July 28, 2013

China, Money, and A Watershed Moment

Two weeks ago China announced that they were now backing their financial system with gold. So I ask, ‘Who is going to invest in American Treasury bills backed by dollars roughly equivalent to the dollars in a game of Monopoly when they can invest in something backed by gold? Along with China’s announcement, a buzz has arisen around the web that the money system is going to change and all debt will be erased. You will get to keep what you have – house, car, appliances, and whatever else you have purchased but not paid for yet. This probably sounds good to some, but our debt would not be erased in isolation. There would be other erasures...such as the loss of your savings, pensions, 401k accounts, Social Security, and disability income. Of course, the loss of savings, investments, and money in the bank is bound to be less exciting than the disappearance of debt. There is also the problem of losing the money that keeps businesses going – everything from corporations, to grocery stores and gas stations. The reassurance has been that the disruption would only last a couple of weeks…but what would we do in that couple of weeks? Obviously, everyone would have to have enough food and toilet paper on hand to last at least a couple of weeks. But the big question would be ‘How are they going to allocate the new money?’ Bix Weir (www.roadtoroota.com) reports that this question of allocation has been the big obstacle, but something akin to a decision and a plan may now be in place. Those who have paid the longest and the most into the Social Security system would be first to get the new money. This is all well and good, but if I were in charge the question would not be “Who has paid the most into Social Security?” It would be: How can we allocate money in a way that eradicates the ‘I’m-better-than-you’ attitude that having more money promotes? If we were going to let the money system go down, we could use this moment in time as a watershed opportunity to remove barriers and inequalities between us. Maybe we couldn’t eliminate every instance of these, but perhaps we could at least make a dent in what has been, for a very long time now, unequal access to money, a serious stumbling block to peace, and a source of serious crime. Can we even imagine a world where everyone is taken care of and the majority of needs are met? What kind of creativity and personal growth would that unleash? Is it time to rethink not only the financial system but our capitalist assumptions about who deserves what?