Posted by: The Soaring Eagle | March 20, 2013

Life Without Money – The Roles of Money


The last post seemed to have opened the Pandora box! Life without money!? Are you out of your mind? Nobody actually said that, but I could read it between the lines.

Yes, life without money, why not? Things, by their very nature, are replaceable. People, on the other hand, are not. The social/emotional crises that sweeps across most Western societies has something to do with this simple fact. Most businesses “cling” to things and let go of people. An employee is referred to in the “books” as a “cost center”, while a desk is an “asset”! Wow! How had we come down to this? No wonder our economies are “soft” nowadays.

Well, maybe I got a bit emotional there. I’m not suggesting that we throw money out of the window overnight, then fall into an even bigger disaster.

Changes of such magnitude take decades, if not centuries. But everything starts with a single idea. If any of you lived to see that happened, please remember yours truly!

Then how would we approach this idea? How would we explore it? I suggest we start by understanding the role of money in our lives.

It is easy to realize that money plays multiple roles, all important. Let’s start with the obvious one: An instrument to facilitate the exchange of benefits and value among people. What does that mean? A company needs the right expertise to build specific products. A group of Engineers have that expertise. There is a potential for benefit exchange and creation of value here, but what is the facilitator? Yes, money. You know the rest of the typical story: As the engineers create the desired value, they receive the benefit in the form of money.

What else? A discriminator. Imagine the price of a first class ticket from Vancouver to Auckland was the same as the price of an economy class ticket; who would travel economy? The carrier would run into a multitude of problems. Money, right now, is the only instrument to “discriminate” among passengers, forcing them to choose what fits their budgets.

And? A controller. In a business joint venture, the party that invests 51% or more has the final word in any dispute. Even in families. In some cultures, after high school, the boy or the girl has to go into the major that her or his father (or mother) chooses, simply because the latter is going to fund the expenses.

Finally, an organizer. Let’s take traffic as an example. When you exceed the speed limit, you run a chance of getting a ticket, in other words, pay money. Consequently, you adhere to traffic laws, and we end up with an organized, smooth flow of vehicles across the city, and over the highways.

We covered the role of a motivator in the previous article, despite the fact that money is not very good at that role. It performs it rather forcefully and negatively!

I guess that should be enough for now. Will carry on in the next post to see what would be an alternative that could satisfy all the above roles and more. Or maybe shift the whole paradigm, and spread the discussion to other fields such as sociology, psychology, policy, etc…This sounds complex, but let’s take it one step at a time.

In the meantime, let’s keep making and growing wealth, the usual way 🙂

The Wealth Maker



  1. Cost center vs asset, loved It!

    • Yes, usually each employee belongs to a cost center. There could be a group of workers under the same center. You must use that number when, for example, filling out an expense report, so the accounting department knows how to “charge” that expense.

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