Money is a necessary evil

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ROBERT MUNUKU

Money is a thing that human beings cannot live without.

It enables access to goods and services that sustain human life.  For me, however, money is a necessary evil.  Before I elaborate this, let me draw you back to the negative connotations money has and continues to receive in society.

Some people say that money is \’the source/cause of all evil\’ but then again the same people saying this wouldn\’t turn down Sh200 if I offered it to them!  How can an inanimate object be a \’source of evil\’?  It doesn\’t make philosophical sense. 

Money can be used for bad deeds but in such a situation it is the doer who is wrong not the money he uses to do the wrong, i.e. I can use Sh1,000 to buy food then distribute it among street children, or, I can use the same money to pay a prostitute to infect my political rival with HIV.  In both cases the money remains unchanged but the acts differ sharply. 

Food, shelter, clothing and healthcare, are basics all human beings must have to survive.  These things and their availability to all are a factor of the society one finds himself/herself in.  Initially, in traditional society, these basic needs were accessible to all and any other thing considered \’an extra\’ or a luxury was then pegged to having an advantage (material) over others in society.

However, as society evolved, the resources that these basic needs stem from became scarce and hence the need for a political structure emerged (established through consensus and/or conflict). 

People now work to get money to access these basic needs.  People need to survive; to survive they need the basic needs, but since these basic needs are in limited supply a monetary value is pegged to them and the needy party has to have money to acquire them. 
I just summarized capitalism in a sentence!  To have money one has to work and \’to work\’ one needs to find work.  This means that those that do not find work (unemployed) do not have access to goods and services, at least not directly. 

This means the more unemployed persons we have, the more strain there is on the economy because resources still have to be channelled to this unemployed status. But not to digress, society then seems to be a redundant cycle consisting of labour, production and consumption.  So, in the end man is condemned to pursue a thing he \’hates\’ because he needs it – money.

We are in a new age – the globalisation era.  Geographical and social boundaries have crumbled and the world operates increasingly as a unified whole.

Technology has played a significant role in globalisation.  Most commodity advertisements thrive on \’volumes\’ and \’excesses\’ and this is what sells.  Ever wondered why in every FMCG advert the product is shown in excess of its recommended usage?

For example, in a toothpaste ad, the ad shows an entire line of paste spread across the brush, try that and you\’ll set your mouth ablaze!  In a beer ad, it\’s always a bottle frothing in excess foam and a guy drinking it as if he\’s taking water from a sprint. 

We have moved a step further and thanks to the media a new degenerative culture has emerged where people now buy things they do not need. 

This means that the pursuit of the money to buy those things is also unnecessary.  I have never liked the media in general and journalists in particular, but again not to digress, the media through flamboyant advertising creates new needs for the consumer. 

The citizen, having met his basic needs is now under false pressure to acquire costly commodities that he can do without and that do not add value to him or society i.e. cigarettes, a new car, PDA, etc.  Sociologists may call this a culture of consumerism. 

What eventually ends up happening is that resources, acquired through actual labour in the job market, are diverted to financing these false needs.  Worse still, the new appetite for credit is unsustainable which leads to rising debt – a vicious cycle.

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