Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Day 17 - Mo' Money, Mo' Problems

Good day all, it's Day 17 here... I want to talk about money, specifically. 

We seem to be having some serious world wide issues with money, whether it is the dollar, the ruple, gems, whatever.  Many countries are falling into a "debt crisis" and are pretty much left holding the short end of the stick.  The need to beg some other country, who is accused by many with leveraging the market to keep their currency stable, to "bail them out".  In any event, this all seems very childish...

I'm going to say something that has been said many times before, but I think it needs to be revisited with a little clarity: Why don't we just get rid of money altogether?  ::gasp::  Before we start the comments/remarks/eye-rolling/page-closing, let's just talk about it first...

What is money, exactly?  We'll go to Wikipedia for this:
Money is any object or record that is generally accepted as payment for goods and services and repayment of debts in a given country or socio-economic context.[1][2][3] The main functions of money are distinguished as: a medium of exchange; a unit of account; a store of value; and, occasionally in the past, a standard of deferred payment.[4][5] Any kind of object or secure verifiable record that fulfills these functions can serve as money.
Money originated as commodity money, but nearly all contemporary money systems are based on fiat money.[4] Fiat money is without intrinsic use value as a physical commodity, and derives its value by being declared by a government to be legal tender; that is, it must be accepted as a form of payment within the boundaries of the country, for "all debts, public and private".
The money supply of a country consists of currency (banknotes and coins) and bank money (the balance held in checking accounts and savings accounts). Bank money usually forms by far the largest part of the money supply. [6][7][8]
" (Wikipedia.org)

That is directly from Wikipedia.  The most important part, to me and my point, is the second paragraph regarding "fiat money".  Now we visit Wikipedia regarding "fiat money":

"Fiat money or fiat currency is money whose value is not derived from any intrinsic value or guarantee that it can be converted into a valuable commodity (such as gold). Instead, it has value only by government order (fiat). Usually, the government declares the fiat currency (typically notes and coins from a central bank, such as the Federal Reserve System in the U.S.) to be legal tender, making it unlawful to not accept the fiat currency as a means of repayment for all debts, public and private.[23][24]"

In this excerpt, we are looking directly at this line: "Instead, it has value only by government order (fiat). ".  Now, I don't know about anyone else in this virtual room, but that seems a little ridiculous to me.  If I read it correctly, this is saying that US dollars (for example) are only valuable because the government says so.  It appears that the value is backed by taxation, for the most part, which is odd, because essentially you are saying this money is guaranteed because I am getting X% back through taxation...  In any event, we can start to see how it has no value, at all.  It is only necessary, really, for international trading.  If a country were self-sufficient (requiring no outside trade/help) it could probably do very well without money at all.

This brings me to my main point, why not just get rid of it?  I know what you're thinking, mostly: What about workers? Services? Commodities like food? Housing? etc...  My answer: free.  Listen, you want a house?  Either have someone who owns a construction business build it for you, or build it yourself.  Or, go ahead and live in a condo.  No rent, all utilities are on, there is some form of TV and Internet.  Need food?  Go to the store and get what you need.  What about my car? Go get one...

Okay, I can keep going, but there is one obviously gigantic flaw here: Why would anyone work or do anything for that matter if everything was free?  Why would people pick up the trash or cut grass or build houses or own small businesses if they didn't need money? 

Here is my answer to that: because they would have to.  There would need to be one key point in all of this.  The problem with free is that is only works under the condition that there is a producer and a consumer.  We can't have all consumers, otherwise there would be no product to be free.  So, in my opinion, there would need to be a requirement for a free society.  You need to have a job.  That doesn't mean we can all go out and be doctors because there are requirements to be a doctor, educational requirements and experience requirements.  We can't all go open coconut shops because then nobody will be around to do anything else, and in addition, not everyone wants to open a coconut shop.  I like programming, I would continue to write programs for my job, no problem, I love it.  My wife, she likes retail, she might continue to do that while she gets an education in something specific.  Perhaps I will continue to program while I educate myself as well.  The key is, everyone needs to work and some people will need to do basic jobs because they don't have any skills, but maybe they'll seek education and do that while their working. 

There is a way to make it work, and honestly it is probably less complex than our current global financial systems.  Yes, this means that everyone would be equal.  No, it does not mean everyone will go out and want a mansion (who's going to clean and maintain it when their not getting paid for it...).  I would really love some feedback, I love comments and discussions and sadly I don't get as much as I would like.  So please, feel free to comment, I open it up to Anonymous comments for that reason, even if you want to just flame the hell out of me. 

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Day 16 - The Thorn

The thorn.  It is a painful little object that exists in one of the most unexpected places, the stem of the rose.  An item that symbolizes beauty and love.  It has manifested itself into history and our lives, and yet, the thorn is always overlooked.  It is always there, the possibility of danger and pain, but the beauty and mystique of the rose overshadows it.

So what is the point (pun severely intended)?  During my viewing of last night's #cnndebate , I noticed something very scary, and very real.  There was a question about religion, because of Romney's following of the Mormon faith, it has become somewhat of a controversy.  The question was: "Does it matter what a candidates faith is?".  I thought to myself, does it matter if a candidate has any faith at all?  As I thought about this, I listened to their responses about how faith governs morals and (from Newt) "How can you have morals without faith?" or "How can you be [trusted] with power when you don't pray?".  I listened, in awe, and realized that they were serious.  Then I heard the crowd cheer in approval and agreement, and I thought, they are serious too...

So where does this all tie together?  I've talked about this before, in other posts, but this is a little more specific, because it is becoming more clear and evident.  Religion is like the rose.  On the surface it is supposed to symbolize all that is beautiful in our world/lives and, of course, a strong symbol of love.  This is how it started of course. 

A great many years ago, before Catholics and Buddha, there were some basics.  There were "people" with very limited brain functions.  They had just came out of the jungles and out into the open lands.  They were bare, exposed, with very little real defenses.  They had one very special gift though, the ability to reason, to a degree, and that would prove to be the greatest advantage of all.  Many things were difficult to understand for early man, I would imagine.  My kids still are scared by lightning and thunder and need a simple explanation to help them cope with it.  Could you imagine the first humans trying to understand this?  We only understood basic concepts like power, hunger, thirst, and the desire to procreate.  The idea that molecules at different atmospheric pressures collide and create an immense burst of electrical energy wasn't even feasible at their point in time.  If I, as an early human, could make fire by rubbing sticks or smashing "rocks" together, then something (or someone) must be creating this lightning and thunder, or the wind and rain, etc.  It's simplicity is almost beautiful in a way.  There were so naive (not in a bad way) to the world and physics around them that they applied this logic to these phenomena.  I strongly believe that this simple application is probably what help early man survive, in any fashion.  The idea that something greater than them existed and moved the heavens and earth and was particularly concerned about whether or not the early humans would give it a proper sacrifice is simply beautiful.  I am grateful for their logic because it pushed them to build immense structures, elaborate systems of communal societies, moral structures, and so much more.

Something happened though.  At some point, religion shifted from the rose to the thorn.  Many might say it was the founding of science, but I disagree.  Science has always been there, the desire to reason and discover why something exists.  Our scientific methods have certainly improved over time, but in the beginning, religion stemmed from science.  This isn't the case then, it is something much more sinister.  Somewhere, somehow, somebody realized that religion is a very powerful tool.  They realized that not only did it explain things, but it kept order through fear.  Religion explained the unknown for people and they were addicted to it.  It may have been subtle or occurred over time, but nonetheless, the day came when somebody realized there wasn't actually any God (or gods).  This person, at the time, was one of the more powerful people at the time because they separated themselves from the crowd.  Imagine you're stuck in some 4th dimensional cube with millions of people.  Everyone is content living inside of this small, cramped cube, facing the same direction.  You happen to turn around and there is a door.  You decide to open that door and walk through.  Suddenly, you find yourself standing outside of the cube, which, in comparison, is about the size of a Lego block.  Imagine the amount of control you have in this situation.  But, you're a smart person, you decide not to disturb the block or tell anyone else.  So, you go back inside the cube and you tell everyone that we must do as we have done, we must stay inside this block and face forward or we'll never be able to attain eternal salvation.

Oh yes, there's more... Everyone is petrified, some people see the door but you tell them if they leave through that door they are banished forever from the cube and will never attain salvation.  Now, as time passes, other people call your bluff and go through the door.  So what the hell do you do now?  Let them in on the piece of the pie!  You tell them that you found this exit a long time ago and you can pretty much do whatever the hell you want because we are not restricted by this fictional cube.  However, you tell them that everyone inside the cube is petrified and will essentially stay calm and organized as long as they believe that the cube is real and it's message is clear and true.  So, these people go along with your plan and now you're living the high life, with some friends.

This, my fellow readers, is what religion has become.  It has become a simple thorn, every time we now try to admire beauty and express love, we are pained with this constant fear of being pricked, and hurt.  There are people, many people in fact, in this world that know that religion and God or gods, are not real.  It simply doesn't exist.  I had a "helluva" hard time coming to grips with this, even now, sometimes, it's hard for me to do it, but I do, just like quitting smoking.  The problem is that it is beat into our minds for so long, and it is everywhere we go and have been.  It has become much more subtle over time, but the fear and pain of it still exists.  I mean, me simply typing this article implies that I will never attain eternal salvation, but I am calling bullshit.  I am standing (well sitting) here and simply calling bullshit.  I ask that you do it too. 

We (well the former me) have been oppressed by people that have figured this out a long time ago.  Think about who religion caters to... the poor, the sick, the less fortunate, they will someday inherit a kingdom so much greater than this life or any riches or gold, blah blah blah.  It is crap.  It is a way to keep you humble and secure.  Look at all the successful people in this world.  Yes, some of them have done both, legitimately believed in religion AND had material success.  Overall though, many of these people simply walk over "the little guy" and claim to be religious and follow God.  It's a big screen and a lie.  They have realized, just as I have that religion doesn't actually exists and they are free to do whatever they want without any moral consequences outside of the law (which is why they spend so much money lobbying congress and having political careers, to influence the law).

I don't think it is time to abandon morals and start cut-throating each other, but I think it is time to abandon religion.  We can live wholesome, moral lives without the threat of God.  Hell, you are probably more moral if you do it because you want to, without the fear of some eternal damnation over your head.  The choice is up to you of course, but there simply is no compelling evidence that God, or gods, is real.  Every argument you are going to make defending religion is explainable and refutable by simple logic or lack of any real proof. It is time to take the thorn out of our sides and gaze upon existence's true beauty.  The fact that this is all happenstance and random is even more amazing to me than if some ultimate being crafted it.  I hope you'll join me outside of the cube, because the possibilities are limitless.