Small silhouette of Doug Wolkon WELCOME TO PLURANOMICS, THE ECONOMICS OF MANY.

In a land called…

In a land called Nacirema, things are a bit backward from what you might expect.

Imagine walking down the street mid-day in Nacirema and a complete stranger stops and asks you to give him your hard-earned money. Not just all the money in your pocket, but all your life’s savings. He introduces himself as the “money-keeper” of the Nacirema tribe and promises you that he’ll watch over your money. He cannot tell you exactly where that is for security purposes and although you can’t see or touch the money once you give it to him, you are assured it will be safe. Since you’ve never met this person before in your life, he pulls out a small piece of paper and writes down three little letters “I.O.U.” to ensure you that he is good for it, and then asks you to sign it. He says you can present this piece of paper to him every time you want some of the money back or to give him more of your savings in the future.  He further reassures you that he has possession of many, many Naricema people’s hard-earned money and again promises that your money is safe in his hands.

“This is crazy” would be an honest first reaction. How could anyone in their right mind give their life savings to a complete stranger? But as mentioned, everything is backwards in Nacirema, and if you flip the letters around you’ll learn that Nacirema backwards spells American. In America this complete stranger is better known as a “bank”. But unlike in Nacirema, we do not even get the privelege to meet this stranger on the street. However, we somehow accept this mysterious “bank” entity as being safe and secure, just because…

Perhaps it is time we reconsider this false notion by trusting and investing our money in ourselves and our communities so as to protect the very livelihood we’ve worked so hard to attain. Or would that be considered “crazy”?


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