Saturday, December 10, 2022

If Money Expresses Value Why Does So Much Preventable Suffering Exist?

Afters years of talking with people about the role of money in society, I have two observations that seem at odds with each other...

1) In general, most humans have compassion and don't want others to suffer*

2) One cause of suffering for large portions of the population is low pay and not having enough money

*A huge caveat is that there seems to be profound world view disagreement on what causes suffering and who or what to hold responsible 

If we look at one of the common definitions of money, it lists that money represents three things. It is a medium of exchange, a way to store value, and a measure of value. If this is the whole picture though, then how are statements 1 and 2 above co-exisiting?

Clearly, at a systemic level, the fact that so many don't make enough money to do much more than merely survive  means the value we give to the life and work of these people is not enough to prevent their suffering. So our current economies, broadly speaking, does not value humans not suffering.

But we also know that, broadly speaking, most humans have a level of basic compassion. I realize that statement can be contentious in the face of hatred, prejudice, violence, etc. It's a tough topic I welcome conversation and examination of. I will, for this essay, stick with the hypothesis that outside of psychopaths most humans have some level of compassion. And another way to say "has compassion" is - does value humans not suffering. 

I would therefore argue that money is failing to express our human values accurately. Money is not an accurate "measure of value" as the population definition claims. Which begs the question - what then is it?

My current answer is - I don't know. I've been trying to research definitions and understandings that would answer seeming conundrums like the one I've identified above. And thus far I've been left extremely wanting. What I can say is that I'm very motivated to find and build community willing to ask these questions and to ask/demand that better definitions and explanations be built that more accurately describe the world around us and how it operates.

Am hoping that others believe this sort of work needs funding and support. 

And happy to discuss if the above observations seem correct or not. They make sense to me, but one goal is to create less non-alignment on basic world view observations such as answering "what is money", which includes everyone (me and you) sometimes changing our views and opinions. 

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Photo by Jason Leung on Unsplash

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