“Cast off the chains of market-structured consciousness.” ~Jay M. Handelman (1999),”Culture Jamming: Expanding the Application of the Critical Research Project”
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, December, 2014, 1 in 5 of the Millennial generation (birth years from early 1980s to early 2000) live in poverty and have lower rates of employment compared to their Baby Boomer parents of a similar age in the 1980’s, one of the most prosperous eras of American history.
Obviously, the Millennials need a place to live (besides with their parents), clothes on their back, food to eat, resources to care for their children, time and money for travel, and doing fun things. Oh, and then of course, there is saving and investing for the future. Go figure…
The problem is, like the saying about seeing the nose on your face; it’s also hard to see yet so obvious. We live in a world of commerce that has gradually overwhelmed life that is entirely non-commercial, having nothing to do with money or its demands. While commerce has always been with us, today, everything not nailed down seems to have become a brand of one sort or another that vies for authority and dominance.
Social standing and status, though also always with us, has consistently risen in importance among the 99%. The judgment of someone’s value leans heavily on image: the kind of work they do, the type of car they drive, what degrees they hold, what brand clothing and accessories they buy, where they live, and who their friends are. Perception is everything; truth, not so much. No one wants to admit that these superficial things are often the measure because nowadays, keeping up appearances is a make-it or break-it proposition of survival.
Yet, all the while, a dark side of living large in the 21st century world of commerce lurks in the background. Personal debt does serious damage to mental and physical well-being, health, marriage and family behinds closed doors.
Most people, under age 45 or so, are unaware of the uptick in the surround-sound nature of commercialism because they grew up with it. But for those of us, who are older, we see how no aspect of life is beyond being turned into a service or product. Who ever thought we would have to purchase water, for example? The worst part? Human life itself seems more like a commodity than ever before.
The criteria of human value, to the world at large, has shifted away from that of someone who champions high ethical standards at work, has personal integrity in his dealings, and who is committed to doing the right thing no matter what. Instead it has shifted today towards someone who, at work, is willing to do whatever it takes to ensure the greatest commercial viability of his company, i.e., his own personal security, and get away with whatever s/he can. The more noble qualities of human nature have been unwittingly sacrificed on the altar of commerce. Most do not realize the cost: ending up as two-dimensional beings, mere cogs in the wheel of commerce without a heart capable of compassion.
There’s a deeper reason Millennials are having such a tough go of it in a world now resembling Disneyland, but you’re not going to hear about it on CNN. Indeed, NAFTA, the off-shoring of American jobs, continues to rob jobs, but to get to real solutions beyond Band-Aid measures for any problem, it is imperative to go to the root cause.
Systems Run the World Not People
Systems run the world, not people, and the largest of them is the monetary system, affecting all others. All aspects of life are captive to the system that rules money, including the natural world and so as the (global) monetary system goes, so goes everything else.
Money is a private product. It comes into existence almost exclusively when issued by a central bank at the moment money is borrowed via a loan, making it a debt instrument. The system called fractional-reserve banking means loans are paid back with interest that compounds (increases exponentially) over time. Business owners add the interest on the money they borrow (debt-service), to the consumer price of their goods and services. As a result of what some call wealth extraction, over time debt-based money of every nation loses value, understood as the loss of purchasing power (pay more, get less). What was purchased in the United States in 1913 for $1.00 now cost over $24.00, a fact easily confirmed on any online inflation calculator.
This expanded view of money is the portal to many new and helpful insights. For example: Who would have thought that the financial/banking industry, the largest “educator” of consumers about money and finance, would omit such vital information about the negative impact systemic money mechanics (how money is issued) have on one’s personal finances? By this omission, people earn, borrow, and spend in ways they otherwise might not if they had this additional, vital financial data. But because over 70% of the American economy is based on consumer spending, systemic self-preservation appears to trump the ethics of full disclosure.
Once in the know about the fact that all banking and therefore, our economy, is actually based on debt, and that money loses value over time as an ongoing systemic event, the light bulb goes on. You also begin to understand that the system of commerce has had to crank up every possible revenue-producing prospect it has to make up for money’s ongoing/compounding loss in intrinsic value.
Nonetheless, for the Millennials (and everyone else for that matter), there is a way out, a way off the vicious cycle of credit and debt. When one’s financial intelligence and effort are turned towards learning what it will take to restore the quality of life for the long term, the game changes and options open, even in a world increasingly dominated by profit motive.