Like Hannibal Lecter, Economists Eat Brains

Shitloads of Money by Liz Phair on Grooveshark
I stopped by the Leander Public Library after dropping Misty off at work this morning. I actually went inside, got a library card (you only need photo ID now! not photo ID and mail), browsed, looked up some books and ended up checking out three.

I’ve had a library card for every city I’ve ever lived in — unless it was a base library card instead of the local town’s. Air Force bases tend to have really good libraries.

It was disappointing at how small this new, white stone building was. There are actually two wings, but one is dedicated to conference rooms, according to the librarian with whom I spoke. The kids’ area was huge. It could have passed for a daycare, without the unattended kids running everywhere (only a couple). The Austin Public Library often seemed to be a daytime homeless shelter. That wouldn’t fly long in Leander.

With most of my books in storage, and my new medications waking me up as early as 3:30 in the morning now, I’ve been desiring a non-e-book to satisfy my brain tickling. (Seriously, it sort of feels that way — as if my brain were tingling with desire to start reading or writing and a then a wash of pleasure — tickling — comes over it during the act.) I’d read all the printed literature (newspapers, books, magazines, journals, etc.) in the house. I needed something I could run my finger down the margin, follow the words with my finger, generally ensure I mess up all the doors in the house. I just love the feeling of books. And the smell. Misty makes fun of me for smelling books. I make fun of her for not.

I do run my finger down the side of the Kindle when reading. It’s almost worn the right-side bezel smooth.

I checked out books most would find boring. I couldn’t find any decent design or technology-related books to read and criticize; I settled for economics. I’ve recently been interested in the origins of money and debt.[1] There is so much talk about the national debt that I wanted to understand it. Instead, I ended up reading David Graeber’s Debt: The First 1,000 Years and becoming more interested in the concept of debt and money — and how we’ve injected economics into morality (“good people pay their debts”).

I’m not a fan of economists, in general. As I’ve noted earlier, I think they’re mostly ideological pundits. It’s sad to know they follow economic theories — no, worse, attempt to make us live under their theories — based on the false assumption that there was ever a barter community in the distant past (a complete fiction) or that supply and demand is all that matters.

Five financial reporters recently admitted to not having the faintest idea where money came from or how it evolved.

I want to write more about economists and debt here at some point in the future, but for now I want to keep formulating my argument, reading and learning.

I ended up checking out What Money Can’t Buy: The Moral Limits of Markets by Michael J. Sandel and Niall Ferguson’s The Ascent of Money: A Financial History of The World. Previously, I read the Graeber book, Felix Martin’s Money: The Unauthorized Biography and another book, the name of which eludes me now.

I also left with Red Dragon. I’ve been on a big Hannibal kick lately, since my friend wrote about the new series on his blog. Misty and I have watched all the movies except Red Dragon and the first season of the new series. The exceptions are those we’d have to pay to watch. Figured I’d read the book instead. That should really screw the story up in my head.

Somehow, the juxtaposition seems apt.


1. This was prior to the hullabaloo surrounding Thomas Picketty’s Capital in the 21st Century.

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