Thinking About the Meaning of Money

Posted on December 16, 2011 by

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Money is not everything, not having it is – Kanye West

If you take care of others, you’ll be taken care of yourself – Johneric Concordia, LA Community Activist

I don’t have a lot of money. I’m not quite sure what it is, but I’m always told I need it.

I was once told that if I gave my life up for others, I’d be taken care of…I like the idea, and I would like to make it happen, as a prof at the CC, that is if there will be enough money to survive.

A lot of my thinking nowadays doesn’t go towards saving the world or even “occupying” it, but goes towards “surviving.”  Surviving, mostly meaning how I’m going to make a life for myself.  How I’m going to make a life for myself in this the US, Los Angeles context revolves around “making money.”

“Making money” means finding a way that people will continually pay me money for things to do for them.  I then will pay money to acquire the food, water, shelter, other things.  I have two different views of money, a positive spin, and a cynical one.

In my most positive spin, acquiring and then having money opens up two things:  conveniences and possibilities.

Having money lets me participate in the acquiring of conveniences, usually goods.  I don’t need to know the people at the 99 Cents Store to go get my Colgate toothpaste, my ice cold Arizona Ice Tea, or an iPod.

Perhaps if I was living in the urban 1880s America (and was white), I’d make those things:  something approximating toothpaste, a cheap flavored drink, an entertainment device.

But now a lot of things are at the store.  My family and and the majority of Americans have built our lives on going to the store, having things prepackaged made, ready to cook.

Having money also opens up possibilities.  What separates me from a trip to the Philippines, a nicely shot video, a house, is money.  If I just had money, I’d do this and this and this.  And then this and this and this.

While money can be good, money can be bad.  Real bad.  Michael Jackson.

In my most cynical definition, money is the filler for the lack of a relationship with people who have in their possession goods and/or services.  Money is something strangers give to each other.  A medium for strangers to meet, which can be very bad or very good, but usually ultimately distances because people are not expected to be nice or friendly to each other when in the process of exchanging it.

To navigate this world of impersonality and strangers, people in the world I live in tend to volunteer information of when they “have the hook-up.”  They usually “know someone” who could obtain something, be it a good, service for a price that requires less or even no money.

In most times when we lack those people, we will need to cough up money, the filler, to open up more relationships with people we don’t know for their connections to goods/services we want/need.  In that process, giving money to someone (assuming the money’s value is recognized) insures that we indeed get the good/service we need.  We use money to ensure that individuals do their part without resistance or much problem to acquire/do something for us.  It follows that the more we pay someone, the more we want to ensure that they commit to acquiring/doing what we need with hopefully even less resistance and no bunyahas/problems.

Paying Money is basically a form of insurance.  And you could sort of get around that by knowing people.

I guess the question in this age of Facebook and hyper-networking, can I just make a few friends who can help me out with not money, but just help me make and acquire whatever materials I need? I wonder if I could just know enough people and be set.