Friday, 7 January 2011

From Barter to Money to Credit

Stop it! I'm not having monetary problems - outside my normal mode of spending, which is inordinate but not crazy. No. I was in the shower, doing my normal ruminant type thinking and I was thinking about addictions, then an e-mail from Senator Menendez about a tax credit (which is a bad idea) and then got to thinking about money and how it all began.

In the simplest terms, it began as theft, then barter, then money and then credit. I would have to say that the invention of credit is where we really went wrong as a race, but that is another topic.

In more detail, which is the only kind of thinking for me, theft had to be first. It just makes sense. If one tribe had something your tribe didn't, you'd pick a fight and procure it. So in actual fact, procurement came first. Whether it was theft-related procurement or legal or polite procurement, it was still procurement.

Then we moved up to barter - at least that way, you weren't picking off the members of your group, because you want to have numbers. So bartering became a better means of doing business. It cut down on deaths and kept everyone happy. And then at some point, someone came up with money.

I'd have to look up the history of money. OK, here it is. Money first came up as a term in Mesopotamia on 3,000 BCE (BCE is before common era - none of that Before Christ and Ano Domini crap for me, thank you). Here's what Wikipedia has:

"The use of barter-like methods may date back to at least 100,000 years ago, though there is no evidence of a society or economy that relied primarily on barter. Instead, non-monetary societies operated largely along the principles of gift economics. When barter did occur, it was usually between either complete strangers or potential enemies.

Many cultures around the world eventually developed the use of commodity money. The shekel was originally a unit of weight, and referred to a specific weight of barley, which was used as currency. The first usage of the term came from Mesopotamia circa 3000 BC. Societies in the Americas, Asia, Africa and Australia used shell money – often, the shells of the money cowry (Cypraea moneta L. or C. annulus L.). According to Herodotus, the Lydians were the first people to introduce the use of gold and silver coins. It is thought by modern scholars that these first stamped coins were minted around 650–600 BC.

The system of commodity money eventually evolved into a system of representative money.[citation needed] This occurred because gold and silver merchants or banks would issue receipts to their depositors – redeemable for the commodity money deposited. Eventually, these receipts became generally accepted as a means of payment and were used as money. Paper money or banknotes were first used in China during the Song Dynasty. These banknotes, known as "jiaozi" evolved from promissory notes that had been used since the 7th century. However, they did not displace commodity money, and were used alongside coins. Banknotes were first issued in Europe by Stockholms Banco in 1661, and were again also used alongside coins. The gold standard, a monetary system where the medium of exchange are paper notes that are convertible into pre-set, fixed quantities of gold, replaced the use of gold coins as currency in the 17th-19th centuries in Europe. These gold standard notes were made legal tender, and redemption into gold coins was discouraged. By the beginning of the 20th century almost all countries had adopted the gold standard, backing their legal tender notes with fixed amounts of gold.

After World War II, at the Bretton Woods Conference, most countries adopted fiat currencies that were fixed to the US dollar. The US dollar was in turn fixed to gold. In 1971 the US government suspended the convertibility of the US dollar to gold. After this many countries de-pegged their currencies from the US dollar, and most of the world's currencies became unbacked by anything except the governments' fiat of legal tender and the ability to convert the money into goods via payment."

So there it is. What I do know is that money was not "unionised" until the early 1900s. In the early part of the 1700s each colony had its own form of legal tender. Up until we took in California, each state had its own bank notes. During the Civil War, the southern states had their own form of money, and the northern states had theirs. In the early 1900s, money did become unionised to the nation but the bank notes were huge. In 1921, they changed the plates to the money we had until the mid-1990s, when we began to add colour to our legal tender.

Unfortunately, we also no longer have our money backed up. Until recently, within my lifetime, gold backed up the U.S. monetary system. Fort Knox had the gold that gave United States money its value. That is no longer the case. And we keep printing valueless money. Welcome to the United States, land of the free, home of the brave and soon to be totally destitute country - because of morons like Menendez.

There is no cure for this kind of recession. There is no stop-gap fix for this. And tax is another word for income - this is how the government earns money. The term may be different but the result is not - this is income. And if the government is cutting its income, this will not help. And besides, I know - personally - all the people who will pay for this. My husband, my coworkers and the people we cater to. Why do that? Why nail the high-income workers? Why do they bear the onus of paying for everyone else's lives?

I'm incensed.

Ten years ago if you had asked me about this, I would have been one of those truly ignorant people who said that the rich should pay for the poor. And maybe there is some truth to that. Not that they should pay completely for anyone's lives, but that when it comes to the truly needy and those under the poverty level, there is an onus on the rest of us - all of us - to help. But this loser (who as a Senator, will never pay anything for his or his family's healthcare and hardly works full time and is getting tax breaks written into law) wants to have the wealthy pay for middle-income people. Is it their faults that we are having a world-class recession? I think not. I will be the first to tell you that they pay - greatly - for taxes. More than most people earn. You don't really think that this has no effect, do you? That wealthy people aren't appalled when they see what happens to their pay checks? Why should they and they alone carry the weight?

What you don't know is that the wealthy get that way because they work their asses off! Granted, the news only shows the sleazy people of the world in it. But 95% of them are just good people, who know their shit and are really, really good at what they do. They shouldn't have to pay for the rest of us. And Menendez, your meddling with the taxes will NOT help this. Just leave it alone.


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