Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Closing Hand

"...we need to appreciate three important facts about money:
1. It is symbolic, not real
2. Its function is to homogenize.
3. It is a means, not an end."

If I had a fleet of meter maids who could site everyone I met for crossing the line or waiting around just a little too long, I might be tempted to do it. As a person, it would make me a jerk, but a city is not a person, this is their way to maintain services without raising taxes (for now).

We dug this great hole and now slowly understand its depth... it's familiar, it's like taking on student loans with no true knowledge of the value of money; not understanding how hard it might be to pay those loans off. However the state of California is not an 18 year old with shoddy math skills... the state of California has been run into this hole by many adults with great math skills. It has people running it with accounting degrees, and CEO's who have successful businesses, lawyers who went through years of hard study... you can blame whoever you like but there were a lot of hands (including voters) who got us all here today... perhaps the problem is that we need more training in science.

What we've been running on here is an assumption that our economy can work like a perpetual motion machine...

For such a device to work implies that this machine will generate more energy than it consumes and go on indefinitely. We have been working on the assumption that we can continue to consume and grow and expand indefinitely despite the fact that resources are finite.
Housing value cannot continue to grow forever, consumption of goods cannot be sustained, disposal of goods must be accommodated, eventually all the oil in the world will run out (I don't know when but it's a resource that is not renewing itself so eventually if we keep consuming it we will have used the very last drop). In the machine, friction and gravity (or say, crooked businessmen, droughts and earthquakes...) will wear it to a stop and energy must be spent for the device to continue.

We're living in a broken machine; the laws of thermodynamics tell us the machine needs energy (work) to keep going. Right now the big mistake is to think that money = work. Resources are "work". Resources of human labor and ingenuity, and natural resources are what we need to keep going. In order to make our resources work for us we need to stop burdening the system. Our culture of over-consumption cannot be supported.

All of the money grabbing and finger pointing in the world is not going to help us out of this bind.


Anonymous said...

Too bad our State legislators are so busy taking care of themselves and not of their constituents. Who's your local rep and can you forward this to them? Mom

Rosie said...

Amen Sista!

Anonymous said...

You may have had questionable math education but your economics is spot on. Identify our leaders who feel that pet projects need to be funded despite budget constraints and vote them out. Cutting education and fire services to pay for unemployment and prisons is just part of bad economy.