Every day is Purim

March 18, 2016

“Not every day is Purim” is — at least in its Yiddish and Hebrew equivalents — a very well-known idiom, used in myriad contexts, not least with regard to ridiculous or far-fetched situations.

But that was then, in days of yore, once-upon-a-time. Over the last couple of decades, Purim has expanded its sway from a mere one-day-a-year phenomenon, at most two. As the world has advanced steadily and seemingly inexorably deeper into a Looking-Glass environment, first many and then most days became Purim. This year, it is increasingly evident that we are at or near the point where every day really is Purim. Things have come so far that an opportunity is available to invent and establish a festival celebrating normal behavior, where for one day a year people can say and do things that make sense, rather than mouth nonsensical slogans and act idiotically.

The key concept of the Purim miracle as recounted in Megillat Esther, is ‘venahafoch hu’ — things were turned upside-down. The scripted scenario was thrown in the garbage and the utterly unexpected happened. This began with Esther’s absurd idea that all the Jews should come together in a single, united effort to meet the existential peril organized by Haman. Naïve and unprecedented as this idea was, Mordechai somehow made it happen — and all the rest followed.

In the Looking-Glass world, unfortunately, the Purimization process of turning things upside-down works overwhelmingly in a negative manner. Nowhere is this more apparent than with respect to money and the high priests of the money religion, the central banks. For at least one hundred, and perhaps several hundred years, central banks embodied stability, solid thinking and behavior, the shunning of excess and the avoidance of risk. The Dark Side, for this secular religion, was inflation and the struggle against it was seen as a sacred and open-ended task.

But that was in the twentieth century. In the current century, central bankers have descended steadily into what their predecessors — indeed, they themselves, in their younger days — would have labelled heresy and, worse, insanity. In the first years of the new century, central bankers stood aside and allowed commercial bankers and their accomplices to turn their profession upside-down, by giving loans to everyone, without regard to their ability to repay them — so long as they bought real-estate with the proceeds. When challenged over this, the central bankers claimed that they could see no bubble and that there was no cause for concern.

But there was a bubble and it burst, as bubbles do. Now the Purimization went into high gear. Behavior previously considered irresponsible and even criminal was now systematically white-washed and the perpetrators exonerated — without even being indicted. The victims were not left to suffer the consequences of their stupidity, but were given support in myriad ways — such as being left for years in houses that were no longer theirs, despite not meeting their mortgage payments.

Instead, the people who had not been directly involved and, especially, the older people who had suffered severe losses when the bubble burst, were now punished harshly. The natural order of economics was suspended and savers were systematically discriminated against, while people who borrowed and spent money that wasn’t theirs were cheered and encouraged.

This sage of Purim-world was initially successful — like getting drunk or high is initially pleasant. But it turned out that successively larger doses of money-injections were needed to achieve successively shorter bouts of pleasure. The central banking cabal pushed interest rates lower and lower and eventually began to penetrate a zone into which no-one had ever ventured, at least on that scale and for so long. This was the world of negative interest rates, in which savers and investors pay borrowers for the privilege of lending them money.

It should be noted, indeed stressed, that the goal of this policy was to generate higher inflation — in Japan, to create any inflation at all. Central bankers are engaged in frantic efforts to get inflation to go up, where once they fought tooth and nail to bring it down — and any sign of higher inflation is now cheered, rather than being greeted with dismay and concern.

Inflation is good and, by extension, higher oil prices are also desirable. That is not merely because they are either a symptom of higher inflation generally or its direct cause (or both…), but because higher oil prices will help the major oil producers in the Persian Gulf, namely Saudi Arabia, Kuwait et al, who are now being hailed — in Israel, too! — as ‘the moderate Arab states’. In reality, as opposed to Purim world, Saudi is the most viciously anti-Semitic, rabidly Islamist and generally illiberal and obscurantist state on earth. Shi’ite Iran and the Moslem Brotherhood, both preferred by the current American Administration, are less extreme than the Saudi moderates and their Qatari rivals.

Purimization is far advanced throughout the Western world, especially in seats of learning, study and reasoned debate. But it appears that, once again, it is the US that is leading the world. The country is split between those who would appoint Achashverosh as king and those who would reinstate Vashti as queen.

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