As a modern society we decide that there is a minimum standard of living and facilities that we are prepared to tolerate. If we had not desired this then we’d all still be living in caves and chasing our food and gathering berries. In more recent times we’ve refined the definition of an advanced society. If we explore the basis of this then we could conclude that people have the right to safety, food, water, sanitation, warmth, medical assistance, shelter, comfort, companionship, children, purpose. How do we supply these? Via a system of law and law enforcement, farming, sewers, pipes, power generation, housing, hospitals, ability to live with family. How do we arrange this? Education, research, cooperative endeavors (government?), infrastructure design and maintenance, etc. If we want medicine and clean water we need to research and learn how to achieve these goals. En route we need to learn how to build hospitals and reservoirs and pipes, and this requires engineering.
We are free to earn more on the side by making viral YouTube videos of cats flushing toilets, programming useless Apps, supplying phone-sex and a whole hoard of enriching endeavors with lottery scale odds of ever offering a return
Of course to make engineering and these other things happen a system to facilitate the exchange of services and product must be devised and this is where money comes in. A solid financial system will enable enough money to be present in the system when required and minimize corruption. Furthermore we may also want to maintain some modicum of administration to ensure we keep track of what is going on and for future reference. Computers are good for such purposes, assisting those tasked with handling administration. And some elected officials that will oversee the whole thing, like politicians. I define this layer as being “overhead”.
What can conclusion can we rapidly draw from the above? Finance and administration come at the bottom the list of priorities and are purely of service to the education, engineering, maintenance, training and all the other tasks that are at the front line of providing the safety, food, warmth, shelter, medicine, family that we’ve decided are of primary importance. The world of commercial finance should ultimately be about efficiently connecting investors and those needing investment.
So why have the financiers and administrators (e.g. accountants, economists, bankers, politicians, computing specialists) – the Overhead – become the masters of the universe? Those not part of this merry gang are being increasingly marginalized in many countries. With the financial crash of 2007 (caused by reckless financiers and politicians) and the rise of austerity (advised by the same imbeciles) we see the victimization of immigrants, disabled, unemployed and now the growing swathes of employed who find themselves earning less than a living wage. Even front line workers like nurses, cleaners, teachers, and security guards cannot earn enough to keep them above the poverty line – the line we as a society said we all deserve to live above. If we are stupid enough to become a nurse, cleaner or teacher then it’s apparently our fault – caring professions are reward unto themselves and to manage we are free to earn more on the side by making viral YouTube videos of cats flushing toilets, programming useless Apps, supplying phone-sex and a whole hoard of enriching endeavors with lottery scale odds of ever offering a return. But the servants of the servants – the financiers, the computer specialists, the politicians, the directors – are living ever more decadent, rarefied lives. We’ve turned the whole pyramid of what defines a modern society upside down. Everyone serves this select elite who in turn serve no one other than themselves.
The USA, however, recognizes no minimum standard of living. If you’re a single male, you can descend to the asphalt and you still won’t necessarily be eligible for any social assistance programs other than the soup kitchen or shelter, if there is one where you live.