Thursday, March 19, 2015

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Debt Ch.12

It was very interesting how in the very beginning of chapter 12, Graeber discussed 9/11. He brought about all the conspiracy theories that arose based upon the money and gold and whether that was the real aim of the attackers. There is, I believe, a sense of moral discomfort in this paragraph where he discusses such claims and that another theory was that to destroy the towers to watch the dollar crash and the value of gold skyrocket because the federal gold reserves are stored two blocks from the Twin Towers. This moral discomfort that money has societal influence to put a monetary value on human life. Let's see how many people can be killed to raise the value of gold, then once the value raises, that's the monetary value of human life to increase wealth. It also was intriguing that he brought about the paranoia's of the Freemasons or Illuminati that ensues when discussing money. Because those indeed stick out today as I still walk down the street hearing people discuss the Illuminati in correlation with monetary value of money and they disrupt markets or make them complete again.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Graeber Chapter 12

Graeber's final chapter was probably one of the most interesting to me, as he brings his theories full circle into modern day circumstances. I think that his ideas about US militarism, the spread of the dollar, and the siphoning of resources from the poorer areas of the world to the US are more relevant than perhaps most Americans would like to believe. It certainly is not hard to see the United States as a country that acts like a world empire. We spend more money on our military than the next 8 countries combined, we push for our political and economic ideas to be spread around the world, and have, as Graeber notes, more than 800 military bases around the world. Perhaps even more significant, as it relates to debt, is the fact that the countries with military occupation tend to buy the most US treasury bonds. These factors seem oddly reminiscent of some of the characteristics of the Axial and Colonial Age, particularly as they relate to militarization. Additionally, the United States is hugely in debt, no doubt significantly because of the excessive spending on military. What is different from the Axial and Colonial Ages is that our money does not come from slave mined silver and gold. This is where the analysis becomes a little more tricky for me, although I think that some of the answers can be found where Graeber explains how while the US is not held accountable for its debts, poorer countries are and at serious interest rates. This is something that I would be interested in learning more about, as well as, the IMF's role in it. It will be interesting it see how and when the world will change once the US no longer wields the economic and militaristic upper hand.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Experiential Contradictions...

Comaroff & Comaroff made a strong point in their article on millennial capitalism that provides the paradox of today's dominant global economic system. 

"...the fact that it appears both to include and to marginalize in unanticipated ways; to produce desire and expectation on a global scale yet to decrease the certainty of work or the security of persons; to magnify class differences but to undercut class consciousness; above all, to offer up vast, almost instantaneous riches to those who master its spectral technologies - and simultaneously, to threaten the very existence of those who do not" (298)

The above text gives us many essential contradictions that capitalism produces in the lives of those who experience its manifestation in daily life. It is a structural problem in our society that infiltrates every walk of life, down to the core of an individual's existence. Is this how we want our lives to be run? Failing due to a lack of riches and a lack of opportunity for the "lower classes" is just not acceptable to me. 

This reminds me of our discussion on student loan debt, about how students are automatically at a disadvantage from the start of their lives because of the high pricetag on education and intellect. It almost seems as if bids are being taken for the best positions and luxuries capitalism makes a place for in lieu of total community, equality, and sustainability. Not only are these bids imposed upon social status, careers, and higher education...Comaroff & Comaroff are highlighting that we are almost paying for the right to exist in a sense. Thoughts?

Graeber Ch. 12

In this chapter I’d like to focus on Graber’s explanation of the current US monetary system and brief history of the US and banks.  I’m a history major that’s taken the US history surveys.  We learned about the history of the US economy as part of our overview but, my goodness, I am so sure we didn’t talk about some of the stuff Graeber went over—I would have definitely remembered that class.  Though—granted—those weren’t economically focused classes, it still seems incredible that this information is almost hidden from people. Graeber explains the way the Federal Reserve is tied to the US Federal Government, and how the US is able to create money out of debt, or “out of thin air”.

I enjoyed the historical perspective that Graeber brought to the chapter.  He does this in almost all of his chapters but because this chapter spoke to more recent events, or at least events in my lifetime, I think the chapter hit home more.  Though I don’t think he outright mentions it, one of the things I was most interested in was the wealth disparity between citizens of the United States.  Graeber offers a lot of examples but I’m still confused over the effects of the US floating the USD.  I understand the effects—but I’m not sure I guess how exactly they all tie together.

Women and Economies

Schuster's article about the social unit of debt made me start to wonder abut the place of women I economies. Schuster talked about how credit affected women in Paraguay. It reminded me of when Dr. Thorne was talking about debt disproportionally causing stress among women. Schuster mentioned in her article that women were more likely to be in charge of finances for their families--often large families, so that when their families got into debt, the pressure was more on women than on men who were just going to work and bringing home a paycheck.
I began to wonder about the ambiguous role of women in economies. Although economies have changed for everyone, men more often seem to have a more conventional role in economies. Women, who used to be part of economies in some way--as a sort of currency--often seem to be struggling to find a comfortable place in the economy.

The American Dollar

According to Graeber, American debt is international currency. International currency is American debt, grown from desire for power. The value of other currencies necessarily plummets by the nature of the arrangement to tie all currencies to the value of the American dollar. In effect, to use a currency that is tied to the USD is to devalue one’s native currency. "To buy American debt is to buy the purchasing power of the American people and the military power to enforce national behaviors. China doesn’t need to build its own military because they have ours."