Conservatives are wrong about money.
Not just a little wrong either but comically wrong. Absurdly wrong. Conservatives are wrong about money on the level of an ancient Greek physician who believed women’s ailments were caused by their wombs moving around inside their abdomens. I would say they are committing a category error but that would be too generous. They literally believe in money fairy-tales, jumping like children at every would-be troll under every economic bridge.
See, fundamentally conservatives believe that money represents wealth. As I say, this is comically stupid, and one of the many reasons that the left wing of American politics is so dominant over the right. For all their flaws, leftists are smart enough to know that money is fake and that you can do whatever you want with it. Print it, sell it, digitize it, gamify it, cancel it… anything. It makes no difference. Leftists know this. That’s why they win.
Conservatives on the other hand, mostly operate on the ludicrous assumption that money somehow represents productivity, or work, or perhaps our combined national effort at, I don’t even know, making stuff in a factory? They seem to think that, if we all just pull up our suspenders and set our noses to the grindstone, then the GDP, stock prices, and the general prosperity of the people will go up. That’s why they’re always shrieking about the economic collapse that never happens. Or always worried that “The Fed” is printing money. They really believe the fairy tale, the idea that money is somehow truly correlated to the work we do. There are few more dangerous things to believe in this world if we are honest, and this illusion around finance is one of the reasons conservatives routinely vote against their own economic interest. They literally don’t know what they’re doing.
Nobody let them in on the game.
Let’s fix that.
How Money is Created
To disabuse conservatives of their misconceptions about money, let’s here take a brief detour into how money is actually created. Bear with me, I promise this won’t be as boring as it sounds. Before we begin though, please be aware that this must of necessity be an overly simplistic take on the topic. The creation of money is the most insane and irrational process of legalistic word salad imaginable, and one could spend a lifetime traversing all its various rabbit holes. Additionally, it’s been a while since I’ve looked into the specifics. The details of things like the names of the agencies involved and who gives what to who below may have a few technical inaccuracies. That’s okay. I don’t need a bunch of comments correcting me. The overall gist of what I’m going to tell you about the creation of money is correct and it is the overall gist that matters.
Are you ready?
Here we go.
First, Money is black magic.
Literally. That’s why it has all that cryptic symbolism on it. Money is an enchantment. A deception. A spell. It is an inversion. A thing which is in essence the exact opposite of what it presents itself as on the surface.
Got that? Money is black magic.
Second, Money is not wealth. Money is debt. It is technically, philosophically, and legally debt. A “note” is a legal term, short for “promissory note”. In other words a “bank note” is short for a “bank promissory note”, eg, a note, a document, of the bank’s promise (promissory) to pay. Every dollar in existence represents nothing more or less than an I.O.U.
That being the case when you take out a mortgage you are literally creating money. Technically. Legally. You Mr and Ms Taxpayer, are the money printer. Not the Fed, not the socialists, not the kids with blue hair, you. You create money every time you take out a loan. The Federal Reserve can’t just print dollars. For ever dollar it creates it has to have a guarantee, a promise, a promissory note, that something will be exchanged for it. Dollars have to be premised on debt. Mortgages are one of the biggest ways our country creates money at the moment which is why companies like Freddie Mac & Fannie Mae really are to big to fail. Obama wasn’t lying when he said this. If we stop having mortgages, the dollar evaporates. That’s part of what happened in 2008. Mass mortgage defaults. Poof. Billions, gone, all that wealth as fragile as a broken promise.
Because again. That’s what money actually is.
A debt. A promissory note.
Now there aren’t enough mortgages to make all the money we actually need. Try as they might by flooding the country with immigrants to keep home values elevated, there simply isn’t enough demand for houses to float the necessary money supply. This, by the way, is the actual reason for the push for immigration. Diversity, inclusion, all that stuff is just a post-hoc justification for a cold economic reality: Mortgages have to go up forever. Otherwise, the country fails.
Fortunately for us though, there is more than one way to skin a cat, and the government has additional tools at its disposal to create more dollars. Chief amongst these are something called “Bonds.” Short for “Treasury Bonds”, a bond, like a mortgage, is simply another kind of I.O.U. It’s a debt. It is a promise to pay, in the future. Our government makes a lot of these promises. Somewhere in the 30-ish trillions of dollars range. Why? Because we need a lot of money. We are, after all, running a global empire here.
So all that’s well and good but how does this debt get converted into greenbacks? Well, in 1913 the federal government created a non-government controlled agency called “The Federal Reserve.” This agency, or entity, is much maligned by libertarians and conservatives of all stripes but it’s the reason you have food on the table every night. You literally owe it your life. The Reserve you see, was created and given special permission to purchase debt from banks and the U.S. treasury in exchange for green paper. I can’t manufacture green paper to buy debts, nor can the banks, nor can any of the big companies, nor can the government itself. But the Reserve can. It’s their legal superpower. They can print green paper and this is legally considered just compensation for all debts, public and private.
Now, this might seem insane. Arbitrary. Or ridiculous. It is in some sense all those things. “You mean we just decide, apropos of nothing, to trade debt for paper?” Yes. That’s exactly what we do. Very very importantly, Dollars are not a representation of something that has been done. And they can’t ever be. They aren’t a marker for how much you’ve produced or how hard you’ve worked. On the contrary, Dollars are a representation of what you must do in the future. They are debts.
Now you might say, many have, in your most angry Ron Paul Libertarian voice, “Why does this Federal Reserve (which, again, is not part of the Federal Government, despite the name) get this special power!? Shouldn’t the government be in charge of printing its own money!?”
But this misses the point. The government can’t issue its own money because, how would that work? You can’t give yourself an I.O.U. If you buy your own debt the whole thing cancels out. Doesn’t work. You have to be indebted to somebody else. So it was necessary therefore for the government to create a golem, an egregore, a fictitious entity and imaginary friend, to be indebted to.
But again, I hear you asking why?
Why must we play such games?
Okay, so Conservatives are wrong about what money is but surely they’re right about what it should be? Shouldn’t money be, you know, an actual representation of value? Of the amount of work done? Shouldn’t it be a marker of production?
No, it shouldn’t.
Because none of that is actually worth very much. None of that gives us what we want. As I said, all the work we can measure was produced in the past. Every product ever made already happened. Things that already happened can’t give us what we want now. In the present. To get that, you have to go into debt. You have to sell The Future.
Think about it. What do you really want? It’s not money. No it’s what money can give you. Right? And what do you think money can give you? Well… security. Freedom. The assurance of knowing that your next meal is taken care of and that you’ll always have a roof over your head. You want reliability. Subsistence farming sucks! Being at the mercy of the whims of the weather, a single cold snap able to take you out for good. No. You want something you can depend on. Consistency. You want to be able to count on the same amount of money going into your account every month, at the same time, in the same way.
That’s what you want.
The assurance of safety in the future.
Okay well if money worked like conservatives want it to, how could it provide those things? If money were printed and doled out based on how much work you did or how many services you provided… how would that relieve our anxieties? How would that give us security? As stated, that sort of money would only be an indicator of what already happened in the past. But we are not anxious over yesterday. We’re anxious for tomorrow.
A debt based monetary system is the only kind that can assure us that tomorrow will be okay.
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