Humanity is pretty cool. We’ve constructed huge stone aqueducts running for
miles, developed a telescope that sees almost to the beginning of the universe, and
perfected techniques for cutting into people’s brains to remove life-threatening tumors. Yet for some reason we have still not figured out how to stay out of debt. In fact, when it comes to the topic of money, hardly anyone looks like an expert. Wait, I take that back…everyone is. It’s just that no one agrees on anything.
There is just too much philosophy when it comes to acquiring wealth. Heck,
it’s why leaders are deposed, wars are fought, books are written, and campaigns are
funded. It’s the wedge issue between Democrats’ “tax-and-spend” programs and
Republicans’ “cut-and-dismantle” policies. It’s the inspiration for “commy” texts seeking to abolish wages and viral videos detailing how Presidents on bills have actually been puppets for the New World Order all along. It’s the motivation for magicians who transmute lead into gold, and why corporations poison rivers instead of taking necessary safety precautions. Why Nobel prizes are given to banks that loan to the poor when no one else will, and the cause for protests and demonstrations on an international scale: it’s the inherent contradiction buried in the illogical quest for short-term “profit” before all else.
Disaffirming the worn out clichés and phrases we all grew up with, now serving
as relics of the all-too-warm-and-fuzzy past (“a penny saved is a penny earned”), it
appears that consumption for its own sake has virtually replaced ingenuity as the driving force behind a prosperous economy, expanding GDP while cleaning out mother nature’s cupboards. Everyone is scared that jobs are scarce, but no one seems to mind when plants and animals go extinct, until of course the value of food suddenly becomes evident and prices skyrocket. And once fresh water sources dry up? That should be fun. Maybe it’s the price we pay for claiming resources as personal property and selling them to our neighbors for as much as we can get. Maybe the Cree People really did get it right when they offered their infamous words of advice: “only when the last tree has died and the last river been poisoned and the last fish been caught will we realize we cannot eat money.”
I guess I thought I’d address these points to illustrate the limits of a monetary
system. Is there really enough money to do everything that needs to get done? Educate
every student in America, let alone the world? Feed every man, woman, and child, while
treating all their diseases? Revitalize our societies so we can adapt to a changing climate before the next big disaster? More than just a “medium of exchange,” money seems to be the lifeblood with which civilizations grow or die, the principal benefactor of cultural splendor, and the mark of a sustainable enterprise. I heard once that a Google search takes as much energy as boiling a pot of water. With 13 billion searches each month, our quest for information seems insatiable, even as energy concerns grow direr each day.
Since my very first freshman economics class, two of humanity’s most famous
equations have stuck with me to this day: 1) money is the root of all evil; and 2) time is money. Even with these connotations, they are the necessary resources available to us in redirecting the flow of human activity to organize a free-flowing system of production and distribution working to everyone’s benefit. Investments in services and products that grow our culture are undoubtedly important, but it is crucial to know exactly what investing in the “right” culture entails, so as to simultaneously maintain a sense of global and individual sufficiency through informed demand and an abundance of supply. Instead of adhering to historical sects of philosophy each espousing outdated concerns regarding the nature of money, let's each contribute to the prosperity of a generation looking to share in what has become a monopoly on the primacy of economic power.