Monday, November 29, 2010

The Paper Scam

Look, we are screwed. I know that. I think you know that, too. Us regular folks understand when we are getting the gears. We feel the Warden's force, supported by those comfortable with authority or who know their place (a hard habit to kick considering the violent opposition), proving once more that might is right. It has been this way forever.

I am not without blame, mind you. I suspect that this neanderthal philosophy of might has had a pretty easy go at imposing itself upon the likes of pacifists or compassionate progressives uncomfortable with the coerced imposition of any man over another. You know, those guilty of succumbing to their various threats, like me.

This deep disdain for the use of might turns me toward reason instead. Along the way I’ve learned that reasoning with a single person is tough at times, but it is the disarmed fool who thinks he can reason with society. Although we may be rational animals, above all, we are emotional ones. With emotion comes conviction of purpose. And only those in control of the message can instill the necessary fear and hate and patriotic fervor into our minds which compel us to ignorantly obey their orders.

One such order, for example, followed the recent global, financial meltdown. While real people are losing their jobs, homes, pensions, and savings; while entire nations are going bankrupt and grovelling for the mercy of the IMF; and while there is no end to this pain in sight, we are commanded to throw obscene amounts of money into saving the sacred Banking Institutions. For an economy, so it is claimed, cannot exist without them.

Now a sane person might just wonder how Banks became the heart of the economy? Just what are Banks producing that breaths life itself into the economy? The answer: Super-Paper.

It began when the Quants created a sublime piece of Paper that represented hundreds of other pieces of ordinary paper. As the Financial Advisors sold this Super-Paper, word got out that the Quants had other colours of Super-Paper, too. Super-Paper sales skyrocketed! Before long all the savvy weekend investors like Jane D-cup or Joe Sixpack, looking for a deal, bought Super-Paper. Beautifully packaged and embossed with the golden Triple A seal, Super-Paper's investment value was too good to be true.

Meanwhile, as each financial quarter passed, the Banks continued to maximize profits and chase market share. 'Thank you Super-Paper!' echoed down Wall Street, up Bay Street, and beyond. And with these record incomes, Banks rewarded their CEOs more perversely than ever. Orchestrating over the entire Super-Paper economy was tough work, they said, so the millions and billions in bonuses were most deserved.

But things that cannot go on forever, don't. And this financial hoax was no different. That's right, Super-Paper was only ever just p-a-p-e-r. It was the illusion that became reality. In the end, we are told no one saw it coming and, even worse, no one is responsible. Do you believe it?

So here is what I make of it all. We are the new civil defence force, that public army which President Obama promised to deliver to the world. And like all good soldiers, we obey our orders. Not so long ago in Nuremberg the Nazi defence was ‘I was just following orders’. Today, filled with propaganda and sold a world view, the Capitalist defence is ‘I was just doing my job’. This time a trial making us accountable is unlikely. And we have certainly shown no desire to account for ourselves. Instead, we have shamefully avoided that burden, leaving it for posterity.

In the interim, as democratic capitalism flounders, as the ecological pressures force us to retreat despite our adamant denials, and as the totalitarian forces strengthen, what will the economic evolution design? How long now until the dog catches its tail as capitalism and communism unite? Will our Economic Descent Into Barbarism brings us Fascism?

(This may be continued)

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