Social Question

Tenpinmaster's avatar

If money is the root to all evil, why can't we get rid of our money system?

Asked by Tenpinmaster (2920points) February 12th, 2010

It sounds crazy but couldn’t we as human beings do so much more if we weren’t bound by money. Do you see it in the distant future that we can move beyond wealth associated with valueless paper to innovating, creating, and working for the common good of human-kind. Is this beyond our capabilities? Would our crime rate drop to 0 without our current money-based economy in place?

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37 Answers

FreshApples's avatar

I have often thought about this, and I think it would help society. The only problem is, coming up with a (at least) near foolproof idea. Which is the obstacle.

grumpyfish's avatar

Money isn’t the root of all evil =)

slick44's avatar

Money is pure evil. I think we would all be better off without it. It makes people do terrible things, dieing people are left to die if they are poor. The hungry have no food, the homless, no shelter. The rich get richer and the poor get poorer. Without money we would all be equal. And probably treat each other better.

Cruiser's avatar

No chance…even with a fully functioning barter system…there would still be crooks and thieves stealing your cows, tomatoes and chocolate fudge.

dpworkin's avatar

We have been through this before on Fluther more than once. Money is merely an efficient means of symbolic barter; it has been invented and reinvented in many, many cultures throughout the world, and it is far too convenient ever to be abandoned. In the 19th Century some noted economists proposed solutions to this problem, and those solutions were attempted, in Russia, China, Korea and elsewhere. We are all aware of the deadly and terrifying results. Talk about evil.

ragingloli's avatar

Because, unfortunately, as long as ressources are limited and as long as there is no collective sharing of these ressources, which would require a massive shift in the human psyche, it is the only viable option to manage ressources and products within a society and between societies.

limeaide's avatar

Money is not the root of all evil, the love of money is the root of all evil. Money is amoral like a brick. With a brick you can throw it through someones window or you can build a hospital or church. It’s what you do with it that matters.

slick44's avatar

True, So i guess it all gos back to morality.

marinelife's avatar

@limeaide has the quote right.

Human beings are traders at heart. We make goods and provide services and expect value in return for that. Paper money is just an abstraction of that early trading fever.

cbloom8's avatar

We can’t because it isn’t the root of evil; money is the sign and manifestation of achievement.

Tenpinmaster's avatar

@limeaide wow, i have never thought of it like that. Where did that phrase come from anyway? “Money is the root of all evil” My mom used to tell me that when I was little. I never knew its origins.

Tenpinmaster's avatar

@dpworkin So what would your idea be of a “perfect” system that equalizes all humans and eliminate societies sicknesses like poverty, starvation, greed etc. Has there been people who come up with systems to replace our money based economy?

phoebusg's avatar

@limeaide I was just about to write that. Love of money being the evil.
Money is only a tool, and like any tool. You can use it well – or you can abuse it.
It’s a medium that allows exchange, and one must contribute then exchange that for something else. There are many people who we allow to contribute nothing to our society yet they ‘accumulate’ a lot of it – this also makes no sense.

dpworkin's avatar

@Tenpinmaster I don’t understand your question. Human beings are imperfect, and top-down economics is a failure. I think you will just have to put up with greed and disparity like every human being has had to do for the last hundred thousand years or so.

Cruiser's avatar

@Tenpinmaster Even before there was money there were less than perfect exchange systems which were equalized using swords, arrows, rocks and femur bones. It is human nature and survival instinct that drives man to want more than they have and covet thy neighbors stockpile of chocolate. Always has been that way and always will be.

limeaide's avatar

@Tenpinmaster It’s actually a misquoted bible verse I found this here to help:

Commonly Misquoted Bible Verses

“Money is the root of all evil.”

Actually, the Bible verse 1 Timothy 6: 7–10 states, “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil”.

What is the difference, you ask? Well, actually there is a huge difference. Money itself is not inherently evil. Money in the hands of the right person could be used to do all sorts of good. It is the ‘love of money’ that is the problem. A love of money causes a person to be greedy, power seeking, and negligent of other areas of his or her life.

Found this here:

limeaide's avatar

@Tenpinmaster BTW – I got the example I gave from Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University, Excellent plan I highly recommend. I am not religious but the plan is pretty universal.

BTW – it is also my opinion that the misquote is part of a “poverty mentality.” I guess what I mean is people who don’t have money generally think this is true, but it only adds to them staying poor. Stop thinking poor and doing poor people stuff and start thinking rich and do what the rich do (this is not spending on frivolous crap but living a good life and being smart). Now off my soapbox.

talljasperman's avatar

I guess you could use a prestige based economy…like Fluther’s Lurve based economy… where rewards can be given to everyone but oneself.

BoBo1946's avatar

lack of money is the root of all evil!

jackm's avatar

ok guys you convinced me money is evil lawl

thriftymaid's avatar

I don’t want to get rid of it. Who bet goats on the Superbowl?

josie's avatar

Without money, or some other portable representation of value, then each individual would have to produce every product or service themselves if they wanted to survive, or if they traded, it could only be in goods and services that were easily portable. This would limit human productivity, and it would insure that lots of people would starve and die because of a lack of skill or ingenuity that would be needed to produce these things. Money allows value to be portable, it allows wealth to be expanded, and it allows an opportunity to the physically challenged to contribute and survive. What is so evil about that?

The_Idler's avatar

The idea that “The love of money is the root of all evil” is an ancient religious one.

Despite having relevance today, due to its nature it would be foolish to take it as a face-value gospel.

Still, if you take money to mean power and pursuit of power to be evil, then yes, the statement has meaning. The reason we cannot get rid of the system of money and power is because humans are inherently evil. That is, they have an inherent desire for power.

I can’t really think why God would create a world of people with such tendencies (beyond a casual interest in the horrific chaos that He knew would inevitably ensue) but evolution conveniently explains this behaviour, by the fact that individuals and communities that seek power tend to reproduce more successfully, and so pass on the genes that predispose such behaviour, thus proliferating their kind and increasing the prevalence of power-seeking.

So that’s why we can’t get rid of our money system, specifically because we are “evil”.

Evil is a symbolic representation of the selfishness inherent in our natures, a relic from our animalistic past. The talk in the Old Testament of the evils of society (babylon egypt etc) is hinting at the need to abandon these animalistic tendencies, if we are to live together in large settled communities. It is necessary to behave selfishly in a harsh world outside of society, but in large communities, selfishness harms others directly. This is evil.

For the past few thousand years, we have been in an intermediate stage of our development. We have constructed complex and advanced societies, we have conquered the Earth, but we have not yet conquered ourselves. The instructions from God and his prophets are the directions to reach Heaven. Heaven on Earth, the next stage of our development. It is sad and telling, that these teachings have been hijacked by selfish evil entities and twisted to serve their own power-seeking agenda.

We have to learn and grow and realise something individually, within ourselves, but also as a global community, if we are to conquer these innate desires for power, and progress to the next stage of civilization. Then perhaps we can do without money…

It is not so black and white as “Babylon (civilization) is evil, Eden (world before civilization) is good”.
The problem is that we have not yet abandoned the short-sighted and selfish practices of those simpler times, and it is this kind of behaviour, potentiated and exacerbated by the structure and nature of our present civilization, that leads to the evils, which have plagued our race for all history.

Judi's avatar

Just to clarify, it doesn’t say “Moneyvis the root of all evil” it says “The LOVE of money is the root of all evil.
—Just read @limeaide ‘s post.—Lurve!

bianlink's avatar

The root of evil is not money. Evil is part of human nature.

The_Idler's avatar

Just to clarify,

1 Timothy 6:10 says, ”For the love of money is the root of all evil…

Tenpinmaster's avatar

These are fantastic responses and leaves us with 1 undeniable truth. We humans are fundamentally flawed and could not produce a utopian society that dosn’t use some kind of economic rating system to define us. I guess we are, and will forever be bound by the need for greed and the selfishness that follows. It’s hard to think of a world without money that is advanced and free of all that ails us. It would be paradise but I don’t think this world is ready for paradise. Like in the Matrix, we define our humanity by misery and suffering. This is true in the now and before, and shall ever be.
Thank you guys for some really good answers.

Poser's avatar

Finding a perfectly workable barter system would not equalize people. People simply aren’t equal, and forced equality is itself inherently evil. Should I be forced to give a portion of my labor/effort to someone who isn’t as capable? I learned this when I was five: life isn’t fair!.

Is this right? Is it moral? Probably not. When I was growing up and would complain “That’s not fair!” I would get put in time-out. The problem was, I was usually right, it wasn’t fair. The point my parents were making in punishing me was that it doesn’t matter if life is fair. I have to deal with it as it is, not as I’d like it to be.

slick44's avatar

@thriftymaid lol. I bet goats. didnt everyone?

thriftymaid's avatar

@slick44 . How many did you win, or lose? My friend won and got a bonus of a chicken.

wundayatta's avatar

Money isn’t money. Money is that which we value. You can abolish money, but that which we value won’t go away. It isn’t love of money that saying is about. It’s about loving things more than people. If you love things more than people, you can hurt people in order to get things.

If you want to abolish evil, you have to abolish an attitude that places things in a more important position than people. Of course, you can’t do that. There will always be people who think things are more important that people. Those people will be willing to hurt others in order to get more things.

Dan_DeColumna's avatar

This reminds me of Star Trek. (WAIT!!! Don’t go away yet! I promise that, even though I’m a geek, this is relevant and worth your time.)

To be honest, I had an easier time accepting everything else in Star Trek, the aliens, the phasers, the transporters, the mind-reading ship counselor, etc as plausible. I would get firmly slapped back down to reality when they mentioned the abolishing of money on Earth.

First of all, they never really explain how goods and services are fairly distributed on Earth with the absence of money. I mean, yes, many goods would be supplied by the replicators, but that doesn’t wash. Without even bringing up things that replicators can’t replicate (latinum, yamok sauce, dilithium, gold, and living organisms), built in safety protocols prevent them from making items like weapons and poisons; also, medicine (read: narcotics) can only be made by medical professionals with the proper ID code. Additionally, even if built very large, replicators supposedly can’t create complex stuff like shuttles and starships pre-assembled. There would be markets for these items, as they would be a scarcity. Logically, this would imply the prices demanded for these items in terms of services would have to be high, since any material substance, other than other impossible/prohibited items, would have no inherent value.

Although, that’s not the point. The point is that replicators were invented by the creators of Star Trek to remove the first law of economics: scarcity or the law of demand. Supposedly, there would be no need to manufacture anything. And they may be nearly right, putting aside the materials mentioned earlier. However, the maintenance of such machinery (Yes, replicators can self-replicate. But, carving and yanking it out of a solid wall and then replacing it with a new one is impractical. It is a waste of time and effort, which still have value.) and the creative services would asplode. The following explains it better than I could. I found it in the The Zeray Gazette:

“The higher and less obvious: patterns, designs, inventions. Dropping the cost of manufacturing to zero would do for tinkerers what dropping the cost of distrubution to zero (internet again) has done for writers. You wouldn’t see stagnation. You’d see an explosion. The internet didn’t leave us merely happy that we could finally get free porn and games. Perhaps for the first little bit, but then it turned tons of people into writers and public intellectuals who otherwise would have led private lives. So it would go with replicators. We might be content with the free food at first, but not forever. Soon we’d be giddy about the ability to design, say, our own working model train sets.”

If you could have any common object in any amount for free, you would eventually get desensitized to the sheer awe-inspiring nature of it. Don’t believe me? As The Zeray Gazette mentioned, a “poor” American is expected to have cable TV and air conditioning. People complain about waiting a few minutes on the runway instead of being thrilled by the miracle of flight. Louis C.K. touches on this phenomenon beautifully here in his interview with Conan O’Brien. The whole thing is being referred to by the phrase “Everything’s Amazing and Nobody’s Happy”. How much worse would this be with replicators?
“What!?!? I have to take my completely free designer Harley™ Jacket given to me instantaneously on request in black and red instead of black and orange? This thing is a piece of crap.”
If one can instantaneously have anything ordinary they want, then they will desire the EXTRAordinary. They will also be willing to trade services and/or some sort of illegal/foreign currency for it.

Secondly, the fact that various worlds within the Star Trek universe still had and used money makes this even more implausible. Given that individuals would desire the extraordinary, they would have access to hundreds of other worlds with an unimaginable number of exotic foods, services (read: prostitution), tourist destinations, celebrations, and goods expressly unique to them (read: foreign weaponry). If many of these worlds still had currency and charged for these things then that right there would be a drive to accumulate foreign money or prohibited items of value. Although not entirely appropriate to this point, it is arguable that one of the things that destroyed the USSR were images and hearsay of Western Decadence. Now Asia is having a similar problem. Very improbably a society devoid of currency could survive in a bubble. Surrounded by other capitalist worlds? Not a chance.

Thirdly, Entire categories of corporations and vocations exist only because money exists. Banking, tax preparation, stock markets, etc. The banks especially would NOT let this happen. Just look at the recent Supreme Court decision; they wouldn’t let someone with those inclinations into an important office. Secondly, does any really know how much gold is buried under Sweden? I don’t think even the Swedes know for sure. The people who own those numbered bank accounts aren’t going to let all the blood, sweat, and tears (especially blood) go to waste. Don’t think they will shy away from spilling more blood, and as much of it as they have to, to avoid it, either. Without one very MASSIVE war, I don’t see how those in power will be removed. I also don’t see how a world government eschewing the use of money could be set up after this massive war. Germany is still paying for WWI. I can’t imagine the shortages and demand for commodities of all kinds after a postmodern world war. (On a side note, if such a war does occur, I can only think of the war portrayed in David Brin‘s book, Earth. For those of you who haven’t heard of him, he was the one who wrote the book that the movie The Postman was based on, and, yes, the book is better. Anyway, Earth paints the haunting aftermath of world VS money quite chillingly.)

Fourthly and finally, there is land. You can’t replicate real estate; it is a finite property (no pun in ten did). The repairs to buildings need to be done. Unless you are going to evict everyone, tear down the building, and replicate a new one every single time it gets a dent. Granted, Location, location, location won’t matter quite as much since pretty much anywhere on the planet would be a transporter pad away. Regardless, it would still cost a relative fortune to live in a large metropolis (Paris, London, Los Angelos, etc). Not everyone can live on Avenue Princesse Grace, Monaco .

For all of these reasons and more, I have a difficult time buying a non-currency Star Trek (no pun in ten did, AGAIN!) in particular, and the abolishing of money in general.

Feel free to rip this to electronic shreds. You won’t hurt my feelings. :-D

Other links discussing the apparent lack of currency in Star Trek and its plausibility, or lack thereof:
The Economics of Star Trek
Star Trek: How We Will Abolish Money
The Marxism of Star Trek
Star Trek and Money
The Political Economy of Star Trek
Eidelblog: Star Trek economics
The Federation:Economics

Dan_DeColumna's avatar

@Judi: What’s an hour or so of my life when it comes to Fluther? lol

Dan_DeColumna's avatar

@Cruiser: Yeah, yeah, yeah. You’re just jealous, lol.

Now let me believe that, lol


Tenpinmaster's avatar

@Dan_DeColumna dude. thats freakin awesome :) nice answer… and my basis of the question did come from star trek so I know exactly what you are talking about. I think what they ended up coming up with in various novels was the use of Federation credits. They weren’t money but they were a compensation currency of a sorts. I think in Star Trek everyone is given “free” housing, school, food.. the basic for living but they were given motivation to obtain more by choosing certain career paths such as starfleet or the sciences. Now I’m just kinda guessing at the writers intent of their utopian society. The thing that makes this so fascinating is they attempted to show the world if you removed greed for material wealth from the equation. You come up with a world where everyone takes care of everyone else and they work, create, innovate, and educate for humanities sake. The only reason they got to this state was because of First Contact. If you remember, after having an encounter with an alien race they realized they weren’t alone in the universe and therefore, drastically rethought their place in the world and worked on building up humanity and becoming a world player in the universe.

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