As anyone who might happen upon these digitized thought balloons will quickly discover, they have either nothing, or maybe everything, to do with grilled cheese sandwiches; and most likely never touch on anything relating to cooking or the kitchen... except perhaps, the very first posting. And so, with your indulgence, may I present, the ramblings of a reforming philosopher...

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Faith Value...

Which of the above would you prefer to have in your pocket?? And yes… choose wisely, this is a very tricky question.
The reality is, that none of these items has any true value at all unless common perception indicates they do, and where a mutual belief system is established that permits the exchange of one of the tokens for one or more of another.
For example: If the barter system is the method of exchange, a cow or side of beef might be valued to be the same as one horse, or possibly a goat and 10 chickens, or a pig and 5 apple pies. Whatever one trader has, it’s worth, or worthiness depends primarily on what the other trader needs and how badly they need it. If chickens are running about freely all over the place, then despite how good they taste; barbecued, baked, deep fried, chow-meined or otherwise, they won’t be worth much. However, if you were starving and only a few of the feathery fowls were pecking about, they might be considered as priceless!
And so it goes with the so-called money we have conveniently substituted for all that heavy bulk transfer of cows, sheep, chickens, pigs and pies, back and forth from the local farmer’s market. The shells and shiny rock-like baubles we used in ages past, and originally agreed upon communally as trade tokens for our lettuce, meat and potatos have gradually been replaced by government authorized and appropriately controlled, pieces of paper and other shiny metallic baubles that do exactly the same thing.
The local market, in natural course of time and with advances in technology, has become a global one. And now the stuff each of us needs is traded back and forth with those monetary tokens we all work hard for, except the bartering is also done on an internationally accepted basis; with one form of currency fitting precisely into the value established mesh of others like cogs in a very complicated, yet intimately connected, watch mechanism.
Consequently, whether the tokens are US dollars, Rubles, Yuan, Bit Coins, Pesos, Euros, Gold or Silver, it is only when everyone accepts this same belief system and agrees that the symbols involved are worth such and such, that those currencies become viable.
And so the question automatically rises… What happens when a specific money token begins to be corrupted, and starts to deteriorate; when it is finally recognized that too much of the currency note in question is being printed, or is counterfeited, is no longer backed by anything substantial, or is severely impacted by the financial difficulties within its indentured partnerships, and suddenly finds itself no longer universally recognized as having the purchase power it once had? (Does any of this sound familiar?)
At one time, each local farmer’s market was isolated and totally independent from another. If the currency in one area went belly up there was no bearing on any other. However today, our markets and the currencies we use to negotiate within them are fully combined. Similar to the watch cogs, whatever affects one spindle, cannot help but turn another, then another, and another... until the collective host is changed.
So let’s pretend that tomorrow the populace wakes up to the realization that the current standard of international trading, the US dollar, has become victim to many, or all of the conditions previously mentioned, and that international markets simply don’t want it anymore… or at the very least, begin drastically raising their US dollar purchase price for goods in order to even out the rapid pace of that currency’s inflation (a case of too many chickens?).
Quite naturally, items previously purchased from China, India, or some other market now begin rolling off their assembly lines at double, triple and quadruple their previous USD prices. Subsequently, a different token of exchange, perhaps the Euro, Yuan or Ruble begins to jockey for preeminence, and anyone holding handfuls of the unwanted cash begins to trade it as quickly as possible before it fritters away to zero. (aka Zimbabwe)
Banking units within the country and those most intricately connected, begin to freeze their shareholder’s accounts and rapidly foreclose on mortgages and loans in effort to support the massive debts they have over-accumulated. Depositors, attempting to withdraw their dwindling funds, rally en mass at the cashier’s cages and cash machines of financial institutions in vain effort to salvage their savings. Internal prices for that country’s goods and services begin to skyrocket.
With their purchasing power rapidly weakening, the general population divests itself of the unwanted coin and paper, and begins recouping and hoarding anything, or any commodity, which is now perceived as being of value. Priorities shift from the want side of the shopping list to that of the absolutely necessary. Small and Big box retailers alike begin closing their doors due to marked reductions in sales. Subsequent unemployment along with the general economy of the country goes into a tail spin of potential destruction, and riots begin to break out in previously friendly and productive communities.
Prior to a collapse of the society however, government intervenes with steps (often militant) to reduce and alleviate the chaos it has either knowingly, or unknowingly created from its earlier expenditures. In exchange for that increased sense of security, in a step by step process, freedoms are gradually bartered away until control is firmly established.
Unfortunately, because the US dollar is so universally woven into the fabric of world markets, other countries begin to falter as part of the main (remember, no man is an island). Consequently, in response to correct the decline, alternative financial pressures are generated which in turn stimulate international crises and the potential of a more inclusive, and perhaps final, war.
In eventual avoidance or termination of such economic catastrophe, a singular stabilizing authority eventually becomes forcefully established, or elected by acclamation, and a universal monetary token is then stipulated to be in effect. This is done ostensibly with the most noble of intentions and always in grand proclamation of it being for the common good.
Mankind finally becomes as one… at least economically.
Now all the presiding authority needs to do is weed out the riff raft, the oddballs, the dissenters, and those who disobey!!
And so, I guess the bottom line is to be very careful in what you choose to value and in what to put your faith.  J.
Article Copyright J. Michael Lyffe - 2014

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