Some will say that a system or tool such as money could not be moral or ethical; it’s how the tool or system is used that matters, but does it not facilitate treachery on a disastrous scale? Are laws and regulations enough to control this? Is it all worth it?
It doesn't much matter. Whether "money" is folding green paper, silver or steel coins or ones and zeros in a computer, a medium of exchange is necessary in the world today. Barter will not work.
So I guess, yes, it is moral. Without it millions will starve.
A sudden leap of faith from the current system surely would result in significant suffering, Mr. Wilderness, but I’m thinking about a gradual step down to something we could all feel real good about. I’m not talking about barter, I’m thinking more along the lines of a gift economy, which was quite successful in our species distant past albeit at much smaller scales than our current global monstrosity.
A "gift" economy. If you aren't referring to barter, what is a "gift" economy?
That economy would be similar to the business in the inner city making 'gifts' to the mafia. No compulsion.
It's very simple, you would contribute your time, knowledge and muscle to a small community of friends and extended families who would be contributing the same things. Apologies for straying off topic to alternatives this early in the discussion, but barter is far from our only option.
Unfortunately none of my friends or family produce cars. I want one - how do I get it? We also don't have a power plant, and I would sure like some electricity. Oh yes, some gas for the tractor. Oil won't help - it has to be refined and we have no refinery.
Do we barter our chickens to another community for these things?
In addition, your description is that of a commune where everyone simply piles their production in the town square and takes what they need. Completely unworkable in the real world as soon as that community is more than a small gathering of friends.
Again, I'm thinking of a gradual shift. Check out Open Source Ecology, http://opensourceecology.org/. Free plans for building cars, trucks, tractors and sorts of other stuff. Eventually, parts of infrastructure could be dismantled and re-purposed and landfills could be mined for materials. My grandmother in-law was talking about how no one she knew was hooked to the electric grid when she was young, but many had wind turbines that generated a little power. Our technology has vastly improved since then.
Money would be needed for the transition, but think of the money that could be saved if the "commune" (I prefer to call it a tribe) pulled their resources? We wouldn't all need our own own lawnmower, car, ice cream maker, sowing machine, washer/dryer ect. etc..
You're absolutely correct about it not working beyond a small community; when it got too large, some would have to split off, but again baby steps.
Are you seriously suggesting that every small community should have an iron mine and smelting plant to produce their own steel? And aluminum, chrome, etc? OR that they should just give up and "mine" garbage dumps for what they need in the way of raw materials (still need to refine it though)?
Don't know where you are getting your information, but small windmills, build-able by a small community, aren't going to run a steel refinery or even the stamping presses making car body panels. And when it comes to casting an engine that windmill isn't even going to melt the iron!
You're missing the point about pooling the resources - you can't pool a lawnmower, car, ice cream maker, or sewing machine that you don't have to pool with. None of those things will exist at all.
What you're describing is actually possible. All you have to do (in the US for example) is reduce the population by 90%, move everyone onto farms and go back to conditions from the 1800's. And pray that no other country does what we did to the indians and simply take over.
My grandmother lived off the grid, too. G' Grandpa dug a 2 mile irrigation ditch by hand to water his crops. He felled trees and split them with an axe to make fences with. He even dug a shallow well, again by hand. They picked berries, fished and hunted both to eat and to carry 3 days journey to town to barter for steel products such as shovels, plows, guns and axes. A dirt floor, no refrigeration and heat from cutting down trees. No machinery - plow the field with horses.
And with all that work, they still had to fall back on trade with townsmen that used money for all the necessities he couldn't produce themselves.
Baby steps or not, it's not a lifestyle I would willing go back to.
All I am suggesting is that we keep open minds. And I am not suggesting that we put all of our eggs in one basket/system. There are many ideas floating around which could be borrowed from to create a new system or systems. I just really like the gift economy. There is no magic bullet and it won’t be easy.
The fact that there are a finite amount of raw materials on the planet and the prevalence of built in obsolescence could very well eventually spell the end of many frills anyway. Why wait to wean ourselves from them? The business of extracting these materials is often detrimental to the bio-diversity and the carrying capacity of land and water which could eventually come back to crunch the keisters of future generations, so why not begin a move away from all that?
The current system does not work for everyone. Shouldn’t it? I don’t know much, but I think we could do better.
Oh, and millions are already starving Mr. Wilderness, nearly 1 in 7, almost a billion people are starving.
http://www.worldhunger.org/articles/Lea … 202002.htm
Sorry - I didn't realize you were speaking of a world wide change.
I refer only to the US. Take away a useful medium of exchange and the US will no longer be capable of supporting more than a small fraction of it's 350 million inhabitants.
Actually, I wanted to discuss the ethics of the monetary system. Sorry, I strayed.
I'm sure you don't need me to tell you that we have starving and undernourished here. And we do business with other countries that do too (don't we?). In a way, isn't it just one big system?
It is indeed one big system, at least in reference to medium of exchange.
And yes, we have hungry (not starving) people in the US, but I don't see that has anything to do with that medium of exchange.
The only reason I mentioned starving people is that if you remove that medium of exchange the result, just in the US, will be millions that die of starvation. In that respect one could argue that there is some ethics involved.
Yes, an abrupt removal would be bad.
In a way the big system causes or perpetuates many of the world’s ills like hunger, obesity, addiction, homelessness.
If there was no money in swindling the Xingu people of the Amazon out of their land to build the Bello Monte dam, it wouldn’t have happened. How will these people eat? Get jobs? They’re savages.
If there was no money in selling fast food, it wouldn’t happen.
If there was no money in the mass production of alcohol, there wouldn’t be large corporations doing it. Sure people would still drink, but they would have to make their own, in which case, at least they would be learning a skill instead of just sitting around getting drunk, oh and jumping behind the wheel to restock.
Seems to me you're off on a totally different thing here. You're complaining about the evils of a large population, not what the medium of exchange is.
With a large, powerful group that wants the dam, they could chickens to trade for it. Or the small end of a gun. Whatever it is, it will be used.
These examples are all the result of a large population, coupled with a large demand for whatever it is. You're asking for a return to small villages, that have little to no trade within or without the village.
Yes, money is required to support that population, but it is a result of the population and not the other way around. The real ethics question, then, becomes do we allow large populations or not? If we do we need money; if not we don't need it and may not have it. Small enough populations and it is nearly certain it would disappear.
My friend though you are far more literate and knowledgeable than me, allow me some thoughts.
Some things are wrong. Let us take the example of white sugar. It is harmful to us. It's use keeps us from alternatives that are healthy. The main reason for pushing it is money making. Horrible labor standards are used in manufacturing.
Now that is an example of what is bad intrinsically. Money not so much. A knife not so much, and a gun is arguable.
A big problem with money is the use inter-geographically. Barter requires a thing that is here and now. Money propagates the transportation of goods from distances which is harmful for all in most cases. Money also is the catalyst for credit which is both good and bad.
Money is not inherently evil such as white sugar.
And yet...there are no orange groves near me. No automobile factories, no pharmaceutical plants, no ocean fisheries.
Just a sugar producing plant. A prized place to work, but stinks.
Transportation of products is vital if real specialization or economies of size are to be found.
That would depend on how much importance one places on money. The laws and regulations in place to control, will only work for those who obey them. They do not work for those who do not. If the laws in place are not in alignment with the individuals moral code, they will not work for them.
Also, often if the reward for breaking the laws is high enough they won't work. Consider drug cartels; they raise small armies, buy politicians, law enforcement, planes, airstrips, small towns etc.. They do this with and for the same type of currency acquired by lawful means. It spends the same.
I think of our system like the "sure fire cure for lice" heard of it? You shave one side of your head, set unshaved side on fire and when the little buggers flee from the flames you stab them with an ice pick. It works, but...
One can only judge the ethicality of an economic system by its action rather than the medium of exchange. As some of you have said, 'money', in and of itself, cannot be moral or immoral - it is the way it is used that counts. Exchange is an absolute necessity in the functioning of human life on this planet, so cannot be considered immoral. Humans can exchange with each other with whatever medium they wish without violating another's rights, and that include money. The price system is necessary to effectively measure the scarcity and demand of a product; a high price draws more people to produce that product and a low one draws more people to buy it. It's the most effective resource manager the world has ever seen.
If societies wish not to use money, that is their right, but their view on the ethicality of any other must not be imposed on others. This is my philosophy, as an anti-consumerist capitalist.
I was interested in the ideas behind RBE (Resource Based Economy) teachings for a while, until I understood the real value of money as opposed to the fake fiat money the government hands out today.
I whole heartedly agree that views should not be imposed on others, but how is the monetary system not imposed on everyone now? How can a society stop using money?
What do you think is stopping you from using a barter or 'gift' economy now?
I’m still fairly new to the concept. I recently joined a time bank, but haven’t had time to participate in it yet. There are not a lot of members yet, so there isn’t much activity yet anyway.
There are some established communities that are more collectivistic and nature friendly near me, but I’ve been stuck on wanting to start my own. We bought some land a few years ago for camping, hiking and fishing and are now hoping to move there one day. Personally trust issues have held me back. I was hoping to get friends and family involved, but so far that hasn’t worked out. I’ve met others who are interested so things are looking up. Fingers crossed. I also have a limited skill set to overcome.
Even if everything is paid off and you're feeding yourself, the taxes on the land still need paying and if the government catches wind of bartering they'll expect taxes from that too.
Well yeah I guess it takes a bit of money and organisation to get it off the ground, but as far as taxes are concerned, I'm an anarchist so you wouldn't have a problem in my system
I try to avoid uttering the names of the dreaded, stigmatized isms. They tend to shut down discussions. Are you familiar with Peter Kropotkin?
I am familiar with Kropotkin, but I am not in agreement with the anarcho-communists that property is theft.
What little I read of him suggested that he was against large scale state communism and the dictatorship of the proletariat and that he was just branded guilty by association to his father. I was fascinated with his anarchy/nature correlation. Now that's something I could get behind.
I wonder if Kropotkin's family ties contributed to anarchisms bad reputation.
"What do you think is stopping you from using a barter or 'gift' economy now"
The tax office.
What - I can't pay my taxes in chickens?
I did see where someone paid a traffic fine with 137 dollar bills folded into the shape of a pig. Origami at its finest!
http://www.kvue.com/news/Man-pays-traff … 20026.html
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