Destinies not Jobs

When people discipline their own economies each person plays a direct, if infinitesimal part, in shaping the economy as a whole. However, this brings everyone face to face with the importance of living from what he does: that is, from earned rather than unearned income. It is often the insufficiency of income that leads people to borrow. But also to seek income from investments, and to play the lottery.

Technically speaking, however, from an earnings point of view the last two are misnomers, even illusions. A lottery is a redistribution of other people’s earnings (unless, of course, they borrowed to play, in which case it is a redistribution of savings), while a return on one’s investment presupposes that the person who has borrowed is able to generate enough earnings to share some with his investors.

In fact, to displace earned income with lottery winnings or investment returns is economically fictional behaviour. Why? Because if in the world generally there is not enough earned income, that being the true counterpart of expenditure, then gradually it will also not be possible to cover expenses out of unearned income either. One can mask this by bidding up the levels of lottery winnings or investment returns and so on, but this only aggravates the situation.

Here in Rare Albion we found a way to outgrow such behaviour. Its fictional nature had not been obvious as long as production had been transferable to China or the world had been able to continue to service its debt-load. But after China, where would we have gone? And if there had been generalized debt default, what would we have done? It had been possible to manage one country at a time, such as an Argentina, but it was only a matter of time before the problem became systemic and the world as a whole would have defaulted.

It was problem enough that financial institutions might not have been able to cope with such an event. Of greater concern, however, was whether people’s psyches would have been ready for the wide-scale cramping of life style and identity that such generalised defaulting would have entailed. The period of financial liberalization, especially between 1980 and 2000, had heightened expectations to such a degree that worries about sustainability had gone quickly from being the doom-laden nonsense of monetary ‘cranks’ to become the subject of a wide academic literature and intense quandary in officialdom.

Moreover, “after China” meant as long as China stayed out of the wider global economy – something that became no longer the case. China’s economy had become the fastest growing economy of the world, sucking in resources and capital and spewing out goods. Yet the Authorities had not been of one mind about how to treat the Chinese currency. Should it be floated or not? From one point of view, the question was what effect this would have had on the dollar. But the deeper problem was that from a worldwide point of view the more China entered directly and fully into global economic life, the more humanity risked losing one of the mainstays of its high debt levels – the low cost of Chinese production. Producers and consumers alike would have become dependent on China for low cost production and low price goods, which is exactly what happened. The result was China Trap - a straight race to the bottom and a split between the worlds of revenue and capital, goods and investment.

Thus, the notion of employment in Rare Albion is very different to elsewhere. It refers to whether or not people are employed in fulfilling their purposes in life, which of course they cannot do in the abstract. When someone is actively in pursuit of his destiny he necessarily does things that others value. For how can a doctor be a doctor without patients? But he also spends, thus giving others the opportunity to express themselves.

Of course, many people also band together to work, but they then contract to provide a service or sell a good of some sort, rather than their labour, which is the out-dated assumption that many outside Rare Albion still cherish. Here, no one is paid for time or even energy spent, but for what he has to offer the community and in the light of the beneficial effect for others that the good or service he offers will have. On the other hand, here when we buy things we do not seek to lower the price, thus denying income to those who provide them. Instead, we pay attention to the benefit we derive from the use we make of what we buy.