So it’s been nearly a month since Newtown and we’re actually still having a debate regarding gun laws. It may be the result of the horror of the Newtown massacre in particular or it may be that our current political climate is ripe for such a heated and emotive political fight; it may be the ubiquity of social media and our reflexive tendency to post reductive memes that scratch our pleasure centers and sure make a lot of common sense but once you dig a little deeper… well, you’ve seen the memes too. Whatever it is, it looks like this one might stick.
One of the reductive memes that I’ve seen as of late questions the the “realness” of money, debt, the economy. (I know its not about guns but, stick with me, I’m goin’ somewhere, I promise.) Anyway, as far as I can tell, the meme suggests we should return to the gold standard as a means of making our money “real” or at least not fake. I come from the Krugman School of Economics so I’m baffled by this. Gold is only of value because we collectively agree that its valuable. It’s pretty and shiny and rare I guess but none of those things magically imbue it with value. Our agreement that those things are desirable, on the other hand, well that’s different. The value of gold is a social construction, just like the value of paper currency. It helps to have a massive economy, a semi-functioning political class, and an industrial military complex alongside that paper currency, but it ain’t magic. It’s an agreement. And a very real agreement at that.
Now, for the guns. I can’t put my finger on it entirely but there’s something similar in the thinking of the “out-of-my-cold-dead-hands” bunch and the goldbugs. It’s a longing for something pure. And that purity seems to revolve around a survival-of-the-fittest fantasy world that my boss, a number of co-workers, a few friends, and at one point, the morning driver of the route 39 bus all seem to believe is just around the corner. Any day now. And these guys can’t wait. They can’t wait until the gold that they’ve supposedly amassed places them in some position of power after the collapse. They can’t wait until the marauders come to take there whatever so they can use their gun(s). Any day now. Seriously, any day.
(This was originally posted on blogger, or blogspot, or blogclog or whatever it’s called on January 11, 2013 but after a mere five day affair, I had to call it quits. What a steaming pile.)