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Money Trouble

Lois M. Scheel 1995 Published in: Social Trends Newsletters, Mar. 1995, No. 133

VOLTAIRE: In general, the art of government consists in taking as much money as possible from one class of citizens to give to the other.

There are two subjects that will arouse and sustain interest in almost anyone: money and sex, in that order. Perhaps this is because most people do not have a satisfactory amount of either one.

There is plenty of literature on both subjects but very little basic understanding available on either, especially on the subject of money. Since concern for money is such a national mania, a framework of understanding of it needs to be presented both as to its history and the problems it is losing today.

Until only a few years ago, money either was made of or represented the relatively scarce metals, gold and silver. The toil and sweat involved in growing food, the craftsmanship of making something or the travail of providing service for someone else was reflected in the choice of so-called precious metals to represent money.

The Sumerians of ancient Babylonia are thought first to have made silver bars to replace the barter system. This change made it possible for persons to accumulate credits against their society. The more silver bars they possessed, the more their society was indebted to them.

The Lydians, another ancient Asia Minor culture, are accredited with coining money essentially as it is today. Subdivision of money from silver bars into smaller increments modified the money system of that day to make smaller purchases possible and to refine accounting.

For thousands of years money in coined form was the means of distributing a scarcity of goods and services. It cannot be over-emphasized that human muscles and animal power, through all of this time, were getting the work done, and that money, a figment of human imagination, represented to individuals the reward for their back-breaking effort. Man-hours of work were represented in the “value” of goods and services. Of course, the more shrewd and greedy quickly learned how to manipulate the backs and muscles of others to their personal advantage. They became the usurers we now refer to as bankers and financiers.

As time progressed, and as more numbers of people appeared on the social scene, it became more and more impractical for each individual to have his own little store of gold and silver. So deposit systems developed to store any surplus where, presumably, it was safer than in one’s own possession. Of course this gave the deposit, or bank, owners the opportunity to speculate with the money of other individuals.

Paper money and checks began to make their appearance in some quantity as the Industrial Revolution developed. Precious metals tended to become further removed from individual use. By the time of the American Revolution, European banking and money handling were well advanced toward present-day procedures.

When early American settlers first saw this continent, money was a rarity among them. A temporary return to barter was the order of the day for most of them. As society took form, after the American Revolutionary War, American money made its appearance. The dollar, however, contrary to what we are taught, did not appear first in America. The first use of the word “dollar” on a coin was by the Sierra Leone Company in 1791 on the west coast of Africa (another bit of evidence that George Washington did not throw a dollar across the Potomac because dollars did not exist in America then).

What has happened to the American dollar in the past few years is rather interesting in that it no longer in any way represents precious metals, either gold or silver. American money is merely paper that is redeemable for goods and services, the price of which is arbitrarily set by government and business.

In 1934 the New Deal administration made it a crime to own gold in minted form. All gold was called into the U.S. Treasury and paper certificates were issued in place of the gold to represent equivalent dollars of purchasing power. In 1966 gold backing of the dollar was eliminated completely. Likewise, silver backing of the dollar has been eliminated. The fundamental reason for these actions is that the volume of goods and services the U.S. economy can produce is far greater than the precious metals available to cover their so-called dollar “value.” From the money system standpoint, debt had to be expanded far beyond the availability of these metals to validate this debt in order to stimulate the flow of goods and services in the economy. No economy in the history of humankind had ever before had this problem–too much in goods and services for the money available to move to the consumer. So came “easy” time payments and a host of other devices, including war, to keep the money system functioning.

The decline of precious metals in American coinage is continuing as the coin supply becomes shorter and shorter partly due to hoarding. Now copper and nickel are replacing silver in coins. In other words, American coins and money in no way represent “value” in the sense that they did in the Sumerian and Lydian cultures, in cultures today around the world or in our own culture of just a few years ago. The credit card and its association with data processing is a further departure from the age-old concept of money. The principal fight of the money system right now is to somehow maintain the differential advantage of income among individuals. This notion is based on the preconception that some individuals are worth more than others and therefore ought to have more.

A basic question is: If money once represented man-hours of toil in producing goods and services under conditions of scarcity, what does it represent in this economy where the work is being done by machines that have produced an abundance? The answer is: Money today represents nothing more than an invidious distinction between individuals and is an inefficient means of moving goods and services. Hardly anyone is “earning” a living these days.

Abundance, as Technocracy has always pointed out, would eliminate the money system in spite of any effort made to preserve the system. Technology is doing the work, not human sweat. This course of events has a profound meaning to the people of this continent. This is the only civilization in the records of history that literally is running out of money, in the historic meaning of money, to move its goods and services. A new measure of the flow of goods and services, fortunately, is ready and waiting to replace money.

Technocracy’s Energy Accounting design, which is a vastly superior “credit card” for personal use, is designed to eliminate completely the bottlenecks that money creates by impeding the flow of goods and services with the cash register and other devices to collect money. The Energy Accounting design will measure the flow of energy required by the individual from North America’s industrial machine to enable the technologist to see that the people of this continent get what they need and want, when and where they want it.


Copyright © 1995 Technocracy, Inc.

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