[Thanks again to Dex for letting me re-post this.]
Obviously, there’s been a shitload of discussion, these last few years, regarding the recession.
Most of it useless, abstract, conjectural finger-pointing, generally in a manner suggesting the furthering of political agendas: “Democrats did it,” “Republicans did it,” “Banks did it,” and so on.
I won’t pretend to understand the intricacies of economics. However, I’m not stupid. I went to college. I worked a long time at a job that required me to think critically about nearly everything.
And something in the economic brouhaha seemed wrong.
I only understand quantum mechanics on a “Newsweek” level. But when Steven Hawking discusses it, I believe, instinctively (however specious that may be) that he definitely knows what he’s talking about.
I don’t understand astrophysics at all. But I genuinely believe Carl Sagan did.
So why is it, that, in my magazine and channel-surfing (on both extremes, from Fox News to MSNBC and the middle), I can’t find anyone, not one single person, who seems to understand economics, particularly as it affects the recession?
Why do they always seem to answer questions in the same tone as the fine print at the bottom of drug commercials, which tend to say things like “No one is quite certain how Atavan/Lunesta/whatever works.” I keep expecting to see written under that, in even smaller print, “Just take the shit, Jesus. Always asking fucking questions.”
This implied dislike of definite answers, both in advertising and alleged economic expertise, reminds me of this quote from Joseph Goebbels, the Nazi party’s Reich Minister of Propaganda [translated from the German]:
If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State. [Emphasis mine.]
The Lie then, in my layman’s mind, is the existence of money.
Or rather, its reality beyond what a society gives it.
Money is not real.
It’s a concept we created as a society, thousands of years ago, because trading animals and produce for services got complicated and inconvenient. So we all agreed that we’d use metal coins, and later pieces of special paper, and they would represent work and effort– but that they were only stand-ins for that work.
So time passes, and, like most concepts, we forget its origin. All we were left with was the thought that money was valuable in and of itself.
But it isn’t. At all. You ever try spending American Dollars in Ukraine? At best, they laugh at you. I didn’t speak Ukrainian, but I know nonverbals enough to read The Fuck Is That on their faces.
Or ask anyone in post-World War I Germany about hyperinflation:
Remember the Twilight Zone episode where a bunch of thieves steal a shitton of gold and then induce themselves in suspended animation, where they plan to spend the gold in the future? Remember what happened to them when society found a way of manufacturing gold while they were asleep?
The Onion, too, did a great piece on money being a symbolic, mutually shared illusion….
But to me, the best and most troubling idea is from ATinyRevolution [dot] com, quoting John Ralston Saul:
[The] most important point is that money is not real. Yet somehow we’ve decided it’s a great idea to stop feeding real food to real people and cease educating real children in order to demonstrate fealty to an abstract concept. [Source.]
“It’s a great idea to stop feeding real food to real people and cease educating real children.” Let that sink in. We as a country foreclose on families (often veterans who were actively fighting to defend American ideals) simply to “demonstrate fealty to an abstract concept.”
How did we get this lost?