Thursday, July 28, 2011

Head of a pin

This whole brouhaha over the debt ceiling and deficit reminds me of nothing so much as the medieval church fathers' respective positions on the number of the angelic host that could fit on the head of a pin. Whether or not either side, or none, were right would not affect the state of grace of the average penitent, or in the instant case, the economic state of the average wage slave. The system is broken and nobody knows how to fix it. Regardless of what solution they finally come up with, its effects will be short-lived. They know this, talking about kicking the can down the road. It does not matter whether they kick a can, a rock or a football, down a road, field or green, it will make no difference.

Money has served out its usefulness. The symbols of wealth can manipulated no further. The complexity into which the monetary economy has been elaborated is beyond human understanding or intelligence. Economists will be last to admit this. The money spinners have been too clever by half, but they have run into the limits of physics, the limits of growth as they define it. Some growth is called cancer and left unchecked, it destroys its host. Metastasis.

It's hard to even think of a world without money, so let's not. It's a far-fetched notion so we'll pretend that another world, another economy without money is not possible. Back to the real world.

The basic problem it seems to me is that the business of government is conceived of and treated just like a household economy or business, trading something for tokens it can spend, offering services in exchange for taxes, another outmoded idea. Taxes probably began as protection money extracted from peasants by strongmen, warlords, kings, then the state. Then the robber/banker barons loaned money to the king/state to wage wars, creating state/national debt. The state got suck(er)ed into the monetary morass.

The function of the government is to enable the economy, allowing businesses and households to prosper. Under the present cumbersome arrangement, if the state budget shrinks so does the economy. It is ludicrous then for the state budget to be determined by an arcane, arbitrary and inequitable system of imaginary units. It's time to get real, people, and the answer is not gold.