Just as Jon Stewart’s “Daily Show” is pretty much the only reliable news source on American broadcast television, so it seems, it only has one reliable counterpart in the American print media, and “America’s Finest News Source” tells it like it is again, with this article, in which Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke finally lets us in on the dirty little secret of our culture: money is just a product of collective psychosis– an illusion.
The fact is, gold bugs… try eating your gold when you get really hungry. It’s not just money (and precious metals) we’re deluded about– much of our petroleum based existence is equally the product of delusion (or at least, continued belief in its permanence is, anyway)– from the genetically modified processed foods you eat, to the fuel used to speed in your SUV (and heat your McMansion), to the electricity you are using to read these words, to the synthetic fibers your clothes and your Ikea furniture is made of… you’re going to have to live without all of it when, inevitably, oil becomes unobtainable (at least, in exchange for the illusion of American currency). And, without oil, even the threat of military action, currently the basis for how we get oil on credit now, will cease to be a credible threat.
And, while the macro- will, alas, take care of itself, so, it seems, will the micro-: These events are reported from that esteemed institution around a block from TD’s workplace:
At the New York Stock Exchange, Wednesday morning’s opening bell echoed across a silent floor as the few traders who arrived for work out of habit looked up blankly at the meaningless scrolling numbers on the flashing screens above.
“I’ve spent 25 years in this room yelling ‘Buy, buy! Sell, sell!’ and for what?” longtime trader Michael Palermo said.
“All I’ve done is move arbitrary designations of wealth from one column to another, wasting my life chasing this unattainable hallucination of wealth.”
“What a cruel cosmic joke,” he added. “I’m going home to hug my daughter.”
The Emperor really has no clothes: we have sold ourselves into slavery for an illusion. Grow some vegetables, folks. Hug your kids. Knit a sweater. Read a book. Take a walk. Smell the flowers, feel the breeze in your hair… smile. No one can take those things away from you. Unless you want them to… because you buy into the illusion. This has been… “An extremely inconvenient truth.”
You missed the hook at the end:
“It’s back to basics for me,” Bernard Polk of Waverly, OH said. “I’m going to till the soil for my own sustenance and get anything else I need by bartering. If I want milk, I’ll pay for it in tomatoes. If need a new hoe, I’ll pay for it in lettuce.”
When asked, hypothetically, how he would pay for complicated life-saving surgery for a loved one, Polk seemed uncertain.
“That’s a lot of vegetables, isn’t it?” he said.
Not so illusionary is it, now?
Eric, Eric, Eric… I’ll cut you some slack because 1984 was such a great book. I think everyone’s being too clever by half here (except me, who, as usual, clearly is not clever enough).
You see, rural doctors used to have no problem accepting pails of milk or bushels of corn or chickens for their fees for service; there’s no reason to think that top medical care couldn’t be obtained in a similar manner these days– assuming one thought about it for a second (think “gourmet organic produce” if you like… who doesn’t want great tasting food?)
You have evidently fallen for the “SUV/McMansion fallacy”– that American suburban life as we encounter it in the year 2010 is somehow as it has always been and is the only way it can ever be… both of which propositions have a truth value of “false,” and indeed, easily false within the living memory of old people (such as myself).
The “value” of things is either the food (top surgeons gotta eat, my friend) or the other goods and services (surgeons and nurses and orderlies, etc., probably don’t have time to grow ALL their food, or knit ALL their clothes, or repair (let alone manufacture) their homes and vehicles.) But the doc can’t EAT the greenbacks any more than you or I can– without the illusion that the paper has intrinsic value, you might get some heat value by burning it, or insulating the walls and such… but (I HOPE) you get the idea.
Money has (or at least had) been a tremendous SHORTCUT in the exchange of these goods and services… but we now live in an era where some psychotically high percentage of GDP does NOT represent actual goods and services of the nature that our surgeon or farmer might want, but the costs of literally moving around money itself (rather than what it will buy)- bank fees, interest rates, insurance premiums and “administrative costs,” AIG and Goldman Sacks bonuses., etc. … things that are OF NO INTRINSIC VALUE AT ALL OTHER THAN TO THE BLOODSUCKERS ON THE RECEIVING END– costs that we used to put up with when they were a comparatively negligible part of our economy… but have now evidently swallowed our economy to the point where what’s good for Goldman Sacks is good for America… because in America, we all work for Goldman Sacks (whether we like it or not, it seems).
So go home and hug a loved one; the post’s point remains valid.