(noun, etymology Dutch from ‘boedel’: estate, possession, inheritance, stock.). 1. Crowd, pack, lot, as in ‘the whole boodle.’ 2. a. Counterfeit money b. Money acquired or spent illegally or improperly, particularly when used in bribery for political purposes. 3. Slang for money in general.

The Take Away from Money: Give Back

Posted on: May. 24, 2011  |  By: Ronnie Kahn  |  Category: General

Whether it is the Middle East or an American election, there is a natural tension between political and economic change.  In Egypt, for example, political change has caused an old regime to be ousted while the new government is just trying to form and develop.  This change though, while political, has yet to address how the new government will affect the economic development.  Things like jobs will be putting pressure on this nascent government for economic change especially if the situation becomes worse before it gets better.  Egyptian tourism, which is so important to the livelihoods of so many, has been negatively affected and will remain so until the turmoil and chaos settles into a stability that will bring back Egypt as a vacation and business destination.  In American politics, no matter how many important accomplishments could be won in foreign relations or social programs, it will most likely be the economy that keeps one party in if the economy is growing or will allow the other party to change hands if the economy is suffering.  There is also a natural tension between nations in regards to political and economic change.  The United States has been criticized for ignoring political freedom in Egypt at the expense of its motivation to keep oil prices down and putting up with repressive regimes in order to maintain a known ally against terrorism.

So money can be a catalyst for change or it can take a back seat to change.  Is this a sign of stabile governments against unstable ones?  Perhaps in Egypt it was a sign that the old regime underestimated the discontent of its citizenry.  Perhaps in America it is a sign that when jobs and times seem bleak that discontent can only be registered at the polls.  Once the discontent fades, what can be done to make the tension between money and politics turn to restoring progress?  One of the essential elements for unifying economics and politics and greasing the gears of the money narrative is reciprocity.  Reciprocity is the money “it” factor.

For money to work, it needs goods and services to be exchanged.  There has to be a natural balance between each person contributing “sales” and that same person making purchases.  In other words, the ledger has to have a give on one side and a receive on the other.   You have a career or job where you offer others your wares or access to others wares and services.  On the other side, you then convert your wages into purchases of wares and services.

When I was in college, the “it” factor for anthropology was reciprocity.  It was considered one of the few cultural universals.  Every culture had a gift economy where a gift given meant that a future return of the gift energy would be moved forward.  Reciprocity also works in the market economy as well.  As was said, there are two sides to the energy of money and the exchange process.  When someone does right by you there becomes an obligation to return that in kind.  Morality is social virtue.

Reciprocity also means a form of the golden rule in that do unto others as you would do unto yourself.  It is this type of energy that builds trust in an economy as well as social reputation.  Without money being able to symbolize trust in the give and take of services and goods, we would not be able to work out the give and receive.  If you trust that I am a person of integrity and will treat me as you would want to be treated, you will get that back in the form of being treated that way.

Ultimately, the narrative of money needs to be restored to the balance that reciprocity offers.  For too long, the money story has been so embedded in individualism and consumerism that the ledger seems to be one sided.  We want to be entitled to our side of the ledger and take advantage to bring as much to our side as possible.  When it comes to material wealth, most see that their job is to try to be more on the receiving than the giving end.  For money to overcome its dysfunction, it is time to rework the money narrative in the terms of reciprocity.  We are not here just to receive.  If money is to work properly, we are here to give back.

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