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Literally Infinite Money

⏱ 8 min |

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No click bait here, I’m really going to talk about infinite money, so buckle up and enjoy this new 2^8 special!

This article builds steadily to the concept of infinite money because most people can't wrap their heads around it even when they understand all the principles.

Making money

You make money, your country also makes money.

For you making money means selling stuff, or selling labor.

For your country, making money means creating it out of thin air.

These two meanings couldn’t be more different, yet this distinction largely goes unnoticed, and because of this, almost everyone’s concept of money is a myth.

Yes, your country also sells stuff to other countries, but the currency market is only a place of transit for money, it’s not its origin.

Caring about money is caring

Some people speak of money as not that important or meaningful, they are usually those who have enough to associate it with luxury.

In reality, caring about money is caring about people, because a majority of them doesn’t think of it as luxury so much as food, shelter, health, or the ability to pay a couple of bills on time, some of the time.

In all likelihood you define money as a measure of wealth or something useful for trade, but those are just facts about money, they could just as well be said about gold when people carried it in pouches, yet your money and that gold are nothing alike.

You think you’re educated?

It may come as a surprise that pre-internet 19th century farmers knew a whole lot more about money than we do.

Indeed, they were the ones behind the Greenback movement that tried to influence monetary policy until it was dissolved in 1889.

Today, with all the access to information in the world, almost no one cares about and even less understand what monetary policy is, and that this insanely important responsibility lies entirely in the hands of non-elected, mostly unknown, decidedly private folks.

They, however, are not the topic of this article, the point for now is this: access to information doesn’t guarantee education, but curiosity helps, so keep reading if you have it.

Inflation, the lie that keeps on taking

Before introducing the concept of infinite money, you have to let go of what you think you know about inflation.

Inflation works exactly the way you think in a simple closed system, if you add more money to it and everything else stays the same, people are willing to spend more on the same thing driving its price up.

Unfortunately, this understanding of inflation doesn’t help in any way when trying to predict the effect of money supply in the price of goods, no more than understanding how water turns to vapor in a pressure cooker helps you predict the weather.

Unpredictability as a feature

Just like the weather, modern economy is an open complex system, and anyone trying to trivialize it using a simple metaphor like the closed room above is a charlatan. Literally.

Once upon a time that term referred to people who tricked others into giving away their coin with the promise of predicting the weather.

Complex systems can’t be predicted no matter how much humans love to predict, this is why they’re great material for the disingenuous.

In open complex systems nothing behaves according to intuition, and things can have completely unexpected consequences.

An excellent example of this is how adding lanes to a highway can actually increase congestion when every fiber of your body makes you think more lanes = less traffic.

Be wary of anyone appealing to your intuition to explain complex systems, they’re con artists, and if you accept this you’re ready for:

Infinite money 💸

A country or government can never run out of money, it can only run out of finite resources like food, oil, or fresh water, but by definition a finite resource is not one that you can print, let alone type into existence in a computer.

You can think of money like metric tons, the latter measures mass, the former measures value, but you can never run out of money just like you can never run out of metric tons, they are abstract ethereal concepts.

Money feels more tangible because it exists in physical form, but don’t let that fool you, coins and bills are a minuscule vestigial fraction of modern money supply, one that’s been put on life support by the recent pandemic.

One exception

For all except one country the concept of infinite money is relative, as they can still run out of foreign currency, preventing them from buying resources they may not have internally.

For the US however, the concept of infinite money is absolute. As the issuer of the world’s reserve currency, the US can never run out of it.

This means that the US is not only the richest country on earth, it’s infinitely so. It’s playing the game in god mode if you will.

The power of gods

The ability to issue the world’s reserve currency is truly the power of gods, but these “gods” aren’t any public institutions, they’re not even necessarily all americans, and they’re definitely none of the ones you’ve met.

In all fairness their identity is somewhat irrelevant, no one should be entrusted with this kind of power, so going over who they are to assess if they deserve it is pointless, it’s not like we should give that power to someone else.

A much more interesting question that I want you to ask yourself is this: If some people have the power of gods, what are they doing with it?

I’d love to say that it’s being used to cure cancer, get rid of poverty, hell even just getting rid of poverty in the US alone would be nice, and easy, with that kind of financial firepower.

Sadly, this power is just being wasted on a stupid war, but that’s not the point of this article, which can be found in the aptly named section below 👇

The point of this article

Infinite money is not just a catchy concept with no ties to the practical world.

Useful and even necessary policies are being discarded all the time because there’s supposedly no money for them. You have to understand that at the US national level, not having money for a specific policy is a farce, it’s smoke and mirrors.

But the FED

Some people may argue that money is technically controlled by the FED, but we can conveniently leave that can of worms sealed for now because at the time of writing the US Mint still exists, meaning some form of money creation is still available to the people and the FED can’t be used as an excuse.

But the resources

Others may argue that when we say there’s no money for X policy, it’s just shorthand for “there’s not enough resources”. There’s just no evidence to back this theory, with 30% to 40% of its food production ending up in landfills, no shortage of land, and vast strategic supplies of oil, the “no money is shorthand for no resources” theory just doesn’t hold any water, at least in the case of the US.

Conclusion

If there’s one thing I want you to take away from this article is this: at the US national level, saying that there isn’t enough money for infrastructure or any other investment you can think of is nonsense.

It’s not that it’s confusing or misleading, it’s not that it makes little sense, it’s that it makes exactly zero sense.

It’s a straight up fiery pants lie. A classic example of made-up non-truthful fabrication. It’s the intelligence-insulting verbal equivalent to spitting on your face, while still spitting on your face, at the same time.

From now on, whenever you hear this preposterous falsehood:

There’s not enough money to do both so we have to choose between policy X and Y

In your head, I want you to hear this far more accurate statement:

There’s not enough metric tons to weigh all this bullshit that I’m about to feed you

Which is saying something, considering metric tons are just as infinite as money.

There’s more to this story

The monetary system is made of two parts, a faucet and a sink. Here we briefly touched the topic of the faucet and its infinite supply, in my next special we’ll go over the sink, and that one will be a doozy, so thank you for following me and I’ll see you at 2^9!

Ask me anything

If you read the whole article with an open mind, no doubt that you’ll have questions, feel free to ask them on this article’s tweet and I’ll do my best to answer if the answer is short, or possibly turn them into an article if it’s not.

Why not write about code?
Developers are problem solvers, as a humanist I see society as the ultimate and most rewarding challenge, besides, we're way past The End of The Apolitical Developer at this point.
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