Worshipping money, ice and excuses – Addiction, the new norm


Paul Wallis, Sydney Media JamWhat’s the difference between money, ice and religion? Addiction. They’re totally different things, but they promote the same behaviours, including murder, fraud and human rights abuses. The pitiful, babbling money addict is the same as the inarticulate ice addict and the ridiculous, verbose fanatic using religion as an excuse for crimes.

Historically, this is pretty normal. After a battle in ancient Greece, the Spartans discovered a Persian camp full of luxuries. The Spartan general, Pausanias, from memory, said: “Look, they’ve come to steal our poverty!”

The same could be said about the relationship between the money-addicted and the world ever since. The super-rich apparently can’t think of anything else to do except become richer. It’s a self-sustaining addiction, attracting the greedy, the oblivious and the wannabe addicts.

Not all rich people are stupid, delusional, numbers-addled fools believing every idiot sycophant they hear or see. Quite the opposite, in many cases. Many of them become rich through talents and competitive skills. They outwit their competitors. They innovate.  Many are genuinely socially conscious and try to help. The culture they naturally create, however, is nothing like that.

Job page 23In this culture, money is the rationale for everything. There are no other considerations at all for those operating the hate machine called money. The means, in effect, has become the end. Intentions may be good, but this culture only promotes itself. It recognizes nothing but itself as relevant.

The separation of the financial sector from the real economy is a case in point. The global economy is a numbers marathon, in which clowns compete to produce good numbers to promote themselves. Extravagant, useless operations are carried out mainly to generate money for those involved, not for useful, productive economic or financial reasons.

The parallel with addiction and junkie lifestyles is unavoidable – Do anything to get your fix. Doesn’t matter if it’s suicidal or not, or contaminates the markets and everything else – There’s your rush, baby. Drab little bastards roaming the spreadsheets and junkies stealing whatever’s available are basically the same thing.

The parallel with religion is similar – Institutions preaching free markets and paedophiles preaching salvation are different only in terms of use of particular words. Whatever it is, the current crime becomes an article of faith. They don’t believe (and probably never have believed) a damn thing of what they say; but that’s the market, so that’s what they do.

Deflation – The death threat to money addiction?

Ad hoc Threat-Hamster coverA new terror, deflation, now stalks the global markets. It’s as bad as not being able to score for a junkie or atheism for a God-spruiker. It devalues the assets used for addiction.

In financial terms, deflation means a reduction in prices. Good for those who can’t afford anything, like most people, but bad for the addicts. Values going down means withdrawals. Real losses, in fairness, are possible, but the psychological effects of “less money” are adrenalin generators. More money must be obtained, if for no reason other than bigger numbers look better to the addicts. You can hide and feel safe behind big numbers, but not behind reducing numbers.

Ironically, deflation is being made more likely by exactly this sort of behavior. Money addicts, naturally, don’t think about what other people can afford. Deflation is most obvious in the tech appliances market, where prices start huge, and go down almost instantly after product release.

The fear of deflation, not at all surprisingly, is highest in markets where insane prices have driven up the cost of living to absurd levels. That’s most of the Western world, Japan, China, and India. About half the world’s population, in fact. Deflation can hit these markets like a super volcano, causing a financial nuclear winter which could go on for years. The Wall Street crash of 2008-9 could be a gentle breeze, compared to the possibilities of hyper-deflation. Assets could become worthless or nearly so, and unsaleable at even a fraction of a good return on investment.

Didn't know that, eh?

Didn’t know that, eh?

The junkie reaction to “no gear” is to find other sources. The usual source is politics. Economic stimuli, or “defibrillation for dead markets”, will jump-start the rotting corpses, and they can stagger on for a few more years. Politics, therefore, is the solution for everything.

In case you’ve ever wondered why America’s ever-more-irrational politics float like toilet paper in a public toilet, when these nutcases should be flushed like everything else, that’s why. The free market drags its bones to Washington, and in a libertarian/conservative/whatever rage of self-righteous demands for more money in the name of “capitalism”, drives the economy in whatever way this raffle turns out.

As a matter of note – Capitalism has never been about sending people broke. The original idea was that the more money people have, the better things become for everyone. It worked, for a while, and it’s where modern liberalism comes from – Better economics equals better living and more equity. Social justice wasn’t even part of the equation until social injustice, the natural result of depriving large numbers of people of money, became so chronic.

The money addict culture, however, doesn’t need logic. It needs money. It doesn’t need to see anything but numbers. The world could blow up, and they’d still be buried in Column 12 of a statement somewhere. This culture, if honest about nothing else, is honest about its priorities. Money first; life fits on the to-do list around 252nd.

Junkies are similar; oblivious to everything but their addiction. Religious fanatics turn everything in to a crusade/jihad. They don’t know how to see the world any other way.

Excuses – The new addiction

Excuses are now a currency. These aren’t normal excuses. They’re usually not even stated. They’re a type of logic which removes blame, diverts responses to crises, and basically preserves the delusions of the addicts, financial, junkies and religious.

They’ve become a sort of secondary tier to the addictions, with similar behaviors. Now, preserving the safety of the excuses is part of the ritual of addiction. In the 2008-9 market meltdown, the unstated excuse was “We did everything wrong, we knew it was wrong, but if we go, you go.” The other related excuse factories went along – It’s all they know how to do. Few people can remember a time when they did anything else.

Beliefs are supposed to mean something. In the Golden Age of Meaninglessness, you get a brochure, not a meaningful belief.

Beliefs are supposed to mean something. In the Golden Age of Meaninglessness, you get a brochure, not a meaningful belief.

In this environment, not doing your job is more important than doing it. You may have to abstain from even appearing informed about, or slightly interested in, your own work. Any appearance of competence, objectivity, or the ability to navigate a crisis is suspect. Ignorance isn’t just the expected response to whatever new addiction-driven insanity is hitting the fan; some, at least, of the ignorance is expected to be genuine.

You can’t just look like an idiot any more; you’re expected to be an actual idiot in fully functional idiot-mode, all the time. Like junkies and other criminals, the less you know, and the stupider you act, the better. The more you scream your religious clichés, the less of a threat you are to the other fanatics.

The appearance of stupidity is an ancient trick, literally thousands of years old. Success is measured by how many people you can convince you’re an idiot. It’s hard for some people, but others are good actors. Bernie Madoff’s friends discovered they’d never actually met him. The churches let down their entire client base with child sex abuse, and the only real issue is money for compensation, not their exalted position as the world’s least credible hypocrites.

Paul Wallis books, sydney media jam

This book is all about creative ideas. Nobody has yet died of reading it, but it’s a pretty tough call for those not familiar with working with ideas.

So many people wonder why apparent idiots are rich. Simple – They’re not actual idiots, at least not in the usual sense. They stop being idiots when they walk out the door. What they do afterwards may be idiotic, but it’s planned idiocy, to achieve goals. Never mind turning the world in to a toxic waste dump or marketing maniacally dangerous products, it makes money.

Addicts are sometimes clever. The same way the two dimensional ultra-capitalists proclaim their rights while denying those rights to everyone else, addicts use relationships to make money. Everyone knows it’s totally fake; but it often gets things done that the other people in the relationships don’t want to do. The cleverness isn’t in this obviously bogus acting charade; it’s that they make a living and satisfy their addictions, however, dismally and inelegantly. The real bottom line is very ugly.

Some people are professional jerks on that basis. It’s their only real skill set and it’s important to them; it’s either that or deprivation of their junkie fix. They even take courses in being jerks – Management science is now basically the science of being a jerk. The fake elitism, the image of success; it’s all fodder for the money junkies.

Give someone a piece of shit and tell them it’s priceless; someone will believe it. The rest, not too astonishingly, is the tale of human history. If you’re hoping to become a real person, just avoid that process. You’ll feel a lot better.


Paul Wallis, Sydney Media Jam, Paul Wallis books

Generation Verbose – How the world is talking itself to death


Paul Wallis, Sydney Media JamIt’s not often I feel like a mime as a writer, but reading the New York Times today was an exercise in following extremely articulate, extremely verbose people through a virtual supermarket of subjects. I like people being articulate; what I don’t like is the descent into minutiae that seems to inevitably follow.

Better to say less and have a decent idea of what you’re talking about, than to say more and simply follow your own statements around like a lost dog. I notice this a lot with people who are otherwise highly intelligent.

Chasing your own logic can be a pretty thankless task. What bothers me most is that so many people seem to try for consistency and eloquence when they should be trying for substance. I didn’t particularly agree or disagree with most of what I read; I simply didn’t like the way it was said.

Paul Wallis books, sydney media jam

This book is all about creative ideas. Nobody has yet died of reading it, but it’s a pretty tough call for those not familiar with working with ideas.

There are other ways of expressing yourself than through some sort of strange Lego- like series of connections with ideological positions, previous statements, and the apparently endless need to justify each statement.

To clarify – It’s highly debatable whether there is a specifically “right” way to express anything. They’re probably shouldn’t be; many statements are made as a result of prior logic, which can be anything. There’s no good reason to demand a particular form of expression on any subject.

The problem is that when articulate people speak, even when they are speaking absolute nonsense, they basically promote further responses to whatever they’re speaking about. It may be absolute garbage or absolute genius, but it will generate a response. The problem with that is that the response follows the logic. However stupid the statements, a sudden very articulate discussion about something stupid will follow.

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