Wednesday, December 9, 2009

For the Love of Money

It is a sad thing that money is so important in today's world.
But it is also inevitable that in a 'civilized' world there had
to be some way of compensating a person for work done for
someone else. To understand this, we need to look at the way
most animals earn a living.

All living things on earth, humans included, require a few basic
things in order to live, and if luxury allows, they get a few
extra things that may not be essential, but make life a bit
easier. Animals need to eat in order to survive, and whether it
is an antelope grazing the fields all day, a cougar hunting for
his meal, or a human being punching a time clock, it is all the
same thing.

At the beginning of their existence, humans were like any other
pack of wild animals...they wandered, they hunted, and ate
things that grew. Humans were undoubtedly social from the
beginning, living together made team work possible, much like
many carnivores in today's world.

Carnivores have an advantage over herbivores in that their food
source is much higher in calories and protein, which means they
get more nourishment from it than grasses and leaves can
provide. Plant eaters must spend nearly all their waking hours
in the single act of feeding themselves just to get enough
energy to survive and grow.

A meat eater may have to hunt his food down, but once he gets
it, he can gorge himself on one huge meal and be sated for a
time. It is not uncommon for large mammalian carnivores to go
several days without a meal, and cold-blooded predators such as
snakes and lizards can even go for several weeks between meals.
Predators, then, could afford the luxury of some free time...and
in the case of humans, this gave them more time to think.

Sometime in our dim dark past, several separate bands of humans
discovered that they could trade items with each other, such as
tools for food reserves. If a particular man happened to be
adept at fashioning a certain kind of tool, then he could trade
these services for something else that he desired. As human
experience and knowledge grew, it became more and more
difficult for a single individual to possess all the knowledge
his race had collectively.

This is why a bartering system would not work for any other
animal in the world, regardless of their intelligence or lack of
it. Individual animals of different species pretty much all
have the same amount of knowledge, their life is pretty simple,
mostly controlled by instinct. Take a herd of antelope, a flock
of birds, or even a herd of intelligent whales...each individual
pretty much knows all he needs to know to survive, and they're
all fairly equal on what they know.

There are some minor exceptions, such as matriarch elephants
who have the knowledge of where the good watering holes are,
and these animals are true leaders. But generally speaking,
animals do not have the intelligence to diversify, and an individual
cannot produce something that another member of his species will
want badly enough to "pay" for.

Humans, however, are so intelligent and multi-faceted, that when
the individuals combine all their knowledge and experience into
the whole, we find that it is impossible for any one person to
know everything there is to know, even thousands of years ago.

So we have someone who is good at farming, but not so great at
building shelters or fabricating tools. How can this farmer get
the tool-maker to create a tool for him? Well, we can
trade...we can pay the tool-maker with food. Civilization has
now progressed to the point where human society cannot exist
without money...and that is why money is so important.

Once our physical needs are met, such as food, clothing, and our
hundred thousand dollar shelters, then we can look toward the
luxury items. Humans are intelligent and clever, someone is
always inventing something new that others will we can
pay these people for their toys. Computers, fancy cars,
vacations, means far more today than just
surviving. If we have enough of it, we don't have to do
anything we don't want to do...we can pay someone else to do it.

And this is where money can become ‘evil’. If it is so
important to us that we lose sight of anything else, where we
are willing to employ immoral or illegal means to get it, or if
we become so greedy that we think only of ourselves and are not
inclined to use it for the benefit of others, then it has become
our main focus in life…our ‘god’.

I do love my vacations and electronic gadgets, to be sure, but we
can't let money control our lives so that we care about nothing

I also predict today that money will always exist...of course
not in cash or coins, but some kind of credit and debit system.
Some science fiction stories imply that money is abolished in
the future, but I contend that there will always be jobs that
nobody wants to do in this world, and there must always be some
way to compensate the people who end up doing these jobs.

Peace be with you

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