Ruins Of Dumb Money

Originally written on March 31, 2019

In the absence of incentives, people are likely to do whatever they are naturally driven to. The moment an incentive is introduced into the system, their behaviors start to polarize.

In an economy that has expanded beyond basic needs and wants, if money is added to incentivize more production, what is there to be produced? To grab the new money, people may engage in ventures that they might have not engaged in otherwise. For example, when a nation incentives education, hordes of people, who aren't intellectually inclined, enroll in educational institutions. As students, they do badly. As researchers, they produce sub-par scholarship. This continues until so many people get degrees that the value of a degree gets diluted to less than the cost of it. Similarly, economic incentives to any industry or market invite players that are bound to perform sub-par because they were not naturally/organically interested.

The incentive of dumb money also leads people to do useless things. There are people popping bubble wraps on Youtube. Some solve problems that do not really exist. Others create problems to solve them. Just because there is money to be made, they do things they don't really care about. A big part of the finance industry exists because money is fiat. So many lawyers exist because there are so many laws. So many accountants exist because there is SEC. Most insurance companies exist because the government has terribly rigged the market, reducing the supply of whatever these companies insure. So many tax professionals exist because the process is complex, beyond being mostly unneeded. In an open market, majority of people in the above sectors won't be needed. Deep down, they are throwing away their lives. Thus, it is only natural that modern people struggle to find meaning in life. Just how much satisfaction does a YouTuber derive from popping bubble wraps for a living? I won't be surprised if he's depressed. His job means nothing to the real organic market.

Incentives externally motivate people to do things that they are not naturally inclined to. Doing things just for money makes people sad once they have experienced the momentary pleasure of money. They also lack a sense of meaning/purpose in their work because their work really does not mean anything to anyone. The demand side struggles, too. Extrinsically motivated individuals produce sub-par and unneeded products. Today, pretty much everything people buy is dumb shit. Then, they are dissatisfied that they spent all their money but have no clue what they spent it all on.

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