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Money In Unusual Songs, Literature And Mars

Updated on November 13, 2015

Mars and Money - A Conundrum

Hundreds of songs and stories have been written about money, poverty, wealth, and greed. Similarly, numbers of songs, short stories, and novels have been produced about money in outer space. This makes us humans wonder of money will be used on Mars and which nation's currency will dominate that society?

A science fiction story of the Golden Age told of a scheme to sell houses in several dimensions of space on the same lots within a new housing development after WWII. Aliens secured a human businessmen to help them and when they left Earth for another planet, they left payment for him in bags of $10,000 bills. Unfortunately, America had not yet issued any such denomination of currency and no one knew when or if it would do so.

Money can buy an easier life or it can purchase madness.

A Money-Free Mars

As of this writing, the Mars One project that is operating out of Holland has no plans for using money in its Martian settlement. Supplies, equipment, experimental projects, clothing, food, entertainment sources, and as yet unwritten list of requests regularly will be shipped to the Red Planet and its first cohort of guests for the rest of their lives.

Greed on Mars Predicted in Literature

My favorite futurist books about humanity settling on Mars begin with the Red Mars Trilogy by Kim Stanley Robinson. The first volume in particular is most realistic as humans become isolated form not only Earth and Houston Control. but also from the value systems that they accepted on our home planet. Greed vs. Capitalism is one of the problems and several quotes directly address it in Red Mars; here are two:


"The entire transnational executive class does nothing a computer couldn't do, and there are whole categories of parasitical jobs that add nothing to the system by an ecologic accounting. Advertising, stock brokerage, the whole apparatus for making money only from the manipulation of money—that is not only wasteful but corrupting, as all meaningful money values get distorted in such manipulation." -- Part III, Chapter 7.

"Bases built on Mars will belong to the countries that build them, for instance. We will be building American and Russian bases, according to this provision of the law. And that puts us right back into the nightmare of Terran law and Terran history. American and Russian businesses will have the right to exploit Mars, as long as the profits are somehow shared by all the nations signing the treaty." - Part II, Chapter 4


"Our work will be more than making wages—it will be our art, our whole life. We will give it to each other, we will not buy it. Also there should be no signs of hierarchy. I don't even believe in the leader system we have now." -- Part II, Chapter 3.

Will Mars become a place without a currency and a planet to exploit for profits at the same time?

Below is a segment of an enjoyable symphony written to back a presentation on the advantages of settling Mars.

Symphony of Science: Mars is a World of Wonders

Will Mars become a place without a currency and a planet to exploit for profits at the same time?

The Martian
The Martian
This is the book upon which the Matt Damon film The Martian (2015) is based. Settling Mars will not be easy. It may even be deadly.

Will We Still Need Money in 2525?

The song 2525 asks us to think about the future. The lyrics do not mention money directly, but tell how humankind will not need anything, because pills and machines will do everything for us. The implication is that money would serve no purpose and a lyric states that humankind will have used up the Earth and put back nothing.

In the 26th century, if we believe the Star Trek saga and other futurist stories, then money will no longer be in use. Like chewing gum and cigarettes, it will be a relic of another era.

Some of the Star Trek novels mention "credits" as payment for serving in Star Fleet, but the majority of the books indicate no monetary system at all. Will that work?

In Star Trek, The Voyage Home, Kirk and company travel back to 1986 and he enjoys a pizza with a woman who must pay the bill, because he has no money. She says, "I suppose you don't use money in the future." He grins sheepishly and says she is correct and he has no money: "Well, we don't.".

One of the themes of many science fiction and futurist stories and films is that humankind no longer use money in the years to come. This will deflate the desire for power associated with accumulating monetary wealth.

In the Year 2525: Zager and Evans; 1969

"No Sale"

Can humans wean humanity away from using currency and coins of various kinds?

Science Fiction paints a mural of life without need. Replicators supply all our food. No one receives wages, but everyone does some sort of work suited to them. The bulk of humanity works for the betterment of life in general for humans, wildlife, and plant life.

Wouldn't it be grand to not have the condition of ensuring that we have enough money for the mortgage or rent? No taxes!

Some sort of currency must be in use, though, since even Star Trek characters go into shops on Earth and off planet and make purchases. There is a missing cash link somewhere.

Cash In Space


Does Money Equal Success?

Money may be with us for centuries to come, but is amassing great quantities of cash the sign of success in life? Rich people can be just as sad, divorced, lonely, and addicted as anyone else. Many of our songs about money remind of us of those situations.

Many of the "old standards", popular songs of the 1930s - 1950s, included thoughts about money. People were still writing songs about money in the 1960's and 1970s. The trend continued to today, with urban hip hop songs taking the lead in speaking about money, Many rappers told tales of its negative influence. See some f the selections below.

Money is numbers and numbers never end. If it takes money to be happy, your search for happiness will never end

— Bob Marley

Songs About Money and Its Power or Powerlessness

  • 1% sung by Funeral For a Friend on the album "Chapter and Verse" (2014) - Solo sung by Matthew Davies-Kreye. The song does not mention "money", but is about the US financial crisis.
  • 50 Plates (2013) - Sung by Rick Ross and Rich Gang, this song speaks about an urban method of amassing money (a pound of marijuana us a plate).
  • Arab Money (2008) - Busta Rhymes. This number rants on the riches of some Arab countries during the US financial crisis, with mentions of oil wells, desert resotrs, and diamonds.
  • Billionaire (2010) - Travie McCoy, Bruno Mars, and others. The theme is "What would I do if I became a billionaire?" Sample lyrics:

Yeah I would have a show like Oprah
I would be the host of, everyday Christmas
Give Travie a wish list
I'd probably pull an Angelina and Brad Pitt
And adopt a bunch of babies that ain't never had sh*t

  • Circus Money (2008) - Walter Becker. This song talks about the need for money to enjoy the circus, but is probably about the temptations of life as well - women, gambling, entertainment derived from others' tragedies.
  • Dark Money (2012) - Geoff Tate. Geoff sings about the financial basis of politics. "dark Money" is the vast wealth that finances the campaigns of presidents and senators.
  • Gonna Make My Own Money (2013) - By Deap Valley. These two women feel they must defy the advice of one of their fathers that she needed to find a rich man to marry, implying she could not take care of herself.
  • If In Money We Trust (2012) - Van Morrison on the album "Born to Sing; No Plan B." The lyrics describe a world where money has become an idol that replaced God.

I was always taught that all you need is enough, but now there's this obsession with greed, people want more and more and more. I don't know why. Money's not gonna save you.

— Van Morrison
  • Mo Money Mo Problems (1997) - The Notorious B.I.G. The lyrics of this song say that acquiring money causes problems, because others want to take it from you and even make you poor. They want you r money and they want you to fail. Sample lyrics:

I don't know what,
They want from me it's like the more money we come across
The more problems we see ...

Know you'd rather see me die than to see me fly

  • Mr;. Banker (1987) - Lynyrd Skynyrd. A man needs money to bury his dead father and is begging the banker for help.
  • You Never Gave Me your Money (1969) - The Beatles. The group was suffering financial confusion, because of the death of their manager Brian Epstein in 1967.

National Numismatic Collection: The Value of Money

At the Smithsonian Institution, the National Numismatic Collection opened a display for exhibit as The Value of Money in late July 2015. The showcase displays artifacts that create a timeline for the concept of money from its earliest discovery by archeaologists in shells, rocks, and beads, to recent digital currencies like Bitcoin.


Money On Mars

A new monetary system is likely to arise on Mars, dependent on which nations of Earth form colonies and begin to communicate. Native North Americans began with shells, beads, furs, and animal hides. What will be the new currency if Mars and what songs will commemorate it?

Iroquois Confederacy, Our Oldest Representative Democracy and Constitutional Government, Used Wampum for Money

Iroquois Chiefs from the Six Nations Reserve reading Wampum belts in 1871.
Iroquois Chiefs from the Six Nations Reserve reading Wampum belts in 1871. | Source

Wampum Currency

Beads were sewn into a belt worn by those Iroquois members who owned the beads that were used as money in trade interactions.

Similarly. among the Kwakiutl on and around Vancouver Island in BC, the heads of the families or communities wore copper breastplates, which were also money. A portion of a plate was frequently used in a trade transaction.

The Worth of Wampum in Different Cultures

A 1917 newspaper cartoon.
A 1917 newspaper cartoon. | Source

Selected Old Standards About a Money

  1. Brother, Can You Spare A Dime – Bing Crosby (1932)
  2. We’re In The Money – Ginger Rogers (1933)
  3. Pennies From Heaven – Billie Holiday (1937)
  4. Money Is The Root Of All Evil – The Andrew Sisters (1946)
  5. Money Burns A Hole In My Pocket – Dean Martin (1954)
  6. Money, Honey – Elvis Presley (1956)
  7. Can’t Buy Me Love – The Beatles (1964)
  8. Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves (1960s) - Cher
  9. King Of The Road – Roger Miller (1965)
  10. Big Spender – Peggy Lee (1966)
  11. Money, Money – Liza Minnelli & Joel Grey (Cabaret; 1972)
  12. I Wanna Be Rich – Calloway (1990)
  13. Life Is A Lemon & I Want My Money Back – Meat Loaf (1993)
  14. Did You Steal My Money – The Who
  15. The Money Song – Dean Martin & Jerry Lewis; also by Monty Python

© 2015 Patty Inglish MS


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