I was going to write an erudite treatise on the imminent implosion of reality. But with the world in turmoil over money, reality suddenly seemed trivial. Our pundits, politicians and populace have overcomplicated and “overmediaed” a simple situation: we have an attitude of perceived lack. Somehow, the entire world refuses to see that the emperor has no clothes, or as a therapist once kindly pointed out to me, “It’s never really about the money, is it?”
There are those who believe the debt crisis is part of a massive conspiracy designed to keep the common folk working and fearful. They blame the Illuminati, the Bilderberg Group, the Koch Brothers. But why blame? There are some simple solutions, created by yours truly.
1) Create more money.
When I was a little girl, there was a lot of stress in my home over money. It seemed there was never enough. One night I dreamt that my mother’s jewelry box had turned into a money machine. You just opened the box, and each time, there would be a pile of dollar bills (hey I was eight, a dollar was the biggest I’d seen). I woke up ecstatic and ran to my mother’s box, only to find it was still filled with her cheap costume jewelry and photos of her from her childhood. Who knew that I was having a precognitive dream about the future of money? After all, money is no longer real. Once the gold standard was abolished in 1975, money became purely symbolic. There is absolutely nothing to back up all those numbers that make up those bonuses and mortgages.
Instead of my mother’s jewelry box, the bills are being manufactured in some secret Federal Reserve location. We don’t even need to print money anymore: just add a couple of zeroes on a computer and poof! We have eight hundred billion dollars or more for a bailout. That’s an eight with eleven zeroes. At one point recently, our government actually considered minting a trillion dollar coin to pay off the debt. So instead of making those poor citizens of Cyprus pay taxes on their savings, why not just add another couple or three zeroes to each of their accounts, and while we’re at it, our accounts as well, and bail everyone out? We could all pay off our mortgages, our cars, buy flat screen HDTVs and go on well earned vacations. If everyone in the world had everything they wanted, what would be lacking then?
2) Create a new currency.
Wouldn’t that be fun? Aren’t you sick of boring old money? Pieces of paper with guy’s faces on them that may soon be as valuable as the paper they are printed on? Plastic cards with irritating magnetic strips? Let’s face it. Money is about to become passé.
In ancient times, people traded goods. You did some work, you got a goat. Goats were not always portable, so in some civilizations, jewels and gold became symbols: currency you could use to get your goat. Other currencies in history have included silk in China, land, slaves and even tulips. Tulips may have been our first currency debacle. But at least after it was over, people had lots of pretty flowers they could plant. Historically, each time a currency started to decline, there was a huge power struggle among the elite to maintain control over their evaporating wealth. Perhaps we are the fortunate witnesses of the end of money as we know it, and we are currently experiencing its death throes. Here a few potential new currencies, NONE of which I have made up.
Time.There are already 300 Time Banks active in the U.K and 101 officially recognized Time Banks in the U.S. Time is money after all, and although many of these banks value each person’s hour as the same, some time banks offer more hours for skilled labor. A dentist earns more hours per hour than a baby sitter. Buddy, can you spare some time?
Attention. I wish I meant the kind of attention they speak of in Zen. There is a currency beginning to take hold in CyberSpace called Attention Currency. Certain websites reward you with virtual money for spending time on their site. When you think about the fact that it cost $350,000 to make The Blair Witch Project and $11 million dollars to market it, you can see why advertisers might think this is a cost effective idea. This virtual money is used for products, known as rewards. If you spend enough time surfing websites, you could furnish your house. Sometimes even the products are virtual (as in Second Life). While this is a terrifying idea, it may well replace real money as the next generation grows up glued to their Iphones, Twitters and SMSs.
And now to my personal favorite.
Admiration. According to the late Ian Xel Lungold, a self proclaimed expert on the Mayan Calendar, we are entering the age when our current monetary system will collapse. While it’s true that he also predicted we’d be shaking hands with aliens in 2007, he may have been “on the money” regarding the collapse of Wall Street. He said the only reason we needed money in the first place was to get what we admired. He proposed that in the future, our admiration will be enough to get what we want. We will enter a new paradigm of reality; some sort of Mayan Law of Attraction. You just say, “I absolutely LOVE that Porsche!” and poof! It will be in your driveway. I personally think this will happen after reality implodes.
3) Reframe the crisis into a positive experience.
There is power in words, as any Affirmation junkie will tell you. Each time we hear the words economic crisis, fiscal collapse or bailout we are reminded that things are just not good. Our shoulders slump. We heave huge sighs of resignation, cancel trips, become glued to the doom and gloom of media rhetoric, hoard what we do have and complain.
Instead, we could call it a global learning opportunity. Use this apparent constraint to learn more about new possibilities. Can’t go out to dinner every night? What a marvelous time to learn to cook. Need to cancel that gym membership? Hooray! Now you can go outside for some power walks. Everyone from Deepak Chopra to the Dalai Lama stress the importance of the outdoors for health. Can’t afford that $75 haircut? Have a haircut party. You’ll discover looks you couldn’t have imagined. Those $250 pants you can’t buy? Start a new fashion trend by mixing old clothes with Goodwill purchases. No money for a night on the town? Finally! Some personal time. Take an hour to do some Feldenkrais, Tai Chi or other healing movement. Eliminate tensions instead of rushing around to “have fun.” Imagine what would happen if Congress, instead of bickering, spent five minutes sitting quietly, sensing their spines, gently rolling their heads left and right, listening to their breathing.
4) Go Anti – Shopping
This is a real money maker. Even though the media expressed great worry recently over a trend among consumers to save money instead of spending during this downturn, fact is, it can make you rich in a day. My husband Ron and I often go anti-shopping. We’ll stop into an antique shop and pick out a few items: a deco lamp going for $250, a 50’s dresser that would look adorable in our bedroom, $175, a bunch of vintage, framed posters at $35 each. Add it up. $530. Then we look at each other, and say, “Do we really need this stuff? Nah.” Just like that, we made $530.
You don’t even have to go out. The other day, I made hundreds of dollars not buying everything in the Williams Sonoma catalog. I give myself a bonus when I don’t buy REALLY STUPID stuff. Williams Sonoma is selling Brownies shaped like Easter Bunnies on a stick. They sell things you never even knew you wanted. That same day I also chose not to buy a Raclette Maker from their catalog. Who knew people would actually want to pay $139.95 for a machine that broils individual portions of cheese. ChaChing! Another $140 for me! For a moment I was tempted by the Rotary Iron for only $2199.00. Then I realized that for $2199.00, I could hire someone to press my pants and I could go on the Caribbean vacation I thought I couldn’t afford. One day, we made $2000 just driving by a pair of Suzuki motorcycles with a For Sale sign on a lawn. We didn’t even have to spend any time (that new currency) on that transaction. It’s better than the stock market! You can make $275,000 or more in a day just by not buying a house! The possibilities for wealth are endless.
5) Employ the real Law of Attraction.
Don’t you think it’s kind of funny that there is this huge movement in our society that speaks of attracting abundance, going with the flow, being grateful for the gifts in your life and the entire WORLD is living in a poverty consciousness? Is it possible that the world’s consciousness actually created this sense of lack? Since we’ve already determined that money is merely symbolic, or energy, or numbers in a database somewhere, what are we really lacking? Is this financial crisis really a crisis of the spirit? What would happen if everyone on the planet just stopped for five minutes and focused on love? Maybe that could be the true new currency. And interestingly enough, money can’t buy me love.
6) Last but not least: Hope for Deus Ex Machina
I’ve always loved this Greek term. In Greek theater, when the playwright couldn’t figure out how to get the hero out of a pickle a the end of a play, the gods would come down in a special machine and pluck him up to heaven, literally the God Machine. In Arthur C. Clarke’s book, Childhood’s End, a race of aliens called the Overlords come in and whip humanity into behaving. Perhaps that Mayan maven was just a couple of years off in his prediction about the aliens’ arrival. Just at the point when everything is really collapsing, some aliens will come in with lots of cash to spend and a tremendous need for personalized Easter baskets and chicken shaped cupcakes. I know just the catalog to give them.