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Ken Muldrew

"Money is but the Fat of the Body-politick, whereof too much doth as often hinder its Agility, as too little makes it sick. 'Tis true, that as Fat lubricates the motion of the Muscles, feeds in want of Victuals, fills up uneven Cavities, and beautifies the Body, so doth Money in the State quicken its Action...and beautifies the whole, altho more especially the particular persons that have it in plenty."

William Petty wrote that in 1691, a time when too much social credit was invested in the exchange of goods and services. The answer for the early-modern economy was to create a supply of money that was divorced from its own intrinsic value (e.g. paper money rather than precious metals). At the time that Petty was writing, over 90% of all economic transactions in England were based on credit, a century and a half later, that proportion of transactions used money as a token of exchange instead.

Now we have pursued this idea of replacing coins with information to a point where there is virtually no social credit invested in economic transactions anymore. In the world of high finance, there is almost no human presence invested in economic transactions. And to what end? Certainly not market efficiencies. To argue that with a straight face in 2010 would be like trying to argue that torture gives reliable intelligence.

It's ironic that the idea of economic markets as arbiters of moral goodness, so beloved by the church of St. Ron, was introduced by Marx ("...leaving no other nexus between man and man than naked self interest and callous cash payment."). It's an egregious error; one compounded by treating firms and corporations as individuals in our analyses of how we get macrostates from microbavior (analyses that are not just inadequate, but literally farcical; we just don't have the tools to even begin). Too much bad philosophy masquerading as quantitative analysis has led us down the wrong path. The system makes that easy, and it makes it damn hard to try anything radical, even if we can all agree that something radical is the only way to find a better path.

This neo-feudalism is a hell of a lot better than medieval feudalism, but if you can imagine something better without even straining an inch, then it's thin gruel indeed to sit back and accept things the way they are. We need some fat in our dish...to fill the uneven cavities and lubricate the motion of the muscles.

KLG

Great post, Lance. For those Mannionites who haven't read him yet, go to your library (or your local bookstore) and start reading Wendell Berry. Fiction or nonfiction first, it makes no difference.

Rana

*applause*

actor212

Great rant, Lance.

Belvoir

Beautiful, well said.

Lance

Thanks, folks.

Ken, as always, your contributions are invaluable.

KLG, I'm glad you brought up Berry. I should have referred to him directly. Obviously he's been a major influence on my thinking on this and on my writing in general.

rougy

It's refreshing to know that somebody out there sees it the way I do.

We are few and far between.

I guess the best we can do is keep shooting off our mouths with the hopes that the ring of truth will awaken the comatose.

mac macgillicuddy

Here's a relevant link: http://www.alternet.org/economy/147492/wealthy_are_cashing_in_huge%2C_while_workers%27_salaries_keep_shrinking/

Zenguitarguy

Thank you! It is good to hear a moment of clarity and compassionate truth in these crazy times dominated by media spin and partisan rhetoric. Thanks

Zenguitarguy

I am engaged in a battle with an entity of corporate feudalism, who, through a tax loophole, are trying to steal my home and the homes of thousands of other families. I am writing about it on my blog and discussing, among many things, the nature of the inequitable distribution of material wealth, the feudal technocracy and our roles as feudal serfs and the opportunity for change through non-violent civil disobedience and discourse.

Libby

So very well said. You are our living treasure Lance.

AnDa

Lance,

This is about the most hard hitting post you've done. Everything rings true, especially the analogy about what the function of an economy is.

MK Canada

Thanks for validating what I've suspected and been shouting from the rooftops about for years. I think if the average American would allow themselves to stop and think about it, this would all be self-evident to them. But they're not seemingly really big on stopping to think, apparently preferring to remain in hopeless denial, I guess b/c they think it's easier, and maybe it is in the short term... but what's it gonna cost in the long run?

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