Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The value of money

I have a pocket piece. One of a few, but they all share common features. They are coins and made of metal that has intrinsic value of it's own. They are not fancy nor valuable in the normal sense. They are carried not for 'luck', but as a reminder.

In 1944 this half penny was minted. At a time of war, when copper and brass were precious metals that meant survival as a nation, this coin was stamped out as a promise. It carried with it the faith of a people, the faith their nation would survive, and the faith that their work and effort had meaning.

This bit of coin, usable in trade only as small change, could have instead been part of a munition. To an island nation deep in a planet wide war, arms meant life. Still.... the people thought money itself had enough value that these coins should still be minted. It speaks of a different time, and a different people.

From Francisco's speech concerning money, by Ayn Rand, these words:

"So you think that money is the root of all evil?" said Francisco d'Anconia. "Have you ever asked what is the root of money? Money is a tool of exchange, which can't exist unless there are goods produced and men able to produce them. Money is the material shape of the principle that men who wish to deal with one another must deal by trade and give value for value. Money is not the tool of the moochers, who claim your product by tears, or of the looters, who take it from you by force. Money is made possible only by the men who produce. Is this what you consider evil?"

"When you accept money in payment for your effort, you do so only on the conviction that you will exchange it for the product of the effort of others. It is not the moochers or the looters who give value to money. Not an ocean of tears not all the guns in the world can transform those pieces of paper in your wallet into the bread you will need to survive tomorrow. Those pieces of paper, which should have been gold, are a token of honor--your claim upon the energy of the men who produce. Your wallet is your statement of hope that somewhere in the world around you there are men who will not default on that moral principle which is the root of money, Is this what you consider evil?"

I think money has meaning and value, or at least it should. When I get paid for my efforts, it's with the knowledge in my mind that I gave value for my compensation. When I trade that money for the work of others, I expect to receive fair value in return. Money is an act of faith... faith in society and faith in my nation. Without that faith, money has no meaning and no value.

This is more than idle thought; it is the foundation of our economy. Our nations money has no intrinsic value at all, not a 'pennies' worth. There is no difference between a one dollar note and a one hundred dollar note, other than two things. The rearranging of the ink printed on the rag bond paper, and the belief of those who hold the one hundred dollar note that it's worth more than a one dollar note.

Belief.... and faith..... make money what it is.

I carry my pocket piece to remind me of that faith, and to do one more thing.
It highlights the difference between those who produce value, to trade with honor amongst their fellows, and those who loot and pillage, knowing nothing of faith and honor. This simple British half penny from a past age is a symbol of what is good about people, while all around us swirl the workings of looters and scavengers. This coin is a talisman against the evil of socialism and it's true believers.

For just a moment, as I reach into my pocket and touch this reminder, I can recall the good and honorable that still exists in the world, no matter how rare.

One day I may let this little coin slip from my fingers and fall, carrying with it my last shred of faith in the honor of mankind. One day... but not today.

1 comment:

Brigid said...

I still carry cash, though have plastic in case of a major auto type expenditure need out on the road. Like seeing the fruit of my labor.

Very well expressed.