“Money is what money does”. F.A Walker’s Maxim usually helps to answer the question “What is Money”? Is it merely a medium of exchange, a unit of account, a store of value or sometimes a standard of deferred payment or does money do something more than these canonical three or four functions? Walker’s quotation is meant to leave the answer open-ended.
Money is too dynamic and adaptable to be closed by a definition which limits it. One must remember that the rise of crypto currency, and digital money and plastic money, has not diminished the significance of money, rather they all complement or at time supplement the function of money for money does not only discharge debts and purchase things but must also circulate.
Money came into the picture to serve as a standard used in the barter system when the conventional system of barter became redundant, as the markets grew in size and space. Since general acceptability is a key factor, let us then assume that money may be generically defined as anything that is generally acceptable by the people in exchange of goods or service or in repayment of debt.
Coming to its significance, any person who feels money is not important must invariably be existing in a fool’s/dreamer’s paradise cause even beyond the gratification of our basic needs, money is the impetus needed to drive our passions, our dreams, our charity, our talents, ensure financial security, provide insurance, health care, education and steer our course of life in a desired direction. Without money, much of our life’s strongest desires shall remain thwarted and with the basic needs remaining unfulfilled, a lot of suffering and misery has to be undergone.
But above and beyond that money remains incompetent. It can provide us with the means to make good art, cinema, theatre, books but it can neither give us the talent to do so or the aesthetics to appreciate it in whole or in part. The courage, discipline and passion needed to pursue our dreams cannot be bought, nor the inclination to share or donate to the less fortunate. We can enjoy the power to make a difference in the lives of others with the access to money but not the sensibility or empathy to ensure that the change will be in the right direction. We can indulge in the company of money-accrued friends but not their loyalty.
So, that brings us to more pertinent questions. More than what money does, what matters is how much money is needed and how it is to be accrued? Having less money than what is needed shall always remain the bane of our life since we need money at each and every step of our life. We always have this urge that if we have a bit more money, then we shall be sorted but when we reach there, the goal seems farther away.
Dan Gilbert, a Harvard Psychology Professor said that beyond the satisfaction of basic human needs, money does not bring proportional happiness.
The key is then to use the right discretion that money can buy us goods but not experiences. So, let us treat it as that, a functional need and not get on “the hedonic treadmill’ and let the lure of it take over our lives.