Time Is Not Money, and Cash Doesn’t Talk

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By Dady Chery and Gilbert Mercier

The expression “Time is money” was coined by Benjamin Franklin. It is a relatively new saying, among countless others, that represents the rot that started to eat at the core of our global social edifice during the industrial revolution. With the exchange of clock hours for money began the notion of time as being an entity independent of any natural phenomenon. Such a concept is still absent from some cultures like that of the Amondawa, a rare Amazonian tribe that had the luck to remain isolated from modernity. Of course, the Amondawa understand the idea of meeting somebody at sunset, or tomorrow, but time as something with a value per hour that may be traded for goods and services is unknown to them.

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Once the capitalist equation “time = money” kicked in as a social golden rule, life progressively turned into death on an installment plan. For thousands of years before this, human societies, independently of their locations, closely followed the rhythms of nature with immense respect. One did not clock in, but one was aware of the sunrise, sunset, and phase of the moon. The seasons guided the kind of work to be done, and factors such as the tides, atmospheric conditions, actions of other living things, determined the day’s agenda. This delicate harmony with our natural world has been put in jeopardy by the arrogance and stupidity of our anthropocentric tunnel vision: the notion that the Earth and its other inhabitants exist to serve us. The idea of putting a price tag on nature’s services, for example, based on the time that is saved by humans, is an insane concept that belongs distinctly to our age. We have lost our compass. Global capitalism has uprooted us and time from nature to make of us slaves who chase after immortality in the form of money: a morbid illusion.

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Money is the ultimate addiction. If alcoholics and drug addicts can seek help and are often obliged to do so by the courts, the addicts to money accumulation are revered and put on a pedestal. For global capitalism, only “money talks,” and it does so with the astounding power of a giant bullhorn. The likes of Warren Buffet and George Soros are the deus ex-machina of the money worshipers. These two titans of global investment are regarded as geniuses, yet their only talent is to make money with money. Do they produce tangible goods and services? No. Do they genuinely dedicate their energies to the improvement of the overall human condition? No.

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In fact, the super-rich are those who raise the disease of miserliness to a high art. In his book The Art of Being, published posthumously to avoid misunderstandings, psychologist Erich Fromm introduced the notion of the rich miser and described this pathology in its details. A notorious example was the automobile manufacturer Henry Ford, who is reputed to have worn each pair of his socks continuously until they were so tattered, they could no longer be mended. Overall, rich misers, despite their sometimes impressive demonstrations of philanthropy as an image for public consumption, suffer from an inability to let go of things such as their energies, thoughts, words, and quite commonly their semen and stools. Yet they, with their impotence and constipation, successfully manage to persuade countless disciples that nothing is valuable if it is not expensively bought or sold.

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By the above analysis, dear reader, this article is of no value because you did not buy it in a glossy magazine. More insidious than this, the values of rich misers are continually imposed on the world through the adoption of parameters such as GDP growth, which measures the increased flow of money through an economy, as being the definition of wealth.  Thus real wealth becomes confused with money, and as people get more alienated from each other and the natural world, they become defined by what they have rather than what they are. Any society may be viewed as being terminally ill when money assets come to define the value of a person.

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While those few who hold vast sums of money may be heard through countless channels and leverage their influence on public discourse into power, the vast majority of humans scramble for survival and go unheard. Currently the mega-rich and their banks such as the IMF and World Bank casually impose their diktats on individuals and nations alike. Cyprus has caved in; soon it will be Egypt, which is on the verge of insolvency. Where political power runs amok in its permanent quest for profit, extreme money concentration induces a systemic disaster. Those who do the bidding for the rich race like rats spinning in a wheel who are bent on powering the implement for their destruction. “I can’t quit the rat race, because I have kids to feed and a mortgage to pay,” they say. But this is a cop out, and the rat race is relayed from one generation to the next. As this complex game of chess between rich and poor is played out, pawns, king and queen risk winding up in the same box.

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The Cree Indian proverb “When the last tree has died, the last river has been poisoned, and the last fish has been caught, we will realize that we cannot eat money” provides a wiser perspective on the grim reality that widespread greed is creating for us. This Cree scenario of doom will be on our horizon probably within two decades, partly because those of us who say that we wish to “Save the Planet” are as arrogant as those who are bent on destroying the environment for their short-term gains. The planet has seen several mass extinctions; new species will spring up, quite without us. Realistically put, our goal at best is to save human kind from becoming an index species: the sort that enjoys tremendous success, but over such a brief period that its fossils ultimately serve to mark a geological era. To save ourselves, we must understand with a devoutness stronger than for any organized religion, that we exist at the pleasure of the other living beings on Earth. We must appreciate that we subsist, not because of our cleverness as an isolated species but our membership in a delicately-balanced living ensemble.

Editor’s Note: All photographs by ‘Tax Credits’.

 

 

 

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13 Responses to Time Is Not Money, and Cash Doesn’t Talk

  1. +4 Vote -1 Vote +1Rick Staggenborg, MD
    April 5, 2013 at 4:09 pm

    Brilliant commentary that takes the big picture and analyses it through the lens of an enlightened philosophy.

    I take exception to one thing, however. Our fate is not predetermined We are born with free will and it is not too late to learn the lessons you mention before we cause our own extinction.

    It is impossible to see how to change history until you believe it is possible.

    • Gilbert Mercier
      +4 Vote -1 Vote +1Gilbert Mercier
      April 5, 2013 at 4:24 pm

      Thank you very much for your kind words, Rick.

      Philosophically, I do share your perspective on the notion of free will (or libre arbitre in French). Our fate is what we make of it, it is not scripted somewhere by someone.

      We should and must be the master of our own destiny. However most of us are not doing so, for lack of the right tools, and this is essentially our deep social systemic problem: the widespread sense of being powerless.

    • Dady Chery
      +4 Vote -1 Vote +1Dady Chery
      April 5, 2013 at 7:08 pm

      Much thanks, Rick. Yes, I agree that we do have free will. On the other hand, we are triggering a series of climate-change events (melting of glaciers, the permafrost, etc.) that we cannot stop. The situation is extremely urgent, but most people behave as if it is not.

    • +1 Vote -1 Vote +1Gord Orvis
      April 10, 2013 at 11:37 pm

      Our own destruction was predetermined long ago. Was it 70,000 years ago… 200… 30… 10? The real “shame on you, you clever ape” moment comes when we finally realize that we have destroyed most of the living systems and countless other unknowing species on a perfectly good planet… the only one like it we know about. What made us so arrogant? The quest for comfort? The desire to reproduce? Religion? Until we can figure out the root cause, it is unlikely that we can find the beginnings of a solution. Great article and site… new to me but not anymore. Thanks.

  2. Gilbert Mercier
    +3 Vote -1 Vote +1Gilbert Mercier
    April 5, 2013 at 4:41 pm

    Dear Readers,
    Please be aware that our spam filter deletes comments containing links. In light of that, please do not try to put links in your comments.

    Thank you.

  3. +3 Vote -1 Vote +1Wingnut
    April 6, 2013 at 7:55 am

    An accurate, informative, and entertaining piece, gang. I’m glad you mentioned the feeling of powerlessness. Rick alludes to it as well with his comment: “It is impossible to see how to change history until you believe it is possible.”

    I’ve been an anti-capitalist and against using economies (money, ownership, price tags) for about 25 years now. The only activism I can seem to find is typing on this computer, and I’ve made plenty of posts (Google ‘abolish economies’ to see hundreds of my rants.) I love the fact that you called economy-usage/capitalism an addiction. This is certainly true, and it is handed down via tradition, from parents. If you look carefully, there is a reversal from share-share-share policy to compete-compete-fight policy when children turn 18. Then they are forced (by religion) to join a competition church (capitalism) or starve, or die, or else. This is felony extortion in the flavor of pay-up-or-lose-your-well-being from the Chicago mob days. Where is Elliot Ness when we need him most?

    We all see what could be called the Freemason pyramid scheme symbol on the back of the US dollar, and we all see the US government located in a district of Columbia and not part of the US proper. We see massive amounts of servitude and monetary discrimination within capitalism. It is a slavery system, a herd-control system, a rat-racing pyramid where almost everyone is forced to join and try to get a leg up on something or get ahead of something. If we look to the wise lessons taught when we tried to do pyramids of children in the playgrounds and farmyards, they always collapsed from top-heaviness and the weight and knees in the backs of the stalwart bottom-layer kids, who often ended up in the hospital, seriously disheartened, with crushed spines. Pyramids collapse, and capitalism is certainly no different.

    Just for a moment, let us talk about the system of capitalism and try to separate it from the role-playing people who are powerlessly caught up in it. Capitalism is a systemic problem and not really a people problem. The inventors of the capitalism/pyramiding are long-ago dead of old age. Just because some of us can now see that capitalism/pyramiding is stupid, and that competition isn’t healthy and never was, doesn’t mean we can bash those who have not yet figured this out. They are often caught up in that addiction, with a substantial amount of “Yea America, aren’t we something” patriotism/pride. It’s snort. Paradise at poolside. They are face down, snorting pool water, and like beached Belugas, they need to be rolled over so some sun can get onto their rotting bellies.

    Sometimes I think that one of the biggest problems is how to make commune-ity and commune-ion and commune-ication = commune-ism. People are afraid of the term communism, yet they often use the commune called the public library and see it working wonderfully. The US military, with its take-care-of-one-another all-on-the-same-team ways, custodianship instead of ownership, reusable materials, free basic survival services and supplies for all, and luxuries put into repositories (like recreational services) for all to use no matter the rank: that is a commune, folks! But who can hear me? We cooperation-over-competition folk have our microphones turned way low, and lots of people are calling us crazy. But we know better, don’t we?

    It’s all rather discouraging. I’m glad for one big thing: it’s that folks like Gilbert and Dady and Rick still exist and are still able to make the right noises. Keep up the excellent thinks and inks, gang. You are not alone and you are far from powerless. We will eventually be discovered, and we will work hard to clean up the mess and bandage the bleeders, heard or not. Love (and teach) a capitalist! They’re just like you and me, but a bit more affected by (self?) programming.

    Larry “Wingnut” Wendlandt
    MaStars – Mothers Against Stuff That Ain’t Right
    (anti-capitalism-ists, anti-economy usage)
    Bessemer MI USA

  4. +3 Vote -1 Vote +1Virginia Deoccupy Homelessness Simson
    April 10, 2013 at 8:29 am

    Please read Mark Bryan’s Money Drunk as well as the work of Anne Wilson Schaef on what happens when society (or organizations) become addicts. This has been my view for over two decades! and it all starts with the INSANE way we raise children to view society and handle its pressures.

    Very good work. I think we should continue to work on this topic for some time!! TRUTH is TRUTH and this casino mentality ain’t gonna be going away any time soon, as it is insidious and well entrenched. It sure got worse during my lifetime. Excellent, excellent work. Thank you.

    ps – as usual, the graphics are fantastic! Love it!

    • +2 Vote -1 Vote +1Wingnut
      April 13, 2013 at 8:05 am

      Hi Virginia! Welcome aboard. I agree with everything you said, including the fantastic graphics. Very nice.

      Okay, I wanted to address your comment about the insane ways that some of us raise our children. Did you ever heavily ponder phrases like “get real” and “that’s life” and “that’s the way it is”? When less-than-optimal parents (like I’d know) look for policies and social moires to help them determine HOW to raise their children… they seemingly tend to lean towards making them “normal” and allowing them to properly “fit in” so they don’t get bullied and called names. What seems to happen, is that the definition of “real” and “normal” gets all distorted, and in a way… “unreal” is the new normal. Yet there is SOME merit in the “Dream the Impossible Dream” song, right? Parents seem to be torn between telling their kids that ANYTHING is possible, and “don’t get above your raisin’s” (stay real).

      Crushed dreams and unfulfillable fantasies are all over the place. Children have large imaginations, and we encourage this in them. And, they really CAN be/do anything they want… if they set their mind to it. (Maybe) But parents tend to not tell the children how very unlikely it is for certain big dreams to come true. Then, later in life, these grown-up children tend to start running into the massive walls that crush hopes and bog enthusiasm, yet these now-parent young men and women… still don’t tell their kids of the many pitfalls that happen in “normal” life… that kill dreams.

      I’d like your opinion on this, Virgina, and anyone else. Do we allow and promote our children to dream big, or do we prepare them for combat and concern ourselves MORE with JUST giving them the fighting skills to survive at all? What IS normal? What IS (get) “real”? When fantasy is the apparent theme of the dreamy society, unreal is the NORM or the reality, is it not? And is being unreal… a type of escapism for those who find the REAL “real” much too harsh and combative? Do we dare take away the fantasy world that some children AND adults live-in and believe-in… or will/could they crash hard if we do? When are we too old to play games and believe in faerie tales? Ever? Where are the lines to be drawn, especially when unreal is the new normal? How normal do kids NEED to be? How normal do they WANT to be? Which “flavor” of normal? When do we start giving them the combat tools for a potential dog-eat-dog ‘society’ that many of us are ashamed of its normalcy? And why must I ask so many questions? :)

      • +2 Vote -1 Vote +1thomas vesely
        April 16, 2013 at 3:49 am

        good question.
        home school your kids.
        it will focus your mind.
        and theirs.
        without making the kids as dependent
        on bullshit approval.
        nor socialising them to an insane
        reality.
        nor making them unemployable/employable…enslaved.

        • +1 Vote -1 Vote +1Chuck
          April 26, 2013 at 5:27 am

          You’re right about one thing: homeschooling your kids sure won’t make them employable.

  5. -2 Vote -1 Vote +1Chuck
    April 26, 2013 at 5:26 am

    People never lived “in harmony with nature.” Native Americans are famous for this, but they were known to slaughter buffalo wastefully, war, and enslave each other. Ever since humans figured out we were the most clever of the primates, and that primates were the most clever of species, we’ve seen ourselves as “greater than” or “outside of” nature. While I appreciate the point the author is trying to make here, romanticizing “the good ole days” is intellectually dishonest, and does nobody any good. I’m reminded of people who want things back the way they were in the ’50′s (the good ole days) until I point out to them how terrible life was for most Americans at that time.

    • -1 Vote -1 Vote +1daShado
      May 6, 2013 at 10:51 am

      Rapid destruction of ecosystems and other species seems quite dangerous (to us mostly because I’m sure if Earth/Nature survived ice ages, disease, and meteors it can handle most of what we dished out, albeit with a whole new gamut of flourishing life-forms), and I am an advocate of definitely curbing that practice. Yet I do not stand to say that I am trying to keep everything around me from dying and impose my will upon everything that surrounds me. If a species dies out, then something else will sprout in its place. Yes face it, our great-great grandchildren might never get to see a polar bear like we never saw a mammoth or dodo bird, but more generations down the line they may yet see a waku-waku bear that breathes under water while we study them from our Mars settlement. They would then have knowledge of both the polar bear and waku-waku Bear (who now inhabits the world that once was dominated by the polar bear). History and Nature are in reality ugly (by our definition), but ugly is beautiful.

      To keep ourselves safe from the buffalo (ignore what Hollywood teaches you and the “serene” sightings of migrating bovines on National Geographic. A stampede of buffalo or an agitated buffalo would run through an ancient tribal settlement and not blink or give thought to stomping out your kids (sorry for the grim depiction for we wanted to discuss reality no?) while running from the saber-tooth and lions. We had to clear them out and uproot trees to build wooden villages. We then had to dig up the Earth and poison nearby rivers (not intentionally) where Nemo lives to quarry out stone and build fortifications. We had to go through a similar process to harness the power of concrete. Plus dig up large swatches of Earth to master steel. To survive to be where we are now (able to discuss such topics) we had to destroy forest and buffalo first.

      No. Mankind is not an enemy of Nature. Mankind is not a protector or friend of Nature. Mankind is not separate from Nature. Nature is Nature. We speak often as if we know better than Nature on both sides of the discussion. We cry out to save everything we come across these days because they all “need” us. Whatever happened to letting certain things be? I’m not discussing the mass deforestation or other mass destructive processes per se, but discussing solely animals that are dying out with little to no direct input from us. Knowing that 99.9% of species were wiped out and those here today are here only because those 99.9% did not live, what great wisdom are we summoning to say that everything must live? Are we simply projecting our own thoughts and feelings about our mortality onto everything else? Guess what, many species have been wiped out while man had conscious ability to prevent it from happening, yet a weird thing happened, the world continued to spin. The dodo, mammoth, Tasmanian tiger, saber-tooth species, Falkland wolf and many many more all died out,… yet the world continued to spin. In fact, many other species are perhaps thriving or went through forms of evolution because the other species are gone, which is hard to prove because of the limitations of our inherent linear thought processes and current scientific technologies and models.

      “In harmony with nature” is a facade and ideal of no clear definition and therefore no grounding in reality. What does “in harmony with nature” mean to you or anyone here?

      Nature has killed off 99.9% of the species that have ever lived on the Earth. Other animals (that means besides ourselves) murder (by law only the human animal can commit murder however), rape, pillage, are poly-amorous, gorge on resources and show many signs of what many people see as despicable behavior or tendencies in humans including just about every -cide you could think of including suicide, fratricide, infanticide, and matricide (there are also cases to be argued over genocide).

      Slaughter buffalo wastefully? By what definition is this wasteful? To eat. To build shelter. To be clothed. To build tools and weapons. To use in worship or ritual. To study. To clear a region for settlement. For sport and entertainment. Which of these reasons for “slaughter” would we remove and can prove, through reasonable measure, did not or would not contribute to human advancement and evolution (biological, social, psycho). What means would Native Americans have to even measure the state of the buffalo and their numbers? You may be here using the internet because down the line and chain, buffalo were slaughtered.

      What is harmony? If by harmony it is meant some sort of balance, well what does that look like? It would seem that by balance we mean a state of homeostasis, i.e. nothing changes, with everything around us. Where did that fantastical idea derive? It’s sure not found in Nature. If it wasn’t for the progress made by humankind that is paved with the destruction of other species and other elements of nature, mankind would still be in the plains of Africa running up trees at the sight of a pride of lions who would inevitably feed off of the elderly, young, and disabled (the weaker) who didn’t make it in time to the trees. We tend to romanticize Nature and ourselves. The Lion King is not a reflection of the plains of Africa, and no matter how often you put the lion on a crest, they are not the king of beast; pride has nothing to do with them, and honor is another ambiguous fantastical idea conceptualized in semantic use only. At some point humans decided to be nomadic and at times settle down. Well, settling down means clearing brush, other species (including lions and buffalo), and trees. Let’s not forget the arts and the liberal arts. To craft the cave painting we so admire now, we had to kill a few plants for their pigments (unbeknownst to ourselves, perhaps we wiped out other species that depended on said plants) and to become the great scientist that we are today, many other animals “had” to die (good-luck convincing scientific forefathers that they had to learn the physiological and biological functions of animals by never opening one up). Is this the destruction of harmony?

      Humankind spread throughout the world in a path of destruction to continue the ongoing survival of the species. Due to this, redundancy and adaptability were quickly an advantage. If man did not spread the way it did, then we could have more easily fallen victim to any number of species killers such as famine, the black plague, yellow fever, and even the influenza pandemic of 1918. To spread however, the buffalo had to go.

      • Dady Chery
        +3 Vote -1 Vote +1Dady Chery
        May 7, 2013 at 2:18 am

        You failed to consider that the rate of human-engendered destruction of other species does not allow time for our/their adaptation and evolution. The results of our activities since the industrial revolution are now rightly called the Anthropocene Mass Extinction or Sixth Mass Extinction. Such extinctions are massive exactly because they allow no time for most species (especially big ones like humans) to adapt. Your children are unlikely to survive to see new species of mammals, because humankind is well on its way to becoming an index species. And if the smarter individuals among us have developed computers possibly as a result of the slaughter of the buffalo: What of it? It will all be for naught because we did not know where to stop.

        The notion of striking a harmony with Nature is far from being a quaint idea. It does not mean attaining a perfect equilibrium or homeostasis, but it does mean living for many millennia under an atmosphere where the carbon dioxide (CO2) level is not allowed to rise to the point where we are all brought back to the human-hostile conditions before the Permian Era (before all the CO2 — a poison to humans and many other species — was fixed by green plants). It means not destroying our life support and being acutely aware that most of the nutrients on which we depend are merely recycled through one big living mass. To strike a harmony means shedding the delusion that our world is a giant man-made metropolis with an endless store of energy somewhere and infinite capacity for our wastes.