The Miseducation of Dollar Bill, Vol. 1

It’s funny how money can change situations; miscommunication can lead to complications. I’m amazed at how the stretch of a dollar changes from one place to another, both domestically and internationally.

I discussed three functions of money in my previous article, but let’s rehash with the help of British economist William Stanley Jevons, who once wrote:

Money’s a matter of functions of four,

A Medium, A Measure, A Standard, A Store

Nice! Let’s turn our attention to that last iamb: “a store.” The storage of money is a bridge we create towards value. This is where the ever evolving dynamic between the long term and the short term shows face, each one taking turns like children playing tug of war.

Money can be seen as a placeholder for the exchange of a given asset in the future. The truth is, we don’t know when and for how long one ought to store money. Instead, we frame our perspective to keep money for ourselves, and learn to fend for the individual self indefinitely. That’s all fine and dandy, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t ask why are we so selfish with money?

I used to live overseas during my childhood, where my father worked as an expat in the Middle East. I was so used to spending money in the local currency, the power behind the dollar was an out of sight, out of mind concept.

When I returned back to the U.S. for high school, I was required to purchase a computer. My dad wired me $1,300 via Western Union. To me, at age 15, that was tons of money. Nevertheless, it was my first Western Union experience, and I had pressure to make sure things were in order.

Sweat was hanging at my brow, tucked under the armpits, and loafing on my palms. I was nervous! But why? Because, I was only thinking about the purchasing power behind the hundreds of dollar bills sitting in all four pockets of my cargo shorts. I didn’t know it at the time, but the concept was already ingrained. I imagined, with this money, I could’ve bought thousands of cans of Coca-Cola, or hundreds of PlayStation video games, plenty of new clothes, etc.

I felt nervous about storing that large sum of money on my person because my mind was racing on the gamut of possibilities I could’ve bought. The high utility of exchanging the stored value for a computer was alluring enough for my senses to corroborate with the fact that I wanted to avoid losing this money. I stored it in my pockets and double checked the zippers every two minutes or so. It was a twenty minute walk back to campus; once I got to my dorm room, I hid it in my suitcase until the following weekend where I went to the mall to buy my first laptop.

I remember the store clerk counting my bills carefully. All crumpled up bills, mostly twenties, for her to examine. It was real cash, but she made sure to count the amount as well as feel the texture of the bills for the sake of legitimacy.

My dad never communicated how I’d feel when he sent me the money, he just said, “handle your business, but be careful.” And I did, but the rush of emotions made me realize it’s not the money I was concerned of losing, but the purchasing power.

Storage of value requires removing the circulation of money out of the present scope. Removing money from circulation prohibits one of its other functions, transport of value, from happening. When we increase the level of storage, its other function levels are affected.

I’ve reconsidered the concept of storing value by re-framing the identity of money. Money is a necessary means for survival; but, in it of itself offers no qualitative service. I cannot cook or clean with it, but it does get me those things that do. Sounds intuitive right? Great, now let’s talk about pigs.

Pigs wallow in the mud to cool themselves off because their sweat glands aren’t designed to effectively release toxins like humans do (for example) when we exercise.

But we don’t put a trace on pigs and how often they’ve thoroughly removed toxins from their bodies. .

I’m going to guess that the level of stored toxins in pigs is never a good thing, however, it’s good that they know when to release said toxins. Although, because we eat pigs, we never known the level of toxins we inherit. We’ve signed off on the continued marketing of eating meat as fashionable, necessary, and noteworthy. The toxins are rising and affecting our genetic makeup in ways we never see. Oh yeah, did I mention that pork is the most consumed meat in the world?

Our economy suffers from the same way when we don’t understand how the fluctuations in price levels impact the functions of money. I’ll boldly claim that we already have the data to do so, but the means must arise naturally. We need our own mud baths to cool off our irrational behaviors. Try to step back and see the bigger picture, what value does hoarding your pennies do? What if you released them back into the ocean that is the global economy? Sure, they might get swallowed up by a loan shark, but hey, it might make seahorse’s day like no other.

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