I recently saw a meme circulating that said, “If there was no such thing as money, would you be doing something else?” Believers in such utopian ideologies, like a world without money, miscalculate several important aspects of money, therefore, treating money as a thing to be shunned and avoided like a disease. The crude reality of a world without money would, in fact, cause you to do “something else,” but probably not the “something else” you’d initially expect.
What is money? Money is nothing more than a medium of exchange. Applying the definition of money to the meme, we could thus reword the initial question as, “If there was no easy way to exchange with others, would you be doing something else?” Of course we would! Our days would be long and arduous as we built our own houses, sewed our own clothes, and grew all of our own food. Progress and innovativeness would come to an abrupt halt. How would we pay for art lessons, music lessons, learn engineering? The people with such knowledge would be preoccupied with meeting their immediate needs, and would have no incentive to forego their daily life-sustaining tasks to impart their knowledge to others. Money, the medium of exchange, provides the answer. It allows the philosopher to earn a living in the market by exchanging knowledge for money, and then exchanging money for goods they need and desire.
Money is not EVIL; no more than voluntarily exchanging with others is evil. Erasing a medium of exchange, and banishing it from our world would be disastrous; THAT would be evil.
Additionally, money serves as a vital feedback mechanism, and helps us conserve scarce resources in a world of finiteness. We let producers know that we desire more plastic allocated towards frisbees, rather than mouse combs, by exchanging money with the former. Only money ensures that resources are properly directed to our most essential and immediate wants and needs.
The first rule in economics is that we live in a sphere of scarcity. Abolishing money, the medium of exchange, would only accelerate scarcity, not relieve it.
This article “Money Is NOT Evil” is free and open source. You have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Matthew Cornforth and emancipatedhuman.com.
Matthew is a libertarian blogger at afairdinkumthinkum.com and Facebook Page Manager at facebook.com/afairdinkumthinkum. He is also the founder of JustArbitration.com, an agorist legal alternative for libertarian applied philosophy in dispute resolution. He lives with his wife and two children in North Carolina.