Age, guile, and a bad economy


Michael Kindt gets the quote of the day:

Cagle PostI can’t drink like I used to. I actually NEED to sleep. When I was in my 20s, I’d get three hours and be good to go. Sure, I’d be grouchy, but I wouldn’t be physically compromised like now. I have gray in my beard. My manhood still functions, but sticking it everywhere now strikes me as a bad idea. And I have passed the point where bad movies aren’t amusing. They’re just bad movies and my time is more precious than irony.

I hate to admit it, but that really is a good summary of aging. And I’ve yet to achieve forty. But that is beside the point. Believe it or not, his larger point is about the economy.

The economy either sucks, is about to suck, or just got done sucking—only to suck again.

Surely you people in your late 30s and up have noticed this too? I contend that a 50 year old person has spent 30 to 40 years of his or her life under a bad economy.

Imagine what would happen if there was no economy? News would cease to exist. All of the ideologies we have made up would be gone. You would go to talk about something and just end up shrugging your shoulders. There would be no politicians. All politicians do is worry about the economy. Everyone has a competing theory on how to fix the economy and, obviously, none of them work.

The economy is like a junky car into which you keep sinking money. The tailpipe falls off, so you fix it. The minute you get it home, the U-joint goes out. You fix that, but then alternator goes out. Next, the battery goes to hell ….

…. The funny thing is, you can major in economics. You can go to college and learn all about it, never realizing that you are learning how to simply maintain a partial, complete, or soon-to-be crappy economy. You have people studying the broken U-joint on our metaphorical car or people delving into the mysteries of the tailpipe. It never occurs to anyone that we need a whole new car.

While Kindt admits he has no answers, and I would have to say the same of myself, the curious aspect of the global economy is that everything seems relative. Without a specific standard comparing currency to finite resources, it would seem there is no fixed baseline value of money.

And that’s where things really start to get strange. The reason nobody wants to talk about the idea of a whole new economy is that it is the people with the most money, the global “one percent” who stand to lose the most. But what they stand to lose is comparative.

No, really. If we retooled the abstraction that is the global money supply, it isn’t that the rich would stop being wealthy, but that they would only be less wealthier than others.

As money is relative, what if we gave everyone a hundred thousand dollars?

A person with a million dollars is a million times richer than the person with one dollar. But, if everyone got a hundred thousand dollars, that person with the $1.1 million is now only eleven times richer than the person with $100,001.

In the end, this is only problematic insofar as without poor people, employers don’t have the option of screwing over workers. Over the long run, with more people having more wealth, the wealthiest among us will have to share a little more of their own. And heaven help us all if workers make a decent wage.

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