A World Without Money!

M G Warrier

Values were respected more, before prices came into being. Price, which is a byproduct of money, has turned the world upside down. Now there is a price for everything. Or, reversely, you can get anything for a price. From play school admission to doctorates from universities, from selection for competitions in schools to coveted prizes or medals or awards, or wins in cricket matches or getting a Common Wealth Games (CWG) held n your country, for all your needs, someone is there to fix a price and sell or arrange it for you.

Think of the ‘hidden treasures’ at Sreepadmanabha Temple premises, Thiruvananthapuram recently unveiled and accounted under instructions from the Apex Court. Reports indicate that even by conservative estimates the value of the treasure comprising gold, jewellery, diamonds and other valuables brought into inventory may exceed a staggering Rs one lakh crore and an unknown number of storage spaces remain to be opened. This has called for coordination among several agencies to ensure not only the safety of the treasure taken out for listing and accounting as mandated by the apex court, but also to provide adequate security for the temple premises. Reports indicate that government is taking all care to ensure that divinity of the premises is protected and the treasure which remained safe for centuries will not go unprotected after the unintended disclosures about the location and value of this divine wealth incidental to the mandated accounting requirements.   Future handling of the treasure will be, hopefully, under the guidance of GOI in consultation with the present management of the temple, state government and the Travancore royal family (as vital information could still be with that family on the accumulation and positioning of assets of the nature now found). But, just imagine, the present accounting did not take place. Perhaps the present and future headaches of government and people around this temple would have been less to a great extent.

 It is not just those who accumulate money or buy or sell things or avail services get affected by money. Recently, a commuter in a Mumbai suburban local train was fighting with his co-passenger about the extent of losses suffered by Ambani brothers during the last two years due to fluctuations in the stock market. Dispute was about a few billions of rupees. A country points accusing fingers at some promises to give grants to countries which didn’t get selected as the venue for CWG for development of sports made by some other countries (including India) at the time of deciding the venue for 2010 Common Wealth Games. It claims such promises act as bribes to support grant-givers at the time of voting. The cost of construction of one square foot of residential area is in the neighborhood of eight hundred rupees. But the selling price varies between Rs 1500 to a few lakhs of rupees depending on where the residential building is located. Can you distinguish between bribe and incentive or commission and margin or interest and profit-sharing? 

See the problems faced by governments in managing GDP growth and inflation.  Inflation is only one of the indicators that tell governments and regulators the results of various fiscal and monetary policy measures they initiate. Depending on the direction they look, they are always able to either an optimistic prediction or tell us where either of them need correct the next step. Problem is more about various categories of inflation, the methods of calculation of inflation and how the inflation (CPI or WPI inflation, for instance) affect different sectors of economy and different income-groups. There is no clarity or uniformity in perspective on such things among those who are responsible to prescribe corrective measures. The ‘Inflation elephant’ is perceived as different monsters by scholars from different schools of economics. You can trace all these problems to the money monster which was unwittingly let loose by someone who did not bargain for such inauspicious consequences.

 The problem for the common man is compounded when he is offered same goods at one price at one outlet and at three times that price at a different outlet (the other day tuar dal was sold at Rs34 at a PDS outlet and at Rs106 at a posh departmental store in Thiruvananthapuram) and he is told that food inflation is coming down by 50 basis points.

All these problems would not have existed, if money was not invented. Absence of money will reduce the chances of corruption, inequitable distribution of wealth and rich becoming richer and poor becoming poorer, as the advertisers say, by 99.9 per cent.

The thought of a world without money has fascinated me since my childhood days. Of course the reason for hating money those days was that I didn’t have money and my friends and neighbors enjoyed making me jealous by showing off the money power they possessed before me and others in my position. 

Take my own case, now. I have completed a somewhat successful career in a bank, have a bank account and have last year gained the status of a senior citizen. Still, I feel, the fellow who invented money and his followers who made it currency have done more harm than that unlucky wise man who invented atom bomb. Of course, now the reasons for my hatred towards money are more mature than jealousy.

For a moment, imagine, man gets out of the clutches of money, or there is no money in the world. All symbols from $ to the one recently figured out for Rupee vanishes, everything else remaining the same. Yes, science and technology, all results of research so far, literature, agriculture, industry, art and whatever you can imagine remain and continue to perform and help the world to move forward, but money is conspicuous by its absence! This will bring drastic changes.

It will take considerable time to rehabilitate people like those working in the financial sector, as the nature of their jobs will change. They will have to re-skill themselves to manage a world entirely dependent on a new barter system which will result in revolutionary changes in the power-balance internationally.

Having been there for millions of years without money, world will adjust itself to a money-less environment where peace prosperity and happiness will not be dependent on bank balances but on the value addition to life and environment each one makes.

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