Saturday, January 23, 2010
What does this mean? Money is sound when it can only be obtained by creating value. Its sole purpose is a medium of exchanging positive values with other people who create value, and storing value for use in the future.
Under these conditions, contempt for money is contempt for virtue.
What is virtue? Simply: is the creation of value.
What, then, is value? At the most basic level, it is simply those things that keep the valuers alive and make their lives more worth living from the standpoint of their personal judgment. This latter clause can lead to inconsistent valuation of given thing between individuals. Rather than posing a problem for the theory of value, this diversity of values allows valuers to more fully explore the space of possible values and keep from getting stuck in local maximums.
Its important to emphasize that there is no single standard of value for all valuers. Each valuer has a potentially unique standard. How then can individuals communicate? How can they exchange values when they have no common language of value between them? This is the function of currency: to communicate personal standards of value between individuals with differing standards.
So: can it be said in our current politco-economic environment that money is sound? Hell no! There are myriad and sundry ways it can be obtained without creating value; just as many (if not greatly more) of them are legally sanctioned than otherwise. Should this trigger contempt for money? No; money is just the medium. Should this trigger contempt for the wealthy? No, but it precludes automatic reverence of the wealthy. Most wealthy people are so because they have indeed contributed positively to the well-being of their fellow, but the presence of dishonestly obtained wealth among them confuses the issue.
What we should be working towards is a world where wealth is always an indication of virtue; where people are justly rewarded for making the world a better place to live in.
Over the summer I was frothing at the mouth over the "let us destroy your car so you can buy a new one for a ten-to-twenty percent discount" program. The article referenced below has some nice reflections on the effectiveness of the endeavor.
Note the predominance of foreign manufacturer names on the "newly purchased" stats, and the exclusively domestic nature of the "traded in" stats. Ironically, the cars on the first list are just as likely to have been built in the US as those on the second. That's an overall positive statement for the US economy, but cause for further amusement at the government's misguided attempt to help GM and Chrysler.
"Top Vehicle Purchased: Toyota Corolla
Top Trade-In Vehicle: Ford Explorer"
- Quick Stats: Who Benefitted From Cash for Clunkers? (view on Google Sidewiki)