Sunday, 25 October 2009

We Have Been Warned, Will We?

Okay.  So there's this thing we call an economy, right?  And the damn thing all collapses on itself and - well, it's still happening as we speak.  But what the hell is it all about, really?  And why?

There's a chap who, back in the '70s, wrote a book about the purpose of money.  (And with it, the economy.)  There's a more concise and shortened summary by Lomas here, you may want to read that as a grounder.

And much as I like to pull the piss out of conspiracy theories, something about this resonates with me.  For example, the problem of national debts plagues me.  As an exercise, try this thought experiment:

Australia has a foreign debt.  We owe money to a lot of countries.  The USA has a foreign debt, and owes a lot of money to a lot of countries.  Japan has a huge foreign debt, China has one, India has one.  I don't actually know any country that has a positive balance.  So where does all that money end up?

It's also a perfect mechanism to describe a way to bring about an economic meltdown.  Because if every country is decreasing in wealth due to foreign debt, those economies had to have been propped up by something else.  Like perhaps inflation and Ponzi schemes and guaranteed financial instruments that are based on worthless financial instruments which are based on supposedly solid loan repayments which in turn are...  Well, you get the idea.

It's all a bit like the Arabian story of the beggar who waved his bread through the steam from some food a merchant was cooking in order to flavour the bread a bit.  The merchant collared the poor guy and took him to the Sheikh to ask that he be paid two coins for the steam the beggar had "used" to flavour his bread, and the Sheikh said "Certainly, we shall provide you with fair value" and jingled two coins so the merchant could hear them.  I get the feeling that our economic giants have been trading steam and jingles for a while now, and perhaps it's all evaporated.  We've based all our sense of worth on one mineral, being gold.  And there's only so much gold in the ground, yet we need to use it to purchase all the other things we extract from the Earth like iron and food and lumber and so forth.  And we're very good at exploiting the Earth...  So of course the number of things we can have increases, while the amount of gold-based wealth perforce isn't growing anywhere near as much.

Oh and I have another theory.  I believe that some very intelligent and possibly rational people have been theorising about the Large Hadron Collider's excessive downtime.  Their theory goes that at some time in the future, the LHC produces some kind of result which leads to time travel and to some kind of ill effect.  And now, people from the future have sent someone back in time to sabotage the LHC and prevent this from happening.

I'm open to such theories, because I've NEVER believed that there are limits, so I'm quite happy to accept that a person from the future could go back in time, and destroy the thing that would make time travel possible, thereby making him(or her) self an incorporeal artifact that never could have existed anymore.

But what if there was also a realisation that because we'd invented this notion of wealth based on gold we were also causing a planet-wide catastrophe due to the exploitation of the resources?  And they sent a party through before the party that was supposed to take out the LHC, to destabilise the economies of the major countries?  Because of course, that would kill two birds, one, slow down the planetary destruction, and also make it harder for the LHC to attract the funding it needs to make all the repairs.

And hey - it's every bit as good as any economic theory you can come up with!  %)


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