Economic crises have us addicted to stimulus - Jim Duffy comment

Cocaine is big business.

Just like an addiction to cocaine, we are hooked on fast and free money, says Duffy. Picture: Kzenon/Getty Images/iStockphoto.

It is a global product that has millions of customers. The advertising department isn’t all that big either, nor is the marketing section. But the sales department is always busy. There is big demand for this “fun” high. Of course, selling and possessing cocaine in Scotland is an offence. This Class A drug is illegal. But the drug itself flourishes.

So too does its rather sinister and hugely addictive variant, crack cocaine. Crack is a killer. In the USA, crack has many thousands of poor souls dependent on it every day as it withers away their very existences. Exactly the same way that quantitative easing or money-printing is killing off our economies. We, while we may not know it, are financial “crack-heads” and all now are art and part of the age of “crack-o-nomics”.

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Of course, I’ve simply made this term up, but as you will see, it is alive and well and resembles the addiction to the street drug cocaine. No-one sets off in life to become addicted to the likes of crack cocaine. It takes time to get introduced and acquainted with it. Exactly the same way that one may start smoking. One sees others doing it, perhaps in a peer group. Then it is offered to you.

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Whether you decide there and then to accept can have life-changing implications. Especially at ten quid for a pack of fags these days. And cocaine is just the same. Usually, a friend or colleague has it at a party. The next thing you know, you are being given the opportunity to have some. That curious white line of powder that you have seen in movies and documentaries.

It is risky, dangerous, but promises excitement and good times. Then there is the rolled-up £5 note. The tool for transporting the good times up one’s hooter and into the bloodstream. A few minutes later and the good times kick in. But what happens from thereon in is no longer yours to control.

And with the highs comes the price to pay. Cocaine is not cheap, although many would argue the price of alcohol in pubs and clubs now makes cocaine a better economic choice, strangely. For some, the next step is a more powerful high.

Economic crack den

This is the crack element of cocaine, where human beings get so badly addicted and scarred that the consequences are life-changing, life-threatening and cause nothing but pain. Quite literally addicted for life – a life that becomes a psychological prison. And moving back to our economic analogy, that is exactly where we are just now – entering the economic crack den.

With each financial and economic crisis, the fiscal stimulus injected in the system increases. Over the decades, each money-printing deal has risen in value. From millions of dollars or euros, to billions and ultimately as we can see now, trillions.

From the Great Depression right through to the current problems, thrust upon us by a pandemic, our addiction to fast and free money has increased. Every ten to 12 years, we need even more of the money drug injected into banks and bonds, so we can get through the day and months and years. But, recently, the money drug is getting more dangerous and even more addictive. So much so that very soon, in say ten years, the drug’s effects will wear off and we are in real danger.

Only this week, the Eurozone has printed hundreds of billions of euros to keep European “crack-o-nomics” alive and well. This on top of billions injected during the lockdown periods. From Europe to the USA, we cannot survive now economically without our quantitative easing fix. No longer is it that first line of cocaine offered at a party. No, now we are addicted, we need more and more and at some point the effects will wear off.

At some point, there will be no high, just misery. I wonder if top politicians and their advisors will wake up from this overdose and try to figure out a better way to reduce our addiction and leave us drug-free and “clean”. It might take 50 years. But if we don’t do anything about it soon, the generations to come will feel the full effects of crack-o-nomics. And none of it will be their doing…

Jim Duffy MBE, Create Special

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