Hopefully we don't all wake up some sunny morning and decide to stop believing in money.
The linked to story’s not really about money
(which I find a deep and slippery economic concept) but about buying, selling, and collecting rarities – in this case US$100 bills with visually striking, “fancy”, serial numbers like “55555555” or “12341234”. As best I can tell, this isn’t much different than collecting rarities like old comic books and baseball cards. That a $100 bill is legal tender, rather than just printed paper like a comic book or baseball card, isn’t important to its worth as a collectable. That it’s less easily counterfeited (selling a reproduction comic as an original is technically easier and less legally risky than making a fake $100 bill with a fancy serial number) is, as in its case, buy/sell/collectors need not worry that they will lose money buying what turns out to be a worthless thing. More, the collector is assured that the manufacturer of $100 bills won’t reissue more with a given fancy serial number, decreasing its rarity and thus its value, as often happens with recently issued collectables.
Why people are willing to pay a lot for something that’s of little practical usefulness, but is rare, is for me a source of deep mystery. On one hand, an obvious explanation is that one can sell the rarity for more than one bought it, realizing a profit. But of what started
this value-creating cascade of buying and selling, I’ve yet to read or hear a compelling explanation.
It’s something to do with “human nature”, and as far as I know, isn’t exhibited by even the smartest non-human animals, even ones that exhibit bartering behavior, such as bonobos
. Because knowing in advance how valuable something will be to collectors can allow one to make a lot of money buying and selling them, the subject is heavily studied – though not much by me, so I don’t know if any of this study is very scientific, or has produced any elegant theories.
Some people claim that money doesn't rule their life. But I think they are deluding themselves.
I think this is a bit like the old adage “guns don’t kill people – people
with guns kill people”. Money doesn’t rule anyone’s life – people
with money do. Money systems are one of the many and most important ways people who rule people do it.
The only people I consider to be free of money's influence is the people who completely live off the land. People who live in remote areas who either don't want to be associated or don't understand it's meaning.
In the past, and I think, currently, such freedom is fragile and illusory, because it often lasts only until people from the main, money-using culture discover something of value to them owned by recluses. In dire cases, the people themselves are this thing of value, its acquisition by moneyed people slavery.
Money seems to me a “dominant” social characteristic. When cultures collide, the ones in which money has the stronger role tends to “win”, “infecting” the other with its money system. I can’t recall a single enduring case of the opposite – a “money free” culture subverting a moneyed one to its moneyless ways – happening.
bah i went the bitcoin route.
Anybody who’s even a casual student of economics who hasn’t already should study bitcoins
and “cryptocurrency” in general.
My inexpert take on these is that they are either truly a way of removing central monetary authorities leading to … who knows? – or they are a very weird kind of collectable commodity. They may also be incitements to wasting substantial computing resources and electrical energy, or a IMHO misguided scheme to have geeks take over the world.
So what’s your worth in bitcoins, Phillip.