9.13.2009

A Must Listen. C'mon. Seriously this time.

It's not often that I can recommend with so little reserve any media as this recent podcast on the nature of money. I kind of regret that the source will strike some of you as questionable: I understand that Jan Irvin's Gnostic Media Podcast doesn't sound like a creditable channel to most of my six readers.

But listen: almost nothing's as important as the question of what money is. I don't insist that you agree with Stephen Zarlenga, but I do think you'd be ill-advised to ignore this issue. Zarlenga is the author of the American Monetary Act, a bill submitted to Congress by Dennis Kucinich earlier this year.

So do whatever you have to do to get through the first four or five minutes of this audio -- with all its dubious references to entheogens and Jesus and divine mushrooms and so on -- get through all of that so that you can hear the interview between Irvin and Zarlenga. I'm throwing all my weight behind this one. I'm not sure what I think about it yet, but I'm very confident that it's an issue that we will ignore at our own widespread peril.

4 comments:

Mark said...

ok ok...

where do you find this stuff?

Casey said...

Haha... I plumb the depths, don't I?

I'll be interested in your feedback. This guy seems to miss on big part of the question, and that is the stuff concerning "subjective value" and so on.

When he's talking about why gold is valuable, he never mentions the unaccountable and simple fact that people value it.

Nevertheless, I seriously suspect that "something is up" with money. It's like a big confidence game -- and we're the tourist-pedestrian and the government is the sidewalk con-artist shuffling red cups and ping-pong balls.

And the problem is: as the tourist-pedestrian, I suspect that there's a plant somewhere in the crowd helping the con-man, but I can't spot him.

Kevin said...

Casey:

A great topic, massively underdiscussed.

Must say, though, that the claims made in the podcast are...quirky. I didn't make it through the whole broadcast, and skipped a bit, but his three-part plan (killing the independence of the Fed, stopping banks from 'creating' money, and printing trillions of dollars for 'infrastructure') is just what I would advise if I wished the death of the country in question.

Politicizing Monetary policy? Has that worked so well where and when it has been tried? And do banks 'create' money? If so, how is it that they worry about meeting reserve ratios set by government overseers? Couldn't they just 'make' more to meet them? And his idea of printing trillions...I'm speechless... though I will say that this is the very advice given in Goethe's 'Faust'-- to the King, and by the devil. Point: when your advice is given in literature by the devil, and considered beyond the pale by every present-day economist not deep into drink, one should hesitate to publish/podcast it.


Other slips of his indicate sloppy scholarship. One difficult moment has him bobbling the difference between Utilitarians and Unitarians--an impossible slip for an economic historian to make; in his complaints about, and redefinitions of, 'usury', he seems to be unaware of, or un-interested in, the fact that interest rates are the price of money, and that price-fixing is economic suicide even/especially when the price of money is the good whose price is being 'fixed'. I may have missed some context on a final point: that this program will save us from 'nuclear disaster' and bring us 'back to a world of beauty'....No words...

Lots of complaining. But my last point is positive: I find your commented suspicion right on: if we cut through the crap we find this: on a deep level, this guy has not accepted the subjective theory of value (roughly, that there is no 'true' monetary value or price of things--i.e. that money is the common language of values, and expresses, quantitatively, the unceasing human activity of valuing). That, IMO, leads to the rest. And he is forced to make such...proposals... because of his resistance to what you sense--and many consider-- the most basic fact of economic reality.


P.S.
If you're really into this, I'd check out 'Human Action' (von Mises), and 'Philosophy of Money' (Simmel)

Casey said...

Kevin, Human Action is one of my all-time favs, and it's partly responsible for stirring my interest in "all this" in the first place. Haven't read Simmel yet, but will.

If I remember right, though, Mises put a faith in gold that bordered on mystical (which, it should be said, wouldn't have been the first time anyone did such a thing -- remember the alchemists). But the point is that Mises saw gold as a more substantial, more "real" money than fiat money... and I get split on this.

But: I'm glad to have a little consensus on the guy in the podcast -- your point about the unitarian vs. utilitarian was dead-on.

All that being said: I'm not sure I understand any more than I did a week ago, unfortunately...