on Money pt2

My first post on the topic of money ended by asserting money wasn’t real even when it was manufactured from precious metal. How could this possibly true? Even to the most ignorant of us it seems obvious that when currencies were based on the Gold Standard money had some real value. You don’t know what the “Gold Standard” is? Well since lack of knowledge of such archaic concepts shouldn’t surprise either you or me, so I’ll explain it is as few words as possible.

The “Gold Standard” was a system in which paper currency was directly backed up by Gold Reserves equal in value to the country in questions total circulating currency. In other words if a country had ten billion dollars of currency in circulation it also held ten billion dollars worth of gold at then current market value in reserve in order to cover the value of its currency. Governments worldwide abandoned the Gold Standard shortly after World War One.

So what I’m saying is that when countries were still on the Gold Standard money was real, right? Wrong. I’m saying money has always been a lie because money has never been real.  For an explanation of what I mean, please travel with me back in history to when money was invented.

How can it be wrong to accept the true value of money was the weight of the precious metal from which monetary coins were manufactured?

It is wrong because the value ascribed to the allegedly precious metals from which coins were struck far exceeds their practical worth. What do I mean by that, and what evidence am I providing to back up my assertion?

This is what I mean.

And I hope you’ll see what I say in the following paragraphs as its own evidence.

Essentially, nothing gains value simply because someone says it is valuable.  Money is nothing, yet we’re told it is valuable.  Our error is that we believe the lie.

Simply because we are told rare metals have extraordinary value does not make it true. Perhaps these rare metals do have value to specific people or specific industries in specific circumstances, however the only value they have to the vast majority of living humans is the value we are told these metals have. Which means these allegedly precious metals are not really precious at all.  Allegedly is not reality.

During the height of the Roman Empire about 2000 years ago, people were told twelve silver coins were fair pay for a month’s labor. Does that sound reasonable to you? Would you work an month for twelve silver coins?

Before you jump in feet first and say you would, since you’d at least be getting something real for your labors, allow me to expand on the matter.  The coin in question was the Roman Denarius. A denarius contained about four and a half grams of silver.

Numbers and measures and labor hours and values and weights!! Who cares, after all it is real silver, right?  Wrong.  Perhaps you’re beginning to sense the depth and nature of the lie money truly is.  Perhaps, but more likely not.

The essence of the lie is that converting hours of labor into silver coins is a one sided transaction, with the scales unfairly weighted on the side of silver. What people are losing in all those conversions between alleged value, weights, measures, and hours worked is their time. Perhaps you’re more interested in the numbers? What are those 12 silver coins worth in “real money” today. Let’s do the math. Today, 26th August 2016, silver is priced at US$0.46 per gram. Therefore 12 coins, multiplied by 4.5 grams per coin, multiplied by 46 cents per gram means workers were expected to work for US$27.00 per month.

Not such a good deal is it?

Simply to press the point let me let me ask you a few more questions you might consider to be rhetorical, yet which I encourage you to consider practically. Have you ever tried to eat a silver coin? Have you ever tried wearing a silver coin as clothing in the middle of a cold winter? Have you ever fashioned a silver coin into a tool with which to harvest grain, or into an arrow point with which to hunt? Have you ever tried to use a silver coin to shelter yourself from a merciless sun or a bitterly cold wind?  If this allegedly precious metal we know as Silver has no practical value to every living human, then precisely who determined it is in fact precious at all?

I’m not disputing that polished silver and gold are pretty enough. Indeed burnished gold is extraordinarily pretty. However pretty doesn’t nourish a hungry belly, pretty doesn’t slake a thirst, pretty doesn’t shelter a family from the elements, pretty encourages rather than defends against attack, and while pretty may warm a cold body the pretty that heats a heart isn’t the pretty of burnished gold.

The point of all this is that even when monetary coins were struck from precious metal, they simply weren’t worth what people were told they were worth. Money is and has always been a lie.

On the other hand, the following statement is an absolute and undeniable truth.

Our time is real, it is extremely valuable, it comes in a strictly limited supply, and once spent it can never be regained.

Yet we are foolish enough to trade our time for money…
We are foolish enough to trade something truly precious for something truly worthless…
Even worse, we’re foolish enough to think we’re getting a good deal…

Money isn’t about convenience, it is about control, and money has been that way since the dawn of civilization.

And it gets worse. Worse? How could this possibly get worse?

Well, for that you’ll have to visit here another day.  But please don’t hold your breath, your time is far too valuable for that – all you need do is realize it.

{P.S. I anticipate some bright spark will think they’re more than willing to work a month for 12 Denarius, provided they are genuine Roman Denarius minted around 2000 years ago.  Personally, I would be willing to work a month for a single priceless piece of history.  However the key concept of the exchange of my time for that authentic Roman Denarius is not an exchange of time for money, it is an exchange of my time for something real – namely history.  History, what a pity we don’t readily learn from it until it becomes our past…}

About C.G.Ayling

Musing misuser of words, lover of lyrical literature, author, occasional contrary thoughts. An honorable man’s name, in memoriam.
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