dooms day devices 1: money

We each have things that we like to contemplate in the quiet moments, those little things that distract us when we should be focusing on something else.

I like to contemplate dooms day devices.  I suppose this goes back to the first time I watched Dr Strangelove or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, which is one of my favourite movies, as well as to innumerable science fiction movies and stories.

There are different types of dooms day devices.  There is the Dr Strangelove dooms day device, a collection of nuclear bombs sheathed in Cobalt Thorium G, which will detonate and cover the Earth in a life killing shroud of fall out should the Soviet Union be attacked.  So, the attack us and die dooms day device.

There is also the keep me happy and fed or die dooms day device, which is the one I wish to scree a bit on today.  I’m sure that it’s possible to construct a formal hierarchy of dooms day devices, but that’s a project for a rainy day.  Which, given that I live in England, might be tomorrow.

The hypothesis that I would like to put forward in the following is that money is a dooms day device.  This thought came to me when watching some documentaries on events that led to the financial crisis, the worst in several generations, that we are currently crawling our way out of.

Obviously, money is not an attack me and die dooms day device.  But I have come to believe that money is a keep me happy and fed or die dooms day device.  Money is ubiquitous in modern society.  We use money as a way of avoiding barter by having a neutral means of determining value.

Don’t get me wrong.  I like money.  Having money makes my life easier.  And given my chosen profession of teaching mathematics in a university, I would have great difficulty coming up with something worth bartering, once society crumbles and university teaching is no longer the most highly valued of professions.

So why do I think that money is a dooms day device?  One reason, and this is the reasoning of an amateur, an unstudied casual reader of economics, is that we have found ourselves in the position where money seems to have gained control over us.  Money seems to have the upper hand.

We live at a time when the world is changing.  For the first time in human history, it seems that we have finally and completely divorced money from any physical asset.  Gold still has value, and diamonds still have value, but we no longer require that our money be linked to any physical asset.  This is the problem that we are working our way out of, slowly, that money is based on trust and very little else.

And so, money spirals out of control.  Particularly in our current days of near 0% interest rates, where it is cheaper (for some) to borrow, and where economists and pundits periodically speculate on the next asset bubble to burst and endanger the global economy, it seems that this unlinking of money and anything physical to stand behind it might not be the best idea that we as humans have ever had.

Or perhaps I’m just learning how expensive kids can really be.

~ by Jim Anderson on 20 July 2014.

8 Responses to “dooms day devices 1: money”

  1. I really like this post! I thought I was the only person who thought this so I dug deeper and found the “Zeitgeist movement” a very interesting documentary.
    Likewise though, don’t get me wrong – I am not a fan of movements or isms since I feel they discourage free independent thought, but I like to listen to other opinions different sides of the argument etc
    You have made day (sad I know!) after reading this – even though I’m sure we’ll both be suckered in by the big corporations and by yet another Apple product for example when our macbook breaks; worse still are companies like McDonalds that thrive on mass cruelty and production of animals.

    Another Dooms day device perhaps is the way in which we treat animals? Obviously most of us wouldn’t subject them to the conditions that they are kept in (see “meet your meat” or “earthlings” – documentaries) but through the very simple act of purchasing the cheap and tasty products (packed full of who knows what!) we are unfortunately supporting the “industry”.

    Sorry if this sounds like a mad old vegan having a rant (not at you by the way – love your posts need to spread the wise musings out there more!) but thanks anyway!


    • Thanks for responding and thanks for reading, and sorry for taking so long to respond in turn. While I’m happy to acknowledge that the lives we’ve structured for ourselves: putting more food on our plates than we can eat while parts of the world starves, or manufacturing items which break so as to encourage the purchasing of replacements.

      However, it’s not clear to me that meat eating is in and of itself can be classified as a doomsday device. Should we decide to, we as a species could decide to gradually reduce the number of cows and pigs, chicken and sheep. However, we would need to decide to do so.

      When I think about doomsday devices, I think about the decisions we’ve made, the ideas we’ve had and the machines we’ve constructed that we cannot undo. There is no return from a doomsday device, no turning back. That is inherent in the definition (my personal definition at least) of a doomsday device.

      • Ah ok, well yes this makes more sense; besides many other animals eat meat – The main point I tried to get across was that the production of food in general (in the west) is using up resources far quicker than they can be renewed whilst stripping poorer nations of material assets.

        BUT this, is turn can be linked to… MONEY! Even the usual doomsday devices (nukes etc) wouldn’t exist without the race for oil (and money) or the concept of different nations – another nonexistent thing.

        In fact money can be attributed to a lot of humans suffering, which would leave possibly one other doomsday device not bound by the fate of money – Religion?

        If you are religious I don’t mean to offend (many people argue religion can do a lot of good – personally I disagree and don’t require that as a motivator) but there have been collectively more sacrifices in the name of God (or Gods) than any one natural cause of death.

        Again sorry if this seems heavy but It is interesting to muse that humans can sometimes be too intelligent (or stupid) for their own good.

        I found your post entertaining and interesting – it is nice to know other people out there questioning the system that has been built for us (and that we continue to support and build ourselves – especially the inescapable trap of money, it seems at the moment) and like you, I discovered having kids is, whilst one of the most amazing parts of my life, a heavy burden on my wallet!

  2. […] think that money might be considered as a doomsday device, and that there are others. But this is taking us away from the zombies. Though this has admittedly […]

  3. […] like to go back to an idea that I wrote about some long time ago, the idea of a doomsday device. One of the questions I find it interesting to ponder is, what are […]

  4. […] long time ago, I speculated about money as a doomsday device, and I think there’s a lot more there to unpick. But looking around, we see governments […]

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  6. Nice bblog post

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