A friend and I were talking a few weeks ago about the barter system and what we would do if money was somehow abolished from society.
Personally, I quite like the idea of the barter system — but only because I’m a raging conservative. See, in the barter system, you examine your skills, and trade them for things that you need. Like singing? Find someone who will give you beans in order to sing for them. Are you good at math? Find someone who will let you live in their house if you manage their business. Basically, the people who would be successful are the people who were able to determine their value to society.
Obviously the economist in me sees the problems with this. Maybe I don’t want beans.
This is why money was “invented” if you will. It allows me to trade my skills for a widely accepted medium which I can then trade for things that I do like or want or need.
Somewhere though, we lost our way. Now we have people who contribute little or nothing to society and yet are still receiving this valuable trade medium. I agree that people with legitimate disabilities should have a safety net seeing as they are physically or mentally unable to work. I’m more upset about the people who are unwilling to work.
There are a few people in my life now, who work part-time or not at all and either collect government benefits or go into debt. These are people who are 100% able to work but, because the safety net is there, they choose not to work. Granted, the money that they receive is small compared to what they could earn at a full-time job but, in most instances, these people “don’t care about the money”.
What value are these people bringing to society? If my friend gets drunk every night and gets numerous drinking in public citations, his value is that he supports the police officers’ and bartenders’ jobs. In a barter society, my friend would be obliged to find a way to eat and to clothe himself and to live. He would become valuable simply by needing to.
Similarly, people who don’t take jobs that they consider “beneath them”… When I was looking for a job, I had no issue with applying to Tim Hortons or to McDonalds because a job is a job. If someone is going to pay me $10 an hour to throw hamburgers in a bag, I will laugh at the ridiculously high rate of pay and do it. No stress, no “bringing work home” and I would, I suppose, be contributing to society in some way.
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