Bankrupting the Idiocracy
by Anodea Judith
I hate to write about money. It’s not my thing. And I’m tired of reading about it, hearing about it, and having it be the center of every newscast. It’s given far too much importance on every issue, and it overshadows anything resembling real value. But there’s some things that must be said.
Now real value is something I do like to hear about. The real value of an education, (instead of robbing school budgets) the real value of caring for your health (as opposed to arguing about how to pay for over-priced, ineffective health care), the real value of a robust environment (instead of a robust economy that depletes the environment).
But this isn’t the topic of conversation these days. It’s how to pay for things we don’t want, like wars and bailouts, and how to not to pay for things we do want, like public services, social security, the EPA, and programs that serve the common good.
I’m tired of hearing how we have to boost the economy by getting more jobs doing what we’ve always done: raped the environment to make and sell useless products no one needs; manufacture weapons to be sold to other countries so we can “protect national security” from their violence; (80,000 of the weapons confiscated in the Mexico drug wars were made in the U.S. of A, a figure heard on NPR, with the cost of the border fence $6.5 billion over 20 years; or spending trillions on pointless and immoral wars (watch the numbers move here) while letting our bridges, highways, and national morale rot here at home.
I’m sad to see looting in the streets of London, but let’s get real. That’s not where the real looting is happening. It’s in the banking and mortgage industry, and they’ve looted the foreclosure of more than 3 million homes in 2010 and nearly a million in the last quarter here in the U.S.
I’m tired of people saying they didn’t see the recession coming, when we have another bigger recession looming on the horizon that we’re too scared to face: the impending bankruptcy of water, oil, trees, topsoil, fish, clean air, and truth. These are not things you can save with a bailout. They are not so easily replaced. They’re not even computed on the balance sheet.
We’re not in a recession. There’s plenty of money in Iraq and Afghanistan where it costs a million dollars a year per soldier, to say nothing of the government contracts to rebuild what we destroy.There’s plenty of money to keep people in prison, where serving five years for a $300 theft costs the public more than $100,000 and the cost of a life sentence averages $1.5 million.
There’s plenty of money spent on political campaigns, ($5.3 billion in 2008) paid for by lobbyists to keep even more money running through their special interests. When you add that $5.3 billion to the $8 billionbudget of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA, there to make sure you don’t blow up a plane with your toothpaste, and you’ve got more than enough money to satisfy the entire world’s sanitation and hunger requirements (estimated at $13 billion).
We’re not broke, we’re developing a blood clot. Money is currency and should describe a circulation system whereby goods get to wherever they’re needed. In the body, our blood circulates to bring oxygen and nutrients to each and every cell. If we were to keep all the blood in one place, we’d call it an aneurysm and would soon be dead.
The good news is that we can’t afford this Idiocracy any more. The monetary system we know and don’t love is collapsing and proving itself to be a false representative of real value. It’s not going to work when we reach a critical mass of people out of work, out of their homes, unable to buy goods or pay taxes, and 45,000 people each year dying for lack of health insurance (compare that to 3,000 who died on 9/11 and $8 billion spent in response by TSA).
The good news is this kind of money will bankrupt itself. The bad news is how many innocent people will suffer in the process. However, life will go on without it, just as it always has, after we wake up and end the nightmare. And then maybe we’ll start talking about real things again.
We could start with integrity.
“Things fall apart,” wrote William Butler Yeats. “The centre cannot hold; mere anarchy is loosed upon the world, the blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere the ceremony of innocence is drowned; the best lack all conviction, while the worst are filled with passionate intensity.”
-Anodea Judith, August 2011