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06 Minutes from 30th April 2012

Page history last edited by Peter Verity 8 years, 5 months ago


Date  30/4/2012 Chairs Mike Black
Time  18:45 - 21:15 Secretaries Jon C
Location  Quaker Meeting House  Type of meeting Meet-up


(add yourself if missing)

About 15, mix of regulars and some new faces from Occupy and The Quakers.


Table of Contents



Book Review

presenter: Sue


Sue reviewed 4 books related to the current financial crisis, tackling them in order of publication. The books were:


  1. Fools-Gold - by Gillian Tett
  2. The-Big-Short - by Michael Lewis
  3. Daylight-Robbery - by Ian Wishart
  4. Planet-Ponzi - by Mitch Feirstein


Sue gave a brief summary of each one, explaining what it covers, its tone and its level of accessibility. She'll be adding more detailed reviews to this wiki, but a brief summary of her findings is provided here:


Fools-Gold - by Gillian Tett


  • challenging read
  • reads like a historical account
  • has detailed references to source material
  • explains derivatives and how, while not inherently bad, they were abused by the banksters


The-Big-Short - by Michael Lewis


  • easy read
  • more story like, explores how those who saw the crisis coming profited from that insight
  • raises the issue of whether the worst offenders could, and/or should be prosecuted for running a Ponzi scheme.



Daylight-Robbery - by Ian Wishart


  • first published 2001, recently revised
  • hard to get in print outside of Australasia
  • Recommended by Positive Money
  • Quite New Zealand-centric, detailing problems with the KiwiSaver pension scheme
  • Unlike other books reviewed, this one considers the fundamental problems with the monetary systems of the world


Planet-Ponzi - by Mitch Feirstein


  • accessible read
  • well referenced with a global focus
  • like the The Big Short, this book explores the idea that the banksters may be technically guilty of running a ponzi scheme
  • see related site planetponzi.com for more details
  • Sue's Pick of the Bunch




Time was short, and so there wasn't much time for discussion, but one salient point by Peter was that all these books (with perhaps the exception of Daylight Robbery) are fundamentally "Negative Money" books, focussing on the problems without much consideration of how a positive change to the monetary system might be brought about. Sue concurred, stating that having read each book through twice, she was left feeing thoroughly depressed about the whole situation. I think most of us can relate to that ...



Review of Past Activities

presenter: Peter


Peter gave a brief review of what we have (and haven't) achieved so far, and how this compares to the objectives we set ourselves. Key points:


  • While our membership is quite modest, it is (in per capita terms) a decent representation (we make up 1% of the national membership, and Sheffield makes up 1% of the UK's population)
  • meeting attendance has been a bit patchy, but they have been valuable
    • several of us have tried our hand at presenting
    • we've all learned something new and gained insights into how others perceive the problems 
    • and all agree that it has been nice getting to know others who are interested in monetary reform 
  • thus far we've mainly focussed on the meetups and educating ourselves
    • ... but less so on recruiting others, and on taking action 
    • that said, Alan gets a honourable mention for his efforts to get Politician's to take up the cause, and in training others
    • unfortunately we, and PM-proper, have made little progress on the political front
    • James Robertson, campaigner and author (http://www.jamesrobertson.com/) suggests that the movement is currently "pre-political", meaning that until we have enough popular awareness (e.g. 10% of the electorate) politicians are unlikely to get involved
  • Peter, who has taken on the lion's share of organising the group explained what he wants to focus on in the future
    • he would like to focus more on reaching out to other groups and raising awareness (as per PMs advice)
    • in order to focus on this Peter explained that he no longer intends to organise meetups with guest speakers etc. as this has proved to be a very time consuming process
    • with regard to outreach, Peter mentioned his latest work on organising a screening of a documentary (probably at the Showroom cinema)




The strategy and vision of Occupy Sheffield

presenter: Oliver (Occupy Sheffield)


Oliver joined us from Occupy Sheffield and gave us an insight into the background and motivations of the movement's members, the every day practicalities of (self)-organising the group and its meetings, and their vision for the future. Key points:


  • Despite Occupy Wall Street stealing the limelight, the movement actually began with the Spanish Indignados movement
  • Oliver and others were drawn by the emotive slogans and concepts popularised by the movement e.g.
  • People at Occupy Sheffield were a mixed bunch, and while many are left-leaning, by definition the 99% includes those with a more centrist or right political outlook. For this reason, the focus of Occupy is less about "left vs right" and more about Social justice, the idea of creating a society or institution that is based on the principles of equality and solidarity.
  • Life on the camp wasn't without its difficulties, as the practicalities of a disparate bunch of people living together inevitably led to some friction. Security was also an issue.
  • Occupy Sheffield adopted a form of direct democracy that was common to many of the Occupy camps.
  • This system involves a set of meaningful hand signals that participants in a discussion can use to signal, for example, that they would like to raise a point of order, or that they agree with the points being made by the speaker.
  • The camp was disbanded recently under the threat of fines running into the tens of thousands.
  • Despite this the group remains active and regularly holds their own meetups. 



Occupy movement hand signals, grouped by function.






The Future of Positive Money Sheffield

presenter: Peter


We concluded by discussing whether members wish to continue with some form of regular meetup. Key points were:


  • Some feel less frequent meetups might be better
    • bi-monthly in a proper meeting room
    • or pub/meeting-room for alternate months
    • perhaps have an AGM where we all present something
  • Other's were happy with the monthly format with the stated benefits:
    • keeps people motivated
    • means there is always an upcoming meeting to invite new recruits to 
  • There was the suggestion that Occupy and PM share a meeting with the benefits of
    • larger group
    • broader selection of topics 
    • shared cost
  • There seemed to be a general consensus that regardless of frequency, future meetups should be less structured (i.e. without guest speakers etc.), and more free-flowing
  • For now, the plan is to still meet roughly a month from now...






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