Money is like oxygen.

If you don’t have enough of it to survive, you will do almost anything to get what you need.

On the other hand, too much of it can be toxic!

Money is merely a medium of exchange that allows individuals to accumulate credits when they produce something that other people want to acquire. These credits can then be used to acquire products and services produced by other individuals.

Governments control the creation and supply of money for their home economies and international markets then determine the relative value of units of money between countries. For a brief period in recent history, countries had to back up their national money supply with physical gold. This constrained the ability of governments to create new money whenever they wanted, so the system was abolished.

When governments create more money than the value of goods and services that their country produces, the value of the currency will fall, inflation will increase and interest rates will rise. The net result is damage to the economy and eventually social unrest that forces the government out of power or at least to change its behavior.

The United States Dollar is currently used as the medium of exchange for international trade. This allows the US to borrow more money from other countries because those countries all need to hold US Dollar reserves to allow their markets to function.

Recently, the US Government has begun issuing trade sanctions against, and restricting access to US currency by more and more nations, their companies and individuals. This has increased international interest in creating other currencies to support international finance and bilateral trade.

There is also increasing pressure to create new electronic forms of money like bitcoin that are not under the control of any government.

In the end, any concept of money is arbitrary and only of value when individuals agree to work on the promise that they will be given sufficient tokens to allow them to survive. Museums are overflowing with tokens from around the world that became worthless because this social contract failed this basic test.

The concept of money can also come under threat when the disparity in income levels and wealth between individuals becomes so great that societies begin to disintegrate.

Throughout human history, at least since the agricultural revolution, there has always been income and wealth disparity.

Today, international trade and the digital revolution have cast a magnifying lens upon the degree of disparity domestically and internationally.

Farmers everywhere supply the food we need to survive but they are among the lowest paid workers. Companies are buying up the farms, forcing people to move to cities where the cost of living is much higher.

Blue collar workers struggle to earn enough to meet the basic needs of their families while their bosses earn hundreds of times more.

Blue collar workers in the developing world may have to work “996” (9 to 9, 6 days a week) to survive while similar workers in developed countries may only need to work half as many hours.

Sports celebrities and entertainers that “make it to the top” can earn hundreds of millions of dollars over their careers.

Every person in the world except me seems to now own a cell phone that governs their lives. They all see the disparity in wealth and privilege that other people locally and internationally enjoy. Discontent is percolating every where.

Society is a thin veneer that can break down in a flash when people feel that it has stopped working for them.

We are an intelligent species.

If we could only get leaders that are focused on a sustainable future for humankind rather than their own power and parochial interests, we should be able to figure this out.

We’re better than that.

Kenneth B. Little

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