Green Like Worthless Money

November 24, 2016
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If you really want to give yourself a headache, just think about American money.

As I recently learned in economics class, the kind of currency we have here in the US is called “fiat money.”  The definition of this is “inconvertible paper money made legal tender by government decree.”  Which means, when you get down to it, that our money is effectively worthless.

I knew this before-- People could convert a certain amount of money to gold, until Nixon ended the gold standard in 1971.  We had learned this in multiple history classes, but I had never really thought about it until now.  The only reason our money means anything is because the government says it does and the people accept it.  In reality, it’s not much more valuable than trading seashells or rocks.

It’s crazy to think about it.  Our lives are controlled by technically meaningless pieces of green “paper.”  People with more of this paper are seen to have better lives than those with less.  People like to say “Money is the root of all evil.”  Money can drive people to greed.  Money can cause people to lie, or cheat, or steal.  Money can tear families apart.  Money is what everyone wants, what everyone works for.  Money is exactly what it looks like-- Pieces of green paper made of cotton and linen.  But if you saw a piece with a one-hundred printed on it, lying on the ground, you would run to pick it up.

Our money is worth nothing, but it means everything.

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