Of Power and Money

Money begets power; power begets money. In this society, money is power and power is money. Right? Not only has this cliche vindicated itself as truth, it is intuition. Power influences money in your direction, while money leverages power through persuasion or coercion.

But what power comes with all the little things people buy with their money? Prestige via the appearance of having money? What power does a man with too many things really convey? Isn’t he actually communicating a subliminal message of weakness?

Perhaps it is money, only in its most liquid form, that leverages power. Having free cash means possessing the power to influence people and their actions.

It is that exact point at which the money is converted to a depreciable thing that the purchaser loses power. As a result of the transaction, what once had the power to persuade people into building something new has now been sunk into an object. Perhaps the object is a production input: a material or machine that will, in conjunction with some labor, produce something. But perhaps the object is merely something superflous and serves the sole purpose of giving the purchaser a temporary rush and the oh so human guilty pleasure that others are jealous of him.

When you give a good person money, you have invested in them and they are indebted to you. What about bad people? Once upon a time, humans lived in societies so small, shirkers and stiffers could hardly get away with their microcrimes because gossip would catch up to them. In the age of information symmetry, bad debtors will once again be subjected to the judgment of social ostracism.

Our entire economic system would benefit if we understood that true power comes not from tchotckes and trinkets, but from the ability of free cash to persuade others into action.