Friday, March 25, 2011

money
Money

I've been thinking about money a lot. It's an amazing thing! I think that on every planet with intelligent beings, money is eventually invented to facilitate trading across distances.

It starts out as bits of rare metal, becomes coins, then bills. Some brilliant one invents interest. Eventually you have complex financial "instruments": credit default swaps, equity derivatives, etc. Karl Marx writes that there is a certain grace that comes with capital, but that ultimately "it becomes a monster with a mind of its own", and humans become its slave rather than its master. Corporations evolve by the rules of natural selection, and corporations with boards of directors that look to the future and towards sustainability are weeded out, because MY 401(k) retirement fund wants profit NOW. Only the immediate bottom line determines survival of corporations, and only the ones that promote war (a great business because its products quickly become obsolete or get destroyed) or otherwise rape the Earth (e.g., mountaintop coal removal or overfishing the world's great fisheries) prevail.

Money is like a very simple, elegantly written computer virus. Somehow it spawns more and more complicated destruction, even though the actual code for the virus was simply the concept that this pretty shell or this shiny piece of metal can stand for the value of your water buffalo or my basket of corn. The virus completely changes the way of life for a species and hugely affects the way it lives on its planet. If you flew over a large Native American village 1,000 years ago, it blended in with the planet so well that you might not even notice it. Compare that to New York City, an example of human habitation after the money computer virus starts to reach its complicated, destructive potential!

Democracy is like a fruit that is good for a while, but then goes rotten. At first it allows for stability, peace, and cooperation: the perfect ingredients for businesses to thrive and for a large middle class to grow. But when the businesses thrive TOO much and start to conglomerate, the trouble begins. The media then become corporatized and conglomerated as well, so now the messages telling us how and what to think are almost seamless. And that's how democracy rots.

We don't know what comes next because humans in the past have never really taken democracy as far as we have.  Compare Lady Gaga fun but politically empty songs to Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young's "Ohio", about the students shot and killed by the National Guard at Kent State during the Vietnam War protests: "Four Dead in Ohio". "Gotta get down to it / Soldiers are gunning us down ..." The hippies listened to that song, which was a call to revolution, and decided, "Nah, too messy. Let's just get stoned".

I love capitalism because it comes up with the coolest stuff, but it needs to be treated with great care, like a highly radioactive material, and there needs to be a prime directive in its use: Every moneymaking enterprise or endeavor must help ALL people, be benign or beneficial to the environment, and must be sustainable indefinitely.

Thank you for reading my essay! Now here's a little video about  what gives a dollar bill its value. If you think it's strange that many modern people believe that a holy book was dictated by the creator of the Universe during the Bronze Age, you'll be surprised to realize that you yourself have an almost religious faith in money. Kurt Vonnegut says money's value is all in your head. This is really amazing stuff. Please click the comment link at the bottom of this post and weigh in on what you think about money. 

14 comments:

  1. It is amazing that we are able to have an economy at all or that we can govern such large numbers of people in an international system.
    The big problem now is that the current supreme court gives more rights to corporations than people, and equates their billions with the voice of an individual. How can we have a democracy?
    Bill

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  2. The Zeitgeist people are all communists. They got their religious information from Blavatsky, beloved of Hitler. She's notorious for plagiarizations and fabrications amongst other things.

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  3. Jeff, interesting. I have watched the entire movie in the past, twice. It presents some good facts, then moves on to a position of Belief (opinion?) which is fine by me. Everybody is entitled to their opinion, and in an ideal democracy, it is the sum of all opinions that determines the vectors of that society in public policy.

    I strongly recommend reading "The Sovereign Individual", by Davidson and Rees-Mogg. Written in 1995 and published in early 1997, they made predictions then about the direction in which the world will move as a result of the next mega-political change. Considering the book was completed some 6 months after Yahoo incorporated, and before the creation of the Cloud, Google, Facebook, etc, their predictions are rather good. The world is on the track they describe.

    In the book, they talk about money, and the wealthy. They see further aggregation of money in the hands of the very wealthy, by the way. They also see Governments as having to be much more efficient in the way they deliver goods and services. But I digress.

    They make important points about the future of money. They say that money will stop being a creation of the nation-state, and I want to alert you to a new currency that may be the real crack in the wall.

    It is called Bitcoin. It allows for transactions to take place securely between individuals beyond the view of Governments. There will only ever be a limited amount of the currency, and transactions can take place in fractional amounts of a Bitcoin, which means that the currency cannot be manipulated or inflated at the whim of any individual, corporation, or Government.

    Of course, Bitcoin is a threat to the US Government, because they say Bitcoin could be used by terrorists, because the transactions are not trackable. But the real threat is to the Federal Reserve system, and to the US dollar as the global Reserve Currency. But, worst of all, the transactions cannot be taxed.

    We live in times of enormous change. While all eyes are on the continuing erosion of property prices, and the changing structure of personal income and the jobs market, even bigger changes are taking place at the root of all work, and financial transactions, as we watch the mega-political change that the communications age is bringing.

    The monetary system as we have known it for the past century is about to change dramatically. The US will be most deeply affected, because US currency spans the world as a store of wealth and medium of exchange.

    But the global individuals of the future will not want their wealth to be at the mercy of the whims of any Government. So there must be change, because the mega-wealthy will demand it.

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  4. Yes, Bill, it's interesting that such large numbers of people CAN be governed in such a huge international system. That's another thing that money does, which I didn't mention in my little essay. It's weird when I go into a store in Mainland China and buy something with my credit card as seamlessly as if I were here in a Bay Area Walmart. Among the developed nations there is surprisingly little chaos. But our ghettos are becoming true Third World places, scary even for the police to drive through, and life there is as hopeless and depressing as it is in undeveloped foreign nations.

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  5. To the Anonymous who writes: "The Zeitgeist people are all communists", I answer, Who cares? If a communist told you the theater was on fire, would you stay in your seat and burn? I just asked that you watch 5 minutes of the video about money and tell me if it is true or not. Do you even know anything about it?

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  6. RichardHG,

    The Bitcoin sounds cool. The part of the Zeitgeist video about money is very scary because it makes money seem more like something magical and ethereal than real. The Bitcoin sounds real. It really bugs me to be working hard for Monopoly Game Money that has value that can arbitrarily be decided by some insane global bankers!

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  7. As the wealth gap between rich and poor becomes greater, the US is becoming a third world country and a first world country.
    Bill

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  8. Always fight for what is right. Always knowing what is right is the hard thing. Do not put to much attention to the D or R labels on candidates because
    if the party leaders picked these stooges to run then they can be controlled. Thats what makes them the choosen ones. Everyone with a true mind
    could see who is behind all the polititions with rare exception. THERE IS A GLOBALIST CONPIRACY.

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  9. If you read my little essay carefully, you can see that, while a conspiracy is definitely possible, it's possible that rather than a conspiracy, the weird shit that's happening in the world is kind of an organic result of the money computer virus basically running the way everything goes. I think that identical corruption and destruction happens on every planet that uses money. Once the intelligent beings start practicing usury (charging interest for loans), it's over. Once a weak man can make himself super strong just by sitting there loaning out piles of money and getting bigger piles of money back, it's over.

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  10. That video was shocking to me, but I suppose most of it was true or at least borderline reality. Your essay was somewhat provocative and I guess most of your conclusions are similar to mine. The one thing I think will be needed soon is not paper money but real money like gold and silver or the stuff of barter--food, medicine, fuel, etc because inflation very probably will destroy our currency and cause shortages in almost everything we need to exist. And what we can do about runaway government and emperor capitalism is something that could cause a revolution eventually.

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  11. Obama's presidency has been horribly disappointing, but don't forget: a president presides. He's exactly like a guy who took on the job of captaining a very corrupt ship, a ship in serious disrepair whose whole crew consists of criminal officers and semi-retarded deck hands (us). There are Web sites listing his accomplishments, too, and there have been many. He is a VERY competent captain, in the realm of corrupt, broken ships. It has become very, very clear that a ship captain is not the one to stop the insane course of a broken ship. It is only MUTINY, as we're seeing now in Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, etc., that can change things. And we're not even close to ready for that. More than half of all Amerikans right now WANT to build new nuclear power plants. Fuck this place. I'm BEGGING smart aliens, if they're reading this, to abduct me and my family.

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  12. I like your blog and am in agreement. Pure capitalism is interested just in money. Money for money's sake. That's why we need regulation and taxes. But then that just a whole other level of mess. Anything that harms the environment should be regulated out of existence--or that should be the aim. There needs to be a more comprehensive plan to aim for that target-healthy living, letting plants/animals/people live. Price things at the real cost which includes repair to the environment. There should be maximum wages and a hundred percent tax above those wages.

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  13. Money is a convenient invention to help facilitate commerce and procurement of necessities of life. And of course it is tightly regulated by government that issues it. So why should government not regulate how it is used to avoid a disaster of predatory capitalism that we see in America.

    I don't know if anyone has done a study to see if there is a positice correlation between how much money someone has and the bad (not necessarily illegal) deeds they do with it or how it negatively affects clear and objective reasoning but there sure appears to be a correlation.

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  14. It seems the US dollar would collapse if the drug business moved to the Euro. Here is an article about Wachovia, and the actual tracking of over $348 billion in drug laundering tracked through that one bank. Oh, they paid the Government around $150 million in a closed-door settlement.

    Now extend those kinds of figures to other banks around the world. If the drug industry trades out of the US dollar, that will be when the US dollar tanks into the toilet.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/apr/03/us-bank-mexico-drug-gangs?INTCMP=SRCH

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