During Zeitgeist Day 2015, Jen Wilding presented “Money: What is it good for?”
This presentation highlights a rather important topic and some very important premises about the movement towards a post-scarcity society. Simply, the topic discussed is why do we rely on money in society today (or, in the future). It’s evident that in times of scarcity money has been a tool used to decide who has more value or who deserves a valued good/service. However, today we have advanced technology at our disposal and can start to think about a post-scarcity society were everyone could be housed, fed, and cared for properly.
Money proponents often talk about how money is required to keep people motivated. In this lecture, Jen Wilding provides some examples and studies that seem to prove them wrong.
She starts by asking people what they would do if money was not a problem. Ask yourself this question and think about it for a moment. My guess is that very few people would say that they would be lazy couch-potatoes all day. Personally, I would continue my studies of mathematics and the sciences to someday help humanity on a further path. To realize this shows that money is not the only motivating factor. Furthermore, she makes a clever statement:
“I consider the laziness that people might fear, which is a behavior we definitely see in our current market system, is actually a behavioral response to not having the freedom to choose work that would be quite satisfying to that person and still having their basic needs me.”
In the beginning of the lecture she highlights some important premises on why money is not actually in coherence with the market system vision that is often taught.
- It presumes consumers have equal voting power.
- It presumes consumers are omniscient.
- It presumes business owners and advertisers would never mislead customers.
- It presumes the best possible quality is always a factor in a purchase decision instead of quality relative to a limit of choices fitting budget restrictions.
- It presumes that the people with the most money in society have rightfully earned it through the public purchase consent relating to their high quality goods and that they serve our best interest.
Point 1 is clearly false. There exists an extremely large gap between the wealthy and the poor. In a capitalist system, how much money you have dictates your voting power.
Point 2 is proven false by one simple example. The next time you go to the grocery store look around at all the various competing items. Do you know anything about these items? Do you know the difference between the various companies producing the items? Of course not, you’d have to grocery shop for an endless amount of time before you could actually make informed decisions based on what you buy (what you vote for).
Point 3 should be viewed through the scope of the profit motive. Business owners have a high profit motive to mislead consumers into buying their product. Considering their product the freshest or the healthiest product available places the product in good graces with potential consumers, even if it false advertisement.
Point 4 regards the idea that you vote with your dollar. Unfortunately, not all of us are wealthy and often have to make sacrifices that we don’t want to make such as buying a low quality item compared to a higher quality one. By doing this, we inadvertently “vote” for the cheaper, less durable item. This has disastrous effects on the environment (think of the trash build up from low quality items).
Point 5 claims that people who have gained wealth have done so properly and based off the public’s feedback and desire for the individuals goods or services and thus, are ideal representatives of the public. I don’t know about you, but I sure as hell do not want the wealthy having that much voting power.
All in all, this is a short version of the interactive presentation that Jen Wilding gave during Z-day 2015. For more lectures on similar topics, checkout TZM’s official YouTube channel.