Comments on: Former top London banker sees moral disaster in market economy Religion, faith and ethics Sat, 23 Apr 2016 23:25:07 +0000 hourly 1 By: CCALABRO Mon, 07 Nov 2011 12:39:10 +0000 This is interesting to me as a social theorist and researcher. What follows are excerpts from an essay, “The Relativity Of Money”, I drafted in seminar; “Men Of Ideas” with Lewis Coser; in 1985. While my paper was purely analytical and theoretical, it seems that issues I explored as potentially problematic, seem to be salient today. This is how I see it, doesn’t mean it can by fixed…

Although economics tends to be all about the statistics of dollars and cents, production and consumption are dependent upon people. Labor is the engine that propels both production and consumption. Work involves the exchange of an individual’s labor power for “wage money.” Spending in the form of consumption for material goods (necessities and luxuries) and saving or investing for the “future” are the manifest gains from the exchange of labor for money. Marx believed “that human thought is founded in human activity ‘labor,’ (in the broadest communal sense of the word) and in the social relations brought about by this activity” (See: Berger & Luckman, 1966:6). Therefore, to treat the economy of a society in terms of dollars and cents alone is to overlook its foundation, human interaction.

The future of money and ideas of money will not remain static, as the past 100 years have shown. The concept of money and how much money is needed to live a “normal” or “acceptable” life will continue to change with consumption patterns. The relativity of money will continue to change with increasing technology and expanding markets. Whether or not society will ever see a universal system of “money” will be worth watching for as globalization continues and ideas of consumption spread across the globe. Would a universal form of money lead to universal ideas of income and class? Probably not, but globalization and the spread of capitalism will add to a more systemized belief system about what is “needed” to live the “good” or “normal” life across the globe. In all of this, we can more easily understand what Veblen advanced in his sociological studies; that is, “This suggests that the standard of expenditure which commonly guides our efforts is not the average, ordinary expenditure already achieved; it is an ideal of consumption that lies just beyond our reach, or to reach which requires some strain. The motive is emulation — the stimulus of an invidious comparison, which prompts us to outdo those with whom we are in the habit of classing ourselves. Substantially the same proposition is expressed in the commonplace remark that each class envies and emulates the class next above it in the social scale, while it rarely compares itself with those below or with those who are considerably in advance.”

Carmine L. Calabro Jr.