(Old title: Why I’m living without money, in four paragraphs)
(Older title: Why I’m living without money, in three paragraphs)
(Original title: Why I’m living without money, in two paragraphs)
Money misdirects human effort. People mine gold, mow the lawns of mansions, and build bombs. They don’t generally manufacture or distribute insecticide-treated bed nets to fight malaria in Africa. Why? Someone will give you money to do the first things, and not the second things. Is that because people have come together and decided that mansion mowing is better or more important? No, it’s because people who have mansions have money to give you, and people who get malaria don’t. That’s what money is, the power to control a portion of the world’s resources. More money, more control. The result is a system where we produce according to what is profitable, instead of producing what is useful or good.
Less, or nothing, is done for those who don’t already have money. A poor person can’t pay you, or buy the products you make, so in a world where money is generally seen as a necessity for a decent life, you don’t work for those who can’t give you anything in return. So we all labor for those who already have. I used to give guitar lessons for $30/hour. Which meant I was only teaching kids who already had most other advantages! And now more upper middle class kids play guitar than working class kids. Shame on me!
This is why capitalism skews human effort. It has everyone hoping to get a job, so they can work to produce profit for the people who already have the most (say, the 1%), and goods and services for those who already have a lot (say, most Americans). And the more a person has, the more they benefit. You own a big enough company to hire thousands? This literally means thousands of people work to make you more money. You might treat these employees well, but you’re still holding their well-being hostage with your already great economic power, giving them what they need to have a decent life (money) only if they labor to make you even richer.
I think this is backwards. We should put most of our effort toward helping those who have the least. So I’m no longer using money, that representation of private property that misdirects our production and effort towards the profit of the top instead of the needs of the many. I’m
still more than ever trying to contribute as much as I can. I think I can do this by learning about people and the systems that shape our lives, by sharing ideas that will hopefully improve everyone’s lives (and especially the lives of the worst off, who bear the brunt of our society’s mistakes), by demonstrating that there are wonderful paths other than the one laid out for us by society’s accumulation-driven logic, and by making the time to develop real connections with the people around me.
Tsawwassen, BC is where I write blogs about the misdirection of productive forces