Yes, I know. That’s a bold statement. But after all the things I have been absorbing around me to make sense of the non-sensible, finding a meaning and purpose in chaos, it’s the latest aphorism I have come up with. It’s like the internal benchmarks of aphoristic statements that I keep etching in my journey to understand the world and its functioning. And just like benchmarks I etch them like a gist of my understanding somewhere in my pre-frontal cortex.
“Why don’t you invest in stocks?” he asked. I don’t like it. I don’t like the way it works –creating money out of money. “Okay, then invest in real estate!”
That’s it, I said. That was it. That has been my problem with the world around me. When smart well educated people are also making such statements like a knee-jerk reaction, without giving proper thoughts to what it means. Everyone’s just walking/jogging/running or at times even trudging along to god knows where – but for sure everyone’s sure of moving somewhere that they know is worthwhile, lest why else is the billions moving towards it too. I tell you, everyone’s moving along like these lemmings into an abyss of nothingness. Not nothingness for you or for me, or maybe even the next few generations. But into the abyss of nothingness for the humanity as a whole for sure.
To begin with, let us unravel the lies from the previous comment and what’s wrong with it. What is wrong with investing for your safe future, and a house after all? Everybody does it, and so should you else the prices will be higher when you actually need it. But see that’s the problem – everybody is being asked to do the same and hence everybody is doing the same. Creating unsustainable demands, morphing the supply, skyrocketing the prices. Why!! So that the ones with the capital, the investors can come in to supply the demand, make money and make investment returns.
Why this fascination with investment returns, I ask myself. Not very easy to put down in pithy writing of a blog. I’ll probably have to write a book, one day maybe I will. But heck, the guy making dizzying rounds of the elite tables – a blue pin to be won by intellectual elites that they have understood what he is talking about finally – Mr. Thomas Piketty has broached the subject with very astute analysis in a scientific manner in his book Capital in the 21st Century. Being an economist, his presentation is very erudite and full of references, but being a humble blogger and not a professional writer that needs to earn for his bread in between, I’ll manage with broad generalizations, the references of which are definitely out there if you do the reading.
Somewhere down the line, the day man decided to store things more than his requirement, things got out of hand. Well, we are even taught of the same at our schools through fables. Remember, the story of the Ant and the Grasshopper? The ant works hard and saves for the winter while Grasshopper enjoys his time. Ant is the ideal to be looked for while Grasshopper should be repudiated. Meanwhile if you read the first two paras on Wikipedia on the story https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Ant_and_the_Grasshopper you’ll realize that this idealism was vehemently questioned even in the past. My contention here is that the moment we became okay with saving for future, we wrote down the path we were to take till now, and forever on. They say in Texas, that after a flight takes off, a small force of wind can change the direction of the plane to land in Alaska instead of New York. Much the same, this small selfish development within the Humans have made us the weed species in the beautiful garden of mother Nature. Probably was always destined for as Dawkins proposes in the Selfish Gene. But we have come a long way from being selfish for survival to being hell bent on destroying the whole system.
Curiously enough do you know Sugar has not been in our main diet for long? Sounds preposterous isn’t it. But yet, that is the truth. Core hard truth. And beyond the ease and access with which we procure sugar at every household at very cheap prices, and can’t imagine our daily foodstuffs – think of the milk, kheer, rosogullas, chocolcates, candies and myriad other stuff – without it, lies the gory truth of Industrialization.
Not long ago, in fact few centuries before, sugar was considered a costly condiment/spice worthy of to be bought with gold coins in the European markets. Makes sense. Europe is not the right place climatically for the sugarcane plant to flourish. And other sources of sugar such as beetroot were not as economical. People could and would do without the sugar in the food. But then, how would their nutritional sugar needs be met you could ask. Through the carbohydrates in the meat and occasional tuber crops. But things got out of hand once sugar demand rose in Europe due to introduction of tea from China. The newly acquired taste for tea with sugar in Great Britain, brought in a great humongous demand for sugar from the households. Traders saw a viable opportunity to source it from the tropical countries. They would first source it from the South Asia – Philippines, Thailand et al. it was munificent and gave rich dividends. The cheaper sugar became, bigger the market expanded. Simple principles that every marketer wants to exploit for his products. This in a way, combined with other factors – majorly the factors of higher ‘investment returns’ led to process of colonization. When their own lands were not enough, the whites forcible acquired, conquered other lands. When resistance could be a problem in the Old world civilizations, they veered towards unchartered territories (which btw wasn’t unchartered – indigenous populations had been living there for millennia). The Spanish conquistadors, raped, looted, massacred the natives to the point where no history remains. None at all. On these points I will write later. But trying to stick to the argument below.
Colonialism in essence was a search for higher returns that was no longer sustainable. The whites – especially the Spanish, French, English and German have done unaccountable horrible deeds for this that has been documented but somehow misses that public glare still. And then they talk of ‘White Supremacy’!! Huh, biggest Bullshit. Humbug. But, the search for better returns led to economies of scale. Plantation cultures in the present day Central America, America, and Latin American countries majorly. Cuba became the Sugar Bowl of the world for nothing, and Vietnam/Thailand the rice bowls. The Latin American countries like Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay became the pork and beef suppliers.
In fact to detour a little, it’s quite interesting to know the amount of global history you can learn by questioning the food habits of people and it’s duration. As said earlier, sugar was never a mainstream food ingredient before few centuries. But colonization, economies of scale, slavery of African population and global trade made it possible to reach households cheaply. I wonder if our Rosogullas so famed with Bengal culture dates back to more than 3-4 centuries, and if it all, being affordable. Maybe it was a delicacy just for the rich. But definitely not far the masses. Similarly, if you think the European food habit and fascination with Beef and Pork to be partaken in giant portions dates back to pre-colonization era, you would be wrong. There’s no denying Europe was a cold place to live in and survival in the absence of viable agriculture would have been difficult. Only sustainable method of survival would be meat eating, which continues till date. But where would Europeans find grasslands for pastures, to raise feedstock and that too throughout the year? This limited the population growth for long until they found the wonderful pastures of South America. In his fascinating book ‘Splendid Exchange: How trade shaped the World’ Mr. Bernstein points out how the Conquistadors had to do nothing but introduce the pigs and cattle into the lush pastures. And then they would grow. Just multiply explosively. This ensured not just the survival of the invaders in a foreign land, but left them with surplus cattle and pigs that they had nothing to do with. In fact it’s then that they started hamming, and curing the meat to send back to Europe. This new source and amount of food that too cheaply was unprecedented in the European history. It allowed populations to flourish, cut off from the bondage of their own climatic conditions. And the motive for the conquistadors, the traders, the suppliers? ‘Higher returns’.
to be continued …