Barataria stands as a blog with a purpose. Most of the time, that purpose is to tell the stories lost in the jargon of economics and finance that have come to define our recent lives far more than most people are comfortable with.
If we can’t grab what is happening around us and make it our own, how can we call ourselves a free and democratic society? Barataria does what it can to offer a different way of looking at what is happening and relate it in story form, free of unexplained jargon. Hopefully, this will help to make a more real and useful politics.
After a few months of big events and heavy articles, it’s time to summarize the Baratarian view on the big economic picture in one polemic and invite your comments.
This summer re-run is a sad one. Since this piece ran two years ago Munchie moved out with his Mom and, just recently, passed on over the Rainbow Bridge from kidney failure. Like any loved pet, Munch will be missed for both his cuddliness and his mischief equally. Consider this a tribute to him and all our fur children no longer with us.
Munchie wasn’t a bad cat, but he had a reputation. His name probably came from his habit of jumping up on counters and tables, eating anything that was left out. Bread, crackers, you name it – all for Munchie. When his second or third family were moving, Munchie was handed off yet again. He found himself in his fourth home in about as many years, suddenly living with cats who didn’t know him at all. They weren’t exactly thrilled. Neither was Munchie, who had a tendency to be crazy all night long, running and yowling.
Imagine a single currency, all around the world. No more converting between Dollars and Euros and Pounds, the money in your wallet is your ticket to ride anywhere.
Sound like a fantasy? Throughout history it’s been more or less the standard. The coins from one era might come from Rome or Madrid or London or Beijing, but one accepted unit of exchange was the norm until very recently. In many ways, the standard now comes from twelve Federal Reserve banks in paper form, printed with green ink.
But we’re a global society now, with total worldwide trade taking up nearly $8T of the global product of $52T. Is it time for a new global currency that isn’t subject to the needs and politics of one nation? More and more, the answer is “yes”. But getting there, as with anything international, is the hard part.
Long ago, most Americans lived as Laura Ingalls Wilder chronicled in the “Little House” series. Pa Ingalls and family were out in the wilderness, surviving with the rhythm of the land and putting away what they could to survive long winters and perhaps beyond. The family’s net worth was what they had around them – nearly all put toward surviving on their own.
That life has been replaced with interdependence based on a dollar value assigned to absolutely everything. We all get by with any extra scratch, should there be some, not stored up to get through the winter but properly invested in convertible assets. This means that everyone is subject to the values of the Free Market™, which determines the value of all assets including experience, talent, and work.
The real lessons from successful financial companies like Bain Capital are the demonstration of what these values of interdependence are – and how our world far beyond Pa Ingalls has become as hostile as any winter on the Great Plains.
It’s not just that it’s hot. It’s the stifling stillness that has settled in over the center of the continent that slowly suffocates, like a python wrapping around its prey. A year that started out promising, with plenty of warmth and rain early on, has turned deadly for crops throughout the grain belt of the US.
The price of corn has shot up 40% in the last month as a terrible harvest falls ahead of brown, dead stalks grimly standing in the fields. As much as a third of the grain belt states is in “severe drought” conditions, and it’s likely to only worsen. This is the kind of shock our economic system simply cannot handle right now, already weakened by bumbling in financial centers far from where people do actual work.
What has caused such awful weather? It’s always hard to say exactly, but we can be sure this will last a while longer – and it is too late for most of the crops.