At any given moment in time, there is a fixed amount of money in the global economy. The money supply can only grow when new money is issued. Amazingly, even though governments can issue bonds, they feel incapable of issuing money. They leave that task to private banks. The Federal Reserve, The European Central Bank and the Bank of England are ultimately private, for-profit corporations. They aren’t the property of the people at all. All new money is issued as debt. Money doesn’t come from anywhere else (though, of course, it could). All the money already in circulation came into being as a debt.
The notions of profit and interest (i.e. bank profits) raise some interesting problems. At every moment in time, the amount of money in the world is, by definition, less than the amount needed to pay interest on the debt and to make a profit. To make a profit, we must either redistribute the money that there already is, so that some people ultimately lose everything, or we must grow the money supply, in a never ending inflationary bubble, through the taking out of more debt. It never ends. The bigger the debt bubble grows, the more devalued the currency, the less valuable (in monetary terms, not real terms) are our assets and the more people are tethered to servicing the debt by working harder and longer, for less, without respite or escape.
So profiting means taking it from another or forcing somebody else to take on a greater debt burden. By fair means or foul. When the money supply grows, that only happens because private banks issue new, additional debt. That necessarily means somebody has to indenture their labour, in service of the debt, or put up something of real value that they own as collateral and security. They’re signing their freedom, independence, security and possessions away.
The money game is designed so that somebody, somewhere, loses their money, labour, intellectual property or valuable possessions. This is achieved by the simple expedient of not loaning more money. By squeezing credit, banks know that people will go bankrupt and that the banks will ultimately acquire the default assets, either by calling in the assets the loan was secured against, or by buying these distressed assets at a fraction of their real value, in panic-driven liquidations. The money system is designed to prey on human distress to enrich the bankers. Governments, already so institutionally corrupted by several centuries of banking machinations, play along like lambs. So do the courts. So do the law enforcement agencies.
This profit motive incites people to lie, cheat, kill, jettison their morals and ethics, plunder the planet, destroy the environment, displace the native animals, decimate biodiversity, use and abuse people in positions of lesser power, as they try to get a bigger slice of a finite pie, or as they try to compel other people carry the burden of the debt needed to increase the money supply.
In the name of profit, so called business gurus will huckster for “raising the bar” and “going the extra mile” in a post-industrial society, even if it exhausts you to death, because that’s how to stay “in demand”. Nobody notices that they’re simultaneously ignoring the fact that employers are not raising the bar in improving benefits and returns to their extraordinary employees – in fact the gap is growing wider, as they take the donated time and productivity as if it’s their entitlement and have the gall to call for more. The quest for profit makes men behave savagely to one another. The only net beneficiary is the banker that issues the debt. Ironically, even he has to live in this horrible world of his own creation.
People are only “motivated” by profit because they know full well that others are prepared to let them literally starve and perish, if they cannot produce the money. Imagine that. People willing to kill others to avoid being killed, all because the money issuer insists it must be so. Starving artists know this to be true.
Artists driven wholly by the profit motive (and I am sure you know who they are) are ultimately contributing to the destruction of somebody else’s life (as their wealth is taken from them, so that somebody else profits) or else they are causing somebody to surrender control over their lives and their freedom, so that they can faithfully, diligently and constantly service increasing levels of debt. They’re actively driving the jobs offshore, to be taken by people now desperate enough for any small amount of money that they will cut the throats of the better paid and undercut them, working for near slave wages. Artists can’t rise above this. It’s all intimately connected. An artist driven by profit is not contributing beauty to the world; he or she is contributing to the net misery.
But there is a Catch-22. If you aren’t all about making profit, it’s you that those that are so driven are taking the money from. Clearly, from an aesthetic and practical point of view, this game cannot continue and something must be done. We can’t have only two choices, as an artist: to increase net misery or fall prey to others that do.
Profit isn’t a motive, it’s an incitement. It’s an incitement to cause misery, destruction, waste, pollution and enslavement, in the name of staying afloat.
I think it is better to suspend the profit incitement, that encourages crimes against the planet, the biosphere and all of humanity, and replace it with a monetary system that rewards only the production of beauty, truth, utility and a net benefit to life on earth. Imagine how that would change company behaviour (company behaviour can be thought of as an amplified example of individual human behaviour). A beautiful lie would not pay as well as a beautiful truth. A truth that doesn’t benefit life on earth would be worthless. Something with utility, but no benefit to life on earth would also be worthless. An ugly thing with utility would be worth less than a beautiful one. Beauty without utility or net benefit to life would also be of lesser value. Imagine how this would solve the environmental problem. Activities that threaten life on earth, like ecological destruction, would diminish. Not just human life on earth, all life on earth.
In a monetary system that rewards beauty, truth, utility and a net benefit to life on earth, artists would have a head start. They are good at creating beauty. The best ones also create truth and utility and do no harm to life.
Bankers think that owning the world is the goal. They’re wrong. A mountain of bauxite is just dirt, without human effort, ingenuity and creativity, which can turn it into aluminium. The things the bankers want to own are worthless without human creativity, which they can never own or possess, as much as they try to shackle and enslave it through debt (which turns out to be a form of social control). What they get is ugliness, lies, useless, wasteful junk, destruction of the environment and its biodiversity and a world full of horrible, nasty, brutal, selfish people. They live in a world populated by blinkered little go-getters, lacking kindness, mercy or compassion, ignorant and uncaring of and oblivious to the wider impact of their self-serving actions, quoting Thatcher, Reagan and Ayn Rand as prophets. They also destroy the drive and initiative of millions of underemployed people, whose creative genius can never be expressed, while they compliantly hold down time-consuming, energy-sapping, mind-numbing day jobs that enable them to pay their debts. They, the bankers, also have to live in this seventh circle of hell that they themselves have made and maintain. There is no escape. What a crazy, wasteful game!
We can’t afford to entertain the profit motive any longer. It’s too expensive and other motives are better.