Member since: Fri May 5, 2006, 06:55 PM
Number of posts: 1,731
Number of posts: 1,731
I've heard this idea attacked from multiple angles and it gets pretty complicated so here's my nickel synopsis. Trying to boil down the theses of several books I've read recently, including Graeber's Debt and Heinberg's End of Growth.
Our money is based on debt and debt carries interest and this is incompatible when working within a steady-state or declining system; interest only works in a growing economy.
Imagine we have an economy with ten people. There's a hundred bucks in total circulation. At the start, everyone has ten. I decide to put one of my dollars into an investment. Now if I'm only collecting simple interest, I get $1.05 back no matter how long it takes the borrower to return the cash. Assuming I get the first mover advantage and start accumulating more wealth, there's a certain point where I'm holding a significant fraction of the dollars. If I want my pile to get bigger, I might argue that we should make more dollars for this economy.
But what does the dollar represent, really? It's an IOU to collect on goods and services. There's a maximum amount of useful work any person could perform in life. If you're farming my land for me, you can't give me more than a day's work or seven days in a week. It's just not possible, no matter what the books say you owe. If I'm due a month's worth of work, I'm not getting it out of you in less than a month, likely more if I can't monopolize your time.
Now add compounding interest to this mix. A dollar invested and returned with simple interest is pretty honest. A dollar invested that perpetually returns interest seems like magic. It returns money endlessly for no additional expenditure of effort or capital. But for this to work, the money supply has to grow. The economy has to grow. Otherwise, we quickly reach absurdity.
Think about where inflation comes from. Inflation arises from more money chasing fewer resources. And how does that happen? Because the imaginary economy is growing faster than the real economy. In my ten person economy, let's imagine half of us are investors with our original $10 stake growing into $100 apiece. (Supposing they wrangled an increase in the money supply, beyond the original $100 total.) Each of us is trying to secure the laborers and I must outbid my fellow to attract attention. This drives the price up. But even as my wealth grows through interest, the laborers are left with dollars whose worth is shrinking by the same rate. They are unable to park their wealth in the same investments available to me and my ilk.
But to keep the whole game afloat, we need growth. It can't ever stop or the bubble bursts. Is this not the very definition of a Ponzi scheme, a rigged game that requires a constant addition of new money to pay off the original investors? And the payoff promised for the new investors can only be paid off if more people are added to the base of this tottering pyramid.
The real question regarding growth is whether infinite growth is possible on a finite planet. This is not a question of ideology but of facts and science. And the abundant evidence is that it just can't happen. And what this means is that we need to seriously reevaluate our basic assumptions about economics and finance or else we are going to be seriously fucked. This is going to be as significant of a removing gods and spirits from explanations of how the natural world operates. Our economics is still lousy with voodoo and witchcraft.
Posted by jollyreaper2112 | Mon Oct 7, 2013, 11:12 AM (2 replies)
Heard a bunch of people getting in a tizzy about a former Disney starlet twerking on MTV. So glad I don't keep up with pop culture.
I'm not going to venture an opinion on the appropriate role of sex in entertainment.... Oh, hell, I'll give it a go. I like sex, I like the ladies, but when sex is put at the forefront it's just covering up a lack of product. When someone sells me beer based on ladies jiggling in bikinis, that tells me the beer is no good.
American pop basically holds as much interest for me as American macrobrews. It's all Budweiser. I'll appreciate a good American microbrew or something from Europe.
Musically, here's something from Europe. Katzenjammer. It's not often you see a balalaika deployed in public. (Triangle guitar.)
Posted by jollyreaper2112 | Wed Aug 28, 2013, 04:11 PM (6 replies)
Usually celebrities are the offenders. Cat Stevens is now some Islamic name, puff daddy can't figure out what he wants to call himself, snoop smoked a mountain of door and decided to become a lion, Prince becomes an unpronounceable symbol, Saul decides to become Paul. It's needlessly confusing. Istanbul, not Constantinople. Sports venues and famous landmarks being renamed because someone spent money.
Objectively I know these two things aren't really the same and I understand he's got gender confusion problems. But as far as my irritation with the whole thing goes, it has nothing to do with gender and more to do with constant name changing.
Posted by jollyreaper2112 | Sun Aug 25, 2013, 12:35 AM (86 replies)
OWS is getting covered on Newsroom and I just finished reading Debt: the first 5000 years. The book is brilliant and frustrating.
I see there's a related thread to read up on here.
Well, it's August, 2013. Where do we stand on the issues?
Our come to Jesus moment should have been 2008. We bailed out the banks and told everyone else to pound sand. Conventional wisdom despaired at us ever getting action on this. OWS came out of nowhere and was amazing. We all thought we were oppressed alone and had no idea how many of us there were if we stood together.
I agree that society needs a monomyth to explain things. Manifest destiny, divine right of kings, mandate of heaven, religious or material world views, everyone needs a way of making sense of the world and doing right by it. We then have hierophants and priests and pundits and storytellers to help make sense of it and tell us why the way things are is the way things should be. The tacit agreement of capital to labor is you get a piece of the action but we keep most of it. It was a big piece and we could be happy with it. The last 30 years have seen what happens when capital renegs. The new deal is fuck you, now shut up. It's harder and harder for people to believe the American dream. As Carlin said, you need to be asleep to believe it.
OWS crapped in the punchbowl and The MSM went into overdrive creating a new narrative to explain things.
These protests seem like mushrooms. Sure, you can remove the mushrooms but the fungus is not gone, it remains beneath the soil. More mushrooms can arise at any time.
The underlying issues have not changed, things continue to get worse but the wheels are somehow staying on the smoking, rattling bus as it careens down the road, a driverless juggernaut.
So, is OWS gone or gone underground? Are things happening that aren't hitting the MSM or blogs?
Posted by jollyreaper2112 | Thu Aug 8, 2013, 11:59 AM (44 replies)
Someone famous once said a coward is a hero with a wife, kids and a mortgage. There's a reason why they draft 18-yr olds to fight wars, not 40-yr olds.
Talking about Snowden's state of mind to me is like going on about the horse-race aspect of an election rather than the different positions represented by the candidates. Of course, seeing as both candidates work for the same guys, there's not really much difference. Gay-friendly corporatism or bible-thumping corporatism, you're getting your corporatism like you're getting your spam in that Python skit.
It would not be impossible to imagine Snowden as ignorant of the enormity of what he was about to do, not fully aware of the consequences. I doubt Manning imagined what he would be facing when he leaked.
If he was aware of the consequences, then he would have to be a special kind of motivated. He would then be a martyr. He may not yet be dead but life as he knew it is over. Just having convictions doesn't always mean you're right. Timothy McVeigh was a martyr, just as much as your typical suicide bomber.
I don't think anyone in their right mind would volunteer for what Snowden has signed up for. Most of us are sensible cowards.
Just because someone dies for their beliefs doesn't mean we have to condone them. Snake-handling Christians die for their beliefs all the time. Same with Christian Scientists refusing medicine, government-hating gun nuts who go after cops as well as civil rights protesters, activists like Rachel Corrie, etc. It's up to us to decide the worth of the sacrifice, whether it is courage or some kind of crazy.
Ignorant or crazy, it doesn't really matter at this point. What do the facts he leaked say? If someone got away with murder for twenty years and he cheated on his wife and she went to the police with incriminating evidence as the jilted party, do we ignore the crime?
Posted by jollyreaper2112 | Tue Jul 2, 2013, 02:52 PM (4 replies)
I know Sam Harris has talked about this, how our motives we come up with are post hoc rationalizations and how propaganda can affect our thinking in invisible ways. Also talk of the lead poisoning theory and how it ruins impulse control so that a person really is no longer responsible for their own actions. Doesn't excuse the results but questions who is really to blame. I poison the environment and people who grow up there are homicidally crazy, who should we charge with murder?
Has there been a broader debate about this sort of thing? I assume so but want to know where the best discussions have been had. Where is the science pointing?
Posted by jollyreaper2112 | Sat Apr 27, 2013, 05:41 PM (18 replies)
Attention GE and your matrix commercials: do you realize who the bad guys were in that movie?
Posted by jollyreaper2112 | Mon Apr 22, 2013, 06:58 PM (4 replies)
"Criminal: a person with predatory instincts who has not sufficient capital to form a corporation.”
Haven't found much on the man but I like the way he thinks. More along those lines.
"The secret of great wealth with no obvious source is some forgotten
crime, forgotten because it was done neatly." Paraphrase from Balzac.
“Lawyers can steal more money with a briefcase than a thousand men with guns and masks." -- Mario Puzo
Reading up on the first mafia family in the US. It's amazing how every legitimate, worthy business can be turned into a racket. And I feel that's what's been done with our government. Government has a legitimate purpose, just like restaurants and garbage services and labor unions but they can all be turned to corrupt purposes by the criminal element.
It feels like everything is being run as a giant con. Finance, industry, government at the highest levels, it's all been turned into organized crime. And the crime is so big none can even differentiate between corruption and public policy.
Posted by jollyreaper2112 | Fri Apr 5, 2013, 12:30 PM (0 replies)
The kicker with these social issues is that they are not unimportant but that they are still distractions from greater problems, intentionally so.
A broken leg is not unimportant but if the patient is in cardiac arrest, it's not the biggest problem.
So while civil rights are important, while I have sympathy for gays and blacks and other persecuted groups, I'm also angry that we're expending so much energy on these fights that we have nothing left for the big fight, the economic screwing. And the thing is, that gets all of us, white and black, straight and gay, tall and short, fat and thin, we're all getting screwed. It's the have's vs. the have-not's and we can't even have this conversation.
So, we may well see gay marriage. Yay! Now you can grow old together and wonder how you will make ends meet without a social safety net, no retirement. It's a cute little cottage on a bluff overlooking the Republican hellscape. Enjoy the view.
Posted by jollyreaper2112 | Thu Mar 28, 2013, 11:25 AM (17 replies)
To really simplify economics down to the base parts:
land (or natural resources) + labor + capital (means of production) = wealth
The big fights are always over who owns the land and means of production and how much labor gets out of it. A king without peasants to farm his lands is broke. A factory owner without workers is bleeding green. Despise the masses all they want, they're still necessary.
What happens when labor is removed from the equation? Land + capital = wealth. There's work for house servants and butlers, escorts and entertainers but do you need farmers, miners, factory workers? Not many, certainly not enough to occupy the surplus population.
This article hits today.
Half of Americas largest companies are bringing manufacturing back from China and China is quickly moving to Robotic manufacturing
The advent of truly sophisticated and relatively cheap industrial robotics and automation technology is beginning to change the global economic landscape.
A little over two years ago Terry Gou the CEO of Foxconn announced that over the next three years his company was going to begin phasing in up to 3 million industrial robots with an eye towards increasing efficiency and reducing labor costs. This announcement, from the world's largest electronics contract manufacturer, sent waves through the media and business community. Foxconn employs over 1.5 million people in China, in hundreds of plants and facilities, scattered around the country.
What is astounding about this information is the impact it already has had. According to Liu Kun, a spokesman for Foxconn, "We have canceled hiring entry level workers, a decision that is partly associated with our efforts in production automation." Moreover according to the International Federation of Robotics the growth of industrial robotics in China has been exceeding 40% to 50% a year, an unprecedented level of growth. The question that springs to mind is: What would happen if Foxconn actually had 3 million robots?
The end of work doesn't mean a utopian leisure paradise. It means we are sidelined, redundant, left to die. And there's no incentive in changing any of this.
I think this will be one of the great crises of our time, coupled with peak everything and climate change.
What say the collective wisdom of DU?
Posted by jollyreaper2112 | Wed Mar 6, 2013, 11:22 AM (8 replies)