Friday, October 10, 2008

Challenging market economy assumptions

Regarding the Wall Street crash, here's one of my thoughts:

To a certain extent, I think all investors, from the big players on down, share some responsibility for what is happening.
The market system encourages speculation. It's based on the presumption that making money with money is the wisest use of one's financial resources, even when it's a gamble.

But, inevitably, this leads to the concentration of wealth in fewer hands, to greater disparity between rich and poor and to individual investors losing sight of exactly what their money is being used for. It leads to inflated prices for goods whose intrinsic value does not increase.

The thing is, money doesn't make money all by itself. Money plus labor makes money. Is it right or fair to accrue wealth through someone else's labor?

I decided some years ago that it didn't seem fair to me to benefit from the labor of others by obtaining money from investments. Folks talk about "earning" interest, but I don't think interest is earned by the person holding the bank account. Someone else is doing that work.

So, I do what I can to stand aside from the market-driven bandwagon. I have a non-interest bearing bank account and don't invest in the stock market. I don't buy on credit. I realize the bank invests my funds in ways that I may not approve, but my compromise is to not accept the interest on that investment.

These views are not shared by many, I know, but given the current state of affairs on Wall Street and Main Street, maybe some are questioning the basic assumptions underlying the economy, too.

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