We may really miss debt (credit)


#1

We will miss debt.

Debt may still be the most rational basis for a currency. With debt there will still be at least two parties quite interested in a transaction. There will be some means of indirect social restraint, which is better than direct control. A slight inflationary bias helped along by a fractional reserve system is a very good thing in many ways as it helps fuel opportunity and it helps keep the bulk of wealth in private hands but also helps provide for infrastructure, safety nets and stimulus when needed.

Debt doesn’t have to be enslavement by money, its wise you can be a key to freedom from many of the problems the human use of money involves. Our current system of capitalism has helped bring us an age of technology which has brought us “GUTs”, genomes, wide spread plumbing, pain killers, antibiotics, surgery, search, the steam engine, wide spread lighting and transport, the ability to take parallel universes seriously and enough automation to begin to socialize society and not just the production of goods- but the problem we now face is akin to a society or species that has outstripped its food supply. The system has been enclosed by a lack of new land and new populations for new markets to fuel its unfettered expansion. This isn’t a gap that the natural cycle of blighting and redevelopment can fix anymore than crop rotation solved all the problems with agriculture. This fettering will particularly impact our access to constructive debt techniques.

Symptoms:

Austerity
Inability to fund pensions or social security systems
Subsidizing outsourcing (early symptom of built out markets)
In ability to fund schools or provide credit for education
Derivatives or overspeculation of risk
Overlapping mutual funds or confused stock market signals
Flock of new billionaires whose money was made by extractive means
Loss of social mobility
Increasing pollution
Depletion of natural resources
Cost instability
State insolvency
Loss of market based pursuit of technology
Tighter business cycles

We now face increasingly catabolic options where instead of the dynamism of an inflation biased credit system to socialize and encourage risk we get stasis or steady state economies which are increasingly planned and centralized. Instead of a diversity of consumables to fit every taste we will get a single highly regulated supplier and product in each category or one supplier across categories. Centralization increases and the state becomes the defacto supplier of everything.

Don’t want a one pound tooth brush meant to be used without tooth paste that lasts a life time that only comes in white and costs $600? Too bad, they asked 5000 people exactly what they wanted and this was the best approximation. Adding an extra color would be bad for the environment so you can’t have it. It comes in Trabant green. Instead of an energy industry there may just be state controlled Tesla providing cars, solar cells and windmills.

The crucifixion of Christ was apparently brought on because he (flipping the money changer (banker) tables) was attempting to address the situation where the rich were required to forgive the poor their loans every twelve years and had not done so in something like four decades. To an extent he was addressing the difference between functional and dysfunctional debt. Functional debt occurs in an environment where there is some trust and promises (contracts) are exchanged and fulfilled to address mutual needs and wants thereby increasing trust and social cohesion for the good of everyone. Working debt mechanisms and capitalism in particular exists to socialize risk. This process makes the pursuit of technology possible. It means we can get the credit we need to build a corner store and then go bankrupt if necessary and try again in 7 years. Without that we’d need to save up for 20 years. Under no credit circumstances, losing borrowed money is more likely to result in people demanding debtor’s prison or trying to attach uninvolved relatives. Without debt opportunity can be so scarce that people want blood for what should otherwise be slight inevitable setbacks on the path to making everyone continually better off.

Steady state systems seem a bit unnatural, kind of like: don’t exercise, eat a renal diet, don’t drink too much water and if it gets to much place yourself in suspended animation. Technology fixes may not be forthcoming. We might very well still face tough fights over the accounting and the customs of who get to tell who what to do. We need something that could open the system like easy to create and control worm hole transport to other systems or the “wild card” AI singularity. In the current set up very directive people are likely to increasingly encounter people who consider direction a murderous offense
intent on acting out of self defense because they have no were to run.

Economically static systems are very likely still preferable to strict rule by money, theocracy or hereditary dictatorship (the worst) but they still imply a strong state and possibly no grass on the street islands and bureaucrats trying to tell you how many kids you can have.

One clue that lends to these picture is how slow we’ve been to adopt waste recycling despite how profitable that strategy can be. In metal it can be 100x more efficient and vastly more profitable but its but it took a while. New territories are vital to the human psyche- its hard to do the hero’s journey when its strewn with the carnage left by prior heroes.