Sunday, December 2, 2012

Making money from others

I have been studying economy for a while now. It started back in high school "economics" class. I didn't like it. I could do the sums alright but the theory of making returns by reducing expenditures (which could come in the form of wages) didn't sit well with me. I was being indoctrinated to treat people's livelihoods as an expenditure. I was being indoctrinated to separate "people" from the sums, in order to make a financial return.

In my own family budgeting later on, I started by stripping down all our expenditures, but it seemed the liabilities were always going up. The assets were always depreciating and we had to work harder and harder at breaking even with a modest profit. The modest profit went into savings for replacing or maintaining necessary equipment. Which included our health too.

I gradually came to the conclusion we were working to feed a whole pool of fish and not just ourselves. That's what economy does. We didn't just have to earn money for what we were using ourselves, but we also had to earn money for others to be kept employed - or worse still, we worked for others who made bigger profits from our charitable labours.

This is nothing new to the impoverished poor around the world. I'm also referring to the poor in our own country.  Social commentary has suggested these people don't help themselves. They don't send their kids to school, they don't maintain a job, they're lazy, etc-etc. Yet little is understood about how difficult it is to enter modern preoccupations with high productivity, when you enter at the shallow end of the pool. If you were born into economic indoctrination without thinking about it, well yes, it's much easier to become obsessed with high productivity and profits at all costs.

Economy is great at making money - that's what it's designed to do. What economy is terrible at however, is making people aware of their responsibility to other people sharing the pool. It's how we treat others, which determines the value of our social equity.

We seem to have placed "environment" as a cause to represent the greater good of others, but in reality, all that happens is more money exchanges hands. Economies are getting more and more efficient at extracting profits from more and more individuals, and yet at the same time, we're becoming less conscious of our social equity.

I've determined myself to find ways to make money less and less relevant to who I am as a person. I'm not talking about forgetting money exists and we don't need it. But I want to detach it from my central core of motivation. It's why when I contemplate any purchases now, I ask myself, what is the real value of this? Will it take from me, more than it costs?

I laugh when I think about that statement, because not long ago I would still think in terms of money - you know - will this purchase take away time I'll have to buy back by earning MORE money? I was still thinking of myself in terms of how much, and do I need more money?

In order to understand social equity and what it means to re-invest in that pool however, I think the only way is to remove money as a motivator to decision making. People have to become your first priority. In the past, I would have been scared by that thought: scared to think I wouldn't put money first. Because it exposes you to the possibility you could do without. You could be made to feel incapable. That's what it feels like when you've always put money as the motivating factor in your life. It scares you to think you have to attempt a different set of priorities.

But money can never be an equitable esteem of people's worth, and the more we think in terms of money, the less we get back in social equity.

I've got a few examples to follow up with this post, but more about that later.

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