Morality of Money
Casey Interviewed by Louis James, Editor, International
by Doug Casey:
Letís Do a Tour Around the World
Louis: Doug, letís talk about money. Is it all
you care about?
Doug: No…just because I see the high moral
value of money doesnít mean itís all-important to me. In fact, I
find money less and less important as time goes by, the older I
get. Perhaps thatís a function of Maslowís hierarchy: If youíre
hungry, food is all you really care about; if youíre freezing, then
itís warmth; and so forth. If you have enough money, these basics
arenít likely to be problems.
My most enjoyable times have had absolutely nothing to do with
money. Like a couple times in the past when I hopped freight trains
with a friend, once to Portland and once to Sacramento. Each trip
took three days and nights, each was full of adventure and weird
experiences, and each cost about zero. It was liberating to be out
of the money world for a few days. But it was an illusion. Somebody
had to get the money to buy the food we ate at missions. Still,
itís nice to live in a dream world for a while.
Sure, Iíd like more money, if only for the same genetic reason
a squirrel wants more nuts to store for the winter. The one common
denominator of all living creatures is one word: Survive! And, as
a medium of exchange and store of value, money represents survival…
itís much more practical than nuts.
L: Some people might say that if money were your
highest value, you might become a thief or murderer to get it.
Doug: Not likely. I have personal ethics, and
there are things I wonít do.
Besides, crime real crime, taking from or harming others, not
law-breaking, which is an entirely different thing is for the
lazy, short-sighted, and incompetent. In point of fact, I believe
crime doesnít pay, notwithstanding the fact that Jon Corzine of
MF Global is still at large. Criminals are self-destructive.
Anyway, whatís the most someone could take, robbing their local
bank? Perhaps $10,000? Thatís only enough to make a wager with Mitt
Romney. But that leads me to think about the subject. In the old
days, when Jesse James or other thieves robbed a bank, all the citizens
would turn out to engage them in a gun battle in the streets. Why?
Because it was actually their money being stored in the bank, not
the bankersí money.
A robbed bank had immense personal consequences for everyone in
town. Today, nobody gives a damn if a bank is robbed. Theyíll get
their money back from a US government agency. The bank has become
impersonal; most arenít locally owned. And your deposit has been
packaged up into some unfathomable security nobody is responsible
The whole system has become corrupt. It degrades the very concept
of money. This relates to why kids donít save coins in piggy banks
anymore itís because theyíre no longer coins with value; theyíre
just tokens that are constantly depreciating and essentially worthless.
All of US society is about as sound as the dollar now.
Actually, it can be argued that robbing a bank isnít nearly as
serious a crime today as robbing a candy store of $5. Why? Nobody
in particular loses in the robbery of todayís socialized banks.
But the candy merchant has to absorb the $5 loss personally. Anyway,
if you want to rob a bank today, you donít use a gun. You become
part of management and loot the shareholders through outrageous
salaries, stock options, and bonuses, among other things. I truly
dislike the empty suits that fill most boardrooms today.
But most people are mostly honest itís the 80/20 rule again.
So, no, I think this argument is a straw man. The best way to make
money is to create value.
If I personally owned Apple as a private company, Iíd be making
more money completely honestly than many governments…
and they are the biggest thieves in the world.
L: No argument.
Doug: Notice one more thing: making money honestly
means creating something other people value, not necessarily what
you value. The more money I want, the more I have to think about
what other people want, and find better, faster, cheaper ways of
delivering it to them. The reason someone is poor and, yes, I
know all the excuses for poverty is that the poor do not produce
more than they consume. Or if they do, they donít save the surplus.
L: The productive make things other people want:
Adam Smithís invisible hand.
Doug: Exactly. Selfishness, in the form of the
profit motive, guides people to serve the needs of others far more
reliably, effectively, and efficiently than any amount of haranguing
from priests, poets, or politicians. Those people tend to be profoundly
L: People say money makes the world go around,
and they are right. Or as I tell my students, there are two basic
ways to motivate and coordinate human behavior on a large scale:
coercion and persuasion. Government is the human institution based
on coercion. The market is the one based on persuasion. Individuals
can sometimes persuade others to do things for love, charity, or
other reasons, but to coordinate voluntary cooperation society-wide,
you need the price system of a profit-driven market economy.
Doug: And thatís why it doesnít matter how smart
or well-intended politicians may be. Political solutions are always
detrimental to society over the long run, because they are based
on coercion. If governments lacked the power to compel obedience,
they would cease to be governments. No matter how liberal, thereís
always a point at which it comes down to force especially if anyone
tries to opt out and live by their own rules.
Even if people try that in the most peaceful and harmonious way
with regard to their neighbors, the state cannot allow separatists
to secede. The moment the state grants that right, every different
religious, political, social, or even artistic group might move
to form its own enclave, and the state disintegrates. Thatís wonderful
for everybody but the parasites who rely on the state (which is
why secession movements always become violent).
Iím actually mystified at why most people not only just tolerate
the state, but seem to love it. Theyíre enthusiastic about it. Sometimes
that makes me pessimistic about the future…
Casey (send him mail)
a best-selling author and chairman of Casey
Research, LLC., publishers of Caseyís
© 2013 Casey
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