When you add more money to an economy the prices of things within the economy tend to rise. So if you have £1 today and it buys you a sandwich, and you then double the amount of money everyone has in the economy, soon you will need to spend £2 for the same sandwich.
We know this effect as inflation, but for the purpose of this post I’ll call it ‘(financial) inflation’.
My proposition is that as you add money to a society, there is also another kind of inflation. That is to say, that as you add more money into society, prices go up (financial) inflation, but value correspondingly goes down. I’m going to call this latter effect (social) inflation. In reality is is the same thing from a different perspective. However I think it has a more profound impact than higher prices/numbers.
“The love of money is the root of all evil.” Sounds like a Karl Marx quote doesn’t it? Well, it’s a quote from 1 Timothy 6:10 of The Bible. Not sure how the American pastors flying around in private jets manage to square that circle, but who am I to judge? I am neither Karl, Jesus nor Timothy.
But fast forward a couple of thousand years and the love of money is yet still in its ascendency. New heights reached each day, both inside and outside of the Church.
This wasn’t always the case. Usury was banned by the early Christian church and is still considered haram in Islam to this day. But usury is nothing to compared to modern financial instruments. I wonder what Jesus would have thought to futures trading, or Timothy to synthetic CDOs, or the Prophet Mohammad to NFTs of radioactive apes?
The reason gambling is haram, and ‘the love of money’ is condemned in the Bible, is not necessarily because they are evil in their own right. It’s because they distract people from living a virtuous life. They make people lose track of what is important.
As we come to love money more and more, the value of everything else is correspondingly diminished. This is what I mean by (social) inflation. And when I say ‘everything else’, to be clear, I mean you, me, our families and friends, humanity, all living creatures, the Earth, the Universe, existence itself, the past, the present, and the future. So yeah, a lot.
The media loves (financial) inflation. Graphs galore of bread, egg and energy prices going ever upwards. And then you’ve got the talking heads of people scared about whether they can afford to heat their home or buy enough food for the week. Suffering porn – great newsworthy content. By contrast there are hardly any public voices suggesting that perhaps our obsession with money has gone way, way too far. And that our love of money is a primary cause for the way we’ve so heinously neglected our planet and each other. While this is not a million miles away from socialist dogma, most socialists in today’s media-vetted circuits would struggle to sound credible if they attacked money itself. So they don’t.
I am not religious. But I’ve got to admit that religions have made a lot of important and astute observations about the nature of mankind. I’m not a socialist either, but the profound damage that our love of money is having on ourselves and our world is undeniable and equally depressing as it is infuriating. Money, as a medium of exchange, has always been but a means to an end. It’s just that by loving money so much, we’ve forgotten what that end should be.