Vicki Robin

Such a thing as healthy money?

In Uncategorized on January 23, 2011 at 1:27 PM

Good question. Even though I’m hosting the Healthy Money Summit (starts Monday. Sign up for free. Listen live or later via recording) I’m not sure what it will take to have a healthy economy, healthy financial system or healthy currency. In view of how destructive the economic system is to life and limb (tree and bush and animal), is it possible to have a life-giving life-serving system?

Let’s break that down a bit – as I will in my Healthy Money Summit session. I see several functions for money. The first and most familiar is as a means of exchange. Money facilitates everyday trading for life’s necessities (and comforts and luxuries and excess). Money buys groceries and cars and a roof overhead and boats and vacations and flowers for our sweethearts. Resourcefulness says there are many ways to meet the needs these things provide (sharing, swapping, free, alternative currencies, growing your own, gleaning), but still, money is a brilliant invention for trade.

Money is also a ‘store of value” – we save for a rainy day, for a time when you aren’t earning (enough) but you are spending beyond income. You need wealth. Resourcefulness says wealth resides in more than money, but still, money is a brilliant invention for greater security in old age or infirmity.

So where is the illth (opposite of health) in money.

First, it’s that the power to issue currency has been given to the banks which, as honorable as a few may be, is a bit like having the fox guard the chicken yard. Banks have the right to loan money they don’t have and charge interest on the loan. This debt based currency drives growth which, on a finite planet, is no longer the point. It is in the bank’s interest to send us into overshoot, since all debt to the bank is equal: a source of income.

Second, the government (through laws, subsidies, taxation, regulations) makes the rules of the game that can – and do – favor the holders of wealth. This is the classic “rich get rich and poor get poorer” scenario. Which isn’t healthy for any society.

Third, we are in overshoot, using more resources annually than the planet can regenerate, yet our economic system gives us no danger signals. In fact, when resources seem to be drying up, we simply get more clever about getting more elsewhere. Perceived scarcity doesn’t trigger conservation in our economic body. It triggers stepped up efforts to harvest and use what resources we have – and sooner than our competitors.

Fourth, in a de-sacralized (another word for materialistic, as having faith only in material existence) society, our worth is equated with our material possessions. When money and the things that money can buy are tied up with basic human social needs like belonging, respect and participation, then money isn’t healthy. In the economy as a whole, this valuation of money as worth makes growth king. A shrinking economy (good for nature) is such utter failure in a materialistic society that what must be done (tone it down a bit) can’t be done.

Seeing this you see that maturity – as in putting the desires to please, defend, impress, prevail into perspective – is part of healthy money. You also see that having a spiritual understanding of life – whatever religion holds that for you – also puts your life in a values context. You have something intangible but incredibly valuable (your integrity, your relationships, your capacity to make a positive contribution) against which to measure your money choices. The first person narratives about “simple living” all have this message: that by toning down material pursuit, something far more precious has room to grow.

To go a bit further out on the woo-woo limb, I’d say that healthy money is about:

  • gratitude for what you have
  • discernment – the capacity to “Inquire within” about your needs, wants and desire – to see which are worthy of your attention and effort and of those, which really require money or stuff to be fulfilled.
  • generosity so that money is about what flows out from you, not just what comes into you

We start the Healthy Money Summit Monday at 8 AM – it’s going to be quite a ride as there are 23 amazing speakers in just 4 days. I intend to learn a lot, to listen for inklings about how we can personally and collectively have a healthy relationship with money. I hope you will come.

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