Posts Tagged ‘environment’

Thinking Out Loud: Money

6 April 2012

…Strange how something you’re used to takes on new importance when having enough of it becomes a problem…

I wonder how many economists study the physical sciences.

Because this is what they propose about money.

They propose that money must fulfill 3 different functions:

  1. Medium of exchange.
  2. Storage of value.
  3. Measure of value.

Now, what if you proposed to a physicist that length should:

  • Facilitate the creation of space.
  • Store space in itself.
  • Measure the extent of space.

He would tell you that you were crazy. One concept cannot fulfill all those different roles.

The creation of space is assigned to God.
The storage or delineation of space is assigned to boundaries.
The measure of the extent of space is assigned to length.

So, what would be a scientifically valid approach to the concept of value?

The creation of value would me assigned to Man.
The storage of value would be assigned to commodities.
The measure of value would be assigned to money.

Money could not create (or destroy) value.
Money could not store or lose value, i.e., money could not be a commodity.
Money could not “change in size.” It would have to be standardized on some amount of some commodity.

Before the time of the reserve bank system, money was treated more like this. But it was confused with currency, and so was forced to be turned into a commodity. That was a giant mistake, simply from the point of view of science. Because it totally destroys the “science” of economics.

Earlier today, I sat at my desk and held up a quarter. And I told myself, “This is a quarter. By law, it’s value is held to be 0.25 dollars, US. But it is actually a metallic disk made of copper and nickel (no silver any more, I don’t think), and if it were not a coin, it could be sold at the going rate for the metals it contains. Same thing goes for paper currency, except that, as a commodity, it is nearly worthless.”

If we do not succeed in making money into a unit of measure, fixed to some standard amount of some standard commodity, then we have no chance of unconfusing the subject of economics.

Maybe money should be defined as a special type of commodity. But this means that we will need some other concept for a standard unit of value.

But let’s say we decide to use “money” as the name for our concept of a measure of value. We have different unit systems for this measure. Dollars, yen, yuan, rubles, shekels, francs, marks, etc.

“Commodity” is our word for something that stores value. And we have various concepts for what creates value. But “value” is obviously a function of human perception.

Now, commodities can be marketed. In fact, they must be, as that’s the only way we have of determining their money value: How much is someone willing to pay for something?

But money cannot be bought and sold. It is the measure of value. Who ever heard of buying and selling length, weight, mass, or velocity? Impossible. Money cannot be bought and sold. Only commodities can be bought and sold.

Price Speculation

Currently, we have very large markets that trade “paper.” These are basically written contracts. They are traded like commodities. I think this practice is silly, dangerous, and wasteful. I think price speculation should be discouraged or outlawed for both regular commodities and paper commodities. In other words, a person shouldn’t purchase something that he doesn’t actually intend to use.

When an organization offers a contract for sale, it might state that monthly dividends will be paid based on company profits, or that the company will buy the contract back at going rates after a period of time. We would expect a serious buyer to hold onto that note so he’d benefit from the dividends, or hope for a good payback at maturity.

Of course, we all want the option to change our minds. We want to be able to replace something we own with something else or something similar, selling the used item to someone who would still see value in it.

Can a similar arrangement be made for trading “used” paper?

I can think of various ways to do this.

One idea would be to force paper to expire. This suggestion has been made about currency, too. At the end of the loan period, the lender gets what he gets, and the borrower has paid what he has paid, and if the contract was not violated, then that’s it.

Another idea is to charge sales tax on all trades. So, say you buy some paper for $10,000 and it pays $500 a year, but you have to pay $1,000 in tax. So you won’t have a chance of making money on that paper unless you hold onto it for longer than 2 years.

What justifies such a tax? A person makes a loan (buys paper) with the hope of making a profit. Similarly, a person buys a car with the hope of using it to drive himself around. But who’s providing the environment that makes it possible to make money by buying contracts? Who’s providing the roads that allow people to drive around in their cars? These things boil down to, most often, public works, public services. By providing an environment in which playing the game is possible, government earns a share in the game. And that’s one argument for any kind of tax or fee involving commerce.

Another idea is to physically separate the new commodities market from the used commodities market. This occurs in practice, though I’m not sure how much sense it makes. Most commodities lose value after they have been used for a while. But I know there are a lot of people who buy used clothes hoping to make a profit by prettying them up and selling them. You can assume that a commodity won’t be unloaded unless its value (price) begins to fall. But contracts work a little different than cars or clothes.

Still, re-selling used clothes or cars is normally thought of as a way to reduce waste in a society, and I suppose selling “used” contracts might have a similar result.

A Fundamental Change

Making a failing system work often involves fundamental changes.

In this case, that involves a change in attitude towards the financiers of the planet. They have managed, somehow, to keep themselves protected from undue interference for long periods of time. That most of them were wealthy and were connected to influential people I am sure was a major factor.

But the evidence is growing that they were lying to us about certain points, and making assurances about their honor that were deceitful. And so our governments became beholden to them.

This situation is not tenable. We cannot live to keep the bankers safe. And though we may face their wrath in telling them “NO,” this we must do.

The technocrats are not all worthless scoundrels. Saving our earth does involve more complete and accurate data collection. But what are we buying time to do? We are buying time to give ourselves the chance to return to the stars. We have a planet to clear, and it can’t happen overnight. This is why we work for a more ethical world scene. It is our passport to a much longed-for higher place.

That place is now within our reach.

If we can make enough time now, here on earth.