Money is a tool to facilitate exchange.
Money follows, like everything else here on this physical plane, the principles of yin and yang. There is “hard” (yang) money and there is “soft” (yin) money. At this time, the world is dominated by yang money. My purpose with this article is to convince you that we need to find a better balance in matters of exchange and economics.
Do we need money at all?
There are two systems that have historically been used and that are – to varying degrees – still in use today, that allow us to exchange the fruits of our toil and those we appropriate from nature, without the use of money.
There is the gift, which does not require an immediate return. Actually, it’s nuanced. Some gifts are freely given without any expectation of return, but if we are talking about a “gift economy”, usually the expectation would be that everyone, in some way or another, plays ball. That means, you can’t just be a freeloader. Even in a gift economy, there is some expectation for all participants to pull their weight, meaning to participate in the giving. People who only receive and never give will find themselves marginalized, and rightly so. Flows do need to be balanced. If you only inflow (receive) and never get to the outflow part (the giving), things tend to get stuck. The inflow will stop sooner or later. The point is that, even in a gift economy, the principle of exchange cannot be violated with impunity.
Then there is barter. In a barter economy, we also need no money. The exchange is direct. The needs of one are matched with the offerings of another. It is rather cumbersome at times to find a match, and it isn’t always successful, but barter has been with us throughout history. It has served us well where money was not available or its use was not practical. Today, there are various initiatives to revive the barter economy. Computers allow us to provide better tools to match offerings and needs. Some of those tools merely let you choose from a larger number of diverse offerings. Others extend the barter concept from a one-on-one exchange to a circle of linked exchanges. A gives to B, who gives to C, who gives to D, who in turn gives to A. Circle closed. Barter has one big problem though. It generally has no time dimension. It is not easy, in a barter economy, to receive something today and to give maybe next week, or to provide your fruit to someone today when you actually don’t need anything of theirs right away. That is where money comes in.
Money is a placeholder in the business of exchange. It is a little reminder to everyone that you have already given and that, tomorrow, you are within your rights to ask that the exchange be completed. Money allows us to add the missing time dimension to barter-type exchanges.
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