I work with economics. Macroeconomics. Everyday.
And with macroeconomics follows the concept of ridiculously big sums of money — like gross domestic product, trade numbers, national budgets, etc. We don't flinch for anything less than a hundred million dollars. After all, it's macroeconomics. Macro. Big picture. We look closely at equity markets and capital markets and monitor massive cash movements between countries that may move the foreign exchange market — which eventually affects currency. Big numbers. Very big numbers that even I couldn't physically fathom. All these are mere figures that I see on the screen of a Bloomberg terminal. If I have to visualize, however, how many stacks of hundreds I'd have to have in order to amass these amounts… then I would have to admit that I'd be stunted.
Money. That one thing that makes the world move. If not for money, then I wouldn't have a job. Neither will millions of people out there — some of whom hold the most powerful jobs in the world. The world's various nations would be trading herds of cattle and sacks of rice instead. How exactly do you measure the inflation of sheep? Do you judge a country's wealth by how many chickens there are in the people's backyard?
If it weren't for present-day currency, however, people would have found another way to measure one's success or achievements. It is only human nature to aspire for material wealth as part of survival. Though money is not the root of evil, it can be an instrument of it. People react to money differently. And also, many people change because of it.
Here's a borderline-idiotic question: Why is money so important? However, here's a spin-off from that question: What is it about money that changes us?
Money changes people – either for the better or the worse.
We all work to rake in enough dough to survive. Yay or nay? Getting in a decent sum in our bank accounts grants us the basic requirements to live and perhaps allows us the luxury to enjoy the finer things in life. We progress and we move forward. That's what success and achievements are about. However, moving forward does not mean we have to forget where we came from. We do not let such a physical concept like money get in our heads and allow it to rule us over.
I have met people who did one-eighty-degree turns because of money. Friends, even. I have noticed some morph into some sort of being that I could no longer recognize. And all because of money. It doesn't make me upset, though. It makes me sad. It makes me sad that I had lost some friends to dead national icons whose faces are imprinted on a piece of paper.
I laud these kinds of people for working hard for money. From humble beginnings to exuberant standings — and admittedly, I have once thought that they deserve nothing less. However, witnessing Kafka-like metamorphoses makes me think otherwise. The notion of having fat wads of bills in one's pocket gives people confidence – enough of it that eventually turns into arrogance and deceit. Into extreme materialism, into shallowness, into tastelessness (ironic enough), and pettiness. Why is that? What is it about money that makes people so powerless against it?
As P.T. Barnum once put it: “Money is in some respects life's fire: it is a very excellent servant, but a terrible master.”
Do you ever question why no matter how much we pray to get rich, we never get it? No matter how hard we work, no matter how much dexterity there is in our souls, we don't quite get what we want? However, we will always have just enough. God perhaps wants to control these metamorphoses in the world. Maybe the Creator knows too well what will happen if everyone had money. We become aware of crimes and atrocities that take place because of money presently. We never know — maybe that's a small price to pay for having only a handful of people in this world to have money.
If everyone's rich, I very much doubt it will be a happy world. How else can people learn to share or learn to work hard? What more will people work for that is tangible and measurable by success? Will people become more lazy or too complacent? Or will people find something else to turn to that will change them for the worse? Will people honestly pay attention to non-monetary values given the trickiness of human nature? Think about it, knowing how human nature works, people will probably find ways to get even richer than they already are. And we will all be back to ground zero… just with higher inflation numbers.