Sorting Out Society

The “Thinking Out Loud” category is for hypotheses, ideas, opinions. Though of course these are always influenced, or colored, by prior training and study, I put a post here when I am unsure of the facts, or don’t care to be academically rigorous.

block man pencil sketch

Sketch I made for art class, about 1970. I picked it to symbolize the effects that “bad things” have on life and the individual.

A problem of money

What got me going on this line of thinking was a difficulty I was having obtaining funding for a project. I thought to myself: Someone doesn’t want to spend this money; they want to sit on it instead. And that lead me to the subject of banking.

Banking

Banking, it is said, started when tradesmen (this is the story I heard) wanted someplace to store their gold securely. The “banker” stepped forward, offering to provide this service. In exchange, he would be allowed to loan out the money to others, and collect interest payments on these loans. Interestingly, according to Wikipedia, originally the most secure places for such deposits were temples and palaces. But we won’t go down that road just yet.

Here we have a situation where a professional-level service is invented to fulfill a need. The service consists basically of amassing deposits (and safekeeping them) which one can then earn money on. It is presumed the need arose due to 1) lack of space at home to store such items, or 2) fear for the security of the assets.

Today, money exists as figures in accounting books. And those books are actually stored on computers. There is no longer any great need to provide security for currency. All one must do is secure the computers.

Traditional banking still exists, but cash deposits bring back virtually no earnings to the depositor. Investment banking, on the other hand, has skyrocketed. The whole society has been pushed into making investments and buying on credit. Why? Keeping deposits safe doesn’t make money, especially when they are only numbers in a computer. Traditional banking can still pay off, but there is much more to be made managing investment portfolios and offering short-term credit at very high interest rates. This work relies on the existence of asset pools, and managers of these pools are often rewarded according to the size their pool. Even if you could sell some assets to buy, say, land (which works under a different system), the modern banker would prefer to loan you the money to buy the land, with your assets as collateral. It would be simpler for the land buyer to just sell one asset in order to buy the other, but is not in the interest of the bankers to operate that way.

Back to Basics

The original need for banking, then, arose – we are to suppose – from an uncertainty concerning the security of real assets (gold). Why would anyone have this uncertainty? Because people existed who were willing and able to steal such things from other people who had acquired them more-or-less honestly. Those people are commonly called “criminals.” They have always been a major nuisance in any society. They are willing to break the most basic rules, or morals, in a society. Why? That is a question to be answered elsewhere. It HAS been answered, but for the purposes of this discussion, it is irrelevant.

Let’s say you had a criminal of somewhat unusual intelligence. What might he be attracted to do, say, in the banking scenario above? One thing he could do would to become a banker. Then he could hire some hoodlums (criminals of leser intelligence, we might imagine) to go around town and steal precious things from people’s houses. He would then advertise his services, noting the recent increase in the crime rate. He would have to keep his connection to the hoodlums a closely-guarded secret. And in such a wise, he would attract more business to his bank.

Application of the criminal modus operandi (MO) to other fields

Mishaps, crime, sickness, hunger, disputes and war are some of the big problems that society must deal with. Smart criminals could secretly cause such things to happen, then offer services to “protect” people from the bad effects of these things. In modern times, criminals have even been accused of causing bad weather, floods, earthquakes, and ecological collapse. For them it would seem like “good business,” would it not?

What professions these days offer such services?

  • Lawyers
  • Doctors
  • Insurance Brokers
  • Psychiatry and Psychology
  • The military and arms manufacturers
  • Police
  • Governments
  • Educators
  • Preachers

All of the above fields are subject to pressure from the criminal world and can turn criminal. In other words, they offer services based on the fear that something bad will happen. Most people, though, would not be interested in causing such bad things to happen. Only the criminals would.

The real essentials

All an honest society of human (or similar) beings would need to survive – even prosper – would be the following:

  • Food (and water)
  • Shelter (housing and community buildings)
  • Clothing sufficient for seasonal weather variations
  • Transport
  • Systems for handling waste
  • Means of communication
  • Quiet times
  • Opportunities to play
  • Opportunities for spiritual growth

How, then, did we get governments, lawyers, war, insurance companies and psychiatry? It traces back to the criminal and his origins.

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