Economic collapse is the neutron bomb of disasters. The disaster hits, everyone gets “wiped out,” yet all the material things are still standing. The buildings are still there. None of the factories have disappeared. All the farms are still intact.
Unlike a real neutron bomb, the people are still standing too. The only thing that’s really disappeared is the medium of exchange. Since our “money” has no intrinsic value anyway, it’s like losing nothing at all. Most money isn’t even in paper, but ones and zeros in a computer somewhere.
In a more perfect world everyone would blink their eyes, shake their heads, and realize that the whole fiat currency thing was a bad idea. They wouldn’t go right out and replace it with another make believe money system. Perhaps the smart thing would be some sort of elaborate barter system. Maybe something like the barter networks that are springing up in Greece right now.
Those barter networks function just fine on the local level, and there’s no intrinsic reason the whole world could not operate on a similar system. Instead of dollars, we could be trading things like hours of labor or calories of energy.
The problem that Greece has is that it’s one of the first to hit by the financial neutron bomb. Those areas less affected, like Germany, are heavily invested in the old imaginary system. They want the real things in Greece: land, resources, and labor, to be turned into these imaginary “Euros” and sent back to the rest of the EU. The best thing for Greece, and other countries and regions in the same boat, is to say no. Eventually those financial bombs will hit the rest of the world and everyone can wake up from the bad dream.
It’s not the collapse of the fiat currency that’s the problem. It’s all those obligations and relationships that are held over as the money itself disappears. Those imaginary monetary units have been concentrated in a relatively small number of hands. Right now it’s possible to trade those imaginary units for real things: houses in the Hamptons, yachts, pretty cars, and sexual favors from much younger women. Of course, those people want to keep the game going as long as possible.
Those with big imaginary numbers want the economic disaster to happen slow enough that they can take the last real things from people who still have stuff. As long as police and the military will accept those imaginary units, they can provide real enforcement. The way those with big piles of ones and zeros want the game to play out is for them to get all the stuff.
It’s a silly rigged game. It’s hard to see how silly as it’s the one we were born into. It’s like being born into a bizarre religious cult. Growing up, you don’t notice how crazy the cult is. If most of the world is in the same crazy cult, it’s even harder to become sane. The only people not in the cult are those who’ve been kicked out -the ones without any money.
The good news is that they might have kicked too many out of the cult. After the initial shock, many are shaking their heads and saying: wasn’t that crazy? Let’s not do that again. Lets find other ways of exchanging things of value. Now if only those crazy cult members would leave us alone. Of course, you can’t be too hard on those cultists. Most of the sane people believed the crazy doctrine once too.
Now that tiny percentage of the people who understand the game are really worried. Their only real talent is running a crazy cult. They fear everyone will go sane. Then they’ll be unable to exchange their imaginary money for real things. They have few other useful skills. They fear no one will love them.
They might be right.