(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.

Unconditional Love and Money

Posted on: May. 3, 2011  |  By: Ronnie Kahn  |  Category: General

Re-imagining Money as a Fair Tender

There is a quote by William Faulkner that “History isn’t dead; it’s not even past.”  There is a lot of talk that with the U.S. national debt where it is, this unsustainable level will bring the U.S. and its currency down. In this context, I would like to rework the Faulkner quote to “Money isn’t dead, it’s not even money.

Without further ado, I would like to introduce you to Dim, god of rich and poor, who will save us from this cataclysm.  While we’re on the subject of history though, we must go through a not-even past history of money.  If you know your Greek mythology, there was a time when the air, water, and land were all mixed together.  This was known as Chaos.  Out of Chaos came Cronos (Saturn) associated with time and Rhea, who came from Earth and Heaven.  Together they had Zeus (Jupiter) associated with air, who along with Maia begat Hermes (Mercury), who was a multi-tasking god known for being in charge of travelers and boundaries, a guide to the underworld, and patron to things we might call celebrities today, such as literary figures, poets, and athletes.  Most importantly for us here, he was the god of trade and commerce.  The commerce thing was kind of ironic because he tried to start the winged sandal industry but it never caught on.  As for being a patron, he was an all-inclusive, non-judgmental benefactor in that he was patron to both shepherds and thieves.

Hermes, like Willie Nelson, just wants us to be on the road.  Since he is patron to merchants as well as protector of thieves, he just wants movement, of people, of money, of goods, and forget about honesty or morality, it would only get in the way.  He is a messenger and will deliver whatever message there is that needs to get through.  As for money’s morality, the same thing holds true, exchange is all he is concerned about whether it is a fair negotiation or a sale of a bottle of Mother Tonic’s Fine Elixir, which increases wealth and smarts at the same time.

Aristotle saw that wealth was either household or retail trade.  The term interest comes from a word meaning offspring.  Money begats money but this type of gain was frowned upon.  In the Old Testament, there was a dual message about usury in that you shalt not lend upon usury to thy brother while a stranger mayest lend away.  It was either the ‘we’ or the ‘they.’  With the Reformation, Luther put a lot of this back on the ‘I.’  The individual could own property and resources and it wasn’t really clear if usury was to be avoided or there were times when you could get away with it.  They settled on differentiating the terms interest and usury which, other than the credit card and banking industry, we still work with today.

Getting back to Hermes, he fathered Eros.  Some might know Eros as the Roman Cupid, god of love and desire.  In Lewis Hyde’s The Gift (see Resources section), Eros is an emanation of the gift.  This is to be contrasted with the market.  A gift belongs to the group and increases to be given again while in the market, items are consumed in which the increase returns to the owner in the sense of usury or interest.  Hyde differentiates between value and worth.  A value is market based since it can be given a price and compared to other items with price tags.  Worth cannot be given a price and is concerned with matters that we hold dear to us such as family or integrity.  Behavioral economists also differentiate between the social and the market in the sense that in a market world, you pay for what you want, while in a social world, you consider others and will only take your fair share.  This was illustrated by Dan Arielly in an experiment showing that if someone puts out a plate of cookies for sale at your work, for example, you may buy all of them but when they are free you limit how many cookies you will take, leaving some for others to enjoy.

Concepts of opposites, such as value and worth, are generally that, concepts, and in the “real” world the distinctions are not clean and neat.  Rich and poor, good and bad, and even love and hate, as they say, get complicated.  The concept of a gift economy and a market economy are also muddled and not clear cut.  Someone can give gifts as bribes and gifts can be done out of obligation.  Someone can amass wealth in the market and use it to give gifts to individuals and charities.  Most of us understand that there is a sliding degree of scale when it comes to opposites.  As in any sliding scale, there are some cases that lean heavily to the extreme true black or white case but mostly there are shades that tend to be grade out toward deep black or white as well as the grey in the middle.  There can be caring businessmen and nasty relatives.  In the case of usury, there can be no interest car loans and so on.  In the case of gifts, they lean feminine and social while the market leans masculine and individual.

As it stands now, returning to the doomsday scenarios from unsustainable budgetary time-bombs to those hordes not being able to afford retirement, wealth is losing energy and motion.  When money emphasizes value over worth, no social bond is formed.  A simple merchant should be able to provide you value by providing a Mercury’s traveler a room at a fair rate.  Profit is part of the formula and that is okay.  With today’s money, the simple merchant has been replaced by image, status, and associations with identity.  Hyde’s market was based on commodity exchange.  Today, that has been replaced by money by fiat.  In other words, it’s all smoke and mirrors.  If your bank needs money, it can issue credit money that it calls deposits.  In the old method of exchange, when money worked well, amiable strangers came together where they might have never intersected before.  They did not have to be brothers who won’t charge interest to each other or of the same tribe or community.  With a connection made, those connections can lead to other trusted contacts, bringing more energy and motion.  With made-up money, profiteering, inequity, and cheating though, the energy and social spread is blocked while money gets concentrated in fewer and fewer hands.  Money is meant to reside in symbol and not in image.  With an image, money is free to attach itself to anything at any time.

Hermes, being the patron of travelers and god of commerce, just wants you on the road and will sell you anything to keep you moving along and use image as he sees fit.  However, what if Eros, Hermes’ son, had a child who was part love and part commerce?  This new god is called Dim because he dims the opposites of gift and market.  He loves muddle and knows that extremes are rarely part of the world we live in.  He wants to re-blend a little chaos into the world.  Hermes fools us into thinking that the road provides us total freedom to choose what we want, whenever we want it.  Money is freedom and money is object.  Dim, also sees that there is freedom when deciding which road to travel on.  At the same time, the roads are made for us.  The roads are not our personal creation but just a way to move along pre-established ruts.  In this way, money is social as well as individual.

Sure, money is about buying things, tangible objects, so there is an objective value side to it.  Dim also knows that in this day and age, money does connect us to worth sometimes directly and sometime indirectly.  An unpaid programmer contributes his expertise to open source software.  In doing so, he or she gives a gift to the community at large.   He or she takes on all the attributes of a paid programmer.  Is he or she doing it just for the common good?  There are most likely complex reasons that he or she donates this time.  They may want to use the experience for a job resume, want to get back at the corporation that underpays its programmers, wants to help leave a legacy, likes to create things, and the list can go on and on.  Some of these reasons may be to build up his own ego but he still is helping others.   A paid doctor may treat patients for free when the patient cannot afford their healthcare.   Money is so embedded in our lives that is becomes subjective as well as objective blurring a value and worth distinction.

Dim is a god of a new currency of exchange.  He calls this currency Moft.  It is part money and part gift.  He knows we need to reimagine money.  More and more of us are starting to look at the value of alternative currencies to money that help local folks exchange energy, resources, and services (see alternative currencies in The Resources section).  Even further, Dim wants a reformation of the Reformation in order to take ownership out of money.  While you may make profit or interest from money, that wealth is not yours.  Wealth must be understood as part of the community and must be returned there.  It restores the female and social side to money and provides an increase to the group, uniting brother and stranger in a global world.  Money is embedded in the world like the air, water, and land we live on.  Unlike the old money, this new currency advances the spiritual as well as the social.  We mix together again the air, water, and earth.  When we take the ownership out of money, we are not converting it into a gift but shifting the symbol away from individual image and identity and toward the social love side of Eros.  Gifts are forms of reciprocity which means things will return to us and the group.  The spirit of a gift though is to give that gift unconditionally.  With Dim’s Moft currency, there is no quid pro quo either.  With ownership ultimately residing with all of us, money is unconditional.  More and more of us can go off the banking grid and restore money into more than just the privileged few.  All the wonderful things that individuals accomplish when tapping into their social side come to the fore here as well.  Unconditional money is like Spring, a renewal that can be given again and again.

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