Wednesday, 1 October 2008


Think about the figure for the USA stock market bailout.  Seven hundred billion dollars - $700,000,000,000 - that's a lot of money.  I can expect to earn around $3,000,000 over my working life.  That makes the bailout worth the entire life earnings of about one quarter of a million people in similar circumstances as myself.  If the whole world were to shoulder this bailout, it would cost a few hundred dollars per each man woman and child alive today.

Then too, the news that the market has lost $1.2 trillion, ($1,200,000,000,000 !!!) in one day's trading.  That's half a million people's entire life output, or several thousand dollars per person alive today, or several tens of thousands of dollars per person in the USA.

I'm mentioning the whole world because the stock market is a global phenomenon and it directly or indirectly or tangentially affects every person alive.  Even though a select few billionaires have reaped the profits and many of those billionaires are citizens of the USA, the money came from my pocket and yours and from the misery of some child in Uganda who missed one too many meals due to extreme conditions of poverty...

I would like to say that, if the senate approves a bailout plan for the relevant banks and institutions, that they make it a condition that this money is repaid in full.  But not to the government - rather, donate it to projects devoted to cleaning up the mess we've made of the Earth.  I'd rather my hundred dollars went towards that, thank you.

When you consider the sheer abstractness of $1.2 trillion and the irrelevance of a sum that large to anything pretty much anyone else does in our day to day lives, it can lead to a decided lack of confidence in stock markets in the future, perhaps leading to the decline of a system of economics which obviously has no accountability and does not scale well.  It can also give you an inkling that the biggest stock market crash in the history of the stock market is maybe the death knell for a great many other "established" things.

Such as USA's importance as a world power:  Already considered to no longer be relevant to many countries, the USA has stretched its defense forces far and wide, made itself a laughing stock by electing Puzzled George, and now it's stock market has a lower credit rating than McDonalds.

Other markets, other countries, are proving much more relevant, much more powerful, and it seems that perhaps a shake-up is inevitable now.  China and India each have larger populations, and look how far-reaching the China Milk Crisis has rippled, to almost every place on the globe.  And most countries above Third World now have better economies than the USA does.   Meanwhile, Russia is rattling swords at the USA and basically saying "g'wan - we dare yaz!" to it's 50 mile distant "super"power neighbour over Georgia.

And don't forget that the USA are in all seriousness accepting life under a political system where a housewife with aspirations, a housewife whose foreign policy revolves around "well, you can see Russia from here," could conceivably become the second most powerful person in the USA.

In this atmosphere, with food and other resources falling short of "sustainability", the shake-up is not only a possibility, it's almost an ironclad certainty. Wherever you stand on these issues, a stand is definitely going to be called for.  Stand on the side of the Earth, because no matter how many "stockmarkets" you dress it up in, that wealth ultimately comes from one place and one place only.  And you're standing in it.

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