The Coastal Post - March, 1997

Smog Check Debacle And Beyond II

BY MICHAEL S. LOVETT

In my February comment on "Smogcheck II" and its progenitor, the California electrical services restructuring strategy (PoolCo), I suggested that these two political actions evidenced a possibility that combined government and corporate efforts might well be on their way toward the manipulation of energy credits as a worldwide system of currency. This is pure speculation on my part, but the reader may be interested to know that similar ideas were conceived as far back as 1918 and reanimated in 1932 by a movement called "Technocracy."

"Technocracy was a radical social movement and philosophy that exploded into prominence in the United States in the early 1930s. It was an indictment of both capitalism and the money system of exchange. It emphasized and even glorified the machine process and technical skills and knowledge. It proposed that engineers and scientists direct economic life. A new unit, productive energy, was to replace monetary standards... We should abandon the monetary terminology of the age-old "peddler economy" and deal with the physical facts. We should talk in terms of ergs, calories, kilogram calories, and British thermal units, for example, instead of balance sheets, margins, dollars, bank credit, and the like [on the reasoning that] scientists and engineers had created our civilization. Even if they did not assume actual political control, they should tell us how to run it successfully in its material aspects." (From the 1947 and 1986 Encyclopedia Americana)

It was in the early years of this century that corporations began to underwrite the American economy by replacing people in the system of wealth and property. Captured technology became in large measure the assurance behind the corporation's promises to produce, and the whole business/competition thing became price competition conceived in terms of scarcity. Soon big organizations became great as financial powers, as much as industrial ones, by literally overtaking the markets they once competed for. Meanwhile, the corporation's greatest asset was not in its production of "things," but its ability to capitalize on its possible projected futures. This "potential," represented by contract, became the nation's new wealth. Although still used on the international scene, gold was trashed as the backing for America's domestic money, and the possibilities of the productive future of big business took its place.

Two problems arose. On one hand, big business demanded compensation for all that non-productivity. On the other hand, the rapid advance of science and technology had for many years been undermining the American economy in regard to its two historic pillars, property and labor. Because American workers were becoming more a detriment in the grand scheme of corporate enterprise, they too needed to be financed, but less as workers and more as consumers with their jobs as a source of credit.

To accomplish this, United States fiscal theory injected the "loss" of corporate "planned" non-productivity into America's money system on the hypothesis that by doing so, "wages" constituted the means of sharing the new "wealth"-a participation that not only compelled a certified net worth statement to be filed every April 15th in order to qualify for the new national allowance, but also required a mortgage to be placed on everything that Americans owned as security for federal borrowing power...a sort of tariff on one's right to eat.

Today, as our world grows smaller daily by interlocking global investment, energy has surpassed paper titles to corporate non-performance as the commercial world's most desired commodity. Without it, the corporate factory ceases its great productive capacity, and our complicated technical life comes to a halt. Energy, in all ways controlled, has become the new Holy Grail.

So once again it has become necessary for business to borrow federal power. For all intents and purposes, it looks like government aid is to be channeled directly through the stock exchange. (See "Social Insecurity-Retirement Roulette," Newsweek 1/20/97) Apparently, Congress fears that if it doesn't invest in corporate wealth, America's money would lose its value. It probably would, since an essential element of money value has been, and is now, based on scarcity. To conserve this artificial condition, congress must at all times help maintain price levels by domestic and international institutional management over profit-making enterprises and opportunities. This is perhaps one of the greatest of economic and social tools used by advanced industrial nations to insure each other's economies-for a country's wealth is nothing more than a present-day forecast as to what and whose goods and services it can control in the future.

Like technocracy, Social Security found its roots in the New Deal in much of the above-mentioned forms of fiscal thinking. Called "the great amortization scheme" in the '30s, it is the means of providing monetary backing by participants unknown for the future financial security of parties unknown. Let's not quibble over semantics. Social Security is America's money system, and to insure its value, Congress will once again guarantee that the American people will become co-suretors to its contribution schemes. We peasants will be capitalized, no doubt, but be assured, there will be a finance charge.