8X8: Cabaret du Jump
August 14, 2017
image credit: Jump-Start Performance Co
I love this format. I think this is the third (?) 8X8 I've been privileged to perform in. Eight pieces, each eight minutes long, performed in an 8'x8' cube. Curtain at 8:08pm, admission $8. I did a piece on income inequality titled In Eight Minutes. It was my last performance in San Antonio. I'll link a recording here once we have a recording made - which won't happen until we're settled in New Orleans. For now, here's the text:
IN EIGHT MINUTES
Once upon a time, if I had a chicken, and you had a basket, and if you wanted a chicken, and I wanted a basket, we could make a deal
What if me and her and him and them have chickens, but you only need one? Oh sure, you might also need some knife points, and a blanket, and a drinking horn, but we don’t have any knife points, or blankets, or drinking horns so, in frustration
We all invent money.
In 2017 the average American earns almost a penny every minute. That’s based on an average American salary of $45,000 per year. The Koch brothers are not average Americans. They earn about $13,000,000 each year.
Since I started talking, their net worth increased by $9,000 dollars. Ours? About one cent.
So money? was great! I could trade this shell for a basket or a blanket or a drinking horn, because even if you had a basket, but you needed knife points, and all I had was a chicken, I could trade you a shell for your basket, and you could trade Joe that same shell for some knife points, because Joe could trade Other Joe that same shell for what he needed:
Strong hide to make shoes.
I could trade this shell for anything! I didn’t have to walk and walk and walk, looking for someone who needed a chicken. Money was great!
Since I started talking, the American multinational company Nike (they make shoes, Other Joe would have liked them) earned $72,000.
Each person making Nike shoes, in a factory in Vietnam, earned .0028 of a dollar.
Nike is named after the Greek goddess of Victory. Isn’t that nice?
So shells are great! Until you want to trade with another village that doesn’t care about shells. So you find something all the villages in your area can agree on
Who knows why we think hard things have more value than soft things? I think that’s part of our problem.
So now you carry your rocks from village to village trading for stuff, and you start to think "this shit is heavy, and bulky. What if money could be something light instead? Something like… paper!" We could make it pretty! Put words on it, and colors, and the faces of important people, to show how important it is, this money. All that plus you can fold it up and put it in your pocket.
Since I started talking, 774 people were born.
That’s part of our problem too.
It’s Okay, we said. As long as the paper means something, we said. As long as it stands for something real, some of that heavy, bulky, metal-y stuff we all agree is the bomb, how about… arbitrarily… this metal they call “gold”
It sure is pretty. And that means it’s important, right? So if this piece of paper stands for some of that important “gold”, then THIS piece of paper is important, while THIS piece of paper wraps fish, Cuz THIS paper stands for THAT stuff you find lying around on the ground, not any of the OTHER stuff you find lying around on the ground!
THIS paper equals this SPECIAL YELLOW ROCK, and having this paper means I’m important, and having a lot of this paper means I’m more important than you.
And isn’t that a great thing to know?
Since I started talking 72 people starved to death
Here in America we threw away 242 tons of food, but not the 18,000 McDonald’s hamburgers
We ate those.
So paper is the same as gold, that’s the rule.
If I have this piece of paper, and you have that piece of paper, and everybody else has their own piece of paper, we can go to Fort Knox and trade our paper for gold, all of us, that’s the rule.
But once upon a time we needed more money to fight a war, and we bent the rule.
Once upon another time we needed more money to cure the National Blues, and we bent the rule.
Once upon another time a man who was not a crook (he said), broke that rule altogether.
As of April 2016, the United States Bullion Depository (that’s Fort Knox to you and me) holds 147.3 million ounces of gold worth about 180 billion dollars.
Our National Debt is $20 trillion
If all the gold ever mined in the world was in Fort Knox, it would only be worth about half of that. So yeah, we broke that rule into pieces. Gold may be real, and paper may be real.
But paper money is just something we make up.
Since I started talking, the US National Debt rose by $15 million dollars but that’s nothing!
Compared to the 531 million dollars the world spent on institutionalized warfare, in the last five minutes.
So this guy in the parking lot (I’ll call him Other Joe because he sure could use some better shoes) asks me for a little help.
He means money, cuz that’s the only thing we need and if we have enough of it? We don’t need anything else. The Fab Four lied. Love is NOT all you need. When was the last time love bought you a sandwich?
So here's Other Joe, or his great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great grandson, in worn-out shoes asking for a little help. Now, if I had a chicken, that would be helpful. But I don’t have chickens, anymore
And you know what else I don’t have anymore? I think it’s been weeks since I’ve touched paper money.
“Sorry man, I don’t have any cash” I say.
Since I started talking, 9 million people had orgasms, but only 354 of them got married.
That doesn’t really have anything to do with money, I just thought it was interesting.
So money is now a digital representation, of a mental construct, based on an abstraction of a memory, of a time when we traded real things for real things.
When we made stuff that people needed
Now, we mostly just make money, well, about 10% of us do, and they mostly make that money, on money
They make money lending money, selling money, selling money and buying it back a split second later and harvesting the tiny difference in the price by orders of magnitude. They make money charging people to hold their money, or grow their money, or spend their money for them
If they’re in Congress, they make money by trading on inside information. Which is illegal, by the way, except if you’re in Congress. Really.
Some of them make money because their great-great-great grandfather made money, probably by driving slaves, or exploiting workers, or polluting the air, and now they can just sit back and watch their money make money all by itself.
Some of them even make money by losing money. Because the tax code.
Since I started talking, sharks killed .0001612 people, and people killed 1,331 sharks.
But not the right kind.
If you don’t have money, it’s because you’re lazy and you won’t work - never mind that most people who don’t have money work all the fucking time, three, four jobs, and the people who have the most money, don’t work at all, and we seem to think that’s fine.
You say no, not me, my brain has not been colonized by filthy lucre, but do you tell people how much your job pays you? What your car cost? What your rent is?
Or are you coy about it? Do you say “my rent is reasonable”, or “the salary they offered was within range of my expectations”, or “I got a great deal on this car!”
Why don’t we speak the numbers out loud? Unless we believe those numbers define us?
What you won’t talk about, controls you. What if we took that taboo away? What if we were no longer controlled by money?
Since I started talking 16,000 people (that’s a little less than the average attendance at a Spurs game last season) earned as much money as the other 256 million people in America
That’s true every minute of every day.
I think I’m gonna need a chicken.