The Chairman of a large global bank recently gave a TV interview about the state of the world economy . Not surprisingly, the Chairman gave what was intended to be a sound and learned justification for a world order characterized by barrier-less trade.
However, the justification came out as being utterly sophomoric in its quality. That is to say, it was not too different from how a privileged undergraduate might argue in a college debate. Only the mannerisms were different – the uncle spoke, not the nephew or the niece. Continue reading Response to the Bank Chairman
[In which the brilliant deductive techniques of Sherlock Holmes are applied to the origins of debt, currency and the debt-linked economy.]
Imagine the simple human economic life of about five thousand years ago, based on the production and exchange of the necessities of life. If one family has a surplus goat, say, and another family has surplus wheat, then both would benefit by making an exchange — so much wheat for a goat. Economically, the exchange would make excellent sense, because it would leave everyone better off. Continue reading From Barter to Debt: A Brief History
The English word ‘gut’ is rich in its range of meanings. In Biology, ‘gut’ means ‘intestine’ – as in ‘gut bacteria’ or ‘gutting a fish’; this meaning extends to the racquet strings used in sports such as tennis and badminton. In common usage, ‘guts’ refers to ‘courage’, as in ‘having the guts to take on the huge challenge of _______’ (fill in your favourite). Continue reading Gutless Wonders
‘Wish I could be a fly on the wall when X and Y meet one-on-one’. This is an ardent – and not very uncommon – wish among those who must know ‘what is really going on in the world’. X and Y are of course two global power-mongers – of the greater or the lesser kind – who imagine that they hold the future of mankind in their hands.
In the absence of the wish coming true, ardent knowledge-seekers are left with no ‘raw material’ except ill-informed and uninformed speculation, to be garnished liberally with flights of fancy and hints of the mysterious. This is how common folk are led to think ‘they know what is going on’ – by those who think ‘they know more of what is going on’. Continue reading FLY ON THE WALL
Full disclosure: While the author has at times felt being “on top of the world”, he cannot claim any personal experience of “life at the top”. However, being a keen witness and a dogged student, the common idea of “top” fascinates him. After all, a crazed race to “the top” inevitably leads to injustice, crime and war. But anyone obsessed with “reaching the top” can provide only a self-serving report of his or her life. Therefore an objective if light-hearted study is attempted here. Continue reading Life at the Top
Case 1: Imagine, in a picturesque suburban neighborhood, two pet dogs of immediate neighbors quarreling over a bone – growling, barking, snarling, lunging; that is, a typical instance of canine conflict over a prized object.
Imagine that the two owners come out and notice the conflict. How might they resolve the conflict? Surely this would be a simple matter, with several decent solutions. For example, the “bone of contention” may be tossed into a covered garbage bin. Or one of the neighbors may come up with a second bone so that each dog has one. Or each neighbor may simply drag his or her dog – growling and snarling – away from the conflict.
This would be civilized behavior. The neighbors would smile at each other, exchange a civility or two, and go happily back home. We can conclude rightly that a “higher intelligence” at work resolved the conflict. Continue reading It’s the Rapacity, Stupid!