Many people might define money as a cure-all without equal, its shortage being the source of untold frustration and even despair. If only there were enough money, everyone could have all that they desire.
Money only has value, however, because the supply is restricted. As such, there will never be enough money for everyone; and if there were enough money, it would be virtually worthless. The more it gets around, the less good it will do and the less people will want it.
While we at the Church That Is No Church are of the opinion that more money could do us the world of good, we are also sure that more money will never be enough, there being too many problems to fix with money alone. Its good to have it, but its never enough to do what one really wants to do.
While troublesome in short supply, money becomes no less troublesome in large amounts. It buys moments of pleasure, without ever assuring lasting happiness. Of course, money never promised happiness, and yet money remains just that: a promise.
Money in our modern transglobal economy has never promised more and offered so little. Banknotes are like promissory notes, offering assurance that in exchange for an item of value, an amount of equal value can be provided. In other words, to get something valuable, you must offer something of equal value. Its the magic of money that it transcends the need for barter, providing, instead, for a system that can give value to anything.
How does it work? Well, the state makes money, typically by purchasing it at interest, since the cost of making money must be accounted for. It doesnt come out of thin air, although, the idea of making more money begins with an idea. There can be neither too much, nor too little; just enough to keep the transglobal economy a fluid system of payments, receipts, credits and debts; and if theres enough money for consumers to buy what they want, then theres enough for corporations to earn enough to continue providing more commodities for sale.
Theres no promise like fiat currency, which needs no collateral, not gold or silver or any precious metal once used to make coins. In good times it can be worth a fortune. In hard times, however, it may have more practical use as kindling for a fire. The worth of money depends on many factors, one of which is the worth that the state gives it. Although its the bankers who determine what money is worth to them, not the bureaucrats; the bureaucrats always taking marching orders from those with the most to lose. And those with something to lose dread nothing more than a plunge in the value of currency and the value of all things purchased with that currency, the envied losing their shirts and becoming just as pitiable as everyone else.
Sure, money is the source of great wealth, but that wealth is not always supported by commodities. And, like commodity, money is an idea which is worth only as much as its benefit to human beings.
As long as money benefits the most powerful among us, it will be paraded as the panacea of all ills; it only taking a modicum of ambition, talent and, perhaps, hard-work to earn it. Its said that money is there for everyone and that only those with money can live the good life that only corporations are in a position to provide. Its as if to suggest that without money, happiness is impossible; but its only impossible for those who find joy only in the acquisition of commodities.
While some people might claim that possessions are far more satisfying than people, such claims are disingenuous. After all, people strive for self-value which money, alone, is insufficient to satisfy. That self-value is what gives our lives meaning; and its meaning that gives more value to the things we have and the people we know. To give value to others is to value ourselves such that the more we value others the better we feel about ourselves. Some may dispute this, but such people must live that credo of self-containment at their own peril.
Our economic system is, of course, not one of self-containment but of interconnections; and yet the system of commodities, fueled by money, claims to offer all the happiness that anyone could want. Its not true, of course, because no end of commodities will ever satisfy; and it wont satisfy unless those commodities give us comfort and hope for the future. Of course, commodities never assuage our fears but, rather, make us more fearful of losing what we have.
In short, money is the promise of something better, a promise that can never match our desires and ambitions. The elites agree to give money value and further agree that commodities given value as well. While goods are bought and sold, investors trade on the value of commodities, thereby influencing what commodities are worth either by overvaluing them or by undervaluing them. Money, however, is never more than an agreed upon value; a promise of worth used to back up another promise of payment.
The promise has value only as long as there are goods to sell and people can afford to buy them. That means that people must have the means to earn money and that there are entities with sufficient money to supply a wage or a fee. Those entities earn money for providing goods and serves to everyone else; the most powerful, among them, influencing the business of government to protect and even enhance those earnings. Those elites claim a larger and larger share of the market, driving down prices of consumers and increasing purchasing; and, yet, the reduction of competition ultimately reduces quality and raises prices until only the elites can afford the most prized commodities, everyone else settling for little more than the promise of something better.
Money promises meaning and happiness without ever providing such things. And yet our transglobal economy is premised on the possibility of buying and securing a better life, as if money could be used to leverage purchases into joy. Its not freedom we gain. If anything, were mortgaging that freedom for the life were told we need and for the things were told we should want.
As such, money promises the world but, accumulating a debt that will never be repaid. Not only is the system in debt to us, were in debt to the system, our interests inextricably linked in the transglobal economy that requires full participation for it to work. And yet its an empty system built on the premise that despite scarcity of all things theres still enough for everyone to get what they want.
Is there an alternative to money, you ask? Perhaps a barter system premised on commodities themselves rather than the idea of commodities having worth? Sure, the promise would be backed by more substantial collateral, but individual worth would still be limited to the value of that individuals collateral.
Money limits the extent of human possibility, which wouldnt be half as bad if we werent so reliant on it. Not only does it delimit our worth, it informs what can and cannot be done since nothing can be accomplished now without money. It fuels our system and sustains those who work in it. Designed to permit a more fluid exchange of goods and services in a complex economy, money is now used for everything; which means we wouldnt know what to do without money to channel our efforts. Money defines value and provides incentive. Without it the consequences would be catastrophic. Like a drug-addled addict, our very dreams are in the service of money which tells us what is possible and what isnt possible. We dont need money, of course, but we want it desperately, as if we could never be happy without it. Its a self-created scarcity which keeps things from being done for no other reason than lack of money. And as long as human possibility suffers for the restraint, money becomes more of a jailor than a liberator.
Weve seen that the more money there is, the less worth it would have; the broader the access, the less desirable it would be. This is because broad access to money would actually give substance to the idea of equality; and with true equality, there would be no need for money. After all, money is merely the opportunity to one up everyone else by gaining better access to the good life. Without money, that advantage over others could only come by way of coercion. In a civilized world that condemns violence (unless it can by used to back up an ideal), coercion is a thing of the past; and so money provides the same benefits without the mess. Unfortunately, wars remain profitable and so money gets thrown at the business of armed conflict; the more money is at stake, the quicker nations come to blows.
Money, which is supposed to make us more civilized only reinforces the barbarism that has driven us for millennia: taking what we can and giving nothing in return, making promises of a better life that will never be fulfilled and trying to buy that better life no matter the unpaid debt. Its the idea of everything which, at bottom, is really nothing; and yet its still enough to prompt the same conflicts that have long punctuated human history with blood.
If money is a means to an end, its the same end we always had. Money is just a way to make it look different, as if making that money were our purpose and spending it what made us happy. Sadly, money is an end in and of itself, which is why the promise of a better life is rarely, if ever, satisfied.
Money gives commodities, and people, an agreed upon worth, subject to the whims of supply and demand. Some people dont get valued enough while others get far more worth than they could ever earn. The values, of course, are accomplished both by a consensus of the elite and the fluidity of the transglobal economy; and the market is only fluid because people have faith in it. But its faith in an idea that money will make life better for all and not just the elite who give money value.
The solution is self-value which, unfortunately, doesnt have much monetary value in our transglobal economy. Nonetheless, self-value gives happiness and meaning where money and commodities cant.
While were not advocating a life without money, we are advising you to put it all in perspective and give money only the value it deserves. Its up to you, of course, not an elite of so-called experts who claim that only they can understand how the system funds itself. With self-value, your worth will no longer depend on others but upon yourself.
The solution, as always, comes from within and the problems, as usual, come from without. Money, however, makes the problems of the world our problems too. By giving us a stake in the outcome, we become participants in that system. The stakes, however, are much higher, the transglobal economy in no position to measure up. Thankfully, money doesnt have to measure up because its only an idea. And were more than just an idea, which thus gives us greater value.
Money might help, but its not the ultimate goal. The goal is the enduring satisfaction that comes of a meaningful life, and such a life cant be bought or sold. That meaning is different for all of us, there being no standard rate of exchange to bring us all in sync. In a world with a rapidly increasing population, our worth cannot depend on our infinitely small share of the worlds resources. Our worth must exceed that, there not being enough money in existence to match our self-worth, which is as it should be.
The transglobal system diminishes us, but that doesnt mean we have to be diminished; and as long as we can stand apart, we can find the happiness that money can never buy.