Today we are continuing this weeks series of posts on the issue of how complementary therapists (and others in the helping professions) can get comfortable with the process of earning a fair wage for what they do and what they offer the world.
We’re attempting to look at money in news ways, so that therapists / helpers can go “Wow… I never thought of it in that way! .. Why was I ever worried about earning money before! … I so deserve to be paid for what I am worth!”
Today, we’re going to look at the whole “Money is evil… so let’s barter instead!” debate… because that raises some interesting questions, and different ways to look at money. Because I have heard of complementary therapists being told that it is wrong for them to charge money for their services, that they should only barter for their time / skills.
Occasionally, I come across people who argue that, because the Global economic system is rotten to the core (and it is, no counter-arguments from me there), then we should abandon money totally, and return to a much simpler time, when everyone battered for what they needed.
And my usual reply to this is… “No! Are you crazy? That would be a terrible thing to do!”
And it would… and to understand why it would be a terrible backward step, let me explain why money is not only a good thing, but why it is one of the most important things mankind has ever invented over the last 3,000 years of human civilisation.
Imagine, that we could hop into a time machine, and travel back in time to the Neolithic Age, and observe two individual farmers bartering… one has a cow, and the other has a bag of beans, and wants to barter them for said cow.
A; I want to exchange my bag of beans for your cow.
B: No way am I going to exchange my cow for a mere bag of beans.
A: OK, so what do you want?
B: For this cow, I want your whole bean harvest from your field, for this year… and next year as well!
A: You want my next years harvest of beans… but I haven’t grown it yet? How can I give you something which doesn’t exist?
B: That’s your problem… no 2 years bean crop… no cow. That’s my final offer.
So what can we learn from this little exchange between our Neolithic farmers?
Well, I believe a couple of things:
1) This is an example of a Stone Age “Have Not”… If you don’t have what the other person wants, then no exchange is possible…
…. and this is what money can do brilliantly, because it can act as an intermediary so that everyone can exchange it for what they do want.
2) You can only exchange what is physically present (unless you really trust the other guy), not what may be created / exist at a later date (i.e. next years bean crop).
… and once again, money can get around this obstacle, we can store it up over time until we have enough to purchase what we want, we can even borrow it.
Bottom line, could our modern civilisation have been created just through the use of bartering? Could human beings have:
- Eradicated small pox?
- Created the internet?
- Gone to the Moon?
It’s highly unlikely… and just imagine all the time you would need to spend haggling. And some people would be better at haggling then others… and so soon you would have the same rich / poor, have / have nots, powerful / underdogs split in society.
Also, think of the major catastrophes which occur, and how humanity rushes to the phone / internet to pledge cash donations to help the starving / suffering. If we lived in a barter economy, then that kind of almost instant transfer of assistance / goodwill, from one side of the world to people in need on the other side, would just not be possible (it would be a logistical nightmare).
OK, I admit, without money, humanity couldn’t have done a lot of the bad stuff either (i.e. wars, persecution, genocide etc)… or at least we couldn’t have done it on such a large scale… because without money, humanity would still probably be living in a 21st century equivalent of the Stone Age.
But wait you cry… what about the Pyramids, and Stonehenge… they were all built by non-money societies… don’t they show that such societies can get together and achieve large social projects?
Yes, they do… and yes, you are right… but only up to a point.
Remember, those societies were not democratic, they relied on a Chieftain, King or High Priest telling everyone underneath what to do… so most of us, your average individual may not have achieved our true potential living in such closed and narrow societies.
I am sure that in the whole history of mankind, there were many Picassos, Bachs, and Kurt Cobains who never got to discover / fulfill their true life-purpose, because they had to stay on the farm, growing enough beans to allow their family to survive… with probably enough surplus to barter for an extra cow from the farmer next door (hopefully).
Also, remember, today, when people barter… unless they have grown / made the items themselves… often they are bartering items which were made by the money-economy (i.e. “I will barter this toaster for your electric tooth brush)… and I am not even sure how you would barter for electricity, gas, internet access, satellite TV, or water?
Bottom-line… I have nothing against bartering… and it has it’s place… but I don’t think our modern world, which we all rather appreciate, would be possible if all we could do was barter. Eight billion people on the planet… all they could do was batter… in my humble opinion, hell on earth.
And so… and here comes the important bit for today… I don’t think it’s fair to argue that therapists / helpers should only barter their services… because it is believed by some that money is evil.
Money is not evil… despite what the mad politicians and ruling-elites have done to twist the concept of money to their power-crazed purposes… money is still one of the greatest inventions humanity has come up with over the past 3,000 years.
And I truly believe, therapists should be allowed to earn their fair share of money too… especially if they have helped transform someone’s lives.
(c) Brian Parsons, August 2016