Integrity Education Tidbit: Economic Integrity

by Dr. David Gruder

If you have been following my work on integrity, you are already aware of the various aspects of integrity I address:

  • Self-Integrity
  • Relationship Integrity
  • Collective Integrity (which includes societal, business and economic integrity)
  • Leadership Integrity (which includes executive, media, and political integrity)

Today’s Integrity Education Tidbit is about what every citizen should know about the economic aspect of Collective Integrity and how politicians and the media continue to sidestep dealing with it.

1. The primary cause of our current recession is lack of integrity. The widespread strategy of the mortgage industry having pushed sub-prime and interest-only loans, combined with relaxing loan qualification criteria, encouraged citizens to over-reach their financial capabilities. This is what caused mortgage defaults to become one of the big sources of the crash of the housing market. The lies (primarily lies of omission) about their fundamental soundness that were made to those who under-wrote those loans has caused companies like Bear Stearns to go belly up. This has helped to send the stock and bond markets into fear and chaos. Lack of integrity about energy has also contributed greatly to our current recession. Allowing oil companies to accumulate record profits is a travesty because in the end it is citizens who pay for their prosperity. Citizens paying for outrageous levels of oil company profits is eroding our fundamental economic stability and is preventing funds from being available more reducing dependency on foreign oil and developing alternate energy sources. The willingness to rack up trade deficits also has had a hand in creating our current recession. Government willingness to accumulate trillions of dollars of debt has also helped create our recession. The government is not only role-models to citizens that consumer debt. It is also using citizen income (via taxes) to pay for the interest the government owes on the criminal amounts of money it is borrowing. Most citizens don’t even realize that the Federal Reserve (the "Fed"), from which it is borrowing this money and to whom it now owes criminal amounts of interest, is not part of the United States government but is an independent banking institution that is getting rich through the interest payments the US government is making through charging its citizens. Imagine what our government could do for its citizens, and how it could these things for less, if the government wasn’t making the Fed rich from all of the interest payments on trillions of dollars it pays them. All of these items are examples of Collective Integrity deficits that have combined to create our current recession.

2. Talking about different ways to stimulate the economy reinforces lack of integrity. Our economy is primarily based on never-ending growth rather than "prosperous enoughness." As long as our economic emphasis is on growth at the expense of stability, businesses will always be trying to get people to spend more and individuals will remain focused more on consumerism than on creating financial independence for themselves ("retirement"). Until the fundamental underpinnings of capitalism are refocused around "enoughness" rather than greed, capitalism and democracy will remain add odds with each other rather than support each other as they were intended to do. This is why it is important for citizens to ounderstand that the issue isn’t stimulating the economy. This issue is re-focusing the underpinnings of our economic system to support individuals in creating financial independence rather than consumer debt, and to support businesses in generating fair and reasonable profits rather than fueling constant pressure to continue growing and expanding.

3. Our current tax system breeds lack of integrity. Taxing personal income causes citizens to resent their government for penalizing them for working hard. A personal income tax also deprives citizens of needed incentives to create financial independence for themselves. Merely reducing taxes without addressing this fundamental flaw in the taxation system itself covers up symptoms rather than solve the problem at the level of root cause. The same is true about giving citizens $600 tax rebates, which amounts to nothing more than attempting to bribe citizens into not learning about the root causes of our profoundly dysfunctional economy so they can start demanding that politicians do something about it. Most citizens have no idea that the federal income tax on individuals has no basis in constitutional law and those in the government who are well familiar with the relevant laws know this to be true. The government has tried mightily to prevent the American people from knowing these facts. The solution to this travesty that has gained the most attention is one that stops taxing personal income and instead solely taxes personal consumption. This kind of tax structure not only would bring the tax system back into Societal and Economic Integrity in part by encouraging people to place as much emphasis on creating financial independence as on consumerism.

The long-overdue shift back into Economic Integrity can only occur if all of the issues I have described above are addressed concurrently. Our leaders appear to lack the backbone necessary to demand that this occur, or even to educate the American people sufficiently about these issues so that they understand them well enough to start demanding that this occurs. The media’s unconscious collusion with the government’s cowardace about bringing these issues to the forefront of citizen awareness makes it that much more difficult for these issues to get the attention they need to have.

Do you understand that your long-term economic wellbeing is in jeopardy as long as you continue to allow your government to avoid doing anything meaningful about its central role in perpetuating its own lack of economic integrity? Are you willing to start demanding that your government start taking the steps it must take to restore economic integrity?

A solid first step any citizen can take in starting to do something about this is to become more informed about the issues I have discussed in today’s Integrity Education Tidbit. This is part of becoming an Everyday Steward, which I discuss in my book, The New IQ: How Integrity Intelligence Serves You, Your Relationships and Our World.

Here are three resources that can help you take a next step in your Economic Integrity education:

  • The book Common Wealth by Jeffrey Sachs
  • The "Fair Tax" proposal for replacing the individual income tax
  • The late Aaron Russo’s movie Freedom to Facism (please note that I do NOT agree with everything this movie asserts BUT my hope is that watching it will motivate you to get far more informed about the root cause sources of lack of economic integrity)

It is time for the government and the media to fulfill their responsibility to educate citizens about these issues AND it is time for citizens to start demanding of the government and the media that they do this. Please decide what part you are willing to play in helping this happen… and do it because your own economic long-term wellbeing, as well as our collective economic wellbeing, depends on these changes occurring!

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  • Vicelike
    March 23, 2008

    "Most citizens don’t even realize that the Federal Reserve (the "Fed"), from which it is borrowing this money and to whom it now owes criminal amounts of interest, is not part of the United States government but is an independent banking institution that is getting rich through the interest payments the US government is making through charging its citizens. Imagine what our government could do for its citizens, and how it could these things for less, if the government wasn’t making the Fed rich from all of the interest payments on trillions of dollars it pays them."

    Are you sure about this?

    I could be wrong but I was under the impression that the Fed is an independent part of the government so the idea of the government making the Fed rich is silly.

    The Fed is owned by all of us.

    Since they have the power to determine at what interest rates bank can borrow money from them and how much money should be in circulation to support economic growth, they can and do impact profitability of banks that are owns by individuals.  But the Fed charter is defined by congress and subject to governmental oversight.

    I am also of the opinion that our debt is funded by the sale of securities – bonds and notes – to individuals and other countries.  The folks who own these notes are getting the interest and as far as I know, there is nothing criminal about it.  That is not to defend the practice of deficit spending or minimize its negative effects of the economy.

    One could read your post and come away with the impression that the Fed is a cabal of greedy men sucking off the life blood of working americans…





  • David
    March 24, 2008


    Thanks so much for your excellent question about whether the Federal Reserve is a private bank rather than owned by the United States government. Rather than re-write what is already available about this, I encourage you to investigate for yourself.

    I propose that you start your investigation by Googling: is the federal reserve a private bank

    Do let me know what you think after reading what you find.

    What I will offer for the time being is the following legal ruling that is over 25 years old:

    Lewis vs. U.S., case #80-5905, 9th Circuit, June 24, 1982, reads in part: "Examining the organization and function of the Federal Reserve Banks and applying the relevant factors, we conclude that the federal reserve are NOT federal instrumentalities . . . but are independent and privately owned and controlled corporations . . . federal reserve banks are listed neither as `wholly owned’ government corporations [under 31 U.S.C. Section 846] nor as ‘mixed ownership’ corporations [under 31 U.S.C. Section 856]

    Thomas Jefferson once said:

    "If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their money, first by inflation and then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around them, will deprive the people of their property until their children will wake up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered."

    As to whether government debt is funded by the sale of government bonds and notes, some debt is of course covered through these vehicles. But, nowhere near all debt is handled through these instruments. Either way, the government’s willingness to accumulate trillions of dollars in debt in the first place, and thus have massive interest payments to make, makes massive sums of money unavailable for other uses. This is no different from how damaging to family’s budget accumulating massive amounts of consumer debt it. The strategy of massive debting is fundamentally an act of fiscal irresponsibility, and thus lacks financial integrity.

    Concerning your final comment, I tend not to put much stock in most conspiracy theories. I have no opinion about the Fed’s motives and frankly I’m not overly concerned about their motives. What I am concerned about is the Fed’s effects regardless of their motives. I question the constitutionality of the Fed’s existence but more fundamentally I question whether the Fed’s fundamental underpinnings are truly in service of the United States Constitution and the American people.

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