Sunday, January 23, 2011

what's it worth?

David Korten, a blogger who also writes books, has a cut-to-the-chase analysis of the differences between money, or abstract wealth, and the real deal -- things like "healthful food, fertile land, pure water, clean air, caring relationships and loving parents, education, health care, fulfilling opportunities for service, and time for meditation and spiritual reflection."

"Money," Korten explains, "a number on a piece of paper or created with an accounting enter, has no intrinsic value. Wall Street generates it in astonishing quantities through accounting tricks, financial bubbles, and debt pyramids. It appears from nowhere and can disappear in an instant, as a phantom in the night."

Of course, because it takes money to acquire some of the necessary elements of real value, "It is easy to confuse phantom financial assets with the real wealth for which they can be exchanged."

The essay is an excerpt from the second edition of Korten's book, "Agenda for a New Economy: From Phantom Wealth to Real Wealth."

These are aspects of economics they don't touch on in university classes, but in the changed material landscape that's quickly evolving, we're re-learning the most fundamental economic lesson -- that we can't have a healthy economy unless its primary focus is the production of tangible things of real value. Plus, there are some forms of wealth that are beyond economics. How much is a feeling of satisfaction worth?

1 comment:

Joe said...

Dave, that is what viable economics is really about, producing life's essential items from resources. Remember Zimbabwe? That country had almost infinite inflation because production of needed things was close to zero. Whether gold or paper or barter is the currency, there is no life without life's essentials, and no wealth without them, either. All the gold in the world is worthless if there is no food.