Go Into BiologyOne of the reasons he had gone into biology was that he felt that economics was too remote from the real world.
re: Bob Horvitz
Having apportioned blame for the mess and resulting stress, it's getting time to look beyond bandaid solutions
in order to avoid yet another similar meltdown in the future.
It may well be that greed is inevitable, but I doubt that this is an underlying factor. Studs Terkel
, the American chronicler of oral history, wrote in Hard Times
, a compilation of interviews with people who lived through the Great Depression of 1929, that afterwards people were affected in two different ways. The great majority reacted by thinking money was the most important thing in the world.
Which was plain daft if you think about it.
It's all in the mind, isn't it? Money has always been a concept, a bunch of IOUs, promises "to pay the bearer" whatever. Whilst bartering is only effective if exchanged goods have an agreed equivalent value, money gives a value to goods which can be stored, and priced according to demand. Money thus obviates the need for communication through negotiation, and consequently mutual trust is no longer paramount.
The notion of paying, or being paid, for future goods and services came about with the invention of currencies. These have varied from salt, to shells and beads, to arrow heads to gold, silver and other precious metals (nickel?), to diamonds and other stuff you could hide under your mattress if you had one.
Hence the use of papyrus, paper and other writing surfaces of little intrinsic value apart from the words written thereon - "I promise to pay the bearer the sum of .....
Banks were invented to hold these IOUs, and in many cases actually issued them in the absence of anything of value, for which they charged fees, which turned into a percentage of the sums inscribed. The banks' income then allowed them to lend out their 'profit' in the form of loans and mortgages.
Insurance companies were established whose policies you had to buy in order to protect your borrowings. You could also invest in your funeral, although why these policies are categorised as 'life' insurance beats me, especially as, depending on the small print
which you won't be able to read if you're dead, they might not be paid out anyway.
Get yours. And get it for your children. And get it now. Nothing else matters.
Ah, but it does. If the central core of one's being is to amass temporal yet, as we now see, ephemeral fortunes, then one is but an empty shell.
I wish I could sympathise with those who can't handle the consequences of having chosen the wrong career. It's certainly difficult making adjustments to lifestyles, especially for those who've been living off the fat of others. In Marylebone, London, an independent mental health hospital has experienced a 33% rise in the number of workers in banks and hedge funds seeking treatment for depression, anxiety and stress as a result of the current financial turmoil.
Studs also discovered that a small number of people felt the system was lousy and that it had to be changed. He didn't interview me, but I'm one of those who've been arguing for a more equitable society, an alternative future that looks beyond our immediate needs and those of our children and grandchildren.
Eighty years after the Great Depression, this lesson has yet to be learned. There have been, and still are, wasteful wars which have been paid for with vast borrowings of IOUs and the massive rape and pillage of our planet's resources. Humanity has placed itself apart from nature, often in the guise of doctrine. Rather than recognising that humanity is a part of nature, we have let God and Mammon, often in harness
, set us apart from it, generally citing 'progress', 'development', and the great ideology 'growth'.
Self-labelled 'developed' countries have lead 'developing' countries to believe that, in exchange for their resources in the case of, say, Indonesia, or their agricultural land, in the case of swathes of Africa, populations could enjoy a similar affluent lifestyle to that 'enjoyed' in the west.
For years, many of us have pointed out the hypocricy of this, that even in the Good 'Ol U.S. of A., the 'Leaders Of The Free World', a good percentage of its citizens have been denied access to the American Dream. Millions have lost their jobs as theirs have been shipped overseas where labour is cheaper (viz. Nike in Indonesia
), the Medicare system excludes many in favour of privatised charlatans, urban centres have been turned over to gangs who've been turned over by drugs, and the country has been turned over to the motor car, at the behest of oil companies.
Ah, the power of self-delusion, believing that happiness can be bought. Surely that comes from within, from relationships and knowing one's place in the grand scheme of things and recognising one's mortality.
You can't take it with you - so why take it in the first place? Above all, why take what doesn't belong to you but belongs to each and all? After all, biologically speaking, isn't humanity a part of nature?