J.D. ALT is an architect who has spent much of his career researching, inventing, and visualizing things that he hoped might improve the quality-of-life and prosperity of collective society. Gradually, he came to two realizations: first, the kinds of things he was envisioning (free-to-ride downtown people-movers and affordable housing strategies) would never be undertaken by a profit-oriented corporate business model and, second, the only other possible financier—the federal government—was “broke” and hopelessly in debt. Alarmed and discouraged by these realizations, he stopped thinking about new things to build and started investigating how—and why—it could possibly be true that collective society was, “for lack of money,” so helplessly unable to build things it both needed and could dramatically benefit from.
This investigation led him to a group of economists, loosely organized around the University of Missouri Kansas City, who were trying to explain to other economists (and the world in general) a counter-intuitive explanation of how money actually “works” in a modern society. This explanation, he suddenly realized, made everything he had been visualizing and designing possible. The challenge was to get the rest of the world to see it as well. He began that effort with a series of essays posted on New Economic Perspectives, the economics blog at UMKC. These evolved into the best-selling ebook Diagrams & Dollars, followed by a much expanded explanation and exploration: The Millennials’ Money. He is also the author of the novel, The Architect Who Couldn’t Sing, which chronicles and imagines how a different approach to architecture itself, made possible by this new understanding of money, could change the way sustainable human settlements are imagined and built. He lives and works with his wife (and architecture partner) in Annapolis, Maryland.