AQ&A Topic 13 Date: 22 January 2018 : Money has made us human(e). Disagree if you dare
Focus questions -
(feel free to add more focus questions) . Focus questions are not intended to push one viewpoint! You can adopt any position you wish. We actually like friendly disagreement - it can lead to deeper understanding. Note: clearly not all of these questions can be properly covered in a meetup, but they give us a conscious choice about what to talk about while making the background context clearer. It is up to the people who come on the day to choose what aspects they would like to deal with.
1. A man with no prospect of earning money is in
mortal danger of remaining a bachelor. Isn't he?
2. Economists have never understood money. The main use of money is to induce human cooperation and compliance. For example, the remarkable thing about most workplaces is that most people don't want to be there. They are enticed into a common enterprise by ... money. Aren't they?
3. Communism (original concept) doesn't work because loving your fellow man 24/7 is a demoralizing prospect. Only grasping for money makes it worthwhile to kick butt and get things done. Isn't that true?
4. Money keeps the human hive buzzing, but only if it circulates. Parking 36 trillion dollars in offshore bank accounts is a form of warfare against human societies. Isn't it? [* equivalent to 30% of the GDP for the entire planet: https://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/world/north-america/why-it-has-never-been-more-important-to-tax-the-rich-20171110-gzijdb.html ]
5. When money is no longer required to fund production humans will be redundant. Won't they?
6. If the road to hell is paved with good intentions, the road to heaven is often paved with unintended consequences. For example, the selfish pursuit of money by many an entrepreneur has often led to industries that employ and entertain millions. What evidence could contradict this?
7. A man or woman in their natural state are, on the whole, the laziest of creatures. Left to their natural energy level they will arouse just sufficiently to breed, to find shelter, and to seek the next meal. It takes the (often illusory) prospect of greater self-indulgence, promised through somehow getting money, to harness them to higher activity levels. Don't you agree?
8. Lotteries are a tax on stupidity for the poor, and the stock market a tax on greed for the rich. Both are driven by hope for "something better", and the hope is sustained by a vague idea of what money can buy. Isn't all this true?
9. Look at all the public and private institutions of a country, strip out money, and how many of them will be left standing? How many of them can be propped up in some other way - for example by religion/ideology, or by robot overlords? What are your preferred alternatives?
10. Nation states have just recently been forced to give up up their monopoly on the creation of money, though many of their leaders don't yet understand this. That is nation states can no longer really control the creation of credit (which is the same as creating money) or effectively force the repayment of major debt (only local debt for small players) and hence cannot control the accumulation of money. Now block chain technology (for example, BitCoin) means that governments no longer even know what money is circulating. The management of power - leadership - has long depended upon monopoly control of money and information. As these monopolies wither away, what forms of governance will replace them?
1. All past topic questions are now listed at http://thormay.net/unwiseideas/DiscussionTopics/DiscussionIndex.htm
2. From another meetup I run for English learners, twenty-four sets of 10x questions (from Thor) designed for students of English as a Second Language are online at
A few links to help the discussion along:
a) Here is not a bad analysis of the bitcoin phenomenon. It also has some discussion on the general nature of money: "So you're thinking about investing in bitcoin? Don't" @ https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2018/jan/15/should-i-invest-bitcoin-dont-mr-money-moustache
b) If money is your thing and you want some ideas to agree or disagree with, this is quite a useful website (there are lot's of others): http://www.mrmoneymustache.com . Remember not to just accept arguments as 'facts'. They are simply the starting point for more questions
c) Money and work: Ideas about money in our present culture are inseparably tied up with ideas about work for most of us. Yet the nature of work itself has changed throughout history, as well as the number of hours worked. e.g. A factory job in 1800 meant 80 hours of work a week under dangerous conditions, but now it is 38 hours with better money for those with a job. A large group of people have no job or only occasional work. One British research group found that the number of workless people was 3 times the official unemployment rate. These people got some money from other sources, mainly welfare. There is a destructive imbalance in how both work and money are distributed now, so many are looking for practical new ways to rearrange these balances (it doesn't have to be about ideology). This article (a long read) looks at the issues: "Post-work: the radical idea of a world without jobs" - Andy Beckett @ https://www.theguardian.com/news/2018/jan/19/post-work-the-radical-idea-of-a-world-without-jobs
d) Groups of strangers usually do not trust each other, and the larger the group
the less the trust. Getting them to cooperate is difficult. Yet here is no
surprise: they will cooperate for money. Here is a bigger surprise: if you give
them plastic tokens with no value, they will also cooperate in exchange for the
tokens. Thus money, with or without value, gives us an irresistible excuse to
cooperate, to become civilized. See : "Want Cooperation? Show Strangers the
e) Although money encourages people to cooperate when they would not otherwise, big differences in wealth affect everyone in a negative way: “As a person’s levels of wealth increase, their feelings of compassion and empathy go down, and their feelings of entitlement, of deservingness, and their ideology of self-interest increases,” (Paul Piff 2013). For the poor, even though as a group they more generous than the rich, their health and motivation is dragged down. Even IQ is affected: poor farmers performed 10 points lower in IQ tests before harvest (when their resources were exhausted) than after harvest. See these and other findings at The TED Blog, "6 studies on how money affects the mind", https://blog.ted.com/6-studies-of-money-and-the-mind/
Money Has Made Us Human(e) Discussion Questions ©Thor May 2018
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