Cole Webber

7636 – Counting doesn’t Count

I have been troubled on and on by the question: how much money is there in the world?

How much money is there in the world? Is a question most similar to How much water is in the ocean? Obviously, the answer most depends on how you count: but not in the simple manner you may think I mean, as in units of litres versus for another instance meters cubed. Even then: are we ‘counting’ only the metre contents, or also the film volume, however small (as a sheet of paper) of the x y z (double for paralleled) measuring planes? It depends on how you count the ocean itself. Do the rivers ‘count’? The lakes and feed-throughs that go to the ocean? The water which is being evaporated from the ocean into air humidity or further rain? If not those then does the water ‘in the clouds’ already ‘count’ – which themselves are only masses past a given density to form visible-to-us clouds, not much different at all from air humidity which is engendered by the same processes and so too can be returned to its source in time? If clouds, the ones there now or being sucked up and formed too in this instance? Even when you decide to ‘count’ or not the clouds or the air humidity coming from and returning to the ocean, you must still decide: In what instance of time? At any time there is a fluctuation of evaporation, condensation, precipitation. At what instance do we determine? Can we measure at the same instant everywhere in the world? Or a moving net average? Then, of what instant as any boundaries still start and end (a second is not an ‘indivisible’ atom but two sets of markers, so an hour is just a larger conceptual instant). GDP is not how much money there is in the world, it is the measured and predicted-extrapolated from measurements net money to change hands in one calendar year instant. There can be a lot more money or less money ‘in’ the world: and, for what purpose are we measuring? We have an accounting system where only one fiftieth or less of total accounted for, therefore underwritten, bank and nation-state accredited, and issued money can be kept on reserve in currency (which is different than money). (This is called ‘fractional reserve’). So, if we were asking to see ‘how much we could spend at once’, the more right answer of how much there ‘is’ would be misleadingly unuseful: we could not spend it all at once (for first how do you buy the world?) but also, only one fiftieth would be available to us at any given instant. What instant? How long does it take us to spend it? What instant? And now we are at accounting cycles. Likewise, if we were asking how much water there is in the ocean to see who could do the drinking up of it, the answer we give (to be useful) would depend on who is doing the drinking ands how fast they can drink. Even if they are drinking, if we are counting them as being connected to the ocean, as if evaporation itself — the end answer would not change. It is telling to me that when we draw boundaries as to what is included and what isn’t — though this is a descriptive, qualitative and not quantitative act — we say we are still ‘counting’; determining what ‘counts’. You can never get to ‘counting’ without drawing the boundaries first. There are no numbers, only what is being counted. As per our question with money, the most right answer to our ocean question is the same and is not a number but a definition. How much water is there in the ocean? is: how much matter engendered from water (and returnable to water) is present in all systems connected to the ocean. The total hydrogen and oxygen ratios in scenarios ready to be reacted at present in a state as to be driven by forces to reconnect to the ocean. How much money is there in the world?: is: however much value there is.

— cole