Debt: The First 5,000 Years

Category: Economics
Author: David Graeber
This Month Reddit 3


by biba8163   2019-08-24

A lot of people seem to brush off Bitcoin's Store of Value proposition based on their emotional attachment to their coin or just that coin X is fast and cheap so Bitcoin is useless. Vitalik responded to the Bitcoin's SOV proposition agreeing with it but having issues with Bitcoin maximalism. It's a much more intelligent argument than random shitcoin bloggers provide. The book Vitalik references is a "history of money" and provides a much better historical context of how Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies might evolve and be adopted.

> Money always evolves in the following four stages, collectible -> SoV -> MoE -> UoA" - no, no, no! Seriously, read David Graeber's Debt. Amazon link for the lazy - Vitalik

> Debt the first 5000 years -


> What we now call virtual money came first. Coins came much later, and their use spread only unevenly, never completely replacing credit systems. Barter, in turn, appears to be largely a kind of acciden- tal byproduct of the use of coinage or paper money: historically, it has mainly been what people who are used to cash transactions do when for one reason or another they have no access to currency


> We did not begin with barter, discover money, and then eventually develop credit systems. It happened precisely the other way around. What we now call virtual money came first. Coins came much later, and their use spread only unevenly, never completely replacing credit systems. Barter, in turn, appears to be largely a kind of accidental byproduct of the use of coinage or paper money


> The story of the origins of capitalism, then, is not the story of the gradual destruction of traditional communities by the impersonal power of the market. It is, rather, the story of how an economy of credit was converted into an economy of interest

by shitty_cartoon   2019-08-24

> With better conditions it is less likely that the worker change jobs[...]

When the cost of improving conditions is lower than the cost of retraining/replacement, when there is no pressure from competition/unions to improve conditions, when your workers are still working for you despite poor conditions, why invest in improving conditions? It would be an investment with little immediate reward. Even if you manage to poach some workers from the competition, you are still limited in your hiring ability. You don't have infinite job positions available. If your competition is able to hire new workers to fill the gaps left, then your poaching offers no competitive benefit, and in fact is likely to have been detrimental. You spent money your competitors didn't, and that gap has to be made up somehow. These poaching techniques only work in positions where there is already high demand and low supply. This is not a condition that exists for the majority of job positions in the labor market. That is why, in most cases where conditions/wages improve, it is a result of either government pressure or union pressure.

> ok but this is not really socialism.

I didn't say it was.

> I don't oppose in public hosing or food bank or some form of negative income tax, for example.

Do you oppose unions?

> What is the percentage of population in the US that are "missed"? According to Washington Post it is 13 million in the US. So it is about 4% of the US population.

That is the percentage of the population that is homeless. One in eight Americans (13%) suffers from food insecurity. And as I said, Americans are better off than most. Human Rights Watch has declared the food insecurity situation in the UK to be a hunger crisis. Nearly one in five (19%) UK children under 15 face food insecurity.

> When you factor in the other 3 factors (no good boss, no skill, many worker to choose from) you are basically talking about workers in 3rd world countries.

Most workers live in developing countries. Most capitalist countries are developing countries.

> So how can socialism solve these problem? Lacking of resources are not going to be solved without their countries putting in serious effort.

Socialist revolution in the first world removes the boot that keeps the third world down.

Plus, in a production-for-use economy resources can be directed towards the places that need them the most. Resources for developing infrastructure, agriculture, production, etc. can and should be directed towards poor countries.

> I don't understand why people in this sub always talk as if companies are invincible, when bankruptcy is the norm, rather than exception.

I didn't say the business was invincible. For the business to succeed it is wholly dependent on workers. But even bankruptcy rarely leads to the employer becoming homeless or otherwise poor, whereas failing to secure a job often does for the worker.

> And how is the capitalist ideology conflict with the existence of labor union?

Unions are unprofitable, and capitalists act to prevent them from organizing.

> Please study worker retention strategies, "assholeish" boss are the one that is punished by the market.

As I said, worker retention strategies are only profitable in a situation where the pertinent skills are in high demand and low supply. They are unprofitable when the pertinent skills are abundant in the labor market.

> Of cause the boss want to pay as little as possible, but worker abuse generally lose money for the boss.

That's only because worker abuse generally leads to government and union intervention, which is why businesses often lobby for deregulation and anti-union legislation (such as, in the US, the [Taft-Hartley Act].


> You want to work with a boss that will leave you alone, rather than a boss that verbally abuse you every day, although they may pay the same salary.

I'm not talking about verbal abuse, I'm talking about poor conditions, low pay, long hours, and little to no benefits, all of which are continually profitable.

> If you compute the annual death rate vs the world population it is not that big of a deal. It is not even in the top ten death cause.

Even one person dying of hunger when we produce enough food for 10 billion is one death too many. These deaths are not due to a lack of food, they are due to food being distributed based on profit rather than a desire to feed the hungry.

> So what is your proposed solution, that will lower this number faster?

by EverForthright   2019-08-24

Oof, that's a tough one. I really like Debt: The First 5,000 Years by David Graeber, This Is Your Brain on Music by Daniel J. Levitin and Whipping Girl by Julia Serano.

by coldtea   2018-12-18
This will explain the opposite:
by marviel   2018-12-02
Last evening while we were out to beers, a friend recommended me a book apparently reviewing precisely this history: