In its early years, the stock market became a vibrant force in society, a source of benefit for all and a chance for ordinary working people to escape the suffocating power of the financial elite. It had only one weakness — the ever-present cancer of human greed and opportunism.
Over the years, the market grew to infiltrate almost every aspect of our lives, and the lives of everyone on the planet. After a century of ups and downs, however, it suffered a global collapse in 2008, and trillions of dollars of theoretical “wealth” evaporated in a vacuum of empty promises and fancy bookkeeping.
At the time, the public was shocked to find that the two basic principles (the laws of supply-and-demand and unrestricted competition) had been swallowed up in a sea of mergers and acquisitions, friendly and hostile takeovers, credit-default swaps, hedge funds and corrupt regulators.
Instead of performing an autopsy and holding a funeral service, however, the market was placed on “life support”. Huge infusions of taxpayer bailouts and giant computers (that trade stocks by the billions in a split second) are now keeping the supply of artificial currency flowing up to the one per cent and the dividends and interest payments returning from the 99 per cent, in that age-old rhythm of “the rich get richer and the poor get poorer”.
Whole countries, which are already bankrupt, are being forced to borrow themselves even further into debt, but nothing seems to work.
I think that any reasonable person would agree that it’s time to unplug the machines and create an entirely new system. One that defines “profit” in terms of the benefit a community (local, regional or global) receives through the investment of time and energy of individuals, and “credit” as the response of the community for the integrity and investment of individuals.
The only “debt” we need to acknowledge is a universal debt of gratitude for the time and opportunity to sort out the mess we have created. Let’s not waste another moment of that time trying to revive a disease-riddled corpse.