Your response to my “Bombing, Blaming, Droning. . .” letter a few weeks ago was beyond heartening. Scores of you took the time to share thoughtful replies to me. That’s the good news. The bad news is that it has emboldened me to reach out in a similar manner again.
Don’t panic! I won’t inundate you. I am as prone to hit the Unsubscribe button as you.
So, please bear with me, be charitable with a few more minutes of your time, and let’s see where this takes us.
The impulse to write today comes, as it did a few weeks ago, from two news stories. The first is from Bloomberg, which reported yesterday on mistaken stock trading orders to the tune of $617 billion—yes, that’s billion with a “b”, just like it’s trillion with a “t” when we are talking about the cost of wars and hundreds of “t’s” when we are talking about the cloud of derivatives that blankets the financial heavens. The magnitude of the faulty trading orders would be enough of a topic in itself, as we are talking about calculable percentages, even major chunks, of the total valuation of major public companies and total daily trading volume of major exchanges. But what caused me to sit down to write this was the following:
“I don’t think we can find out who did this,” Jefferies’ Yamamoto said. “OTC transactions happen directly between two parties, which makes it difficult to find out who was involved. But considering the scale of the error, I guess it was a big broker.”
I don’t think we can find out who did this. Just what kind of cuckoo’s nest is this? Just what kind of social and environmental and cultural collateral damage are we exposing ourselves to daily as a result of ignorance about massive capital flows? Just when did we cede control of the wealth created by hundreds of years of industrialization to a handful of anonymous fiduciaries who cannot even keep track of the dollar flows in real time, much less think about long-term social and environmental concerns?
Ok. That was News Story One.
News Story Two was on NPR’s Morning Edition on Tuesday and was about poultry processing in the U.S. and Europe. And the dollar amount at issue is not hundreds of billions of dollars, but, rather $.20/lb. In order to save $.20/lb., U.S. processors dip chicken carcasses in a chlorine bath to kill salmonella; in Europe, the use of chlorine bath is prohibited and processors instead use vigilant husbandry to keep salmonella out of their flocks. Hmmm: vigilant husbandry vs. cheaper chlorine bath? Which is the path to healthier culture? Just which parts of vigilance and health are we willing to sacrifice for $.20/lb.?
Industrial finance and industrial agriculture are two sides of the same coin. It is time for us to learn to save, spend and invest a new kind of coin.
If you’ve seen the Beetcoin launch, you know that’s just what we’re trying to do. If you haven’t seen it yet, check it out. We’re barely out of the gate, and 53 intrepid early adopters have contributed $18,500. We’ve also gotten lots of early affirmation from friends and observers, so thanks for that. Beetcoin may well have legs for the long-term, but for right now, all eyes are on Louisville.
Please don’t misconstrue this letter as little more than a thinly veiled promotion of Beetcoin. It is sharing from the heart and the asking of a kind of public question: Can we help one another focus less on the crazy institutional dysfunction of the day and more on the seeds of a nonviolent economy that we can plant together?