Money

Money

So, time for the second instalment of my ‚Utopian Trilogy‘ (again I apologise for the pretentious titling but I just can’t help it, it’s cool to have a trilogy OK?). Having tackled the issue of ‚Power‘ previously, I now move to the other major issue affecting the functioning of the world, namely ‚Money‘. The last instalment is just going to be focused on how these two would combine and what a world looks like in my dreams. So here we go.

Money. A concept devised by humanity, wholly unnatural, at the root of all things bad about the world and frankly something I think needs to be got rid of.

Money is an indicator of the value of something. Be it the value of a product to a consumer, or a worker to an organisation, or something else, that is all it really is. But how do you actually decide how much any of this stuff is worth? What are the criteria? At the most basic level this is entirely arbitrary and makes absolutely no sense to me at all. For example, take any item you can buy. Its cost is determined by what? The cost of the work that went into it plus that of the raw materials. Fair enough. What dictates the cost of these? The cost of labour is determined by the manufacturer and what they pay their workers (with a generous cut for the managers who did fuck all). How do you decide how much these people are paid? Why would workers in one organisation be paid more than another? Or workers in different professions? Is there any fundamental difference? I don’t think so. As for the raw materials, what determines their value? They either got dug out of the ground or produced in a lab. How do you decide how much they’re worth? Probably the cost of the labour in their extraction/synthesis. Again, entirely arbitrary and without any actual foundation in reality. Reading this I must say it’s nowhere near as convincing as I would like it to be in all honesty, but I hope you get at least the basic idea, which is that the value of everything is entirely artificial, and thus so too is the value of money.

But money is how we get stuff. Without it there is practically no way to survive unless the likes of Bear Grylls and his ilk make far better programmes. And this is where the fundamental problem lies with money. Because it is so vital to our modern way of life, indeed entirely indispensible to all of us not blessed with the sort of training that John Rambo got, it encourages the very worst traits in the human character. Everybody needs and thus wants money. Hence in the pursuit of survival humanity will resort to anything. That’s why you see so much crime in impoverished areas committed by the poor. It’s not a matter of desire. I don’t believe anybody steals for a living, or for the fun of it. It’s necessity. Survival instincts. And the need for this is created by humanity itself with the invention of this concept of money. Now, I accept that not everybody lives in poverty. So surely those who find themselves outside of this world would be fine. Fuck no. Through the miracle of greed, these people are every bit as bad. They just want more and more and more, pushed by consumerism, so they can accumulate more and more stuff and show it off to their friends and push them into the same cycle of greed and pretentiousness. And it seems, by observing those at the top, that the more you have the more you want. The greed of the richest in our world simply astounds me, and I don’t understand how the world can be OK with that. We try to set out rules and principles and shit to live by, but where money is concerned all bets are off. People will lie, cheat, steal, whatever it takes to get a bit more. Everybody’s addicted.

But it’s humanity who created this mess. The main judgement of whether somebody is ’successful‘ or not in our world is their material worth, be that how much they have in their bank account, or how much their house costs, or what car they drive, the world is obsessed with it. Once you’ve fed yourself, put a roof over your head and met the basic needs for survival, everything else is just showing off for the approval of your peers. The only way it’s not is if you genuinely want these things, which I can accept that some people might, but what I don’t accept is that your ability to get these things should be based on how much money you have. I don’t tend to include personal anecdotes, but there’s one I find particularly relevant to this, and given that I’m not liking this piece so far and it’s not as convincing as I would like since I’m currently unable to express myself in an eloquent manner, I shall include it.

Unfortunately, I am from a very middle class family in a very middle class area. I live in a ’nice‘ house in a ’nice‘ area, went to a ‚good‘ school, I couldn’t be much more of a middle class white boy dream if I tried. I hate that I’m from such a world, but I digress. In our kitchen, we have  a toaster. Toast is something my brothers and I eat from time to time. We had a toaster capable of cooking two slices of toast, and for many years we used this happily, never, ever (as far as I can recall) having any trouble with the fact that it only cooked two slices of toast. Then at some point our parents decided to buy a new toaster which can cook four slices. What is the fucking point in that? In many years of eating toast never was it required that we cook more than two slices at a time. So why had we bought this? Precisely the reasons given above. Greed, driven by consumerism and social pressure so we could show off about how much money we have. This angers me so much. To this day that toaster has never cooked more than two slices of toast at a time. Indeed we always use the same two slots so the other half of it is still fucking brand new. And at the root of this pointless fucking bullshit is money, and the side of humanity it encourages. So why do we still encourage this? Why do we allow our self worth to be tied so strongly to this idea of money and material worth? I say we shouldn’t.

Now if we say that we actually want this stuff, and it’s not motivated by some streak of greed and pretentiousness. If we actually want this stuff, why shouldn’t we have it? Why should there be any barrier to you getting what you want? Why should an entirely artificial idea stand between a real human being and their desire? Why should somebody who works in a shop paying minimum wage not have a 4 slice toaster that they want, but a driving examiner and a police office worker should be able to buy one because they feel like it, just in case one day they’re maybe really really really hungry and need 3 slices of toast? Why should money be essential to get what you want? We’re all human beings, broadly speaking we all need and want the same things, so why should money create such divisions among us? Why should this pathetic idea of what somebody is worth hinder them in the way they wish to live their lives? My proposal is this. It shouldn’t. If I want something, as a human being, equal to all other human beings in my right to be happy and have what I want to have, then I should have it. There should be no barrier. We should simply all work together to produce what we want and need, and then give it to those who want and need it. I realise this is something of a difficult concept to grasp at first, but it seems pretty obvious to me in all honesty. Let’s say I want to go to a Chinese buffet for dinner because I fancy a bit of Chinese food. Why then should I be forced to go to McDonalds instead because it’s cheaper and it’s all I can afford? Why, if I want to listen to music in higher quality, should I be denied this because headphones aren’t compatible with what I get paid? Why should this invented concept stand in the way of what I want? Note I say ‚I‘ here, but these are only examples intended for general illustration. Why shouldn’t we have what we want because of some arbitrary worth we’ve had attached to us?

Now, I accept that it’s highly unlikely at any point in my lifetime or indeed in this millenium, that this will come into force. So if we do insist on having money, why can’t we at least do a better job of distributing it? A particular fact that seems to be going around at the moment is something along the lines of (unfortunately it’s late, I’m tired and can’t remember exact numbers) ‚the richest 85 people in the world have the same amount of money as the poorest 3 and a half billion‘. Yes, half the world’s worth amounts to that of 85 greedy corrupt bastards who’ve spent their lives taking money from the poor that they don’t need or have any use for, in exchange for a product that is either completely essential to human life and should be available to everybody, or more likely a product which, through advertising (or as I like to call it lies), people have been manipulated into buying on some pretence that it makes you a better person for having it. The idea of this completely fucking disgusts me, I won’t lie, and I don’t understand how anybody can actually think that’s OK.

If we insist on having money, if we insist on imposing this shit on ourselves, then why also make it a problem for some people? We are all equal I believe, and the greatest source of inequality is financial inequality. How does this arise? Well while the currently wealthy tend to have inherited this wealth through the rich conspiring among each other to keep themselves wealthy and everybody else down, let’s ignore that for now and assume we all started on an equal footing. How did it arise? People get paid differently depending on the job they do. Why? Just fucking why? Who decided that a banker should be better paid than a binman? Why should an electrician not earn the same as a politician? As humans we are all inflicted with an ego to one degree or another, and thus we like doing what we’re good at, and that’s often what we end up doing for a living. So why should some talents be better rewarded than others? Why because somebody happens to be good at physics, should they earn any more than somebody who’s good at making chairs? They have equal talents in their chosen profession, so why should that be the difference between eating and not? Why should that be the difference between (going American here) health insurance and none, and by inference life and death? How can that ever be acceptable? How can anybody justify to those on the wrong end of these arbitrary values people have assigned to them why they should starve because they’re good at something different from somebody else? I couldn’t. So yes, what I’m alluding to here in case it’s not clear is that we pay everybody the same, regardless of what they do. There is no logical justification for anything otherwise.

And then, finally, if that is implemented, then surely it’s not that much of a leap to move to the moneyless system that I talked about earlier. If everybody has the same amount of money and everybody can get what they need and want, then why do we need to bother with the exchange of this paper stuff, which we believe to hold some value? If the stuff is there and everybody has the means of getting it, why bother with such a symbolic gesture of paying? Don’t. Just get rid of it, and live free from the shackles which this places upon you.

A couple of footnotes. Firstly, I’m not especially happy with the way this has come out, and this may be subject to considerable editing in the future if I find a more coherent way to express myself without the obscene amount of question marks I feel like I’ve used here. And secondly, soylentjeremy I promised you that I would address some of the things we’ve talked about recently and I realised that this piece doesn’t really do that, I’m not avoiding the issue I promise but the next piece that I’ll be writing was always going to be a lot more along those lines so your reply will come mainly from there. Anyways thanks for reading anybody who did!

o/

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