Some more things that will not be the same after COVID-19. Your GP. Your Boss. Your services. Pretty soon after that, your car and your house.
Quantitative Easing. You can only pull a con on people so many times and then reveal it for a con, before they remember that it’s a con. I’m not kidding. You can perform a magic trick where you distract the rube with one hand and bitchslap them with the other. Then you can do it again.
And again. And again. And if you’re lucky, a few more times. But eventually the rube is going to figure it out. And by that stage, is too old to put up a fight, and then is dead. But their rubettes are there to take their place and you can just rinse and repeat the con, over and over.
Because in gentler times, the rube experiences maybe two slaps in their life, then their kids take their place. But these are turbulent times for the con-artiste. The need for the bitchslap is repeated so often that the rubes are getting to recognise the con …
QE is a case in point. Once you’ve separated the concept of wealth from the natural resources we consume to stay alive (land, crops, animals, etc) to something far less wealth-generating like gold, you can perform the con. You insert yourself between a person and the source of their wealth.
Then you take the concept of wealth from the “iron price” to an even more abstract concept such as fiat, and now you can have everything for nothing. But while that improves lives and allows for research and manufacturing and trade and economies, it also allows for a populace to sit back and not strive.
In order to do that there has to be a constant drive. Without it, the engines grind to a halt. Rubes are rubes, after all. SOMEONE has to keep their noses to the grindstone and their shoulders to the wheel. May as well be your con rather than letting them go unshorn of all that lovely wealth …
And so you have a “national debt” that has to be “paid down” all the time. Every nation worth its salt has a national debt and taxes to pay it down. Every nation worth its salt has a “foreign debt” to pay off because that’s how they can keep a debt happening and driving us all to keep working. (Even now when there is so much mechanisation that we have people starving because they no longer have secure jobs.)
The truth of the matter is that the governments have a money press because they ARE the money press. There is no real need to “cover the national debt” because it’s a construct, and abstraction, an engine.
When a nation uses QE (as many did during the Global Financial Crisis) what they did was to just print more money. Because it doesn’t damage the economy. It does however reveal that the economy is a construct designed to keep people working.
And if it had only been used for the GFC then it’d be another generation before this particular sleight – of – hand had to be used again. The original con would slip into history. How many awful things our politicians did to us last year do YOU remember? See?
It’d be forgotten. Look at how quickly we forget things within a generation, let alone through several generations. A politician is tasked with a socialist type of a task of creating a nationwide National Broadband Network and instead decides to cut it to shreds because it would offend his Liberal sense of entitlement. (That the populace doesn’t deserve such a fast network, what do plebs need information access for?)
In the process he increases the costs tenfold (a bonus for all the companies involved) and decreases the usefulness of the network to less than half what it should have been. A few years later the nation elects him as Prime Minister. Because they forgot or didn’t care or didn’t even know what was going on. Sleight – of – hand, bitchslap, sleight – of – hand – profit!
And then there are bushfires. The government had to pretend to be totally strapped for relief cash and manages to “scrape together” a two billion dollars relief package. (Which has still not materialised by the way nor has any of it reached the people it’s intended for, now some six months after the fact by the way. People are still homeless and shattered and living on charity. Charity which itself has ‘gone missing’ somewhere between being donated and the people it’s supposed to help.)
A few months after the bushfires when it was deemed almost impossible to find two billion dollars without the most apocalyptic economic repercussions for dozens of years, the government suddenly finds TWO HUNDRED BILLION dollars for relief and economic stimulus. What the? How the? And then when you look, it was just the act of printing more money, something the government could have – and should have – done 20 – 30 years ago and continued to do as needed, but they didn’t.
By this stage a few alert rubes (and alert government officials) are looking at MMT (Modern Monetary Theory) and socialistic concepts like UBI (Universal Basic Income) and some members of the current government are even expressing publicly that “neoliberalism has failed.”
This, bear in mind, is still early days. A good many older rubes will die of COVID-19, so there seems to be a bit of wiggle room for this particular con. But kids these days are getting smarter, and have access (despite the restricted access to the world’s knowledge Commons aka the Internet) to vast amounts of data, correlated, tabulated, and interpreted.
And thanks to neoliberalism and capitalism bringing the planet to the brink of resource depletion, there’s a little thing called Global Climate Change that is going to create situation after situation that is going to need to be magically fixed by this money printing process. And sooner or later the rubes are going to figure it out after one too many sleight / slap events…