Thursday, April 1, 2010

Life Without Money

Would life be easier or harder without money? I am not sure. Without money we would have to greatly reduce the complexity of our society so that bartering would work. Taxing would take on a different form. People would not be able to be as rich because one person can manage 10 billion dollars but it takes a lot of people and land to manage 10 billion dollars worth of livestock.

When I tell people I have no money, I am sure they think I am exaggerating. I am not. Rock bottom for me consisted of not having rent when it was due, having a checking account total of $-91, and paying bills late. Well, no more. Wednesday I made some changes to my life and committed to some stuff in the name of paying the bills. I thought 2010 was going to be the year I knocked out more than 50% of my debt by using my engineering to save the world. So far 2010 has been the year that I managed to increase my debt. That is changing.

Now, my financial folly is not the topic of this post. The goal is to explore, even just in thought, a world without money. When I say money I mean universal credit. That is to say that a world without money is a world without any single thing accepted by everybody. So gold exists, what good is it physically to most people?

So the question is how does trade happen? How do you get gas for your car? How do you put food on the table? I think that a community system would work best in this respect. The gas station fills your car and you fix their broken computer. You give the grocer a new pair of shoes in exchange for a month of groceries.

When you really think about it, money is not the goal. Maybe it is for some people but that just doesn't make sense. What most people really want is the lifestyle of having x amount of money. In much of the reading I have done recently there seems to be a theme of valuing time more. We plug ourselves into jobs as soon as we can and studies show that many people are unhappy in their jobs. Well, I am considering taking time this fall to be a professional runner with a post collegiate training group. Pay the bills? Not really. Find enjoyment and meaning in life? Yes, absolutely. I have kind of been planning that in a few years I will end up taking a year away from my engineering career to join a group and run and train even more. Well, seeing as how my engineering career is moving slowly perhaps now is the time.

Another fundamental question to consider, does your money define how you spend your time or does your time define how you spend your money? I plan on being poor for a long time. My 20s are just going to be too much fun and I'll spend money that could be paying down my loans. In the words and Eric Beck and probably other before him, "at either end of the economic spectrum lies a leisure class." Which is to say, it's not all tears and pain at the bottom.

Life without money? I don't see that happening anytime soon, but I do know that there are things more important than money. Money does not compose life. When push comes to shove the verdict is that we need air, water, food and a whole bunch of other things to live our life rather than money.

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