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Reforming the banking system for good

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Most people are well aware of the crisis that continues to engulf the banking and financial systems, but how many know about what caused it?

To many, the financial crisis that first reared its head in 2007 came as a shock. Suddenly, and apparently out of nowhere, the global monetary system was in recession. But those who knew about economics saw it coming.

In 2006, I stumbled across a book called The Grip of Death, by Michael Rowbotham”, says Ben Dyson, the founder of Positive Money, a not-for-profit organisation that, according to its website, is set out to “raise awareness of the deep flaws in our current monetary system”.

I thought that the way the banking system was structured would probably mean that it would collapse sooner or later.

Then in 2007, it happened and I just watched the whole thing playing out, thinking that this is all due to the fact that banks are able to create money.”

The notion of creating money might sound a bit far-fetched. Far from it. It’s an entirely realistic activity, and one that happens in every bank around the world. And it’s this activity that paved the way for the financial crisis over the past five years, as an “artificial boom” was created in the eight years leading up to 2007, during which the money supply doubled.

For those that thought money trees only appeared in hallucinations, think again.

The stuff that most of us think of as money – the cash that you use in shops – only makes up 3% of all the money that exists”, explains Dyson.

The vast majority of it – the other 97% – is electronic money, which is what you see in your account when you check your balance at an ATM.

A lot of people think that this electronic money must be a representation of some pile of cash that’s sat in the bank, but the reality is that it’s actually just an accounting entry, so it’s literally just a number in a computer system.”

And it’s as simple as that. The banks are able to create these numbers by making loans, but this comes at quite a cost. The more the banks lend, the more profit they get, and the more money that begins to swish around in the economy.

The creation of new money allows the banks to decide where most of it enters the economy, too, with the majority looking at the short-term, and investing in such unsustainable industries as oil, commodity speculation and trading in the financial markets.

Renewable energy, cleantech, water and sustainable agriculture – the areas that really need investment – are therefore overlooked.

Positive Money is out to highlight the ways the banking system can become “stable, sustainable and fair”.

It was set up in 2010 by Dyson, who after completing two years of a development economics course at the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies, Dyson became disillusioned with the course.

I realised that it wasn’t really related to the real world”, he explains.

It was mostly theories that had never really been tested in reality, and so I got a bit frustrated with that.

I started writing about these issues in 2009 because none of the journalists were doing in the response to the crisis, and then eventually we got a bit of funding to try and turn it into a proper organisation.

Since then, we’ve just been building it up, making more contacts and bringing it to wider attention.”

Whilst Positive Money’s message might have been conveniently shrugged off by most in the banking system, Dyson says that there are a lot of people in The City interested in its work.

So what is he suggesting should happen to reform the sector?

In simple terms, we need to take that power to create money away from the banks, and bring it back to the state”, he says.

You wouldn’t necessarily want to give that power to politicians because they’d probably abuse it in the same way that the banks have done.

“You’d need to give it to some democratic, accountable, transparent body, where we can actually see how much money is being created and where that money is going, and how it’s getting used.

You would need the government to pass a law to do that and to make a few small changes for banks as to the way they operate.”

Under this new, more sustainable banking model, Dyson says that upon walking into a bank to deposit some money, a customer would be faced with two choices: to allow or prohibit the bank from taking risks with their money.

As it is, banks are provided with a “safety net” from government, which means that if they lose money or go bust, taxpayers’ funds will be used to reimburse customers.

We’d like to see the removal of that safety net for the banks”, states Dyson.

The bank should say to people that if they want their money to be invested in high-risk areas – commodity speculation, foreign exchange and so on – there’s a risk that they might lose a significant part of their investment.

If they want to invest in lower-risk, safer areas however, then their potential risk is much, much lower, and the banks can guarantee that customers won’t lose more than a small percentage of their investment, even if things go really bad.”

In this system, banks would need to find people that are willing to take risks. Instead, money would be invested what Dyson calls the “real economy” and in “real business”.

Only then would Positive Money’s vision of a “stable, sustainable and fair” economy be realised.

Further reading:

The Guide to Sustainable Investment

What is a bank?

RBS under fire for fossil fuel lending

Sustainable banks outperforming mainstream counterparts

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What Kitchen Suits Your Style? Modern, Classic or Shaker?

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shaker kitchen designs

A kitchen is the centre of the home. Your kitchen ranges between where friends and family gather, talk about their day, cook meals, have drinks, to somewhere you can just enjoy each other’s company. The kitchen is the heart of the home. But, everyone’s lifestyle is different. Everyone’s taste is different. So, you need a kitchen that not only mirrors your lifestyle but matches your taste too. Whilst some prefer a more traditional design, others want a modern feel or flair – and it’s all down to personal taste.

When it comes to redesigning your kitchen, what style would you go for? It’s a difficult one isn’t it. With so many different styles to go for, how can you know exactly what you want until you’ve seen it in action? Leading kitchen designer, Roman Kitchens, based in Essex, have provided three examples of bespoke kitchens and styles they specialise in, accompanied with beautiful images. This design guide will get you one step closer to picking your dream kitchen for your home.

1. Modern

New home in the city centre? Or even a sleek new modern build? You want a trendy and modern kitchen to reflect your city lifestyle. In modern kitchen design, colours are bolder and fresher, with sleek design and utilities that are distinctive and vibrant.

modern kitchen designs

This modern kitchen is sleek and smooth with flawless design and beauty. Minimalism doesn’t stop this kitchen standing out. Featured walls of wood and vibrant mint green draw the eye, whilst the white surfaces reflect the light, illuminating every nook and cranny of this kitchen. This kitchen features products from Rotpunkt, innovators of modern kitchen design. Made with German engineering, a Rotpunkt Kitchen is the ultimate modern addition to your home. Rotpunkt Kitchens have timeless design and amazing functionality, they work for every purpose and are eco-friendly. Sourced from natural materials, a Rotpunkt kitchen uses 37% less timber, conserving natural forests and being more environmentally conscious.

2. Classic

Prefer a homely and traditional feel? Classic kitchens are warm, welcoming and filled with wood. Wood flooring, wood fixtures, wood furniture – you name it! You can bring a rustic feel to your urban home with a classic kitchen. Subtle colours and beautiful finishes, Classic kitchens are for taking it back to the basics with a definitive look and feel.

classic kitchen designs

With stated handles for cupboards, Classic kitchens are effortlessly timeless. They convey an elegant but relaxing nature. Giving off countryside vibes, natural elements convey a British countryside feel. The wood featured in a classic kitchen can range between oaks and walnut, creating a warmth and original feel to your home. Soft English heritage colours add a certain mood to your home, softening the light making it cosier.

3. Shaker

Any kitchen planner will tell you that the meeting point between traditional and modern design, is a Shaker kitchen. They have a distinctive style and innovative feel. Shakers are fresh, mixing different colour tones with stylish wood and vinyl. The most important feature of a Shaker kitchen is functionality – every feature needs to serve a purpose in the kitchen. Paired with stylish and unique furniture, a Shaker kitchen is an ideal addition to any home.

shaker kitchen designs

The ultimate marriage between Classic and Modern kitchens, this Shaker kitchen has deep colour tones with copper emphasis features. All the fittings and fixtures blur the line of modern and tradition, with a Classic look but modern colour vibe. Unique furniture and design make Shaker Kitchens perfect for the middle ground in kitchen design. Minimal but beautifully dressed. Traditional but bold and modern at the same time. Storage solutions are part of the functionality of Shaker kitchens, but don’t detour from conveying yours as a luxury kitchen.

Whatever you choose for your new kitchen, be it Modern, Classic or Shaker – pick whatever suits you. Taste is, and always will be, subjective – it’s down to you.

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Features

Ways Green Preppers Are Trying to Protect their Privacy

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Environmental activists are not given the admiration that they deserve. A recent poll by Gallup found that a whopping 32% of Americans still doubt the existence of global warming. The government’s attitude is even worse.

Many global warming activists and green preppers have raised the alarm bell on climate change over the past few years. Government officials have taken notice and begun tracking their activity online. Even former National Guard officers have admitted that green preppers and climate activists are being targeted for terrorist watchlists.

Of course, the extent of their surveillance depends on the context of activism. People that make benign claims about climate change are unlikely to end up on a watchlist, although it is possible if they make allusions to their disdain of the government. However, even the most pacifistic and well intentioned environmental activists may unwittingly trigger some algorithm and be on the wrong side of a criminal investigation.

How could something like this happen? Here are some possibilities:

  • They could share a post on social media from a climate extremist group or another individual on the climate watchlist.
  • They could overly politicize their social media content, such as being highly critical of the president.
  • They could use figures of speech that may be misinterpreted as threats.
  • They might praise the goals of a climate change extremist organization that as previously resorted to violence, even if they don’t condone the actual means.

Preppers and environmental activists must do everything in their power to protect their privacy. Failing to do so could cost them their reputation, future career opportunities or even their freedom. Here are some ways that they are contacting themselves.

Living Off the Grid and Only Venturing to Civilization for Online Use

The more digital footprints you leave behind, the greater attention you draw. People that hold controversial views on environmentalism or doomsday prepping must minimize their digital paper trail.

Living off the grid is probably the best way to protect your privacy. You can make occasional trips to town to use the Wi-Fi and stock up on supplies.

Know the Surveillance Policies of Public Wi-Fi Providers

Using Wi-Fi away from your home can be a good way to protect your privacy.However, choosing the right public Wi-Fi providers is going to be very important.

Keep in mind that some corporate coffee shops such a Starbucks can store tapes for up to 60 days. Mom and pop businesses don’t have the technology nor the interest to store them that long. They generally store tips for only 24 hours and delete them afterwards. This gives you a good window of opportunity to post your thoughts on climate change without being detected.

Always use a VPN with a No Logging Policy

Using a VPN is one of the best ways to protect your online privacy. However, some of these providers do a much better job than others. What is a VPN and what should you look for when choosing one? Here are some things to look for when making a selection:

  • Make sure they are based in a country that has strict laws on protecting user privacy. VPNs that are based out of Switzerland, Panama for the British Virgin Islands are always good bets.
  • Look for VPN that has a strict no logging policy. Some VPNs will actually track the websites that you visit, which almost entirely defeats the purpose. Most obviously much better than this, but many also track Your connections and logging data. You want to use a VPN that doesn’t keep any logs at all.
  • Try to choose a VPN that has an Internet kill switch. This means that all content will stop serving if your VPN connection drops, which prevents your personal data from leaking out of the VPN tunnel.

You will be much safer if you use a high-quality VPN consistently, especially if you have controversial views on climate related issues or doomsday prepping.

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