15 May 2010
My grandmother ‘knew her place’ (lower middle class), said her prayers, and lived a reasonably contented life. They told me that I could rise through education. I got as far as
It is the same with the financial system – I find myself believing about 80% of what I am told, but have that nagging feeling that I'm not getting the full story. Most of it is to do with what money really is. It seems to me that we are trying to get it to be two things at the same time. First it is to be a store of value: that if I don’t want to spend immediately what I have earned, I can do so later, hopefully with someone paying me for borrowing it in the intervening period. The second is as an oil to keep the economy going. Socially, the most important thing is to keep the economy running optimally - with sufficient creation of goods for people to have what they rightfully can ask for - without overburdening the planet. The depression situation of the grocer, whose business is going badly and cannot afford the winter coat which an out-of-work tailor wants to make to earn money to buy groceries is obviously wrong. It seems to me that in different situations different amounts of oil are needed, and therefore the value of the oil must go up and down.
The question I would dearly like an answer to is what percentage of the population needs to work in order to provide basically decent housing, education, health care to everyone? I cannot get away from the suspicion that an awful lot of people are working, not because they really have to, but because work is the only thing that gives them meaning - consideration in the eyes of others, a sense of 'freedom' and, above everything else, community.