Comedian Louis CK isn’t for everyone, but I’m a fan and this bit has always made me laugh. For one thing, we’re basically the same age and have seen the same transformations in the world around us. The one part of this bit that I’ve always talked about with much younger people is the idea that you once had to go inside a bank and get money to do the things you had to do, planning out your life more carefully in the process, and when the money had run out you couldn’t do anything anymore. Think about that change and marvel at how different the world is when you have access to both money and credit 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year. There’s never a blackout on your financial power unless there’s an actual blackout, or you end up homeless on the street.
The financial crisis is blamed on irresponsible lending, complex financial instruments, greed, corruption, and the rest. In fact, the formal roots of the financial crisis are found in electricity. No one will say that on TV, but it’s true. Electricity brought about the shape of monetary life that we don’t recognize any more than the fact that we’re sitting in a chair hurtling through the air when we fly from NY to LA. We’ve had money in some form since the days of Mesopotamia and accounting as well. The invention of money and accounting transformed ancient society (see: Denise Schmandt-Besserat) and now we have various iterations of electric technology rapidly altering the way we understand ourselves with respect to the resources around us, including the ancient notion of currency.
“Give it a second!!! IT’S GOING TO SPACE!!”