Is money the root of all happiness and despair?

We neither eat nor drink it, yet we’re told we need money to survive.

After reading Alexandra Ciufudean’s article on how the world could learn from this pandemic, I was led to a much broader question: what does mankind live for? What’s this all about?

Ever since we became settlers, we’ve been trading something for something. The introduction of currency merely became another means by which to exchange or barter for goods and/or services.

Money used to be more tangible

We traded cows for corn and divided gold into silver coins. And when our exchangeable goods became burdensome, we turned to paper which became guarantors of stored wealth to protect those transactions.

But it’s by observing how other countries are dealing with the pandemic that we’re asked how stimulus (future debt) packages help – and why they weren’t introduced before.

How do we approach the subject of money without sounding too prophetic, like a guru on top of a hill dictating how we govern the future of mankind?

Image by Would we produce for mere satisfaction and the need of doing it so?

Ask an artist or an altruist and the answer will undoubtedly be yes. On the other hand, anyone with a redundant job like a robot factory monkey might say otherwise.

Something is inherently wrong in society – something as old as gold itself.

How do we reconcile people’s intentions and needs with the limitations of wanting without a shared common sense of what the sum of all parts is?

Ideology and policy had to come into force because we are, in the end, species with self interests.

So, how do we take? How many times can we take? How fair is it to take? From whom or what are we taking from?

From an economic view, few defining moments of the past 120 years have shaped our existence.

And we cannot observe our position today without acknowledging Keynes and Hayek – the economists behind two schools of thought we’ve all been subscribing to.

And the winner, evidence might tell, was Keynes

To the experts in the field I am still but a pupil, but for the less informed or interested, let’s say these two different schools of thought both addressed macroeconomics at a time of recession and depression.

World War I, the Big Depression, World War II and the culmination in the Bretton Woods Agreement (1944). That is where Keynes and Hayek are situated, historically and for those who forgot it down the line.

What did Keynes and Hayek say?

In simple terms, Keynes and Hayek addressed how to predict, circumvent and even avoid economic crises.

Where Keynes supported government intervention by injecting money and boosting a depleted economy, Hayek opposed, calling for a free market to take the lead and rejecting government intervention.

As he saw it, Hayek stated that the self-imposed causes were the reason of being there in the first place (referring to economic bubbles which, soon enough, will lead us to the federal reserve, interest rates and the roles of central banks).

He argued such structures should be allowed to fall and allow poverty to take its natural course because, in the end, social Darwinism would win.

In short, it’s black or white and old-fashioned

In the end, one of the two options will be the outcome – do governments fund the recovery and sustain the burden of household and corporate insolvencies (through debt), or do they leave the weak to fall and start all over?

Grounding us to a halt has produced the irrefutable conclusion of the deeply flawed and unsustainable ways we’ve been conducting our lives.

Whilst carelessly plowing for profit – throughout, perhaps, our entire existence – we’re all left exposed here, with nowhere to hide.

And that, I believe, is probably the only point that everyone agrees with as we navigate ourselves through the pandemic.

As a middle ground for debate, I believe this last statement of mine should be the starting point for action taken in the future. Because something has to change at the core on how to better co-operate in our increasingly globalised world.

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