There are many forces that act upon ordinary human nature, but there is one calling we are compelled to pursue: power. Lest we return to some type of direct bartering system, civilization needs some equalizer so that incompatible goods and services can be indirectly traded, and from this currency was born. Through this process civilization has ended up assigning numerical values to power in the form of currency. Directly, let us define power as money - they both operate on many parallels but while the former is an ethereal idea, the other is concrete, objective, and countable. This is not a large leap of connection - power has a numerical value with currency. More money will always mean more power and influence. There are many pitfalls as power aggregates and even takes on its own semi-consciousness in that it will continue to test its boundaries to seek an ever higher concentration of that power.
But first, let’s set the stage… Curiosity and world-learning involves the testing of limits. As children many physical limits will be pursued until there is injury or correction. An extrapolation of this means that we test the limits of our power and influence over our world. Even the most straight edged, even-keeled individuals have engaged in limit-testing behavior. While adults no longer jump off the couch or take their toys to the extreme, the compulsion is preserved, if more controlled and less acted upon. When the veil of parental guidance is lifted and control and responsibility is assigned to the emergent “adult” one is undeniably cast into a stage of currency management.
Robert Zoellick wrote an article called The Currency of Power in which he states; “America’s security strategists seem to have lost the ability to integrate the two [economics and security]. Their perspectives on economics do not extend much beyond sanctions policies and paying for defense budgets. At best, the role of economics is assumed, not analyzed. We scarcely understand its effects on power, influence, diplomacy, ideas, and human rights.” (Zoellick). Clearly there is a direct correlation between traded currency and the power of influence that comes along with it.
How does this hold up in the light of that the old adage "it takes money to make money"? This is important to recognize as it highlights the divide between having some money to invest and compound, while having no money means that most small gains are lost in upkeep. Even the best and worst decision makers (read: investors) in the world are not rewarded based on ideas or method, but only their foundation. It turns out it takes power to make power. To me this means that the playing field is leveled only based on familial access to power – or random chance. As is the case, inevitably those who have long had power will continue to drive and condition their environment to maintain their position.
Barnes and Boyce in their article on Basic Income say; “The wealth we inherit and create together is worth trillions of dollars, yet we presently derive almost no income from it. Our joint inheritance includes invaluable gifts of nature such as our atmosphere, minerals and fresh water, and socially created assets such as our legal and financial infrastructure, without which private corporations couldn’t exist, much less thrive.” (Barnes) When the community’s resources are wielded as part of a corporate arm the benefits reaped by that entity should be in part redistributed back to the community support system that the entity grew from. The force at work today works as such: as an entity perceives the prospect of spending its power on the external (the community) this is seen as a dilution of personal power capability. This is easily discouraging for decision makers and entities focused on power aggregation.
To that end, money/power takes on its own form and works its ways on men to aggregate, control, and concentrate itself into ever denser entities. The largest, densest, aggregations of money often form from or within corporations. While not inherently evil-purposed, such high concentrations of power will always influence decision making to erode any walls that contain it. This is an example of that childlike limit-testing behavior. This can take the form of; manipulation of lawmaking, falling standard working conditions, absorption of smaller parallel entities, and employing grander and grander economies of scale. These investments all come at costs, big or small, to their communities. While these are all grandiose end results, the point is that small concessions are made to accommodate more success.
Consider today’s global marketplace as well, greater and greater profits are expected in the economic power struggle. Corporations are constantly expected to increase their profits, as if they stagnate or fall behind new players emerge to perceivably take their spot. This equates to the economic perception that they are failing! Even the rumor of failure can be disastrous for a corporation’s ability to grab even its current market share. This cycle becomes runaway the greater the currency concentration and when controls stagnate as power overwhelms the system.
Simply put, revolutionary industries will always outpace the regulations they need to control their expansion. Many ordinary, well-meaning peoples’ hands on a project over a long period of time working unleashed will inevitably begin to sap its community in devious and unexpected ways. When there are many hands guiding decisions, no one individual can take ownership which adjusts the train of thought more toward power-aggregation and therefore away from community conscientiousness.
Regulations can never be proactive; they are only ever reactive. They are commonly only imagined after damage has occurred. Corporations are enemies of regulation for their impedance to power amalgamation. As discussed, power-gaining and power-tempering will always be at odds with only the more powerful side doing the pushing. The required power to stop an entity in motion requires such great power itself - an equal behemoth or a respected (powerful) control. We all must be aware of the creep of power density.
It is also extremely easy for money/power to work on the minds of shot-callers as they are in the position to see the profit and to be protected from the downsides. In this light, profit seeking should be heavily scrutinized as the easiest targets for cost savings are the most vulnerable components without voices. Naturally if an entity has the power to shape its environment to its own survival, it will. This is especially easy when people are taken a step away from the decision making as through "boards of directors" and such - it is much easier to make power-generating decisions at the expense of anything; especially law, environment, and safety.
In reality there is never going to be a satisfactory target for blame and fault. There will always be some a group of people seeking power at all costs and they should be identified and ousted. The key is that many, many ordinary individuals placed into similar power-positions will make extremely similar decisions. These power-positions are roles to be filled, but the forces acting on whichever individual are of the same encroaching, corrupting, overwhelming nature of concentrating power and currency.
Currency of course we must recognize as an entity that is purely natural. There is no beyond currency, only to ever raise the minimum human condition. In The Buying Power of the Dollar Victoria Duff gives a brilliant, quick overview of how local economies are influenced by the global economy and how “expansionary monetary policy,” as she beatifically calls it, is ingrained in the system. She notes that in relation to Federal Reserve is responsible for foreign trade influence and balance. “As the economy heats up, the Federal Reserve will step in and raise interest rates to cool growth and forestall inflation. A strong economy is often the result of expansionary monetary policy or low interest rates implemented by the Fed to boost the country out of a recession.” (Duff)
I hope this commentary is not taken in any kind of anti-capitalistic way; this is about recognizing the innate human desire for power. As we realize that it is natural, we must learn not to fight it, but to understand it and do something about it! Any ideas? ...As the rules fall short it is most important to continue the endeavor to understand that power to which we are all drawn.
In closing I may only bring up one solution, or goal that we should all have. You have to believe that as a community you're only as strong as your weakest link. We as a community should demand from our joint wealth a higher standard of living for everyone through a concept similar to a Universal Income. No one life deserves it any worse than another, not while the community joint wealth can support it, and we know it can – in one form or another, with some trial and error allowed! Practice forgiveness with determination even with the economy.
Zoellick, R. (2012, October 8). The Currency of Power. Retrieved November 22, 2016, from http://foreignpolicy.com/2012/10/08/the-currency-of-power/
Barnes, P., & Boyce, J. K. (2016). How to Pay for Universal Basic Income - Evonomics. Retrieved November 29, 2016, from http://evonomics.com/how-to-pay-for-universal-basic-income/
Duff, V. (n.d.). The Buying Power of the Dollar. Retrieved December 01, 2016, from http://smallbusiness.chron.com/buying-power-dollar-5219.html