One thought that troubles me in these days of ‘austerity’ coupled with seemingly mindless bureaucratic spending is the way money is treated. One would think from all the fuss that money were a conserved substance governed by natural conservation laws — like matter and energy. I am sure that at some point in the past it may well have worked like this — a common metric of value that at least over a limited geographic area had a shared meaning. As ‘two purple rocks for a sheep’ and so forth.
But the one thing that the financial system (and indeed much of big business since they are more bank than factory) demonstrates is that money can be created and destroyed at will. Oh, to be sure, there are accounting systems (many of them) that with great ceremony treat the manifestations and currents of money as though it were a conserved substance. But I would suggest that at the root they are all social conventions and beliefs as rooted in reality as the pre-Copernican solar system or the views that race or religion ‘X’ is ‘naturally’ superior over ‘Y’.
So I suspect, given that this boom and bust cycle seems to be a fundamental feature of the current financial system, much like the current trends to socialize risk and privatize profit — we pay and ‘they’ get wealthy, that there really is no cure within the bounds of the system. The misery and disparity will continue. Austerity attacks the society it is supposed to heal making things worse. I think this is how the US slid into the Great Depression – and may do yet again.
Somehow I think we need a new system to liberate us from the ‘rock exchange’ … although I am nowhere near bright enough to envision it. Just that I can see the harm our continued belief in the current religion of money is doing. And recognizing money for the artifice it is think that there must be some other way of persisting and exchanging value that will help all human society to escape this trap.