I walked into the staff computer room at work today to find two colleagues having an interesting discussion about money. Or rather, how far would they go to get a large amount of it. How far I’d go depends on how big of a whore I am. Would I (they were anxious to know) come to a dead stop while walking down the aisle during my wedding ceremony and let out a huge loud fart if I got paid five million dollars? Of course I would. My god, I was expecting them to say a much lower number like, say, five thousand dollars.
Yeah, I’d do it for five thousand dollars. But not five hundred. My humiliation is worth more than that.
Anyway, one of the more interesting facts about modern money is that all of it is more or less worthless. This means it has no intrinsic value. In the past, there was no paper money and coins were made of precious metals such as gold and silver. These days coins are made of base metals, and with very few exceptions, the value of the coin is more than the materials that went into making it. The only reason why those worthless coins and pieces of paper in your wallet can be used to pay for stuff is because the government says they can. This is called a fiat system of currency, from the Latin word fiat, meaning, “let it be done.”
There’s a great song on Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon album called Money:
“Money. It’s a hit. Don’t give me that do goody good bullshit. I’m in the hi fidelity first class traveling set. And I think I need a Lear jet…”