What is the first thought that pops into your head when you think of money?
For some it will be paper bills, bank accounts and investments. For others it may be security, anxiety or stress. For still others it may be materials items or work. The point is that money invokes many different things to different people. But what is it?
Let’s take a short history lesson. Before the time of blogs and IPhones, our ancestors roamed the earth in search of food, shelter and safety. The world was not divided up and deeded out; rather it was un-inhabited and free for all live off of. All that existed had a universal destination. That not to say that everyone could access food and clean water but rather that nothing was blocked from those who could access it.
As we evolved it was easy to see how those who were better at certain task dedicated themselves those tasks. People who were faster runners and quicker reflexes dedicated themselves to hunting, those who were good with tools and wood applied their craft to building and so on. In order for tribes and communities to improve their lives they developed a bartering system.
It is easy to see that a currency that was lighter than a pig or pile of wood was needed. So the first forms of money arose. Precious metal, beads and sperm whale teeth were just a few of the object that carried valued that could be used for items of need. While these items removed the buyer and seller from the actions of hunting, building, farming, etc they never the less carried with them the fruit of someone’s labor. In a certain sense money can be seen as a form of “liquid labor” that is used to purchase things needed.
It easy for us to lose track of the fact that we exchange our time for value delivered. In a world where we rarely see the end product that we are working on via computers we can become detached from the true meaning of money.