About Me

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Did Socrates say "Know Thyself", or was he misunderstood, as all are. Show Thyself is all we can do. The knowing is unknowable.  

I am filled with joy.  It can't be helped.  

Became a Farmer, Builder, Musician, Tank Commander, Librarian, Lawyer and Minister. I have failed at many things. And now retired.  Filled, just filled, with Joy. 

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Tumors and Boils - the "investment bankers"

Tumors and boils.  {no pictures please!}

The society is a body.  Many cells and tissues “organized” together to compose a greater form of life.  Sometimes a portion of it becomes malignant, or is exposed to invasion.  The body must deal with that compromise of its life. 

The body has stood as metaphor to society for as long as any language has been spoken.  We cross-reference the body and society using the same words.  Both “bodies” share anatomy and physiology – ingesting, digesting, processing, cleansing, growing, dying.  The insults and afflictions, and the salutory or healing processes, can be viewed in parallel. 

The bones and arteries constitute the infrastructure. The nerves mirror the electrical grid.  The hormonal communication reflects the mood of the people in a community.  And of course, food and death, are not even metaphoric.

Most bodies die of inflammation and / or shock.  The same is true of the polity.  The Roman medical encyclopedist Celsus (ca 30 BC–38 AD) described the four cardinal signs of acute inflammation as tumor, dolor, calor, and rubor (swelling, pain, increased heat, and redness).

The blood is to the body as money is to society.  Unimpeded access and distribution of nutrients depends on a sufficient quantity, and a carrying capacity or value, of money.  Unregulated capitalism is like a tumor.  Withheld wealth is like a boil.

A tumor is a swelling in the body.  It may be caused by an overgrowth of neoplastic cells which hoard the blood supply.  Or like a sebaceous cyst it may be hoarding pus or refuse.  In both cases, the swelling is an impedence to the life of the body, and instead of contributing is now simply subtracting the vitality of the organ or organism. 

It is the blood that transports nutrients to the cells.  The vitality of the cell depends upon its access to those nutrients, and the plasmatic exchange.  In society, each individual depends on trade, and the people flourish when there is unimpeded and regular flow of goods and services.  If trade is monopolized, blocked, restricted or over-specialized, society may suffer.  In fact, the marginalization of even one person in a society, or the die-off of a single cell in the body, is a flag of caution.  If a poison kills cells in a living tissue, they can become necrotic and kill the entire organism.  If a man starves in a society, it is a danger sign to everyone in every way, a signal that the vitality of society is in danger. 

A certain number of assaults and insults to the body are expected and natural.  Every society confronts a certain number of stresses and adjustments which must constantly be made.  However, attention must be paid to the threshholds and trends.  For example, if the blood is weak, if nutrients are not going to the cells, or if tumors begin hoarding the nutrients, then the whole body suffers and weakens.  The body must protect itself from threats to its vitality, and must monitor the “growth” of tumor and boils which accumulate poison and compete for the body’s vitality.

A Society which has been attacked by predators from within is like a body which is covered with tumors and boils.    I do not use the term “capitalist” to describe someone who hoards capital – in a sense, such a person is an “anti-capitalist”.  A hoarder is not using the capital – they do not reinvest, they do not add to the growth of the organism.  They often use Debt – and they draw the nutrients out of the blood to “build” their own organism within the organism, a tumor.

A person’s body can be covered with boils inside and on the skin – accumulations of pus, or fatty sebaceous cysts.  A tumor can begin to form in any organ, and its growth can compete with the body, and its independent amalgamation of resources can destroy the integrity of the body.  Even the leakage of the fluids of a benign tumor in the body can be catastrophic, and the unrestricted growth of a malignancy can kill the body. 

When the nutrients or the blood are captured on one place, an unnatural swelling occurs.  There may also be increased pain, heat, and redness.  This “tumor, dolor, calor, and rubor” are flags of inflammation.  The healthy body will respond, or a physician will address, such signs of distress.

We have a society which is under assault.  For example, some of the most primitive tribal people on the planet have been chanting “Death to America!” for decades in groups assembled to pray for our extinction.  They teach youngsters they will go to Heaven as saviours if they die as martyrs.  After a night of drinking alcohol in topless bars, a group of pious young men from Saudi Arabia hi-jacked airliners and flew them into large buildings in 2001.  The killing of an international group of civilians, including people from all over the world, is still celebrated by many of the most primitive tribal people on the planet.

However, that assault did not cripple society.  In some ways, it made the true “society” stronger, closer, larger, and more vital.  New York became recognized as a truly international place.  All over the world, other societies declared their solidarity, and coordinated with America. 

However, the interior of America has not fared as well.  Cysts and tumors have formed.  The blood is restricted and monopolized, and wealth is being hoarded.  In the ten years since 2001, America lost its middle class, and lost its ability to circulate wealth.  By 2007, all of the Big Banks in America had become “investment bankers” dealing in investments with no known market value – “toxic” products.  All of the Big Banks were heavily leveraged in financial products which had been revived from the 1920's.  In the decade run-up to the 1929 Crash, the Congress de-regulated the banking industry and removed consumer protection which had been in place since the Progressive era. 

The free market cannot function without information, which is the hinge which enables “choice” to perform.  A market without money or valuable products is negligible.  A market without information is blind, and the “decisions” made by uninformed consumers are arbitrary.  There may be “growth”, there may be enormous volumes, but it would be like a tumor growing bigger than the body it inhabits.  This is what we saw, what we experienced in 2006-2007, when banks began dealing in huge volumes of toxic waste while claiming they were creating “investments”.

In the decade run-up to the summer of 2008, the Congress de-regulated the banking industry and removed disclosure requirements and accounting standards in the financial industry.  Banking guidelines which had been in effect since the 1930's were disregarded.  All of the largest banks in the United States became “investment” bankers, and then traded in worthless investments – forms of paper the value of which could not be calculated with any certainty.

In the summer of 2008, all of the largest banks in the United States, and their insurers, announced that they were unable to pay obligations which they had entered into.  None of the largest financial institutions could make any loans, and all of trade and all transactions depend upon credit and money.  All levels of government, and all private enterprises, depend on the circulation of money in the same way that every cell depends upon blood circulation.  The large “investment” banks destroyed themselves from the inside – they were not destroyed by the government, by any regulation or by any edict.  Their own CEOs captured them, destroyed them, and then they confronted the government with the collapse of the world, and extorted a bail-out using taxpayer funds.  Curiously, the bail-out funds had to be borrowed, from other banks. 

After receiving the bailout funds, the Large Banks did not loan money.  They suddenly made loans extremely difficult to obtain by consumers or small businesses.  The banks hoarded the capital which they had obtained from taxpayers.  Instead of making loans with the capital, they “used” the capital to buy smaller banks at fire sale prices.  The Big Banks became bigger, at the expense of the taxpayers. 

A tumor can grow and spread by drawing nutrients out of the blood stream, and independent of the functions of the other organs – contributing nothing to the body, but drawing out its vitality.  A boil is a concentration of pus or sebaceous tissue, which often interferes with bodily function and vitality, even if it is not growing or spreading.    The Large Banks of the United States functioned as tumors.  They concentrated capital in larger, and less interactive banking institutions which cut themselves off from trade, small business, or consumer credit.  They bought smaller banks, creating larger boils.  

As a society, we can treat the tumors and boils.  We can stop giving them money, and cut off the blood supply to the tumors.  And we can lance the boils, breaking them up and surgically removing them with a scalpel of anti-trust anti-monopolist free market purging.