Saturday, January 7, 2012

The Debts Will Not Be Paid

Conscious Media Network, 01-02-2012

Reprinted by permission.

The debts will not be paid. Not the sovereign debts, the corporate debts, the municipal debts or the personal debts.

This is not a question of moral hazard nor is it a slogan on a piece of cardboard or line out of an Internet manifesto. It is simply a systemic reality. It is not possible to “balance the budget” by reducing the quality of life. There are not enough teachers, firemen and police officers to fire. There are not enough government agencies to close.

We cannot solve this problem through deprivation. Aside from the human misery, the math doesn’t work. Certainly we can create a balance sheet that makes it look like we can get to a zero debt position but the problem is that our currency is based on debt. When we put people out of work they can’t pay their own debts or their taxes. That puts more pressure on a system that is already in collapse.

But there are many sources that analyze the decline of debt based monetary systems; that’s not the purpose here. The underlying question that we need to begin to address is the purpose of money.

Many of us still believe that we can put our money “to work”. We have 401k’s. We have investment portfolios. We buy gold and silver. We want to see the value of those accounts go up.

Money doesn’t “work”. Originally it was an abstract concept created to allow a more efficient exchange between human beings. This idea that you can make money from money has been derived essentially from the concept of gambling – something for nothing. But what has been deceiving about our accounting standards and financial markets is the fantasy behind it all. This money does not only not “work”, it doesn’t really exist. It can disappear in an instant.

Here’s what’s interesting. What we are discovering is that the exchange between human beings seems to rely less and less on this abstract concept.

We exchange all sorts of ideas without the involvement of money. There are many websites, perhaps the one that you are reading this on, that provide information without charging money. We can download operating systems and applications without the use of money. The use of those tools can add tremendous value to the lives of those who use them.

The exchange seems to be based on the desire to share and the need to make a contribution. For some time the business community has viewed the individuals who develop these tools and share them without the use of money as whack jobs who just don’t understand how economic systems work. It’s beginning to dawn on some of us that it may be the other way around.

A world without money seems like lunacy. But we need to become more aware that money is really an idea and that its utility is based on a belief system. Belief systems do not change over night but they can shift quickly. Often ideas that still can be useful are subsumed into larger ideas – much like the understanding of gravity in Newtonian physics is subsumed under the idea of entanglement in Quantum physics. So one way to think about this issue is that money will not go away completely, it will just become increasingly less relevant.

One of the first steps in the transition toward a more sane process for human beings to exchange goods, services and creativity is to understand the futility of our current system. But it’s important to get past being right about what is going wrong. The next step is to take a chance, perhaps fail and then take another chance.