Wednesday, June 20, 2007

What is Wealth?

The three basic needs of humanity are food, clothing and shelter. If these basic needs are met, then what constitutes wealth? Is it anything over and above these needs? In addition to these needs we might also include security. Most humans want some assurance that their basic needs will be met not only right now, but also in the future. Thus, humans store a surplus to make sure they have food, clothing and shelter in the future. If that is all wealth is, what are we all these shenanigans, or those things we call jobs, we are presently doing?

Credit cards, debts, savings accounts, investments and retirement. We buy things we want and accumulate debt and then start worrying about retirement. Our parents used to approach debt much more cautiously and began saving as soon as they had an income. We are much more comfortable with debt and many of us will have a negative savings until the day we retire – even with the uncertain knowledge that social security will be there when we do.

Economic theory divides people between producers and consumers. In the past almost all humans were producers and households only consumed what they produced. If an individual was a skilled craftsperson, he or she could trade whatever he or she produced for the goods and services he or she needed for the survival of the household.

I do not mean to glorify life in the past or ignore the hardship inherent in producing for the survival of the household. However, modern individuals and households have given up something in the transition from strictly producers to strictly consumers as the age of agriculture gave way to industry and now, finally, information.

Wealth is now strictly a number, in financial terms, and the larger the number the more influence one has over the events in the world. Take back ownership of the land that is the ultimate producer of wealth if you wish to redistribute wealth in this country and the world from the primary holders of pecuniary wealth to the masses or majority. It is a fools errand to get distracted by obtaining money. Money merely represents wealth in our society, but it does not create wealth.

Here is an interesting link on something called the L-curve. Check it out.