Rape me once, shame on you; rape me twice, actually still shame on you. That’s what the financial bailout looks like to me: a repeated raping of taxpayers in the form of looting the treasury of money not even yet there. Arms and legs indeed. There is lots of spilt ink on the bailout plan, most of which I don’t trust. However, Ran Prieur has a couple prescient points about the bailout plan on which I want to comment (here rather than on his blog since it doesn’t allow comments).
The point I expect to make over and over is that money is not wealth. The houses are still here. There are still farms to grow food and trucks to haul it to supermarkets. The challenge is to keep those systems going, or improvise replacements, through chaos and upheaval in the money system.
That money is not wealth is true in principle, but in practice, the process of rediscovery that wealth accrues to means of production and distribution would be a long and arduous one. If the immediate paper money incentive for bothering to work were eroded severely (through hyperinflation) or even wiped away, the bulk of the American population is unprepared to return to a mostly agrarian subsistence as occurred in Russia with the collapse of the Soviet Union. The tumult would be extraordinary.
I will be shocked if the $700,000,000,000 bailout does not pass, because it’s such a beautiful opportunity for a massive abuse ritual. On a spiritual level, the purpose of this world, or at least the purpose of this age of human society, is to seduce people into making an emotional investment in something they have no control over, and then torturing them with disappointment. If every ordinary American is outraged by the bailout, they have to pass it, just to grind our faces in our own powerlessness.
Funny how using all the zeros behind $700 billion makes a point without even trying. Jared Diamond wrote about the practice of tribute in tribal cultures. Today, we don’t really question funneling money to the rich, powerful, and famous because their riches, power, and fame function as circular justifications. The stakes today are also considerable greater than with tribal cultures. Riches and power in particular are being consolidated into the hands of a very few, which is quite unhealthy for both them and the rest of us. The comment that it has grown into a “massive abuse ritual” is accurate, I think, and it erupts periodically as an opportunity to remind us of our learned helplessness.
I’m not going to bother with who exactly all this money is being paid to, because if you take a step back, money concentration is just a symbol for power concentration, and power concentration has already reached its practical limits. We fear a society full of police and soldiers telling us what to do, but consider how inefficient that is, compared to a society where we do everything voluntarily. When the control system has to point a gun at you, you know it’s almost finished.
It’s yet unclear how much more central control the people — or sheeple, as they’re often called — will accept. Because the violence and intimidation is right now limited to a few agitators, demonstrators, and resident aliens, many Americans are either flatly unconcerned or believe that “those people get what they ask for.” So in fact, there’s considerably more excess possible before a practical limit is reached engendering inefficiency would convince Americans that they must act.
It’s actually a rather strange notion to me that concentrated power would founder on inefficiency, of all things, considering how fascism is legion through history for eliminating levels of bureaucracy and decision making. Despotic leaders determine a course of action and waive away objections and oversight, which makes the objective far more efficient. That’s the purpose behind sequestering the bailout plan from judicial or congressional interference.