The Concept and Value of Nothing

Without doubt money is the controller of lives. Without it life can be torrid and the attainment of it has caused infinite numbers of people throughout history to risk life and limb to get it. Most of the inanimate or mechanical things we hold dear are measured by it, yet rarely do we question its validity. It’s taken as a fact that its value is fixed: immovable. But what exactly is it? Lately we have seen the impact and consequence if the use of money or its accepted principles when underestimated or controlled by the inept or greedy. Yet money, ironically, is only a man made article of barter based only on the value of something else, something precious or rare. Gold has traditionally been the backed mineral of choice. The more gold an individual or country has the more money that can be printed and minted to represent its value. Today I find it worrying that the Bank of England chooses to print excessive amounts of money which is to be injected into a failing economy to keep the country afloat. However, I have yet to see any evidence that the bank has reserves of any precious ‘stuff’ to back the action. If, as I suspect, it has not, then the whole exercise is like the emperors new clothes and utterly futile. After all, wouldn’t it be easier if the bank allowed us just to print our own, which would cut out the ‘middle man’? When one is applying for a loan or a mortgage one will be asked, or should be asked, for some proof of collateral, or ways of backing the loans, a guarantee of repayment. Such collateral in most people’s lives is based around the value of their homes or other assets which could be liquidised in the event of default. As far as I know Britain sold the last of its gold reserves at a loss in 2007 and no longer bases its economy on the ‘old’ gold standard. Even bonds and gilts are just bits of paper that need to be backed by something. So when we hear such phrases as government borrowing or the rate of Britain’s debt, which is vast today, I have to ask myself from whom are we borrowing and what are we using as collateral? No one ever tells us this. It’s as if centuries of our money being backed by an international value of a gold reserve have been jet washed away like mould on a patio. So what is money today and what backs its value? After all, without collateral it’s all too easy at a time of vulnerability to fall victim of the loan shark. Lending Britain money at a time like this must surely be a risky business with reflected exorbitant repayment interest rates. With this in mind it can surely come as no great surprise to find, despite the rhetoric coming out of Westminster, that our country will be indebted to the great unknown for many years to come. God forbid they should ever foreclose or repossess.


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