Monday, 26 January 2009

Aristotle's Views on Money

Thinking about shopping and Ruskin's views on the use of money (see Westfield) Aristotle holds that "There are two sorts of wealth-getting.....; one is a part of household management, the other is retail trade: the former necessary and honorable, while that which consists in exchange is justly censured; for it is unnatural, and a mode by which men gain from one another. The most hated sort, and with the greatest reason, is usury, which makes a gain out of money itself, and not from the natural object of it. For money was intended to be used in exchange, but not to increase at interest. And this term interest, which means the birth of money from money, is applied to the breeding of money because the offspring resembles the parent. Wherefore of all modes of getting wealth this is the most unnatural."

Speaking of exchange through money, Aristotle says "it is worthless, and because it is not useful as a means to any of the necessities of life, and, indeed, he who is rich in coin may often be in want of necessary food..." Aristotle says people become avaricious and pursue money for its own end because of a confusion between the instrument of money (in exchange) with things that can actually be used...
"in this art of wealth-getting there is no limit of the end, which is riches of the spurious kind, and the acquisition of wealth. But the art of wealth getting which consists in household management, on the other hand, has a limit..."

Thomas Jefferson was equally prescient

"I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their currency, first by inflation, then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around the banks will deprive the people of all property until their children wake-up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered."
Thomas Jefferson 1802

Perhaps my own views on the bonus culture are not out of place here

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