Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Money, money, money....

posted by The Vidiot @ 2:00 PM Permalink

"Money makes the world go 'round."
"Money is the root of all evil."
"Money can't buy you love."

I have a problem with money. Always have. A long time ago, maybe it was in a class or something in college or high school -- both so long ago, I sometimes conflate them -- I overheard someone say, "Money is an agreed-upon fantasy." And I thought, "Wow, man, it really is." Which is probably why I've never pursued the acquisition of it very seriously. Or rather, "Not been a team player" according to some of my bosses. Whatever. The fact is, I've never really been able to fully grok why money is worth anything at all. Not a good thing to be confused about in a capitalist system.

Anyway, last night, Mr. Vidiot and I were discussing the gold standard. He asked why I thought so many think it's a bad idea. The only thing I could think of is because it would limit spending and therefore growth. I mean, for gold to be the standard, the Fed couldn't print up money if there wasn't anything there to back it up. It would mean periodic unemployment when businesses couldn't do whatever it is they needed to do to stay in business because all the money is already tied up elsewhere. It would mean the government wouldn't be able to wander off, all willy-nilly, conducting wars abroad if there wasn't any money to pay for it. It would, basically, limit spending to whatever amount of gold could be acquired. And limiting spending limits growth, and limiting growth, according to what we've all been brought up to believe, is a bad thing.

There's also the added issue of why is gold so damn valuable anyway. It's just as much of an "agreed-upon fantasy" as anything else. Hell, salt was super valuable at one point. I read somewhere the other day that the word salary comes from the Latin word salarium since the Roman soldiers got paid in sal or sali, eg. salt. And if the world comes crashing down, what would be more valuable, gold or salt?

Also, I think the whole idea of commerce is kerflooey. Instead of trading things of equal value, humans started to use something that represents value, either because they didn't have something of equal value or gold/money was just plain easier to carry around and deal with. So now, we want Saudi Arabia's oil, but we don't have anything Saudi Arabia wants, except for maybe fresh water. But we can't really give them that. So we give them money so they can buy water from somebody else. Though, we probably shouldn't want Saudi Arabia's oil to begin with. Since oil is not as plentiful over here, we should have designed our infrastructure to use what we have rather than what we don't have. But that’s a whole ‘nuther post.

So, no matter how much I, or any number of revolutionaries, may want capitalism to end, its just not going to happen without something really ugly happening first. It's not that people don't know that capitalism is dysfunctional. I think most people do. It's pretty obvious when there are so many people doing poorly and so few people doing really well. It's obvious by the amount of destruction done to the planet by corporations and nation states. It's obvious for so many reasons. But it's like "stop the world, I want to get off" but you can't. Besides, it's too much like reinventing the wheel. The very foundations of our society would have to be reconstructed from scratch.

But reconstructing our society from scratch is exactly what we need to do.

Unless we as society can redefine our needs to make providing for ourselves more local and reasonable, unless we as a society can say to ourselves, there are other motivations besides bigger, better and more, then we’re stuck with this system we have now. More importantly however, unless we as a society can let go of the idea of growth as the end-all, be-all to, well, everything, we're doomed. The planet is finite. It's resources are finite. Lifetimes are finite. And so must growth take these things into consideration. But, of course, Mr. Vidiot says it best:
Re-think what “growth” means.

What is growing? For who? And why? Is growth progress? What is progress and for whom? We have the means to produce an abundance without growth and everyone can have access to this abundance. We can continue to develop, to progress, to invent, to improve, to fix, to better human progress, and enjoy the fruits of production for all, to use our innate human potential and creativity, to excel all without the need for growth. What a funny word “growth” is because it means nothing. When placed in this macro-economic context, it becomes a word that justifies oppression, inequality, free trade, exploitation, capitalism, war, death, destruction...all in the name of growth.

Yes growth, we must… grow… growth… It is better for us all… growth… let us grow… to destroy… for war… free trade… save 'dem poor niggas yes sir… Vietnamese… 'dem Chinese… 'dem Arabs… get them jobs… industrialize… factories… oil… growth… wage/class structures… death… growth… growth with war… growth and environmental decay… growth for capitalists… we niggas should thank growth… we whiteys should thank growth… we indigenous should thank growth…

Thank Growth!

No thank you. Their growth is our death.




At 9:34 PM, Blogger The Sailor said...

I had similar questions to my internationally renowned economist/econometrics friend.

As I understand it, he says money is created by labor and thought. OTOH, he labors at creating thoughts IRT the economy.

And all his 'out sourcing' arguments begin with 'all things being equal.'

All things are not equal. Mexico & China will trash their/our environment to make money for their capitalists.

I don't see a solution.

At 3:30 AM, Blogger The Vidiot said...

that's because the only solution is the radical one.


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