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Posted by panch from ( on Saturday, July 13, 2002 at 9:05PM :

I wonder if part of the reason we had the great incentive to waste a lot of money on dot coms and nit wits and impossible salaries and benefits for a few is that there really isn't anything useful to spend all that money on?

Think about it. What if computers had never been invented. What would have "grown" this economy so much in the last fifteen years? Remember all the early adds for computers showing Mom and Dad and their 2.4 children gathered round the screen, all smiling idiotically at the wonders this machine performed. Over 60% of all personal computers wound up in the attic...the rest were used to store recipes on??? Mostly computers for the family meant another place to plug the children in, when there was nothing on the 500 cable and satelite stations.

Porn dealers have had it good and Mom and Pop can now get their Yuks directly at home instead of through the mail in a brown paper package. That and e-bay, a cyber junkstore and mall.

What would have been the "engine" driving this economy? It couldn't have been manufacturing because we've been slowly shifting that outside with factories closing down and most people reduced to the "service economy"...waiting on those who make money in computers.

What if all these computer companies and bio-tech firms really can't make any money? What if their products don't really work the way they say they do? What if people don't want any more of the same thing, only much FASTER? What if bullshit peddlers are the real growth industry, convincing us that we're producing anything worthwhile?

We had a bubble economy because where it comes to figuring out why we're even on this friggin planet...we're bubble headed enough to think we can buy ourselves a meaningful life, or happiness for our children.

What if you walked up to American industry and dumped 147 zillion dollars on them and said..."go to work and when that runs out there's plenty more". What "work" would they do with the money? Is it more freeways we lack...more cars...better technology so we don't damage the earth as much but go on damaging the people on it? Just what is all theis wealth invested in all of these companies supposed be used on? maybe the executives pay themselves these salaries because there isn't anything else to spend the money on and it would be embarrassing to have it laying around at the end of the the Pentagon always goes into a flurry of silly purchases at the end of their budget cycle just so they can come to congress proving that they need more for next year cause they "barely" had enough to finish the year.

Sure they could make cheaper and more washing machines so everyone could have one...but what do we buy them with if we don't have jobs? And what are we going to do in these jobs if we aren't making anything...but servicing each other?

Was a time when the world evolved up to slavery as a means of production. It was efficient to a point till people realized it rotted any society that grew dependant on it. With the collapse of the Roman Empire, the order and discipline and the armies and navies that enforced the Pax Romana...Europe became a land of chaos and fear...the roads were no longer safe, bandits and pirates kept people close to home...there was lawlessness . For all its flaws, the Roman Empire, like any other, made growth and expansion and security somewhat possible.

Instead of central authority the castle came into being...a fortress where the local strongman lived with his retainers...peasants built their villages close by and soon Feudalism replaced Slavery as a system of governance and security and production. The Lord of the manor extended the protection of his thugs to the villagers, in return for which they provided for him and his family and men at arms.

In time even that wasn't enough because of constant warfare between Lords and their retainers so the strongest one among them fought his way into royalty. Feudalism now encompassed the entire country and it worked for as long as it was viable.

Soon enough there had to be another change. people were tired of being tied down, unable to move from village to village without the permission of their Feudal lord and master. That's why the order of Masons, or Freemasonry, was such a radical concept...because the stone mason had a skill not easy to replicate, yet his skills were needed far and he became the first journeyman able to travel over the mountains to other cities. Like the merchants of old, the stone mason brought new ideas like seeds gathered in his travels and he left ideas wherever he came...ideas that usually shocked the establishment in the villages he passed through on his way to another castle or abbey.

In Jude The Obscure, Hardy shows the dangers this could supposedly lead to...the "freethinkers" of Jude's day risked living outside normal society and we all know where that gets you.

From Feudalism we had to progress to the Industrial Age, a time of factories replacing cottage industry, of smokestacks and the need for cheap labor that had to be tied down to the factory town or business...who hadn't the tools to sell their services anywhere...and of course this meant money..the need for capital... Feudalism had to be replaced because it kept the peasants on the farm...when they had to be kicked out to go to the cities and run the machines.

Now what? What comes after capitalism...what IS caapitalism? Is it really a system that can provide a decent standard of living for enough people...given how we've chosen to define a "decent" life?

When a country says it doesn't have enough money for health care, what's it really talking about? Money is can print as much as you want. It's worthless paper can't trade it in for gold or silver, like you used to be able to. It's now a "promisory note"...a government IOU. That's all. It is taken "on faith" the belief that when you buy eggs, the egg man will accept that paper for payment. It isn't worth anything to him either, unless the gas man places enough faith in it to sell the egg man some gas on his way home...and he wont have a home if the landlord doesn't believe that the next guy down the line will take the paper in exchange for something else.

There is plenty of much as we need. It's just that we have to keep it scarce so a bunch of bastards can make interest off it as they "loan" it to us...and they don't want too much of it out there cause it drives prices down and inflation eats into their profits in the form of the interest they get.

Imagine a small town in are scarce and have been ever since that factory was shut down and the product line moved to China. There isn't much being collected by way of taxes so the city services are beginning to suffer. There isn't any money to keep the hospital open except for three days a week, and they're down to one cop. Street lights don't come on any longer because they can't afford the electric bill for them and the traffic lights too. Roads have fallen into disrepair and pot holes have appeared on almost every street. people begin planning their routes so as to use the best streets, avoiding the bumps and holes that are causing front ends and shocks and ball joints to begin to fall apart on most cars. But in time those streets too are ruined due to overuse.

Everyone complains about it...everyone sees their cars falling apart more and more, everyone is tired of repairing their cars till they can't afford to do it one more time so many have left the cars at home except for emergencies.

At town hall meetings they all complain about the condition of the streets and grumble and want the mayor's head. he shakes his head, turns his pockets inside out and says, "what can I do...we don't have the money".

One day an enterprising soul notices that the city yard has a surplus of old gravel and chunks of tar and asphalt along with the machines they used to operate when they could afford to long ago. A bunch of them get together and realize that it's doing far more damamge to their cars and pocket books to keep complaining and waiting for the money to come back....instead they get the key from the mayor, who joins them...and they fill the holes themselves...with more volunteers joining as they go along till the streets are good enough to satisfy their basic needs. from then on the townspeople take turns at maintenance and as long as supplies hold out...the streets are usable again.

So who needed money? The people, the wood, the oil, the chemicals are all here on this planet. It isn't as if there is a warehouse in the sky we need cash for. Everything we need is all around us, and so are we.

The problem comes when you introduce money and the idea of a few clever rascals getting their hands on more and more of it...more than they can ever use or need...while the rest of us scrape and strugggle for it...and have to be KEPT struggling and scarping for it. Everyone wants to work's just the uncertainty, the anxiety, the cycles that get each working generation laid off beofre they've barely had a chance to realize any long range benefits from the few years of "good" salaries they made, before ushering the next class at reduced rates and higher expectations and energy levels. No one wants to pay a worker enoughn for that person to begin to enjoy contemplate take up something else besides overtime and two jobs for mother and father just to get ahead a little...but not really.

These machines and devices were all touted as freeing us us labor saving devices so we could...what? The 60's, I think. scared the corporate types because they saw what a younger generation might do if it wasn't wholeheartedly alligning itself with the interests of the Master Class. They would find the time to read get together and travel to other cities to meet others intesrted in asking the bigger questions...perhaps even marching on Washington or having strikes at Universities.

Who has any leisure time now? Not even the children have a moment to scratch their arses without being put into an "Arse Scratching Class" after school. And what college student in his or her right mind...already concerned about what retirement plan will be ineffect when it's time...almost rushing through Life to get to retirement when the "fun" kicks in and they can ask any damn question they want because who listens to older people in this country anyway?

And that boys and the reason we were killing all those people in South America and Vietnam, and why we made such a monster out of the Soviet Union...a nation that was going to destroy us when they could barely manufacture one car, and it didn't work too well.

The "idea" behind the fable of Communism is what scared these Barons and Bankers half to death. That's why they went ape shit to convince us that the "good life" is the life of excess...that our happiness and that of our families would come from never having enough, always needing more...and now, finally, drugging us and our children when we aren't encouraged to stay drunk all weekend.

The secret will will out.

-- panch
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