Money makes the world go round…world go round….Liza
Minelli in Cabaret, an ear worm, but it is a fact: Money is the oil that lubricates
the motor, sets everything in motion, without money we cannot survive.
Money is the pass to freedom, a dream most of us fall
victim to; for money many sell their souls and the proverbial grandmother.
Money is the key to a kingdom with unbelievable riches.
There are about 180 currencies worldwide. A currency
is part of the national identity: if you want to come to my country you must
use our money; the coins and the paper money carry the pictures of famous persons
or buildings the people are proud of. Here lies hidden one of the problems that
makes people of European member states moan for their lost identity, although
in the beginning they were most eager to join.
I vividly remember our wandering years, either by
sailing boat or camper, by plane or public transport around the world, when I
used to have different purses with coins and some bank notes of the countries
we have planned to go ashore or to cross. I did that in order to avoid, on the
very first day of arrival, the tiring
process of finding a bank to exchange either traveler cheques or exchange
dollars which was recommended to travel with because often your own currency
was not accepted. How delightful the experience for us sailors when within
Europe there were no more entrance formalities for the boat, which used to be
very lengthy, and we could step on land and enjoy a drink or a coffee just
opposite in one of the restaurants.
The term Money is derived, they say, from a Roman
goddess Juno Moneta, but the actual use of the commodity money goes back
hundred thousands of years, when the currency could be anything that held a
value, such as conches, shells, salt, beads, a ‘sheffel’ of barley, precious
metals, even peppercorns I heard; on old pictures you can still see natives
carrying their ‘money’ on strings around the neck as recorded by the explorers.
There were banks as early as 200 years BC in
Mesopotamia, institutions that recorded your debits and credits and slips of
paper signed by this bank were accepted as legal payment. The term bank came
from banco = table; a table the money lender or exchanger was usually sitting
at in the centre of a city; the same applies to ‘Trapeza’ the Greek word for
bank; in Europe banks began to open in the 13th century especially
in Florence, Italy and the Banco Medici became one of the most influential
banks in those days, as we know from our history lessons.
In the last few years the banks have played a very
poor role worldwide, have invested our money unwisely, have played with it and
lost; they have lured the small savers with high interest rates and easy loans;
with this precious money ruthless ‘megalomaniacs’ have played risky games; the
money came too easy and the bankers became reckless adventurers. BUT, we the
small savers have also joined this game, changed the banks when they offered
higher interest rates, didn’t we? We were so easily convinced by promises to
make our luck; it is in the end a game of lottery, and we cannot simply put the
blame on the banks, we with our greedy hope to make money have supported the risky
system. It has led us worldwide to the
rim of existence.
The other day I came across a movement, a sort of
online barter market where you can offer your abilities and talents in exchange
for something you need doing; for example:
Looking for someone to lay terrace tiles…
Offering to make felt slippers …
Offering to look after your house; I am retired and am
writing a book and need a quiet place.
I also offer introduction into Zen meditation …..
Great, isn’t it? There are other interesting services offered
such as offering your grandma’s chest against a TV set…
It is nothing new, in the old days many did it in
times of trouble. The definition in a dictionary explains barter as follows: ‘Barter usually replaces money as the method of
exchange in times of monetary crisis, such as when the currency may
be either unstable or simply unavailable for conducting commerce.’
Are we still hesitating? What do you
offer? I offer a painting for regular garden maintenance.