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Monetary units seem to be a necessary part of the human existence. Monetary units are otherwise known as capital, a concept a bit different from government style. Governments of all styles employ monetary units. How could Wall-Street banker barter a hair cut from his barber? How could the Boeing company barter a 787 Dreamliner with Indonesia Airlines? Money seems necessary to modern life. But what exactly does money represent? Is not money the medium of exchange between the other two forms of capital, human services and items of substance, again independent of political persuasion or style of government? Money is universal. So what? Read on.

In the 20th Century, money came into its own with the flourishing of the market economy, a euphemism for capitalism, well not quite. A market economy describes how prices of goods are set; Capitalism, on the other hand, means much more in practice. In the 20th Century, like monotheism in the Middle Ages, Capitalism grew into more than a market economy--By mid-century gained an ever greater foothold in politics to the point where it fueled the building of not just cartels, but empires. Industrialists fighting over world resources gradually achieved what Eisenhower termed "The Military-Industrial Complex" in the US. By the end of the 20th Century, the "MIC" had morphed into "CP," Capitalistic Plutocracy. It all happened so gradually we hardly noticed.

  • Why is it that Obama, so opposite of Bush in so many ways, hardly differs from Bush in so many ways that count?
  • Why did the Supreme Court give corporations essentially unfettered influence in the voting booth?
  • Why did the recently-passed health-care bill perpetuate the stranglehold drug companies have on our health care? Why, most fundamentally are we fighting two wars in the Middle East?
  • Why are we driving so many species to extinction?
  • Why have we so perversely tipped the world climate into the hot-house we or our descendants will be living in by mid century?
  • Industrial profits is the easy answer.

But let's think for a moment what that means.

  • More and more, industrial profits are skimmed off by the upper echelon managers. This is not totally bad: Goods are being produced and service industries thrive in their distribution. Real property increases in volume and value.
  • Not to be outdone, the upper echelon class among the money changers get into the act. They have invented numerous devious ways.

Before getting into that, we must recall that money is a medium of exchange between human capital and commodities. We can't eat money. Nor will it buy our food unless the food provider agrees to take our money in exchange for food. Before the creation of the Euro, most countries had currencies of their own and not all were freely convertible.

Here is the twist: Jack Welch, of GE fame, "grew" a large company into a huge one. Goldman-Sachs followed GE's example and grew to a size "Too Big to Fail." Consolidation, a perfectly good practice, grew into a monster--especially in the money changing arena.

Why is that bad?

  • Almost any practice, unrestrained, becomes obsessive, vicious, and dangerous all at once. Consolidation for efficiency, if it does not damage free enterprise and price competition can be good. It is bad when it merely corrals capital. For banks--allowed to offer unregulated derivatives or trade in the stock markets--the net effect is corralling capital. Since the money supply has the functions of enabling and maintaining order in buying and selling, less becomes available to the rest of us.

    Why is money so tight just now?

  • There are at least two reasons:
    • The plutocrats do not invest commensurately in capital creation, and
    • the responsible practitioners must hedge their bets, especially in uncertain times.

  • When I was a lad, gasoline cost about $0.15 per gallon. Now it is 20 times that. Food, clothing, and shelter costs have escalated in similar fashion. These are specific unit costs.

    Meanwhile, the economy, in constant dollars, has grown as well. We now enjoy greater security and can do things not even dreamed of when I was a lad. It is easy to get enamored by what science and technology have done for our well-being; it is easy to forget the basic economic equalities and how they must function in the end. That too is easy when what I can buy today was beyond the richest of the rich in my father's day. But all that does not change human avarice.

    My father's dollar is today only worth a nickel.

    Why? Inflation driven by many things, but most of all by war, reckless deficit government spending and recently, the corralling of capital that masquerades as growth.

    Figure out what to do here and you have my vote. You have your work cut out. Politicians captive to the plutocrats not only hold all the cards, they outgun us a thousand to one in defending their turf. It is not a war of course--but only because we do not recognize the enemy from within. All this is in addition to wars in the Middle East, unstable nuclear powers, and a recession that looks more and more like a long term event. Chronic unemployment will likely continue for quite some time. Meanwhile "Too Large To Fail" will be the mantra for leading our once-great nation of the cliff. We have a little time, a decade perhaps, to right the ship of state by educating free men and women in the basics of economics, and beginning a banking system overhaul by restoring the wall between commercial and investment banks.

    Harry Rosenberg


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