Wednesday, September 19, 2012

People are not Savings Accounts for Bankers

Whenever someone says money is the problem, someone else will invariably say, no it's not money, it's the way people deal with money. It's the people who abuse money. Wrong. It is money. If there were no money people wouldn't have an option to deal with it, right or wrong. It's not about people. I mean just look at all the upstanding (mostly white, mostly male) people on Wall Street.  They can't help it if the system works the way it does. They're just trying to survive on a minimum mid six figures. They're just giving their clients what they want. So right there we know it can't be the people who deal with the money. It's the money!

In this clip from Margin Call, Jeremy Irons, perched in his ivory tower, says that without money we'd kill each other for food. Bullshit.  The second I heard that line I suspected this film was Wall Street propaganda. But I haven't seen the whole thing yet so I'll limit my criticism to Iron's dialog here.

As long as money exists as a universal exchange for almost anything you need, even your own health, there will always be people who exploit it and hoard it. Money has only been around for a few thousand years. Humanity got along just fine with out it for many more thousands of years before that. You might look back at bartering and say, 'so am I supposed to trade cows for a living now?' No. People traded livestock because that's what they owned. People own many more things now; computers, cell phones, TVs, cameras, art, music. Barter today might not be so bad an idea. In fact EBay is just one step away from modern day barter, and Amazon and others have simialr operations were people sell all kinds of possessions on the open market.

Is it really so absurd to live without money? What would happen? Would people resort to crime to just take whatever they want, like how we see Wall Street taking people's lives at the rate of 45,000 annually for health insurance profits? Or how the military industry takes millions of innocent lives, devastates millions of American and foreign families, and proliferates and perturbs more wars just to make exorbitant profits?

I think we need to guarantee all people a minimum standard of living, even regardless of citizenship. If war profiteers didn't need to spend hundreds of trillions on useless wars, sucking up over half the federal budget, we could easily afford this. But without money, there would be no affording things. Everything would be resourced based. Do we have the resources to house, feed, educate, and maintain people's health? Of course we do. Do we have the resources to build war machinery and award padded contracts? Without money there is no padding. You provide your services in exchange for comforts and necessities of life. Maybe there could be incentives for more resources for people who earn them. But what would be eliminated is the making of money just for the sake of accumulating money.

Money is not wealth. Money is simply a medium of exchange. If we can't limit money to being only a medium and not a commodity in itself, then it no longer works as a medium, because it is hoarded. A phone line is a medium. If phones were commodities then they could be hoarded and only a very few could have a phone. People try to hoard phone lines by having monopoles. But it hasn't worked yet. There are still many competitive ways to have a phone line. A phone line also has limited value, while money has universal value as long as everyone accepts it.

There's no easy answer. I've heard about individual based currencies where people issue their own money in exchange for someone's goods or services. That currency would have limited value. If the person has a good reputation their money becomes valuable. But they control it. Not the government. And there is no making money on the exchange of money.

Another idea might be to remove interest charges, or at least to limit them to a flat rate and not an annuity. You borrow money for college, you pay it back when you can at a flat 5% interest rate that doesn't increase year after year. If you borrow $10,000 you pay back $10,500 forever. No interest accumulations. People are not savings accounts for bankers.

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