Jim Feeney 1994 Published in: The Northwest Technocrat, 4th quarter 1994, No. 337
This article was adapted from a lecture by Jim Feeney at Long Beach, California.
We should explain this title and its origin. In the last presidential election campaign, the Clinton people criticized the incumbent Bush for running off all over the world pushing his New World Order instead of attending to affairs here in the United States, And so, they coined the expression, “It’s the ECONOMY, stupid!.” Their criticism has the ring of truth, considering the long list of ailments afflicting the economy. The President’s duty, they claimed, was to do something about these illnesses, and that a new man in the White House was needed to “fix” the economy. But is there anything “wrong” with it? It is our contention here that there is nothing at all “wrong,” and that what we see is normal and natural in a Price System economy. A more accurate epithet to describe conditions is “It’s the STUPID Economy!”
Take a look at these so-called problems. There is the national debt (also state, city, county & private debt), crime, welfare, health care, unemployment, transportation, oil supplies, pollution (of all kinds), homelessness, militarism (without an enemy), and inflation (or the lack of it at the present time), all competing for our headlines every day. All these and many more, from pregnant teenagers to the huge amount of guns in our society, are part and parcel of a social system that has outlived its usefulness and now threatens our very survival. Take a hard look at this monster we have created called “the Economy.”
Along with others, we have taken to calling this present social system, the “Price System,” and to describe it with the following definition:
“A Price System is any social system that affects its distribution of goods and services by means of a system of trade based on commodity valuation and employing any form of debt tokens, or money.”
Money. Just what is it? An accurate but painful description is that it is like a religion. And it is truly ecumenical, or universal, since virtually the whole human species has embraced it. More useful, however, is to ask what is it made of or how solid is it, or where is it kept? Such a search is futile because money is not a real thing but merely a concept, a handshake, a promise to pay sometime in the future, when, as and if! It should be obvious that money is based solely on faith and more closely resembles a verb, a way of acting toward something, rather than a noun, which is a person, place or thing.
Even more significant than the fact that money is not a thing, nor even a zero, but is actually a negative! Every dollar bill, check, CD, bond, credit card, etc., signifies that something has NOT been paid yet, and represents certificates or tokens that are OWED to someone. This is the reason that these financial vehicles, including the dollars in our wallets, should be called “DEBT TOKENS,” instead of money.
Like all the religions, tons of print has been expended describing, or, more accurately, apologizing for the Price System. The classic description of its function is the Adam Smith model. Briefly stated, it goes like this. Factories produce goods for a price; and workers receive wages, debt tokens that are, and then give them up in exchange for those goods. Thus we have, in theory, a system where debt tokens flow in a circle. Just like in the song from Broadway, “everybody’s happy; everything is grand, just as long as the money changes hands.”
Unfortunately, the theory breaks down in thousands of different ways in the real, not theoretical, world. If someone takes some debt out of the circle to “save for a rainy day” as we put it, that money is not available to purchase the goods. If a new person is born, do all the other members of society chip in a little bit so the little tad can gain entrance to this circle and live? What happens when the factories install machines and processes that produce new goods without any new labor? And what happens to those who are unceremoniously dumped on the economic scrap heap for the same reasons? All these interruptions and thousands more, are normal and everyday consequences in the operation of a Price System. There is nothing new or wrong in this, it’s just the way the “STUPID” Economy operates.
How to keep such a Rube Goldberg contraption going was really not much of a problem. It was and is handled very easily by merely inserting new debt into the circle. Money is not a real thing, so there is no limit to how much we can print. Only the faith and credulity of the people pose any limit. And everybody is doing it. We sign home mortgage papers and order up hundreds of thousands of dollars to be printed in our name. We elect political representatives to print hundreds of billions of dollars to purchase armaments for us. The result, of course, is a huge and growing amount of public and private debt.
We also have the fact that all this new debt is LOANED into the circle at compound interest rates. This means that its rise becomes explosive at this exponential rate, and is now zooming almost straight up. We should not be surprised, because increasing debt is an absolute requirement of the “STUPID” Economy.
The Price System operators did everything that could be done to give a transfusion to the gasping Price System. Needed was an excuse for creating new debt and World War II was their answer. World War II brought us out of the depression. The printed money stayed here; the war materials were shipped overseas. Next we had the Korean War, the Cold War with its hydrogen bombs, the Missile Race and ABMs; then Vietnam and, in the 80s, the most gigantic buildup of arms and debt in history. The mystery here is why anyone should be surprised at all this. The peace groups, taxpayers large and small, the unemployed, all want some change to occur, some reform of the economic system that will make everything rosy. Unfortunately, the economy is operating exactly in accordance with its rules, and every proposal for change that is offered has the potential to simply wreck the system.
If peace broke out, what would happen to all the purchasing power of the jobs created in the huge arms business? Remember Keynes from the thirties? It is now called military Keynesianism. But what would happen if the huge national debt was abolished or even reduced, as some clods have cried out for? This would eliminate the holders of this debt and force them to leave the game, fatally rupturing the circle. It would make the ’29 crash look like a Sunday school picnic!
What can we say about an economy that calls six percent unemployment normal? This IS normal, and the reason for it is pretty clear. Industry needs surplus labor to keep wages down. Throwing people on the economic scrap heap is a natural function of the “STUPID” Economy! That’s the easy part, but supplying just the right amount of jobs to keep the money flowing is becoming increasingly difficult. We should all have bumper stickers that state, “If you think the system is working, ask someone who isn’t.” Where are all these jobs that our leaders say we need going to come from?
The only way that the majority of people can gain access to the money flow is to sell their man-hours, but man-power is needed less and less every day. 98 percent of all labor today is supplied by machines. We don’t even use a hammer to drive nails anymore. We use nail guns. And now, even the control of machines has been given over to computers.
The millions of jobs created in the so-called “Service Industry” to replace industrial automation job losses, are now being “downsized.” These are being eliminated by new computer software that really works, throwing hundreds of thousands of workers and their jobs in the trash- can forever. The “Reinventing Government” guy is actually proud of the fact that they are eliminating half a million government jobs by next year! Price System apologists are now talking about job retraining. But the fraud of job retraining is becoming clear to everyone. Retraining for what?
The most readily available career opportunity for our youth today is crime! Over ninety percent of all crime is for monetary gain, and it should be clear that the reason it is frowned on, mostly, is because, unlike war, it does not generate new debt. Drugs, however, are another matter. Like any other business, billions in money-flow is generated. In addition, a multibillion dollar bureaucracy with thousands of jobs has grown up to combat it. Scarcity no longer exists in North America, so the artificial restrictions of the “STUPID” Economy are no longer valid. Instead of dividing up the “not enough to go around,” we have, for the first time in the 5000 year history of the Price System, the job of distributing an abundance.
It may come as a surprise, but the hardware for this distribution system is already largely installed. The UPC bar code and laser scanners are used virtually everywhere today to keep track of the flow of goods and services. But its design is not quite complete yet. All that remains to be done to make this into a distribution system is to replace the dollars with energy units as advocated by Technocracy 60 years ago.
At the present time only Technocracy has a proposal to organize our society for the technological age in which we now live. When, not if, the present system collapses, we must be individually prepared with the knowledge of how this future society works.