The something from nothing myth exploded forever
I have an insight here, so stand by. Focus, ignore that nagging post-roast indigestion, and clear the detritus from your mind in expectation of wisdom.
Throughout the world of fiscal economics and global finance at the minute, the same flaw is apparent everywhere. The flaw is that almost everyone among the 3% thinks you can get something from nothing. They got to this conclusion through a lifetime of getting something for nothing, but they fell down on Acute Prepositional Misidentification Disorder. Skilled proofreaders they are not. And proof is indeed what they lack.
Tim Geithner thinks you can take €850m and leverage it into €30 trillion without the value remaining exactly the same. He acquired this delusional belief from the derivatives sector (to which he remains fiercely loyal) becoming mildly infected with their belief that 1/500th of a forthcoming wheat crop facing monsoon weather might be worth, not zero at all, but something close to 30,000 times its original value when it was sunny the previous May. However, you can’t make bread from Nowheat: millions of demented farmers have tried this gig throughout the centuries, but the only bloke who ever succeeded was a carpenter – and he had the kind of help from above that not even loyal God-servant Lloyd Blankfein can deliver.
Pristine Lagarde imagines you can get tax from penniless folks. The reason you can’t is the ‘no pennies’ snag. They could of course borrow (or leverage) the pennies from other people, but that’s how they got into the penniless state in the first place, and anyway every banker knows that you don’t lend money to people who are penniless: it’s a not a gap in the market. Also I never heard of any person devoid of pennies whose first priority when given some was to pay some tax, probably because I don’t get to visit many asylums for the fiscally insane.
UK Estate Agents have spent the last two years trying to convince the media that you can get a housing boom out of no credit. Alarmingly, many of the MSM’s finest haven’t contradicted them, but the reality is that in parts of Oldham, if you buy a packet of cornflakes there’s a free terraced house inside.
Mario Draghi thinks he can create Greek bailouts from hot Frankfurt air. This is way ahead of the alchemists’ dream of substantiating gold from lead, but not quite on a par with Evangelo Venizelos’s conviction that Governments can be created from zero electoral support in a democracy. Other convictions relating to Mr Venizelos are long overdue, but then amnesty (like alchemy) can reduce something criminal to nothing of any significance.
David Cameron and George Osborne think you can get manufacturing growth out of a body of manufacturing killed off long ago by one of their predecessors. Well anyway, Cameron used to think that; but I sense that, you know – out of the limelight, when they kick off their shoes of an evening in front of some Downing Street grate – Dave shoots some breeze with George suggesting that only Irish elections can really get actions out of dead people. I surmise that he’s wised up on this all growth/no manufacturing scam. “Yer know what Gidders?” the Prime Minister asks, perhaps rhetorically, “I’ve come to the conclusion that we don’t export coal any more because we don’t have any miners any more”.
The Chancellor nods doubtfully, pauses for thought, and then replies “I knew a chap at Westminster called Smythe-Sledgehog minor. But I think his family was in canned meat. Or canned music, one of the two.”
Barack Obama thinks you can plug the US deficit gap with bigger and bigger US trade gaps. That’s why he wants massive State spending: so more and more Americans can be employed, earn money, and buy more and more goods that weren’t made by their fellow Americans. This logic is a product of the Black Dude’s education, in that – like Lagarde – the President majored in Law, and thus thinks anything that stimulates spending – from bondholder litigation to insolvency reconciliation – must be A Good Thing. His other trick is setting up universal Medicare with money he doesn’t have, but both these are really only refinements of the mental disease I’m describing for the keen lay-reader. The 3% as a whole think one can create something from nothing, and so – operating with a smaller brain on a larger canvas – President Obama believes he can make something from companies selling nothing while workers buy everything. But insane is insane, whichever way you cut it.
Angela Merkel proposes that ClubMed consumers with no money should stop spending money they don’t have, and use this imaginary money instead to pay the taxes she insists they must pay before any stimulus will be supplied in order to help the sort of growth with which they can then pay more taxes, which they must do before there is any spendthrift making or consuming of goods that would help their economies to grow…which of course they will, but only if they keep doing the tax lederhosen-slapping dance before any of that decadent retail rock’n’roll buying bop gets people up and grooving.
The first ten years of any human being’s life are crucial to intellectual development, and Frau Doktor Merkel spent them as an enthusiastic Stalinist. She later compounded the problem by becoming a physicist. Hence her continued attachment to Room 101, where all things are possible. I bet she did a thesis on trying to repeat Room 101 experiments outside Room 101. Wolfgang Schäuble has none of these feeble excuses for mental derangement. In fact his delusions contradict each other: he thinks America can’t leverage something out of nothing, but Germany can. Well, if you’re the Master Race, I suppose the potential is limitless.
Finally (although I’m sure most readers have more examples of their own) Rupert Murdoch thinks he can buy everyone in British politics by giving nothing to the Exchequer. This too is a subtle variation on the original create nothing/have something bollocks, except that the make/sell execution of economic alchemy is further perverted by substituting it with the take/give theorem. Newscorp’s success is based on give and take: the politicians take, the Newscorpers give, the politicians then in turn give good Hunt, and the Newscorpers take the piss. We are not included in this commercial arrangement, aside from paying for all of it in the end.
So there it is then. Forget Left v Right, Keynes v Friedman, Local v Global and Stimulus v Austerity. Ultimately, it’s all a question of something and nothing. Freedom, as Kris Kristofferson memorably sang, is just another word for nothing left to lose. But long before Krissang Bobbie’s Blues, Al Einstein had this sign hanging on his wall at Princeton: ‘Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts.’
The belief that you can produce something worthwhile from nothing worth having is at the core of Crash 2’s inevitability. And you read it here first.