For most of us money means more that we really want. Security, unfolding possibilities stretching out into a future that brings delicious excitements and pleasure instead of pain.. Without it the world is fraught with fear. For Americans money is that folding green stuff; the line of numbers in our accounts; the knowledge that the plastic we use will keep working.
Money, that stuff the provides the useful tools of fungibility, stability of value, and ease of storage, is essential to the present system. But the present system is dead, barely twitching as the last, vestiges of value are sucked out. What will Americans do when they realize that their money was a lie?
The idea of money began as iconic representations of commodities; shards of pottery on which was inscribed the things counted. Sheep, cheeses, and other commodities were among these. That lasted about as long as it took some people to figure out they could make their own. Since then currency has moved through several incarnations as outlined in this poem. (Nice when you can get some real utility out of one of there.)
No. 51 From Shards to Light - for John Hix
From an insight of convenience they drew marks on shards of clay
The goats and sheep and cheeses thus were counted up each day.
And trader's lives were better, as barter was replaced.
With mites of fired pottery that bore each items face.
The marks and shards were money; more fungible to hold
So trade and space were easier; what was owned was sold.
But then a cunning taker thought to make his own
The shards went out of favor, replacing coin wrot gold
Issued first by temple and then anointed King
So fungible the medium it built a wealth in things.
Accumulation beckoned the greedy onto thrones.
Through money all were shackled, the people could be owned.
A flow of current holdings, in increments of gold
Created flow of currency, and ever more was sold.
Price now marked in shiny bits they trusted not to lie.
But men saw ways of stealing from weight the coins would buy.
So England then replaced them, their coins had reeded edge.
Clipping and the shaving, made obvious instead.
Money called and promised, so fluid in its scope.
Kings and those in power wrote promises on notes.
Temptations to debasement, temptations to inflate.
Became the real foundation of the governmental state.
And money still enticed us, and draws in those who steal.
Finessing, redefining, the units once were real.
Now with no foundation in sheep or even cheese
The money is all funny, and only Kings are pleased.
The flow of human commerce, so easy to abuse.
Is still the form adopted, that all of us must use.
We count up paper icons, inscribed with those now gone.
We trust in those who make them, despite the fact their wrong.