PARABLE for the New Decade


With the essential collapse of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change in Madrid (“Climate meeting goals go unmet” Washington Post, 12-16-19) we now approach the first day of 2020 with much less to celebrate, much more to fear, and much more to accomplish. Here’s a little parable for the coming New Decade:

“One evening of a December day 2019, several observatories in the International Asteroid Warning Network are startled to discover a cluster of incoming asteroids of massive dimensions. Over the next several weeks, other observatories corroborate the finding. Painstaking digital analysis reveals a 97% probability of a collision with our planet Earth on December 24, 2030—almost exactly ten years in the future. Calculations and engineering projections, coordinated by the Ministers of Space (MOS), suggest the asteroid cluster—now named (of course) “Armageddon”—can be broken up and diverted with a coordinated deployment and firing of 3,000 nuclear laser-cannons. The cost to engineer, produce, test and deploy each nuclear cannon is projected at $6 billion—generating a total cost of $18 trillion.

In other words, to divert the asteroids and save our planet, a very large, focused, and coordinated group of people and businesses need to be paid a very large sum of money to undertake and accomplish the specific tasks necessary. Assuming we want to survive, the next calculation is: Are the resources necessary to build and deploy the nuclear cannons available on planet earth? Obviously, if those resources—labor, technical knowledge and skills, exotic materials and rocket-fuel, etc.—don’t exist, the question is moot and we’re left to live out our fate, counting off Christmases until the very last one. To everyone’s immense relief, the Ministers of Resource (MOR) determine the necessary labor, technology, and materiel are available to produce and deploy 3000 nuclear laser cannons. If expedited to the hilt, the work can be accomplished in seven years—providing three years to spare before the projected collision. This, of course, creates major headlines and celebration! “THE WORLD CAN BE SAVED!”

The only question remaining is: Where will the $18 trillion come from to acquire the materiel and meet the laser cannon engineering, production, testing and deployment payroll? The Ministers of Finance (MOF) are consulted. MOF immediately says there’s a problem. The difficulty, they say, is that there will be no financial return on the $18 trillion investment: no one will buy the laser cannons once they’re produced—so investors could not recoup their capital, let alone make a profit. Nor will anyone rent the laser cannons once they’re in place. There’s no secondary market for the cannons because, of necessity, they’ll be destroyed by the explosive interaction with the asteroids. Building and deploying the laser cannons, in other words, is not only financially unprofitable, it is a total loss. Therefore, MOF explains, the profit-seeking financing mechanisms of private enterprise—which could otherwise create the $18 trillion in a heartbeat—will not be able to participate!

The remaining options to acquire the $18 trillion, MOF further explains, are basically three: First, a new tax could be imposed on citizens and businesses, essentially claiming $18 trillion of their future income and profits for the cause of saving the planet. Second, the philanthropical organizations of the world could step up and donate large chunks of their fortunes—comprising after-tax profits already accumulated—to the cause. Third, sovereign government could borrow the $18 trillion from the existing capital (savings) of private enterprise. If there isn’t enough available capital to be borrowed, private enterprise would be happy to create more, so long as it is guaranteed the loans will be repaid with interest.


Now people are starting to feel anxious. A year has been lost in the calculations and debates about the $18 trillion—and work on the nuclear laser cannons has not even begun! Some are beginning to question whether the asteroids really exist, or whether there’s been an error in the calculations—or even whether the scientists are being paid-off by the laser cannon industry! At the same time, there’s only two spare years, now, to get the nuclear cannons built and deployed. What can we do? Are we willing to cut our incomes in half? Are we really going to enslave our grandchildren to such a debilitating debt? Maybe we should redo the calculations. Maybe we should build a bigger telescope for a closer look at the asteroid cluster. Maybe there’s another asteroid coming along that will collide with the cluster before it collides with Earth. Maybe we need to elect new Ministers to make these decisions. And now, before we know it, another year has been lost as the debate continues….”

If we replace the asteroid cluster of our parable with the oncoming threat of global climate change, we have a useful operating description of our real-world dilemma today: It’s all about money. It’s not about whether the labor, technology and know-how exist to extract and sequester one trillion tons of carbon from the atmosphere—and transition to a zero-carbon economy in the process. It’s all about where the money will come from to pay for that labor, technology, and know-how—and who’s money it will be, and whether we’ll collapse in debt and inflationary chaos as a result of the spending.

This is why explaining Modern Money Theory is our biggest hope for the coming decade. Happy Holidays and best wishes for the New Decade.


4 responses to “PARABLE for the New Decade

  1. Howard Switzer

    The problem is obviously debt, no one wants debt except the creditors who profit from it and economists who drank the cool-aide. Why should nations be forced into debt when they can create their own money as a permanently circulating asset? It is becasue elites control the issuance of money for profit which is usury and they do so to maximize their take always. If you are concerned about human behavior one should look at how usury negatively affects human behavior. The current elite controlled usury-money system maintains the ‘scarcity mentality;’ an underlying belief in competition as the means of survival, which is linked with fear which, in turn, creates more scarcity all the while wealth is extracted and systematically concentrated to the hands of a few. We need to get our act together and quit giving elites a pass to protect the status quo.

  2. The reason action does not happen in regard to climate change is that the average person doesn’t really believe it’ll be that big of a deal. Yes, yes, you might convince them that it is happening. And you might even convince them that the results might be negative…but how negative? If you paint a story where it is earth-shattering, they won’t agree. They just can’t imagine it. But if you paint it as an inconvenience, then it isn’t a big enough issue to do much anything about. The average person doesn’t care about government budgets & finances. That’s not why we fail to have traction on this issue. It is just a matter that people don’t believe the problem is that big of a problem.

  3. BRIAN VREE: At one level your point is well taken. It certainly does NOT apply, however, to the delegations of people attending—and the millions of people paying attention to—the Paris Accords and their follow-up Framework Conventions on Climate Change, as well as those debating and analyzing the findings and recommendations of the U.N. International Panel on Climate Change. These are the people TRYING to take action—and they are stymied by a misinformed “money” narrative. Nor are they depending on a majority of “average persons” to be genuinely alarmed by climate change in order to legitimize the actions they’re trying to implement. The perspective you’re suggesting, in fact, underlies part of the monetary misunderstanding itself—namely that the “average persons” are going to have to agree to be taxed up to their necks, and beyond, in order to pay for what needs to be done. They don’t.

  4. Brian Vree. The error of your thinking is in putting the locus of direction and control in the hands of the average person. In my judgement he has very little power and control. Most everything is decided for us. We are allowed to chose from among options selected for us. We don’t have referendums at all. I’ve read where 80 percent of the population have wanted a higher minimum wage for the last 20 years. Well, we haven’t got it. We live in a republic! Decisions are made for us, by people who are chosen by the people with the greatest causation. Don’t lay it on the least in society. Lay it at the feet of the wealthy and the powerful.