Last night Crazy Math Spouse and I were watching “Stossel”. Now before you go all angry liberal on me, please read the rest of this post. I’ve read all the liberal leaning posts on CM and I’ve refrained from denigrating the posters whose political beliefs conflict with mine. I ask that you all give me the same courtesy. I’m not attempting to indoctrinate anyone via this post. I just want to relate something I suspect that most of you missed last night.
If you are still reading, I thank you.
Last night’s “Stossel” was on the Wall Street protests. Stossel decided to interview some of the protesters. Most of them talked about their belief that corporations are evil and the Federal Government needs to regulate them heavily. There was nothing new about those complaints. But the gem was one woman with an argument so ridiculous I’m sure we’ll all, liberal and conservative, vomit over. I don’t remember exactly what she said but the essence of it was that she thought money was the cause of all of our problems and that if we eliminated money all our worries would be gone.
I don’t ever want this woman in my class. If she ever showed up, I think I’d have to quit. I’m aware that most of my students and most of my colleagues believe blue is the only way of life. I bite my lip and hold my tongue to avoid conflict and try very hard to not let on that I’ve got deep red ideals. If you are in my class, you can think what you want to think and vote how you want to vote. But I’ve got to draw the line somewhere.
I happen to think that the invention of money is one of the highlights of the history of man. It’s right up there with language and negative numbers. Money is what makes our society comfortable. I can tell you the last time that I killed an animal to eat it (it was the 3rd of never). I can tell you the next time I will kill an animal to eat it (the 4th of never). It’s not that I’m a card carrying PETA member. It’s just that I don’t think I could kill. And life is not a Zork game. I’ll never go southeast and have a wild batch of carrots appear from which I can collect seeds. Life is much easier when we can parcel work out within our society. It means we can have more food, leisure, and shelter.
Money is genius. It gives us a way to easily convert goats to lamp shades. I know that today one large pizza is worth roughly 3 gallons of gas. Maybe it’s because I am a mathematical person that I like conversions. But I think that non-mathematicians would like money, too. I mean there are might be 7 people in a 100 years who’d trade a goat for a lamp shade. I’m sure that equivalence wouldn’t be on the trade board at your local Wal-Mart. But one might trade goats for grain, then grain (in bread form) for fabric, then fabric (in the form of a dress) for a lamp shade. In a society where many struggle to calculate a tip, how many will be capable of that more lengthy conversion? Money makes trade easy.
So why do I write these things? I don’t think it takes a lot of brain cells to figure out what money does for us. Does this anti-money woman really want to kill her own meat, harvest her own crops, spin her own yarn to weave her own fabric, make her own clothing, and build her own shelter? I’d be willing to wager she has done none of these things in her life. Yet she looked clothed and, um, well fed. So does she really believe that if we got rid of money tomorrow that we’d all be fed and clothed next week?
She clearly had no critical thinking skills what-so-ever. She’d be impossible to teach. But I think what troubles me most about her is that my students probably aren’t that much smarter.