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Sunday, March 15, 2009

Getting hold of the money

Conventional economics assumes that money is 'stuff', a 'thing', which like all things has to be created and then distributed. There is therefore a quantity of it that has to be restricted and controlled. Because it is 'stuff' it is subject to the same laws of supply and demand as other stuff.

And like any other stuff it must have a value in itself, a value that can go up and down in relation to other things. And because it is a thing it can be possessed, collected, accumulated and withdrawn from circulation. It can be stolen, lost, traded and lent.

If someone has some and another has none, the former can lend it to the latter and ask for more back when they return it. The person who borrows it has to work extra hard to return the original amount and the little bit extra. In this way the borrower works for the lender.

Getting this money stuff is not directly related to the delivery of real goods and services. There are a multitude of ways of getting hold of it, some of which do involve the delivery of real goods and services. For most of us the only way to get hold of it is to sell our labour to someone.

This is called a job and most of us work in these jobs, not because we love the work or even because the work is socially necessary, but because we need to get hold of the money stuff. Without it we're in serious trouble. Those who have lots of money have to find a way of keeping that money and, hopefully, increasing it.

They do that by 'investing' the money in something that will bring in a return. That could involve investing it in machinery that can be used to create real wealth, but there are other ways of investing money that will ensure a greater return.

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