Liquid Assets

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In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike.

Matthew 5:45

Our brains are all wired in different ways. In my experience, having used my brain for most of my life, I know that my strengths tend to be thinking of things in metaphors, analogs, and patterns. I have historically been weak in math (or at least never interested in it), and even though I’ve watched my kids fence for many years, I still have absolutely no idea what the hell is happening on the strip. None.

Happily, this post is based on what I think if a strength of mine, metaphorical thinking, as opposed to offering up insights on the world of foil fencing.

We live in extraordinarily strange times, particularly in the realm of financial markets. These are intensely troubling times for someone like myself, who has a deep-seeded love of organic, natural free enterprise and markets. What we have now is a stomach-turning system of multi-trillion dollar corporate welfare. Capitalism has been fully abandoned. This is unabashed kleptocracy.

I have struggled to make sense of all this. With this $23 trillion in debt, why aren’t we experiencing inflation from all this new, fake money? Why aren’t the masses pissed off at how badly they’re getting screwed over? Why does this entire unnatural process seem to actually be working so far, in spite of it violating all the laws of decency, good business, and fair play?

Honestly, these things weigh on me heavily. Sometimes I’ll just conclude I’m too stupid to figure it out and stop thinking, and other times I’ll think that maybe almost everyone else is too stupid to even care, and it’s up to anyone with a brain to attempt to reason it out. And, believe me, I consider most people pretty goddamned stupid, including myself.

In any event, I’ve happened upon a metaphor of sorts which, at least in a small way, I find helpful. So allow me to paint this picture for you.

Imagine a world in which people’s principal need is to drink water. That isn’t too far from the truth, is it? We all need our thirst quenched to stay alive. So before you is a planet filled with people that get thirsty regularly and need cool, clean water to survive, and nothing else.

Across the Earth, the rain falls more or less uniformly from the sky, and people open their mouths, and they are satisfied. So long as the rain appears from time to time, no one will perish. Most people, although not all of them, have containers to help them capture some water in case they need extra in the future, or in case there is a drought. Some have rain barrels. Others have paper cups. Still others have Olympic-sized swimming pools. And, of course, a portion of people have no container at all. They just have to drink the rain when it comes. They are one drought away from death.

Besides water-bearing containers, there’s something else that some people have, which is land. As with the containers, the amount each person has varies greatly. Some people have tiny plots, and others have acres of farmland. And, for those who do own land, whether big or small, it comes with seed in the ground and, of course, the sun in the sky.

Thus, when the rain comes, it does more than just quench the thirst of the humans. It drenches the soil as well. And the wet soil, filled with seed and nourishment, and warmed by the sun, brings forth a bounty of vegetables, fruits, grains, and other good things. The more land a person has, the more bountiful his harvest. Those with tiny plots have tiny harvests. Those with huge tracts of land (!) have tremendous harvests. And, of course, people with no land have nothing. Nothing except the water that sometimes drops from the heavens above.

It’s a big planet, with plenty of land, so over time, those with land acquire more land. They trade among themselves. Perhaps hard times arrive on occasion, and those with ample storehouses of goods find it an opportune time to acquire land from others inexpensively and increase their holdings. Indeed, during times of severe drought, some landowners are so desperate that they sell out terribly cheaply to those with the means to provide them with badly-needed water.

Putting it another way, the rich get richer, because they can afford to do so, particularly during times of distress.

Therefore, with the passage of time, the earth has a wide range of individual human wealth. A few people might each own 1,000 square miles of land, and all the bounty forthwith. It is far, far more than they could ever need or use, but it is theirs. Some feel so guilty about it, that they’ve pledged to the rest of the people of Earth that they can have the land back, after they die and no longer have any use for it. Promise. It’s yours when I die.

And, for the purposes of our metaphorical adventure, that is the critical distinction to make: between water and land. As long as there is rain fairly regularly, everyone survives, so no one gets too upset. Sure, some people own absolutely nothing of value, and have absolutely no backup or storehouse during lean times, so they are utterly dependent on the clouds above.

Yet others could live 100,000 lifetimes without a care in the world, since they are so blessed with land, soil, seed, and sun, and multiple Olympic-size pools of extra water. But so long as everyone gets their drink, things are more or less OK.

But what happens when the rains stop? What will prevent the millions of people who have nothing except the rain from the sky from rioting and destroying those who have what they need?

Well, let’s bring a magical god into the picture. And, as with all gods, he needs a name, so we’ll call him Fed. Fed the god. And Fed has the unique ability to steal clouds from the future and create rain for today. So Fed snatches away moisture from clouds that won’t exist for months – – or years – – or even decades – – to make sure that there’s steady rain today. Because if there isn’t steady rain, there’s going to be trouble. A lot of trouble.

And that’s where we are today. The rain is virtually guaranteed. And as it rains, consider the two extremes. At one end are those whose vast acres are being nourished, moistened, and thus thrive. The bounty continues to pour forth. The domain over these overseers simply provides more and more. And, at the other end, are those who must content themselves with merely surviving. As long as the raindrops fall, they will not rebel. They will simply get by, wittingly or unwittingly at the mercy of a world they cannot comprehend.

And until the clouds from the future are exhausted, or until the god who can steal from those clouds can no longer do so, he will continue to scrape away billowing tufts of white moisture and drag them from the skies of future generations into the present. He has to. He has no other choice.