Thoughts on Money, Wealth and Value

by Joshua on March 2, 2010 · 0 comments

I might be amongst a rare few who believe that the real worth of a person is based outside of material possessions and economic status. Perhaps our society is right to place value in material wealth and pull away from centuries of teachings valuing integrity, ethics, and community (see valuing what matters). There is strong argument that this skewed approach to valuing material wealth is, in part, why our generation is suffering from a rising “social recession.” What we value, how we value, and where we place the concept of wealth are drastically important parts of our lives and our society.

The chemist turned rogue economist Frederick Soddy was one of the first to lay out the difference of real wealth and, what he termed, “virtual wealth.” Today, “real wealth” is a term being used by the planners of the coming “new economy” to represent physical wealth in the real world. “Phantom wealth” (or Soddy’s “virtual wealth”) is the monetary representation, or store, of real wealth. It is being described as phantom because we have inflated our system to allow money to make more money – money out of thin air is virtual, phantom wealth. But isn’t that money is a store for real, physical value?!

So if we create new money, either by printing it, loaning it into existence, speculative trading, or some other devilish creation of the private banking system, do we also create correlating real wealth? No. This means as we allow money to earn more money, without ever being traded for a real, valuable good or service, we are devaluing those real goods. Banks are essentially stealing real wealth by creating more phantom wealth for themselves. (All the more reason for a Robin Hood Tax)

I just picked up one of Soddy’s books that outlines these concepts: Wealth, Virtual Wealth, and Debt. Soddy set a lot of the ground work for today’s ecological economists and his work was greatly expanded upon by Herman Daly, Richard Douthwaite and Nicolas Georgescu-Roegen. I am excited to read some of Soddy’s work and in researching his (spot-on) views of money, debt, and the banking system I found more great quotes on the subject I wanted to share.

Quotes on Money, Debt, and the Banking System

Frederick SoddyNobel chemist and rogue economist, once said:

“The whole profit of the issuance of money has provided the capital of the great banking business as it exists today. Starting with nothing whatever of their own, they have got the whole world into their debt irredeemably, by a trick…

“This money comes into existence every time the banks “lend” and disappears every time the debt is repaid to them. So that if industry tries to repay, the money of the nation disappears. This is what makes prosperity so “dangerous” as it destroys money just when it is most needed, and precipitates a slump…

“There is nothing left now for us but to ever get deeper and deeper into debt to the banking system in order to provide the increasing amounts of money the nation requires for its expansion and growth…

“An honest money system is the only alternative.”

John Adams, United States’ second president and founding father, once said:

“All the perplexities, confusion and distress in America arise, not from defects in their Constitution or Confederation, not from want of honor or virtue, so much as from the downright ignorance of the nature of coin, credit and circulation.”

Thomas Jefferson, United States’ third president, founding father, and a personal hero, once said:

“I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. Already they have raised up a money aristocracy that has set the government at defiance. The issuing power (of money) should be taken from the banks, and restored to the people to whom it belongs…

“If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their currency, first by inflation and then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around them will deprive the people of all property until their children will wake up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered…

“I hope we shall crush in its birth the aristocracy of the moneyed corporations, which dare already to challenge our Government to trial of strength and bid defiance to the laws of our country.”

Here’s a good one from left-field, Henry Ford, founder of the Ford Motor Company, once said:

“The function of money is not to make money but to move goods. Money is only one part of our transportation system. It moves goods from man to man. A dollar bill is like a postage stamp: it is no good unless it will move commodities between persons. If a postage stamp will not carry a letter, or money will not move goods, it is just the same as an engine that will not run. Someone will have to get out and fix it.”

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