Don’t mind the fairly laboured math joke of the title, I aim to discuss the sloppily-effective, disjointed economic system we have compared to the value we place on essentials. My particular focus will be on the shift of value due to a world disaster where there would likely be a suspension of rule of law, like a… Oh, I don’t know, zombie apocalypse. I can hear the eyes rolling but let’s just assume it’s possible. I maintain that a viral/bacterial, parasite hybrid could hijack the central nervous system and/or brain and produce the famous zombies we know of in popular media.
So, assuming it’s all possible, what becomes of our economy then?
Currently we watch the news and read the articles, all of which are yelling economic crisis and collapse. If what we have is so good and advanced, why do we have all these problems with businesses and economic classes? The only logical answer is that the system sucks. Even if the problem isn’t the system itself, it’s the execution. A good system, I’d argue, would be hard to take advantage of. I think that would be best represented by the outcome of a disaster situation. Without stock markets, credit bureau’s or banks the tried, tested and true barter and trade-based economy would rise.
If a zombie apocalypse were to happen, the things we value would change drastically along with their supply. Food and water would be paramount and more valuable than gold is now. In a disaster situation, someone with a well would be considered rich and have a valuable resource to trade for food or weapons. The economy we have now is focused on wants, not needs. Water and food are cheap because they are plentiful and easy to get and produce. The economy is so bad in many places now because everyone is trying to get their own fortune over everyone else. Those who have money will always have an easier time making more and maintaining what they already have. Those who have to struggle will often fall behind and have little or no opportunity to catch up. There. I just explained the dwindling middle class. If you want the specifics, go take an economy class.
Despite the necessity of food and water even at times of peace and stability, the values remain disjointed. Shortages in supply and production can affect the pricing but never to the degree where you would take a bottle of water over a gold bar. Enter the zombie apocalypse, an event that suspends rule of law. This suspension of governing law ramps up peoples survival instincts adjusting their personal value systems. With no official economic system and money becoming essentially useless, trade and barter becomes the easiest and most efficient method to obtain resources.
If you get caught in a grocery store during an apocalyptic event and stock up on food then run into someone who stocked up on weapons (improvised or otherwise), it would make sense and benefit both parties to trade for mutual survival. With any system there is the potential for exploitation. Someone with power may use it to coerce a beneficial situation for themselves. However, ignoring that aspect, a trade system compared to what we have now would be harder to take advantage of. Without the addition of monetary notes and currency values, the value of traded resources would not be static and vary depending on the need of the individuals in the trade. The lack of independent value of currency would keep everything else normalised affected only by supply and demand based on culture and region. A trade of fresh water for gold would now seem silly but possible when water is more necessary for a majority of people.
Now when you think of how our money, gasoline and economy changes values based on analysts, brokers, and banks the oddities are more apparent.
Maybe I’m wrong that a trade system would be better, but I’m confident in saying that what we have now is dysfunctional and needing, not just renovation but innovation.