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she works hard for the money

Money has been around, in one form or another, for nigh on thousands of years. The Yen, the Euro, The Australian dollar, Vietnamese dong, the British Pound, the Turkish Lyra. Money does indeed make the world go around. What started out in ancient civilizations as bartering a sheep for, I don’t know, a potential wife or a rudimentary chisel made of stone, gradually evolved into the practice of using carved rocks, sharks eggs (in some societies), and gradually metal and gold as a tool for purchase. This laid the groundwork for commerce as we know and love it today.

But whose bright idea sparked the fire that lit the way for future generations? I have often pondered this to great extent, usually when I am on the verge of bankruptcy because I’ve got no change to buy a Golden Gaytime ice-cream at the petrol station and I have to spend my money on something boring, like fuel. As a young person and student, it is generally accepted (and generally true) that we shouldn’t have much, if any, money.

I’ve come to this conclusion:

I work 9am till 5.30pm each day to receive my pay packet on a Monday so I can put fuel in the car which, coincidentally, I had to buy with my own money, so I can drive myself back to work to earn my pay for that week, so I can put fuel in the car which I had to buy with my money, so I can drive…. Can you see where I’m going with this?

Here in Australia, we use plastic notes and coins made of nickel to pay bills and various comestibles. Yet my lunch comes wrapped in bits of floppy plastic and I’ve got some earrings at home that are made of metal. Why can’t I take these into IGA and buy some two-minute noodles? What makes these seemingly worthless objects so valuable and important in our world today? It’s not like money is made from proper gold; interestingly there’s only about 1% true gold in a $2 coin. We don’t trade for rubies or diamonds, and our notes aren’t made from real gold leaf.

I can’t just walk into my local Retravision and purchase a new iPod touch with an antique 18th century chest of drawers from Ye Olde England that, coincidentally, would be worth much more than the iPod any day. But instead I am asked to produce from my wallet a few pieces of ridiculously coloured plastic reminiscent of Monopoly money to complete the transaction.

As a student, I generally don’t have much money. Which explains my confusion and, to some extent, my anger and bewilderment over the importance and stronghold that these numbers and bits of plastic have over my life!

If you have a little bit of money, you’re poor. If you’ve got a lot of money, you’re rich, and chances are you’re going to evolve into a greedy individual. You’re going to want more money, and you’re going to get it. Prisons around the world are filled with countless criminals; murderers, gang men, hit men, drug dealers and thieves. What fuels these people’s actions? You don’t steal a 30-inch television and a washing machine because it’s your Uncle’s birthday and you couldn’t think of what to get him and the shops were closed. No, you steal something because you want it. You can’t keep it at home because if the Fuzz rock up you’re in a spot of bother, so what do you do? You sell it. Sell it for money. Am I making my point yet?

About 50% of what we do each day revolves around money. What you eat, what you wear, what you drive, where you’re going, how you get there, and what you’re going to do when you get there all depend on one constant around the world: money. Nothing comes for free. For instance, when I am working on the weekends, I go home every day for lunch at my mother’s house, because it’s free. Yet in reality, it’s not really. Someone had to put the food in the fridge; it didn’t just appear there. (Unless my Mum is a closet kleptomaniac who steals from the fresh food people, which would explain it.) And they had to pay for it with our ridiculous bright Monopoly money. That’s how worthlessly valuable it is. Yet we stab people, rob banks, go on the dole, lie to Centerlink, inherit, win at Bingo, gamble it at the pokies to get more and occasionally go to work to earn money.

Seriously, I could understand what the big fuss was about if we were trading for silver and sapphires, but we’re not. I liked the ancient way better; two goats for some granite stone to build your house with, or some fresh strawberries which I harvested myself for an oxen to pull the yoke to plant next season’s crop. Trading for goods with objects of equal value was much better. I’ve got this Canon computer printer that’s been used only once before sitting beside me on my desk. It still works fine, and there’s nothing wrong with it, I just don’t use it. What’s stopping me swapping this with Fred over there who’s got some DVDs which he doesn’t want anymore, but which I’d love to watch? Abracadabra! I’ve solved my printer issue and got some new movies to boot. Excellent system. Enough of this ridiculous money business.

I tell you, if I were in charge of this planet, I’d be making a few changes…after I’ve finished my Golden Gaytime.

By Madeleine Stuchbery

(Image credit: 1.)

Final thought: Save money wherever you can!

2 thoughts on “she works hard for the money

  1. GREAT article!
    Fantastic writing with bucket loads of humour and sarcasm, just the way i like it.

    Money only has the value that we, as a society, give it. It regulates the economy. There would be more issues if we traded or bartered in terms of figuring out the particular value of each individual item, then you have it’s condition, then guarantees and whatnot…blah blah blah.

    Fantastic writing anyway! Lots of love, V.

  2. Have you seen that episode of the simpsons where Bart (i think) says we should substitute money with plastic chips? It’s the same thing haha. Swapping things is essentially a form of currency and really not that different.

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