamie to carry Stephen’s work forwards
.

 

Message from Prof. Richard Werner, UK:

I was shocked and very sad when I heard that Stephen had passed away. It is a loss to all of us, to mankind, a loss to scholarship, and also a personal loss.

I had the fortune to speak to Stephen on the telephone and Skype several times. I wish had had the chance – or used time more wisely – to arrange a personal encounter. I had heard of Stephen many years ago and had bought his insightful and impressive magnum opus ‘The Lost Science of Money’. It was clear to me from this that he was a fearless scholar seeking truth. At the same time he was a charismatic person, as he has managed to gather so many people around him and motivate them to join him – and now to continue the quest that he began.

This year once again I will unfortunately not be able to attend the AMI Annual Conference in person. But I hope I shall finally make it in 2018 and very much look forward to meeting all of you, and hearing stories from you about Stephen and all the great things he did, and also the achievements of the movement that he inspired.

I am with you in thoughts. Have a great conference!


Message from Edgar Wortmann, Netherlands:

I am honored to contribute to this celebration, which I do over distance and in writing. That is how Stephen came to me, some 13 years ago. His work was not available in Rotterdam’s main bookstore, and its staff was unable to order it, as it was not listed in their catalogues.

I had to order with Stephen himself, which resulted in our first personal contact. I ordered several copies, which gave Stephen hope to have found a potential distributor for the Netherlands. Unfortunately, I developed as a thinker about money, and not as a maker of it.

The Lost Science of Money” appealed to me, as it turns history into a gripping story, once seen from the monetary perspective and the underlying quest for power. Stephen succeeded in presenting this with accuracy and intelligent and ethical reasoning. I once heard him say: “If you have read it, then read it again”. Few people but Stephen speak in that manner about their own work. But in this case, it was right on the mark. I still haven’t finished reading the book, wishing to know it by heart.

In those days, taking interest in the money issue didn’t yield me any new friends. The subject was generally regarded dull, complex and irrelevant.

And why bother, as Darwinism teaches us that we already have the best system evolution can provide. Most copies of Stephen’s book I gave away, trying to awake some kindred spirits around me. Unfortunately, I rarely got the response I desired, and rather branded myself an ardent supporter of an obscure writer, whose book was to be obtained from the author himself.

In utter loneliness, I consumed every speech of Stephen I could find on the web. At some point, I heard him say that the money system suffers from the confusion of money and credit. That puzzled me, because I had no clear notion of both concepts. Now I have, and it is my mission to help others distinguish the two, and understand the relevance of it.

Distinction of money and credit became the main theme of the public debate in the Netherlands on monetary reform, which we stirred up from 2013 on. Recently, in the course of that debate, our finance minister, Jeroen Dijsselbloem acknowledged that Bitcoin is a ‘debt free’ payment instrument. At the same time, he insisted that a virtual euro cannot be ‘debt free’, as it necessarily is a central bank liability. In his view, the euro must remain bank credit, thus quasi money. Of course, he is wrong, and I guess he knows it, for he did not substantiate his claim. As chairman of the Eurogroup, Dijsselbloem could raise the issue of a debt free euro, and take it out of the banker’s hands. He could release its power of debt redemption, enabling the Eurozone to flourish to its full potential. From his blunt statement however, it is clear he will not do so in his remaining term in office. Surely it might cost him a lot, as the remainder of his career is likely to be outside politics. He has the option of an honorable position within the financial establishment, or side with us, in relentless struggle.

Such things are discouraging. But there is a bright side too. We compelled the highest offices in the Netherlands to take a position on monetary reform, which is an ongoing process, that will reach a new phase when the scientific council of government policy publishes its report on monetary reform, due in 2018.

Without Stephens work, I would probably not be in this fight, and my life would probably have been much easier. But I still would have felt unhappy given the grave injustice, deception, waste and pollution that is among us. With the money issue in focus, it is clear how to fight for a just society, without violence, transforming grief in meaningful action.

Thank you, Stephen, for opening this door and paving a path, which is not an easy road, but the right way to go and deeply satisfying for mind and soul. You’ve ascended to the pantheon of saints, from which I am sure your spirit remains gracious to all who sincerely follow-up your cause and brilliant work.

 

Message from Dr. Michael Kumhof, UK:

My Memories of Stephen Zarlenga-

It was with heartfelt sadness that I learned of Stephen Zarlenga’s passing in April 2017. Stephen was one of those rare individuals who put the good of others, of humanity even, ahead of his own. His tireless work in pursuit of monetary reform was in the very best of scholarly traditions, starting with a testable hypothesis of what may be the cause of our monetary problems, proceeding through a painstaking and decades-long study of the historical record relating to that hypothesis, and concluding with a completely coherent plan for how to construct a better system, and a better world. He left behind a body of work, especially with his book The Lost Science of Money and with the NEED act, that will be an inspiration for scholars and practitioners for decades to come. And he did all of this at considerable personal sacrifice. When the time comes to look back at my own work, and I am sure you all feel the same about yourselves, then this is the type of record I could look back at with satisfaction. I would be able to say “I stood up to be counted!”. Well done, Stephen!

I should not conclude without saying a few personal words about my acquaintance with Stephen. This goes back to around 2010 when I first attended the annual AMI conference, which subsequently became a fixture in my calendar. I always experienced Stephen as a warm, generous and incredibly knowledgeable individual. This, as well as the combined scholarship of so many great minds who were drawn to Stephen and who came to the annual conference from around the world, is what always made me come back. I therefore felt truly honored when in January 2015, on the occasion of a party that my wife and I gave shortly before leaving the US, Stephen came, all the way by train from Chicago to DC! Perhaps my last memory is of our joint visit to a Korean spa, Stephen in shorts and a towel, bantering about life and of course about monetary reform. I will always hold that memory dear.

I wish all of you a great conference, and please, please, continue Stephen’s work in the years to come.


Message from the Reverend Canon Peter Challen, Moderator of the Christian Council for Monetary Justice, UK:

Someone said recently “A paradigm is needed that without apology takes both an uncompromisingly cynical view of society and a deeply idealistic one.”

My mind went back immediately to Stephen’s visit to London soon after the publication of his monumental work. The series of meetings during his visit lifted the spirits of many in the UK who struggle to communicate that palliatives in a dying system are vital. But if there is no modelling and application of a systemic curative, all palliatives will be in vain.

Stephen both confirmed and enriched the conviction of many that the misuse of money over centuries gave a vital clue to the systemic curative we seek.

Stephen’s ‘clue’ was so deeply probed and his passion in relaying it so contagious that to this day the light that emanates from the space he leaves illuminates a growing number of we activists in the UK who work for inclusive justice and the common good.

Peter Challen ['Reverend Canon' if titles matter when we are committed to my father's last words, 'Nothing is impossible if you don't mind who gets the credit.']

 

Video Message from Prof. Steve Keen, UK:

 

 

Celebration Song:

 

“Swimming to the Other Side”

By Pat Humphries

We are living neath the Great Big Dipper
We are washed by the very same rain
We are swimming in the stream together some in power and some in pain
We can worship this ground we walk on cherishing the beings that we live beside
Loving spirits will lives forever we’re all swimming to the other side
I am alone and I am searching
hungering for answers in my time
I am balanced at the brink of wisdom
I’m impatient to recieve a sign
I move forward with my senses open
Imperfection it be my crime
In humanity I will listen
We’re all swimming to the other side
We are living neath the Great Big Dipper
We are washed by the very same rain
We are swimming in the stream together some in power and some in pain
We can worship this ground we walk on cherishing the beings that we live beside
Loving spirits will live forever we’re all swimming to the other side
On this journey through thoughts and feeling
Finding intuition, my head my heart
I am gathering the tools together
I’m preparing to do my part
All of those who have come before me band together and be my guide
Loving lessons that I will follow
We are living neath the Great Big Dipper
We are washed by the very same rain
We are swimming in the stream together some in power and some in pain
We can worship this ground we walk on cherishing the beings that we live beside
Loving spirits will live forever we’re all swimming to the other side
When we get there we’ll discover all of the gifts we were given to share
Have been with us since life’s beginning and we never noticed they were there
We can balance at the brink of wisdom
Never recognizing we’ve arrived
We’re all swimming to the other side
We are living neath the Great Big Dipper
We are washed by the very same rain
We are swimming in the stream together some in power and some in pain
We can worship this ground we walk on cherishing the beings that we live beside
Loving spirits will live forever we’re all swimming to the other side
Loving spirits will live forever we’re all swimming to the other side