Monday, November 3, 2014


".........forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors"

"and the first shall be last and the last, first"

"and the fiftieth year will be a Jubilee when the slave is freed, a man's debts are forgiven, and he returns to his own land (or clan)"

 Debt forgiveness by the creditor is an admirable act.  Forgiveness is virtuous, but only when approved by the lender.  A third party, like a government, that intervenes in a contract is meddling and not so virtuous.  It is in fact a crime.  Legally we use bankruptcy to adjudicate for those that can't pay and it is theoretically as fair as we can make it.  To proclaim debt forgiveness or Jubilee is wrong in principle.  When we cancel debts it eliminates the credit which in fact is our money.  The digits in our bank account are a promise that can only be honored if it is possible to do so.  I can make the car payment only if the bank, where my digits reside, allows me to.  MY willingness to do so is not the issue.  If the bank doesn't have money, neither do I.
  Suppose we go ahead and set a date for Jubilee;  make it....... tomorrow.   I am not aware of a Jubilee -ever having been tried.  There may have been one within a small ethnic group but on a nation-state scale, I doubt it.  Frankly I wonder how it worked in ancient Palestine.   Who calls a Jubilee?  What debts are included? How could it be done?  If we forgave ALL debts,  would you "win" or "lose"?  I think it interesting to contemplate because our overburdened financial system is unlikely to be able to make good on all the claims outstanding.  So, are you a debtor or a creditor?  I rather suspect that most of us are both.  If all of these claims were to disappear, what then happens?   My bank account could go away, my car loan, my mortgage.
  If all debts are forgiven, what exactly is it that we "own"? Can I live in my house?  Is it mine? Let us suppose that everything under our immediate control is ours--our house, furniture, car, and land. But If my mortgage goes away so too does my bank account. My retirement savings.  In short, we all have what we physically possess. No credit cards work.    There would still be cash, as in green pieces of paper but what would the value be?   Where do you go to get more? How do we buy food with no money? What do we do at our jobs?  When we don't get paid, is it worth doing?
     So if we do not have bank accounts but need to buy things,  barter could be an unwieldy substitute, so money will develop.  I don't know what we will use but we will use something to trade. Sugar, silver, cows.  I have a lot of good books and have read them.  Would you like to trade a steak for them?  Would green paper notes (cash) actually mean anything?  I wonder.  We have always used them but I think cash in this scenario would be trash rather quickly.  How long do you think?  Two hours, three weeks, six months?  No one would have any idea what anything was worth.  Could you trade a sack of rice for a Porsche?  Maybe.  The government would have to come up with a plan.  They just had 20 Trillion dollars of Treasury obligations forgiven and are feeling a lot richer but now nobody can pay their taxes.  What about pension obligations, annuity payments, SS?  Are they debts?
       Let's not involve the lawyers yet.  We are just asking questions.  So all contracts reset. The purpose of a contract is to specify the terms of a promise but if we have just invalidated all contracts, the entire legal system is undermined.  There is nothing to adjudicate.  We don't have a "system" anymore.  So Jubilee means its time to call a Constitutional Convention because everything that went before is no longer relevant. Can a complex society hit the reset button?  Perhaps the President, all cheerful and playful, goes on TV for a national broadcast not to say we have a national emergency but to say we have a national opportunity.  Tomorrow is anarchy day.  Think carefully about what that means.  You can go wild in the streets but there could be consequences.  The police may not care in your city.  They might very much care and they have a lot more organization and guns than you do. Let's all be adults, it's serious now.  Sure you have "interests".  So does everyone else.  Let's encourage some homegrown leaders, get together, and see what the new terms of political society will be.  All debts are off.
    A thoroughgoing Jubilee is therefore almost impossible.  Could all our leaders abdicate in mass?  We quit.  Our problems are too grave. It's time for you pathetic citizens to start acting like citizens rather than crybabies. It is time to create a system that works for everyone and not just for the elites.  Our leaders will feel that they have failed.   And that's OK. They have failed.  We need new ones with new ideas.
    The problem of a monetary re-arrangement is getting from here to there.  Somehow one wishes for it just because of the clarity....

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