Relative Inflation


I’m pretty sure when you were a kid you heard older folks say this bit: “In my day I could go to the corner store with a nickel buy a tank of gas, an ice cream cone, a transistor radio, a bag of wheat, a pig, and still have enough left over to take a girl out on the town.” What does a nickel get you today? A wish at a water fountain if you’re lucky. So the question arises—why does our money seem to inflate when the denominations stay the same? Come on in to find out.

Back in “the day” we didn’t have as many consumer goods as we do today so a jug of lard could be two bucks and a pint of milk one dollar. Now that we have relatively more stuff we have to utilize fractions of dollars. Also, since there are now more companies competing for your dollars and fractions of dollars they have to get really creative with their prices.


If Joe’s hot dog stand sells hot dogs for $1.50 and Sal’s down the street sells them for $1.25 more people would get their dogs from Sal’s. But what if Joe throws in burgers? Okay, Sal counters with burgers and shakes. This prompts Joe to throw in shakes and California rolls. Before you know it they’re both offering a veritable smorgasbord of fast foods. Now they’re going to need some employees to help prepare and serve all of this diverse food and the prices will also have to adjust to accommodate the diversity. There will be a ceiling of course. Let’s say they sell nothing over five dollars. To do this they are going to have to break that five dollars down into a myriad of different increments consistent with the portions and costs of the supplies, food and employees needed to run the business. Once more businesses get involved the ceiling may need to be raised. Also, the suppliers of the raw materials will have to find cheaper ways to produce them since the demand will be so high and they will have to keep up if they want to stay in business. The different suppliers will also be in competition with one another so their prices will become relatively diverse as well. Since our money does not change but our options do we must find ways to adjust prices to accommodate all of this damn relative diversity. Because of this in a thousand years a burger could run you five-hundred dollars.

dollar bill 2

The products corporations sell are just fusions of diverse universal elements. Now the average person cannot fuse universal elements so instead of building a car from scratch they just go out and buy one. Corporations exploit the brilliance/ignorance ratio. Don’t let that word ‘ignorant’ scare you. I know it has a negative connotation, but for the sake of this segment we will go with the simple ‘unaware’ or ‘lacks knowledge’ definition.

The lopsided ratio works like this—brilliant people design the PlayStation 3, ignorant people build and purchase it. Now these ignorant people are only ignorant to the ways of designing a complex gaming machine, they may be brilliant in other facets of life. For instance, a neurosurgeon may have no idea how to develop the microprocessor used in the console, he just loves playing Little BIG Planet, but you wouldn’t go to IBM for a craniotomy.

Corporations have the money to hire the brilliant people and have them develop products for them to sell to the ignorant. The ratio is uneven because there are more ignorant people than there are brilliant ones. Of course this is to the immense benefit of the corporation. They know we will never try to make our own PlayStations. Now the PlayStation like everything else is nothing but a fusion of diverse universal elements and it has evolved to its current form over an infinite amount of time (even before the earth the elements that created it existed in the universe), of course we helped the process along, but we’re just universal elements ourselves.

Humans love wholes. We devised this sublime system of numbers to contain fractions of infinity. What is the point of 2 when there’s also 200,000,000,000,000,000,000,002. That’s an oddball right there and it gets worse, There are an infinite more forward and backward because if you have four hot dogs now and you eat them you no longer have four hot dogs, but what is that weight in your belly? Oh yeah, four hot dogs. There goes your negative that’s not really negative. Same holds true for the positive bits too. We said to hell with this and developed our quantification system anyway. We were forced to. All of this relative diversity around us. If you visit a Serengeti watering hole you see more zebras than lions. No need to break out the abacus you can determine that with a mere glance. And then the species themselves, it only takes a glance as well to spot the difference between a turkey and a lobster.

We notice groups (species, herds, flocks, mountain ranges, bodies of water, jungles, forests, etc.) and we belong to groups (races, tribes, clans, villages, cities, nations, continents, religions, etc.) so we developed a series of symbols to represent them. The system is genius because now you no longer have to take up so much valuable cave-wall space drawing each and every buffalo you saw, you could just jot down a symbol for the number and one drawing of the item. This system was created to regulate infinity, but it didn’t really work because even though I can easily report the amount of buffaloes I witnessed, I can also note the time of day, the day, the month, the year, the decade, the century—see where this goes? It just keeps expanding. There’s no way to reign in a constantly expanding infinite beast.

Monetary systems evolved from the development of numbers. We thought they would be able to do the impossible, but as we can all clearly see these don’t really work either. Unless the object possesses a relatively rare value like gold or a precious gem then its value will be consistently subverted by the expansion. The material in one dollar U.S. does not differ much in terms of its value to a similar bill in another country, but the U.S. dollar can be worth a lot more or a lot less depending on several factors. Well, not really. The value of a country’s dollar is dependent on one unquantifiable thing and that’s its potential or wonder.

If the U.S. economy is robust due to a strong domestic product then other countries will want to invest in the United States. The product becomes weak when the U.S. corporations, fearful that they will not be able to keep up the pace, start to engage in questionable practices. This is when they resort to raising prices, outsourcing or dishing out sub-prime loans. These of course are just lighting the fuse. Once the bomb blows you’re left with nothing. But how is it possible to go from a good economy to a bad one? Why do we let ourselves do this to ourselves? Why don’t we just keep on doing what we were doing?

Well, the so-called good economies are typically driven by greed and excess. In order for there to be bountiful jobs there needs to be bountiful industry, the only way there is bountiful industry is if there is a bountiful customer base. Where does the bountiful customer base come from? Well, you need a bounty of jobs first.

Like everything else a sustaining economy has to be cyclical, that’s why pure capitalism does not consistently work. We dip into valleys of depression and recession because it does not know how to continuously grow without hurting itself. It needs a cushion under it. It’s a genius system, but it gets a little bloated when it goes unchecked. The cushion needs to be something a little more loving or compassionate and a little less discriminating. The Yang to its Yin. It would be something that’s always on its back. An idea that it was founded on. The ism it seems to always be fighting. The ism it will never stop fighting until it figures a way to work with it. It shouldn’t be so afraid of this ism, after all the countries that practice capitalism typically have volunteer armies, social services, charitable giving, various human rights groups, et cetera. They already have this cushion in place and it needs to be reformed too. Perhaps now, the out-of-work capitalist can use his/her special skills to help strengthen this cushion. That means everybody (if you were once employed and now unemployed you are an out-of-work capitalist too).

If we have time to volunteer we should. Hey, I’m not trying to get all self-righteous here, I’m not exactly picking up trash on the weekends, but I think volunteerism is what’s really going to get us to a new type of good economy, one that can sustain itself. I know volunteerism is tough. Some folks think of it as doing something for nothing, but it’s really doing something for everything and it’s contagious. Imagine if a few majors athletes donated a year’s salary to a charity. For one, those cats would be held in high regard, secondly, it would inspire the same sort of generosity in others. Just a thought. Oh, and throw in some more bartering. That was the bit that brought us all together in the first place. If it wasn’t for Columbus trying to streamline this very process an externally menacing yet internally benevolent oddity like the United States of America would not even exist.


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