What is money? I mean, really, what is it?
Do you remember Mindy from the Animaniacs cartoon? She had a quirk that would piss off any parent or anyone in close proximity to a baby around the age of two or three, and that’s asking a barrage of “why” this and “why” that. Let’s do exactly that and get to the bottom of this whole money business.
Why Before What
My beliefs dictate that the things we do, believe or say are secondary to the reason why we do, believe or say those things. So, when looking at what we use money for, it’s far more construction to look at why we use money instead.
Just to get the ball rolling, I looked up money in the dictionary and came back with this:
Money (noun): any circulating medium of exchange, including coins, paper money, and demand deposits.
I think that’s a great logistical definition. Going back to why vs. what, we now know what money is. It’s a circulating medium of exchange. So, the next thing to do is to understand why we need a circulating medium of exchange in the first place. That’s simple enough.
We need a medium of exchange to get the things we want. Why?
We need to get the things we want because we need to live. Why?
We need to live because it’s a basic survival mechanism. Why?
There are some things we really can’t have an answer for. For the purposes of our existence, though, I think it’d be fair to say that beyond that, do we really need any more of a “why”? But at the core, if money is simply to survive, it seems like it’d be on the same level of priority as water, food and shelter. Our being accustomed to it may make it feel like it’s as good as those things.
We’re so used to money and we associate it so closely with those things it almost seems like we couldn’t live without it, just like we couldn’t live without water, food or shelter. However, if we take a step back and imagine ourselves in desperate situations without our money, having to find these things, despite the inconvenience and assuming you’re not completely hopeless, wouldn’t be impossible.
What Is It REALLY?!
If we’re rational enough, we can clearly see a distinction between the things we need to live and the medium for which we get them. In my mind, money doesn’t give us these things specifically; it gives us a level of confidence that we’ll get these things. The more money we have, the more confident we feel that we can attain the things we need to live.
It’s no guarantee, of course. The supply might not be there. Your money not be worth enough to get these things. The person selling you these things also feels the same situation. The supplier needs those things for themselves. We trust and have confidence that our money will be worth a certain amount and that the system that allows this transfer will be relevant when we need it.
Of all the things we can label money as–influence, power, survival, luxury, security, comfort, or even the root of all evil–the reason why we feel this is truly the confidence we feel that we’ll attain those things when we want them. (Well, maybe not the evil part.)
And that’s a wrap. It’s been a great run but Money Mondays has officially come to its end. The blogoshpere needs me in other ways and so I’ll be devoting my attention to that. Keep your eyes open and your ears perked for what’s to come toward the end of August. I appreciate your audience and am grateful for the opportunity.