CONFIDENCE GAMES. Scary Economic Philosophy

I just completed the book Confidence Games by Mark C. Taylor (2004), which is a non-fiction analysis of economic systems in the last century and how art philosophy, the de-coupling of the gold standard from the US dollar, and other events have affected our monetary psyche. Taylor is quite a prolific author and speaker and guest lectures at Columbia frequently.

Among the many disturbing but accurate observations he makes through the book, I am most struck by what he mentions in his “Notes” on page 334, referring to the work of Robert Nelson (2001, 266):

In his recent study, Robert Nelson examines the relationship between post World War II economic theory and religious belief. “Economists think of themselves as scientists,” he notes, but “they are more like theologians.” According to Nelson, economics has in effect become a secular religion that is ignorant of its theological roots.

In order to create a successful economic system, Nelson argues, it is necessary to establish “a set of values in society that offer vigorous encouragement to self-interest in the market and yet maintain powerful normative inhibitions on the expression of self-interest in many other less socially acceptable areas.” Since economists are not equipped to address these value questions, theologians must play a major role in formulating economic policies. Indeed, he goes so far as to suggest that “it might not be economists but theologians who are the most important members of society in determining economic performance.”

It pays to look around and see how this has already happened. Look at Billy Graham and The 700 Club.

I include this passage because the shock and disruption these market forces have, combined with the psychological warfare, is meant to make us all part with our money, but if you can dispell the fear, your participation can be as limited or as active as you wish! If you decide to play the markets and become involved, do it with a sense of humor and realize this is just one dimension of impact. Remember that in these games, someone always loses.

John Lett (About) (Book a Reading)

Some other hits:

Spiritual Warfare in Korea and English Hegemony        Instant Karma

Tarot of the Day #6: UK Instability        Spiritual Connections and Kylie Minogue

New and Revisited Entrepreneurial Skills     Aleister Crowley and His Deviant Ways

Keep on Fighting      Money is a Spiritual Matter

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3 Responses to CONFIDENCE GAMES. Scary Economic Philosophy

  1. I am picking of a lot of fear, panic and sour grapes, economically speaking, these days. So many seem ready to watch Europe collapse, and I can guarantee you, we are all pretty calm here. We have seen economies come and go! We respect the seasons and try to focus on the essentials of everyday life, and if there is a problem with government, well, we can do without governments! This was all rather hard for me to absorb at first, as an American! As a student in Italy in 1981, I asked people, “Aren’t you afraid? There is no government!” They just smiled at me. Banks did not give exact change and one was likely to get a postage stamp or piece of candy in exchange for coins as change. I do see one potential problem, with Greece. They seem to be trying to get some kind of new property tax system going there, which is proving a challenge as there seem to be no property ownership documents. Your land goes “over by that neighbor’s fruit trees, give or take a few meters” and so on, so how can they actually charge a tax based on such vagueness? I had this problem here in France in the ’90s. We still do not know how many square meters our apartment is! There is a law now about “inhabitable space” which makes things a bit clearer, but it still seems very fuzzy to me! Places are either “big” or “small.” If you cannot stand up straight in part of a room, does that mean it is inhabitable? You can fit a bed in there. If your closet is big enough for a home office, is that inhabitable space or not? If your laundry room could be converted to . . . I dunno what, a nursery? Does that make it inhabitable? We’re not freaking out over here. The wild rumors about Germany printing up marks again, I want to see the proof! They’d be nuts to do this, and the Germans are no fools! The euro has been a tremendous boon to Europe, and countries cannot just fail on their debts nor pull out if they care to. Whom do you think would really buy marks to get German goods? Seriously?! I really doubt they want to be a little group of duchys again. We all know the Euro project will take generations and is quite valid. Europe is the richest and most capable area on the planet. The most ready to function. The most bored with wars, collapses, religious differences and so on. We’ve seen ’em come, we’ve seen ’em go. Ah, it’s nearly 3 pm, time to go out for my afternoon errands and business, siesta time is over! And my spouse is heading off to work. You see? SLOW LIFE. NORMAL LIFE. Calm down, everyone! xo

    • I tend to follow some of the more controversial figures in news, but this German mark business I do not believe. Ironically, this rumor may have been started by some Germans in order to drive the Euro down and be more competitive. Just speaking from common sense, I feel that some kind of debt forgiveness is likely to come. Now that I have watched this unfold for a while and have been told we have had three recessions in ten years and we’re “going into” the fourth, my fear is diminished.

      There are a few regional currencies popping up in Germany (e.g. “the Chiemgauer”) as well as in the US and Britain.

      • Whether I like or dislike Germans personally is not the issue — what is for me is that I have found them to be generally very reasonable. It would totally screw them up to go back into the mark. I don’t even think it is legal for any country in the EU to just pull out. It is not the Anglo-Saxon legal system, people cannot get out of their obligations and commitments. I just spent some interesting hours with a Portuguese guy based in France. He said that they are all well aware of economic problems there, and they have had serious environmental ones, such as fires, in the past few years, also. He said the daily atmosphere is still extremely pleasant and people have their feet firmly on the ground. You’ve been in a lot of different places, so you know, a lot of the world gets by calmly. Look at what Rwanda has done to rebuild! And the happiest people in the world are in Nigeria. A lot of my fear and panic responses seem to be from me being American born and raised and I have learned to slow down and focus on fundamentals more. This is not a lazy, happy go lucky thing. It is based on home, family, community, and daily quality of life. Workers’ rights and concern for our planet. It’s sane!

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