Debt and credit –  Are you being played, or are you playing an infinite game?

In Beautiful Business one of the aims is to play infinite, win win win games. No one or no thing loses.

Being in debt is an integral part of living systems. Life and thriving is a constant flow state. Within that flow are times when the balance is positive and times when it is negative. Just like breathing. Debt to credit to debt…

Eating fresh fruit or vegetables puts us into debt within the ecosystem of Universe. The plant taking abundant light from the sun, a star in our galaxy, turning it into energy, the farmer ensuring the viability of the plant, its harvest, transport to market, our ability to purchase, then prepare…to get calories to keep us alive, keep us adding value, could be considered a positive healthy debt. We are under no obligation to pay that debt back, however in the larger cosmic scheme of things, we will. Our out breath, our human biological waste, and our death contribute to the cycle of life, whether we want it to or not.

Debt itself is the partner of credit. Just as in is the partner of out.

Yet we readily assign a density and shame to debt that is inappropriate.

Our current financial and economic system has manufactured and leveraged this shame as a tool to keep us docile and afraid to the point that we do not question the very system we believe we are trapped in. For if we did ask questions we would realise that we are often at choice as to what type of debt to engage in, and how to say no to being preyed upon by engaging in extractive debt.

Monetary debt, like most aspects of existence, might be positive or negative depending upon the agreements and structures put around it as it is enacted. When we educate ourselves on both the larger system at play, and the various forms of debt and credit, we have the ability to make choices that serve us, instead of being at the effect of choices designed to keep us prey.

If debt is uncoupled from relationship, if the humanity is stripped out, if the terms are extractive and win lose, then we have unhealthy negative debt. Its a zero sum game ultimately, even for those who appear to be winners in the short term as they become losers in the end.

Think Walmart, where the family are in the top 10 richest (in terms of money as wealth only) people on earth. Their model of wealth creation is still to this day considered a good business case.

Find a community, build a big box store out of town where real estate is cheap, manufacture cheap goods from China, consolidate costs through monopoly, kill off all the small privately owned stores, pay staff minimum (slave) wages, and bask in the glory of your enterprise.

Until your customers can no longer afford to pay for your wares because they are the community you have been extracting from for the last 20 years and they have become increasingly broken.

Like an ouroboros eating its own tail, the model will end up consuming itself.

Win Lose Debt (predatory..aka you are the prey)

*Uncoupled (third party, zero to minimal human relationship)

*Purpose is to make money whatever the cost in other domains (health, wellbeing, degradation, breakdown, destruction)

*Keeps us tied to a past, the place the debt was enacted

*Uses dominator power, shame and knowledge asymmetry as tools of compliance

*Extracts from whole

-energy

-love

-life force

-joy

-creativity

Credit cards, bank loans and mortgages fit this category as does most venture capital. An agreement is made and the circumstances and engagement between counter parties is rarely considered ongoing or if it is it is one of differentiated power, where the debtor is subject to the powers of the creditor. The relationship is transactional. There is a winner and a loser.

Debt as Credit

When debt is built on relationship, when it remains in a conversation between the creditor and the debtor, when both parties are invested in multiple ways towards the end goal for which the debt was applied, when changed circumstances are factored in, and when there is a mutual commitment to have all parties win, then we have healthy positive debt.

Win Win Win (WWW) debt

*Balanced power =partnership

*Relational

*Purpose is to co-create real value that supports all

*Focused on the creation of a vital future

*Additive to the whole -generosity

-love

-optionality for good

-win win win

-partnership

-stewardship

-care

In Beautiful Business one of the aims is to play infinite, win win win games. No one or no thing loses.

One of the ways people and organisations can move towards beautiful business is to stop playing in the world of win lose debt.

As individuals, pay off all types of win lose debt. Renegotiate terms if possible. Understand the vast machine that lives to prop up the debt win lose system. Debtor agencies that buy your debt on fractions of the dollar and then hold you to ransom through shame and guilt for the full amount. Negotiate with them. They will often take a payout of 20-25% of the total amount, and still make a profit. (Check out this wonderful video featuring comedian John Oliver demonstrating the criminal acts that occur around enslaving US citizens through health related extractive debt. http://www.rollingstone.com/tv/news/watch-john-oliver-forgive-15-million-in-debt-20160606. )

That education, health and child care live in the same universe as extractive debt is an offence to humanity. 

Insist on zero interest from debt recovery agencies. If the debt was $10,000 they would have brought it for $2000 and are still charging you interest on $10,000. Their profit is via perpetuating the shame game, harassing you daily with calls, and playing on your sense of powerlessness through shame. Know that this is the game they are playing, and they win every time you feel powerless. You are not powerless. Understand the game and play to exit it.

Once you have cleared the decks of predatory win lose debt, do not return there. It is a black hole and its gravitational field is very powerful. Very few things are worth it. And quite frankly, when you really understand the distinctions of the win/lose debt game, you can be enormously creative in finding alternative solutions that do not engage this game.

If you are creating a new company and need capital, how can you get healthy, win win type credit? In our world of predatory Venture Capital, where greed rules, it is not easy. Nor is it readily available for people who do not fit the startup stereotype of location, gender or colour. (Less than 1% VC Funding to people of colour and less than 7% to women.)

However I would posit that this gives us non stereotypical people an advantage. We have to be far more creative and therefore can look for and ask for Win Win Win debt/credit. We use our ability to live in relationship, to partner, to ensure that there are zero losers in the equation as part of both the model and the ask.

One of the ways the current economic system is winning to increase the gap between the rich and poor (in monetary and access to resource terms) is through knowledge asymmetry.  Knowledge asymmetry is the purposeful act of keeping knowledge of how the system works from the masses.

It is well enough that people of the nation do not understand our banking and monetary system, for if they did, I believe there would be a revolution before tomorrow morning. Henry Ford

Learn the game. Bring back choice through knowledge. And as you do, restore your own power equation.

 

Photo by Stig Ottesen on Unsplash

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