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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

 
Money Isn't Real

by digby

Jonathan at A Tiny Revolution has written a piece that will blow your mind and challenge the way you think about our economic situation:
[M]uch of the world's elite understand exactly what they're doing: i.e., use the economic catastrophe they themselves created as a pretext to kill the welfare state they've despised for 65 years. Nonetheless, a significant chunk of them actually believe they're doing the right thing for everyone.

How is this possible? The best explanation I've seen appears in a 1994 book by John Ralston Saul called The Doubter's Companion. It's a kind of dictionary—the whole book is just him defining and discussing a bunch of words. And one thing he defines is "debt, unsustainable levels of." Everything you need to understand about our current attempt to obliterate ourselves can be found within it. His 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.

My favorite parts are these, but you should go below the fold and read the whole thing:

A nation cannot make debts sustainable by cutting costs. Cuts may produce marginal savings, but savings are not cash flow. This is another example of the alchemist’s temptation...

Civilizations which become obsessed by sustaining unsustainable debt-loads have forgotten the basic nature of money. Money is not real. It is a conscious agreement on measuring abstract value. Unhealthy societies often become mesmerized by money and treat it as if it were something concrete. The effect is to destroy the currency’s practical value.


Read on here. It is so outside the range of mainstream belief that it takes a couple of readings to actually grok what he's saying. But it had a familiar ring to it as well and I realized that I had read something along these lines just recently, from James Galbraith. It's technical rather than philosophical, but the effects are the same. Naturally the Very Serious People were appalled.

Regardless of whether you are prepared to accept these premises, one thing does become clear when you read Jonathan's post. "Money" is more real to our ruling class than are human beings. Same as it ever was?


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