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Deep Creek Hot Springs

The Moon is Waxing Gibbous (99% of Full)


Re: SC82

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December 22, 2008 03:15PM

The Ponzi Scheme As Way of Life

...........We’re going to try and rescue the economy with another Ponzi scheme - with borrowing against our children’s future wealth to protect financial institutions and invest in some good things and some bad ones. This, of course, is the oldest ponzi scheme of all, and you can make the argument that some human societies have been playing this game for a very long time. We’ve been doing it with natural resources and are continuing to do so, and we’re also expanding the share of our children’s wealth we’re willing to borrow against. After all, what have future generations ever done for us? They might as well serve some purpose - to pay off our debt.

And of course we’ve got the best possible reason for this - we’re in a crisis. There’s always a good reason for taking just a little more of what belongs to the future - to bring people out of poverty, to resolve this or that crisis. Of course, the crisis was caused by borrowing against our children’s inheritence of natural resources, but more of the same is now necessary. A good Ponzi scheme always needs new investors - and if none are going to volunteer, well, let’s volunteer them. We’ll use the to prop up the stock market and today’s version of the Roman chariot business.

Our ecology and our economy all fundamentally are built on a Ponzi scheme in which we can never make enough to keep up - we are always losing ground, always having to steal from further down the line of our posterity. At the same time, we justify their forcible participation in this speculation by saying that we are protecting them - we have to protect them from a Depression, so it is worth risking their future. But, of course, if you actually care about your children and grandchildren, you don’t ask them to make sacrifices you aren’t prepared to make. Fundamentally, we’re covering our own asses, and asking our kids to do it for us.

And that’s, well, evil, to put it bluntly. It is precisely the opposite of what parents are supposed to do for their children, and what present generations are supposed to do for the future. As David Orr observes in his superb essay “Loving Children: A Design Problem” living in a world in which we do not act as though we love our children (despite our endless assertions that we do) does them deep, moral harm. It lessens us, but more importantly, it doesn’t just physically impoverish our children, it morally impoverishes them too.............

..........Our love for our economy leads us to seek any path out of the crisis we are now facing - whether it will work or not, whether it does harm or good. We say we are doing it for our children - but much of what we have done mean that their own Depressions will be deeper and they will be poorer. The Ponzi scheme is coming to an end - we have drawn in generations at a huge remove from us. 500 years from now, when no one remembers our names, our descendents will still be living with the consequences of climate change, will still be paying the debt from our overdrawn ecology.

It may well be the case that we will have to borrow against both resources and wealth to adapt our infrastructure - but we shouldn’t put a penny of borrowed money into anything that won’t serve the next generation, as well as us or better. That means not a cent for Detroit to keep building gas guzzlers and personal cars. Not a penny for highways that they won’t be driving on anyway. We cannot afford to waste what’s left of their inheritance - we need to leave our children buildings worth occupying, that will last long enough to house them, and energy resources that will serve them, and some accessible oil in the ground for the things they may not be able to produce without it............

..........our parents and grandparents failed us, they passed the problem down to my peers, and those younger than us. And those same people (because most of the powerful are baby boomers still) are planning on passing the problem down to the children we hold at breast or watch play at our knees. They will impoverish their grandchildren to keep the Ponzi scheme going.

The question is whether we, and the baby boomers and older folk who had it right from the beginning, actually love our children and grandchildren enough to stop the buck here? I don’t minimize how difficult that is - and I don’t doubt that trying to live on a fair share, and get through the necessary economic crisis so we can start better next time will be difficult for children as well as adults. And yet, passing the buck again ensures them a darker, warmer, more bitter world with fewer natural resources, and a crushing economic debt. Sometimes when there are no easy answers, one has to move to “what is right.”

The burden of addressing our world-wide Ponzi scheme falls, I fear upon all of us who are adult enough to demand it stop, to refuse to participate to the extent we can, to work to end it, and most of all, to shield with our bodies the children and grandchildren we do love, and in whom we must reposit our hopes, our endurance and our courage.


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Wizard 1294December 22, 2008 03:15PM

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