We are explaining our money system to our grandson, James, now 14 months old…
His mother tries to get him to go to bed at 9 p.m. But the little boy’s internal clock is still on Baltimore time; it tells him it is much too early to go to sleep.
Bill’s living room transformed into a makeshift nursery
Grandpa takes over, drawing out the monetary system like a general spreading a map on a field table. “Here is the enemy,” he says gravely. “They have us completely surrounded. We’re doomed.”
James grumbles. He squirms. He has a sunny, optimistic temperament. But we think our explanations are sinking in.
He seems to understand…
…that money is not wealth; it just measures and represents wealth, like the claim ticket on a car in a parking garage.
…that our post-1971 money system is based on fake money that represents no wealth and measures badly.
…that this new money enters the economy as credit… and that the credit industry (Wall Street) has privileged access to it. The working man still has to earn his money, selling his work, by the hour. But Wall Street—and elite borrowers connected to the Establishment—get it without breaking a sweat or watching the clock.
…that a disproportionate share of this new money is concentrated in and around the credit industry—pushing up asset prices, raising salaries and bonuses in the financial sector, and making the rich (those who own financial assets) much richer.
…that this flood of credit helped the middle class raise its living standards, even as earnings stagnated. But it also raised debt levels throughout the economy.
…and that it allowed the average American family to spend American money that Americans never earned and buy products Americans never made…
Instead, Walmart’s shelves were stocked with goods “Made in China.” The middle class lost income as factories, jobs, and earnings moved overseas. Debt stayed at home.
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