Meet the Flipsters

Conversations on the Bridge

A Conversation with Bernard Lietaer
(The complete Flip interview, with only minor edits, not found in the book)

Bernard Lietaer, one of the architects of the Euro, offers this take on money: “Most people view money as a passive medium of exchange. It is anything but that. The money system is the meta-system, the one that affects all the others – the economic system, the medical system, the educational system, the production system, even the religious systems. We are blind to this issue.

“Most of us live within our money systems like fish in water. We’re not conscious of their characteristics. We don’t question their framework, because they have always been there.

“I’m privileged to have amassed a unique perspective. I have been a central banker, a professional fund manager, a professor of finance, and president of an electronic payment system. I’ve been a consultant for major multinationals on four continents and for developing countries. These positions are totally different and seldom converge in a single life. Their common denominator was the monetary system.”

Mr. Lietaer believes we are in a transition period. “It is an interval of great risk. The risks are not only financial. Some of the emerging money technologies could create a society more repressive than anyone of us thought possible. More importantly, major opportunities are also becoming available: now more than ever it has become possible to address some of the critical issues of our times, such as enabling more meaningful work, fostering cooperation and community, even realigning long-term sustainability with financial interests. None of this is theory. Real-life implementations have pragmatically demonstrated such results. Combining these innovations can make available a world of sustainable abundance within one generation.

“Most people believe that money is created by governments, which is not true. Some people believe that money is printed and that’s how it exists. In reality, ninety-five percent of the money in the world today is electronic and never being printed. It’s not about printing. The government has to borrow the money from the banking system in order to finance its deficit and pay interest on it. Bank debt money needs to be scarcer than its usefulness to keep its value. That is a statement by an economist. It’s not a philosophical statement. Our money systems replicate a set of values and behavior patterns that are on automatic pilot, independent of our personal values and desires, even independent of political systems and goals.

“People are preprogrammed by – and subject to – the money system in which they function. I believe that it’s a total waste of time to try and convince corporations to behave differently than what the money system predetermines. Corporations are designed to optimize money coming in compared to money going out. That’s it. It’s not a question of educating the CEOs. Even the shareholders are preprogrammed by the money system that they’re using.

“The whole field of medical healthcare is the same way. The system makes money on people who are simultaneously sick and alive. So it has gotten very good at keeping sick people alive… not creating wellness. I’m not saying this effect is intended. It’s an industry. We’re talking about an evolution, mostly unconscious. But we remain blind to what is really happening. We need to look at the systemic aspects rather than the symptoms. We need to look at what generates the symptoms, and address the underlying problems.

“We have enough food on this planet and we have enough work on this planet for everybody who is alive. But the environmental movement has traditionally been blind to the money system. And people in the monetary domain haven’t traditionally thought of themselves as having any influence on the environmental or sustainability issues either. Banks throw money at anything that moves when it’s good and you can’t get a loan for anything – even the most basic or sensible thing – when there’s a bust. Instead of stabilizing the system, this process tends to exacerbate boom and bust periods in both directions. It’s systemic; this has been the case throughout the entire industrial period.

“Are our money systems neutral? They’re not. They’re completely yang-biased. Every aspect of every existing monetary system is masculine. There is no balance. Monetary systems are hierarchical. Their creation is inevitably top-down. Their purpose is planning and control. They concentrate wealth and power at the top.

“Yang money can change over time but it has some consistent traits. First, it is based upon a scarce thing, which could be an object like gold or metal or something artificially scarce, like today’s money. Second, people need to pay when they borrow. And third, the big boys at the top issue all coinage for the realm.

“Values like caring and interconnection are yin. In a patriarchal society feminine values are downplayed, to put it mildly. But this issue is not about women, per se. Nor is the goal to purge all masculine values from our monetary systems and replace them with feminine ones. Rather, it’s about balancing the effects of the current systems’ exclusively yang values. It’s about transcending their resultant focus on where we each fall in the pecking order and what level of control we have over others or our own destiny.”

Mr. Lietaer is but one of many brilliant minds working on changing the way money works. People in countries around the world are working to ensure that money benefits rather than enslaves. Good, earnest folks are implementing innovative and creative ways of transacting commerce – with integrity and trust and mutual benefit in mind. And that is truly a flip from the upside-down world’s status quo.


The Flip, by Jared Rosen and David Rippe, illuminates a clear path to a vibrant enlightened world where millions of people already live and thrive. It describes in vivid detail and real examples evidence of an upside down world in decay and a Right Side Up world of authentic beings bright with possibility.
The Flip is an owner’s manual for the twenty-first century full of insights, conversations with recognized experts, thought leaders, and visionaries, and actionable exercises and tips you can use to begin your own personal flip.

To read more about The Flip and additional interviews from other luminaries, experts and bestselling authors, please visit

The Flip is available at your local bookstore or online at, Barnes & Noble, Joseph-Beth, and Borders.


Home | Excerpts | The Authors | Meet the Flipsters | Contest | Press

Copyright © 2006 The Flip. All Rights Reserved.

Web site by Celestia International

To view corrections, click here.