top of page

The Measure of Money

Money is a measure, but also a force.  We have created a economic system that is so powerful, so far-reaching, and so ruthlessly efficient that it is creating a dimensional collapse along the axis of short term profit.  Unless we realize the unifying fundamental problem, we may not be able to halt it before it destroys us.

What do I mean by a dimensional collapse?  Consider, for example, something simple like tomatoes. There are many varieties of tomatoes, and you could represent each variety as a dot in a multi-dimensional space that had axes such as size, redness, and sweetness.  There is also another axis, profitability. What we have now predominantly on the market is that variety of tomato that maximizes profitability (because it ships well), and sweetness is almost completely lost.  And it's hard to find other types of tomatoes because their position on the profitability axis is lower.  That is one such collapse. From the great cloud of dots representing all the varieties of tomatoes, what is grown now is almost exclusively that single dot that is positioned highest on the axis of profitability.

Or consider Republican congresspeople (not that the Democrats are so far behind). They march in lockstep because money has collapsed their variety until we have only the one type that can out-fundraise the others. Or consider radio. Money bought the 1995 Telecommunications Act which allowed for near-monopolies and now there's much less variety on the airwaves. So it has affected our political system and our culture. The most profitable forest is a harvested one, the most profitable river is one you can use as a sewer.

So we need to see that all the battles for the environment, our political system, human rights, etc. are fundamentally a fight to carve out space for human interests in a system that is generally antithetical to those interests because they are not the most short-term profitable. This is the unifying element to anti-monopoly laws, environmental protection laws, child labor laws, minimum wage laws, etc. The unfettered effect of money is to force these things towards zero. The laws and regulations we need each effectively say that these things will be buffered or taken away from the forces applied by short-term profit.

Understanding this will allow us to fight together better. A unified battle is what I hope happens as a result of our current crisis.

This is the introduction to an in-progress, extended work on this topic.

bottom of page