Journal des Alternatives Alternatives - Alternatives est une organisation de solidarité qui œuvre pour la justice et l’équité au Québec, au Canada et ailleurs dans le monde Page d'accueil du Journal des Alternatives

Who breaks a wheel upon a butterfly?

Michael Ryan Wiseman, 17 April 2009

It can come as no great shock when,
after giving your credit card number and
assorted personal details to a late-night
television psychic, their subsequent
prediction is that you will become a
victim of bank fraud.

And what, pray tell, happens when
public money is given to resuscitate
myopic and amoral private enterprises
that are proving to be shrewd and
rather discriminating paupers in spite
of their dismal records of commercial
ineptitude? Heads they win, tails we
lose. There is a renewed poignancy
to the tragedy of the commons, which
began sometime in the distant past
with a much-ballyhooed cake-cutting
ceremony and is still being played out as
the slivers and crumbs are quickly— and
mostly needlessly— being devoured.
Some, though lacking any immediate
requirement, take more than they could
ever eat under the justification that they
do not know if there will ever be any
more; most, starve.

If consumer-confidence is said to be
down, to what depths must citizenconfidence
have plunged? Thus far, the
governments of the world have been—
to use the most generous of words in
order to match their profligacy likewise—
uninspiring in their bid to play white knight
to our paradigm’s damsel in distress. The
G20’s roundtable pledged one trillion
dollars to slay the dragon. A large sum,
granted— a nice round number for all the
headline writers, which if nothing else
(and there is little else) will help push a
little paper in a struggling industry. The
only problem is, the paradigm is not the
damsel— it’s the dragon. It needs to be
put to the sword and a trillion dollars
coupled with a mixed bag of national
stimuli are as many acupunctural needles
for the ailing beast.

The Canadian government provides
an excellent example of the ham-fisted
responses that have been typical of our
dear leaders in this time of crisis. The
Canadian government is essentially
forcing a Canadian governmentfunded
entity (the Canadian Broadcast
Corporation) to shed 800 Canadian
jobs while simultaneously promoting a
stimulus package designed to create
Canadian jobs precisely because there
are so many Canadian jobs being lost.
Got that? Oh no, I seem to have caught
fire— how irksome. How shall I best fight
the fire? Not to worry, it’s for situations
like this that I always keep my trusty
bucket of fire handy.

A structurally maladjusted international
economy comprised of structurally
maladjusted national economies is in
crisis— it’s about time. Although money
undoubtedly has its uses, In Money
We Trust has lost its lustre— it’s also
about time. Like the cat who drowned
in a tub of gold fishes, we are learning
the hard way that not all that tempts our
wandering eyes and heedless hearts is
lawful prize.

Humans are not attuned to subtlety;
we don’t change until we must. Here’s
hoping our step backward comes with
two swiftly forward. Where are we now?
Well, we haven’t yet hit rock bottom. At
least we don’t seem to have— surely it is
the sort of thing that would be remarkable
enough to be known for sure. We are,
therefore, embroiled in a rather delicate
predicament: the best is yet to come
but not before the worst is over— and it’s
been due for quite some time.

Anything left? Time. Time is not money.
Time is infinitely more precious than money.
Whereas money can be accumulated
indefinitely in an account, we are born
with only a fixed amount of time and each
moment is another withdrawal. Moreover,
you can never know what your balance is—
maybe you are a billionaire, maybe you are
already overdrawn and you will soon hit
your credit limit: insufficient funds— may
you rest in peace.

I hope it was worth it; all that time,
wasted again.