Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The true value of a dollar.

After watching the news this week and following it up with an excellent documentary on the rise and rise of the Tea Party in the US I have come to realise that there is more going on worldwide than a simple need for change.

With record debt in most countries (thankfully not ours....yet) and the plight of third world countries still front of mind and very much in need of attention, there is only one logical answer. And it's one which will never, ever happen.

What is not yet being recognised is the fact that austerity measures are in general terms, unworkable. Hiking taxes unpopular and unaffordable but in some cases necessary. Squeezing the few extra cents from the population while houses are foreclosing in record numbers, also unworkable.

This entire situation, worldwide, is a recipe for disaster. It is already showing it's cracks in the many riots and vocal and occasionally violent protests. The rise of the Occupy Movement and the Tea Party are seemingly polar opposites but actually based on the same initial problems, just directed to different methodology and with vastly different rhetoric.

The solution is obvious, and as mentioned before, impossible.

Wipe all debt. From every country in the world. Give each country a zero balance and allow them to start from scratch. Essentially, reset the system.

(I told you it was impossible)

After decades of misuse, the Governments in charge of almost every nation now have to deal with a problem not of their own making. They have to make seriously unpopular decisions and essentially force an entire population into accepting second rate services, loss of essential healthcare and education options. They are placing the people in situations where they are forced to choose between food and clothing just to recoup some of the losses from previous Governments.

In every news article and every economic outlook paper, the problems with European debt and American debt are deemed to be long term (perhaps decades) and some have even indicated bankruptcy or default is inevitable. No wonder the people are rioting.

This is also creating a situation where each elected official is seen to be the cause of this, rather than part of the solution. What that means is that a strong dislike, even hatred, of those in charge will have the logical conclusion of creating a revolving door for politicians. No continuity there. That means more rules, more regulations, more cost cutting measures......all ineffective in the face of such massive debt.

Chaos. And it's all based on one thing. Money. The value of the dollar. Even that is subjective as depending on which country you are in the value of a dollar is vastly different.

In my dreams there is a reset button. A void for debt that in extreme cases can be activated. Placing every country on an equal footing, needing to look after it's own citizens without having to pander to the needs and wants of another. Where proper management of taxes is able to build the very best in hospital care, education centres and all other essential services. Where the dream of owning your own home can actually come true in your lifetime and your income will help pay for those services mentioned but there is also enough left over to pay for your house, transport costs, good quality food and the necessary amount of clothing.

But this is reality. In reality the situation is escalating. It will be no surprise to me if civil war breaks out in countries where war is a distant memory. It will not surprise me if we need to remember the name of the new Presidents, Prime Ministers and other leaders on a regular basis. This world is on the brink of financial war. There is no obvious solution. And it's all about the dollar.

This is all made more obscene by the news of record profits for the banks, news that mining magnates are now able to purchase our news and entertainment services and news that the richest people in the world are paying the least amount of tax. It's obscene. Gross even. I guess some people have spent their lives knowing the absolute power of a dollar, not just it's market value.

I can't fix it. You can't fix it either. What you and I can do though, is make sure we understand just how much every dollar we make and use is really worth. Spend it wisely. Spend it locally. Spend it on products and services which do good things for humanity, not detrimental things. Give some away as often as possible but again, do it wisely. Don't wave it in front of your neighbour when they have none. Shout someone a coffee just because you can. Let them shout you if they can. And no matter what, never let the value of your dollar become the most important thing in your life.

1 comment:

  1. I think it is far more complex than your simple albeit impossible solution. However I don't find that complexity reason to share your pessimism.

    Why have we heard nothing, and you have not mentioned, the financial crisis in Japan? Crisis? What crisis? Well Japan does have by far the largest sovereign debt of any significant nation so why no screaming headlines on Japan?

    Part of the wonkish answer to that is that Japanese householders are also good conservative savers and the Japanese Guvmint owes that debt to it's own people. Note: Someones debt is someone elses asset as everyone's super fund balance would quickly discover if all debt was extuingished.

    Guvmint debt is not at record highs in the USA, being far higher at the end of WW2. UK sovereign debt in the early 1800s was far higher than anything we are now talking about yet the UK was about to lead the world into an industrial revolution.

    That's not to be sanguine about the long term structural problems in some Guvmint budgets, Greece being the stand-out example. However, the disparity with Japan demonstrates that it's not just debt and at least in Europe is a currency problem with a dysfunctional Euro which was an inevitable mistake waiting to happen. Simply,the Euro does not work!

    Yes, many did point this out at the time including US liberal democrat nobel-laureate Paul Krugman who as a staunch Keynesian I would recommend to anyone on the left thinking of flirting with some of the more simplistic populism of OWS and its right wing sister the Tea Party