Prime Time Crime


A description of the thing is not the thing itself

by Joseph Pope Jr.

There is a simple error in logic that seems to becoming a norm in human behaviour and that is mistaking a description of a thing as the thing itself.   If you use the English letters c-h-a-i-r to describe a chair you can't sit on the letters, nor can you sit on a picture or image of a c-h-a-i-r.   This seems like a very simple point but for some reason it seems to be a major jump in logic for some people.

With the elections taking place in both Canada and the United States this error has taken on a life of its own.  

While this mistake is found in the emotions that are being let loose in the various media by such things as Michael Moore's Celsius 488.33 (I respect Ray Bradbury too much to use the stolen title and besides this is Canada), Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ, the images from the War on Terror and many other current events, I want to talk about government and money.

Money is a common medium of exchange that represents a value that is used to buy goods or services.  That value is different for each individual and changes based on their needs and wants from moment to moment.

In order to limit debate in this context, I will use a definition of Hard money as that money related to individuals who value their pennies and to whom a $10 bump in the road takes a while to level out, if it ever does.  Hard money is the normal method of exchange in third world countries and for the poor in second and first world countries.  It is hard for people to come by


Soft money on the other hand relates to that group of individuals to whom a $10 bump in the road isnít a bump at all as they are fairly certain they will get more money and therefore their value for it is lessened by having access to more of it.  This is the basic principal that the more of something you have the less importance each individual item of that something can have just from the physical limits of time and energy.

When you get into the area of governments and business spending billions you are beyond individuals looking at money as hard money or soft money but are now looking at it as number money.  This is not to say there isnít a value attached to the money but only that there is so much of it that it becomes a numbers event that is far removed from the value of the individual item.

This difference in the definitions of money is one of the sources of conflict within any society and within the global community, as they aren't talking about the same thing but they seem to assume they are.

Given the changes in the global community in the last few generations it has now become an even bigger event because the global community has discovered that what happens in one part of the planet has an effect on what will happen in all other parts of the planet.  The bad news about this is that most of the current social systems and groupings of individuals havenít changed to reflect this.  The Internet has only helped to speed it up.

While the fall of communism and Russia as a super power has been attributed to many things, the most likely is not a political reason but a simple one of a group of people getting tired to looking at pictures of a supermarket, shelves overflowing with things, and then going to their local stores and finding nothing on their shelves.

A special interest group like a government, business or a union that had been able to improve the amount of money holdings of its individual members now finds itself facing the loss of everything as the money flows for various reasons to a different part of the global community.  Those parts of the global community that are focused on hard money do so because their members have a lower skill  and want level and therefore they will always be able to operate cheaper than those parts of the global community that are focused on soft money or numbers money, which require a higher skill level.   This is not a statement about the potential skill level but only about the current one.  

If I am worried about basic food, air, water and shelter for my family today, I will be doing a different set of activities than a person that is worried about upgrading their fulfillment of these basic needs.

If we take a situation like the UN report that a Lack of vitamins and minerals impairs a third of world population then it would follow that doing something to help end this situation, no matter where these people are in the global community, would be cost effective.  The report looked at 80 developing countries representing some 80 per cent of the world's population. It found: - Iodine deficiency has lowered the intellectual capacity of almost all of the countries by as much as 10 to 15 percentage points.  It causes 18 million children a year to be born mentally impaired.

If you donít think there is a relationship between your taxes, the cost of the goods and services that you use, your personal security and the intellectual capacity of those with whom you share the planet, then you are on the wrong web site.   The cartoon network is elsewhere.

With the current government system in North America where money spent can be the prime reason for being elected and since the ideal of those playing the political game is to get elected, there is another source of potential conflict.  Add to that the fact that the incoming money is usually includes money from special interest groups and that potential conflict is increased, as one of the basic rules is return on investment.  You donít give something away for free unless you get a return, either in votes or in something that will allow you to make more numbers money.

There is also the cost of trying to make sure you get a positive return on your investment either by lobbying or by people management to ensure you are allowed a benefit in the marketplace.

In the United States, this return on investment can be seen in the special way that  certain industries like drug and energy companies are treated and where the normal rules of competition arenít enforced.  

The conflict in definition leads to situations where the Canadian government will use a spin program like policy optimization to try to get the right policies in place for the optimization of outcomes for users benefits with the least amount of numbers cost. 

This is based on the belief that citizens always want more for less.  In most cases this is true, largely  because the citizens are looking at paying in hard and soft money while the government is looking at numbers money and therefore arenít as focused on the individual dollar.

When the government spends a billion on finding out what it is that the users want, this isnít seen as a related cost.  After all spending a billion dollars on various opinion polls is just finding out what is necessary to stay in power.

There is another source of conflict that comes from this different definition of money.  To the individual, the money  coming out from a whole system is their money.  Because of the various levels of government and the various sources of income, personal taxes, business taxes, gas taxes, liquor taxes, tobacco taxes, GST, special levies, sales taxes, lottery income and much, much more, the government isnít ever dealing with a whole system. 

On the positive side money doesnít care about your age, race, belief system, or in fact any details of being a human being.  It just is a medium and is the message, but it is not the thing itself.

 Number Money - a PowerPoint example

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