Friday, August 5, 2011

Money - Skewing value

While many may feel that a monetary value assigned to something is an accurate reflection of its worth, especially in relation to other things, it is not difficult to see that this is patently untrue. Until recently, our society placed little value on those features of our world that provide us sustenance, all in the name of a mythological progress. And when we do try to value, we have a tendency to undervalue.

On the other hand, the values that different people attain through the same monetary value are very different. A one thousand dollar diamond is worth close to nothing (if not having a negative "value") to some, while the prestige of having such a rock on your finger is worth those one thousand dollars and even more. It is not difficult to see then that people can resort to unseemly acts for prestige and power. Money, as a recent comment on a previous post suggested, turns hegemonic, wielding an influence over our lives that is intoxicating.

Furthermore, as is mentioned in this episode of This American Life, and in the essay by Scott Russell Sanders in Orion, money itself hinges on a social compact of its value. How we've allowed something fictional such as money guide our behaviour, rule our emotions, and physically affect the real world is puzzling. We have allowed it to dictate environmental and social outcomes, rather than allowing the reality of our existence, and that of the world, to temper its value.

I wonder about scenarios in which we decide whether or not money is able to be used as a medium of exchange. Rather than predicate our behaviour on the guarantee that money will transfer hands, could we  predicate our behaviour on the guarantee that we preserve and nurture what sustains us, and relegate money to being a token of appreciation?

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