The new consciousness of money
Two simple things that the modern man takes for granted: money and time. In the last week, I have considered how the two abstractions have changed human life and experience radically. It is funny how once you have an idea, it seems to cycle through your mind and conversations. In this post I will first address money.
It began with the thought that in the past, and certainly in some parts of the world today (or parts of society), there was two ways to build capital. First, to have land. Land and property were something that could be passed generation to generation, could be profited from through trade and non-monetary “rent”. If you have land that is yours, you have secured for yourself one part in the food, water, shelter equation that is necessary for basic existence.
Second, you build your wealth by having children. Children used to be profitable, in a sense. Not only would they care for you in your old age, but the daughters could earn a dowry for your family (or the sons, depending on the culture). Children could work the land you have, farm the land you rent, or be the “minimum wage workers” of today’s society. The more children you had, generally the more wealthy you had the potential to be, up to a point.
The modern society has entirely changed this equation. Wealth is judged almost entirely by a single abstract metric – money – that allows you to purchase the food, water and shelter you need. While land is still a form of wealth, you could be very wealthy without owning land. You can be wealthy today without actually producing any product at all (and in this service economy, that is all the more true).