Where would we be without cold, hard cash? It’s a concept that seems completely implausible in this day and age. After all, it’s been a long time since humans have had to hone their bartering skills to the extent they could use them to stay alive. Today, money isn’t just about the physical dollars crammed in our wallets or the forgotten cents we discover stuffed between the couch pillows.
We have debit cards that can lead a double-life as credit cards, great for all of that online shopping we’re becoming more reliant upon. For those who find plastic either too environmentally damaging or too old-school for these modern times, there are always services like Apple Pay that puts your ready-to-spend finances on your phone. In some cases now, even your watch. Banking transactions, money transfers, Western Union… So many ways to prove how much (or little) cash you have.
But what if the entire concept of money was no longer around? What if the only time you’d ever hear the word “billions” used was not when it was applied to the 1 %, but rather as a favorite descriptive of astronomer Carl Sagan in his explanations of how many stars are in our universe?
No money for anyone might seem like a concept that would finally level the playing field for everyone, but that might not necessarily be the case. Much of humankind has an Achille’s heal: the more we have, the more we want. With money gone, we’d still need to support the services that allow our societies to function. At least up to Western standards, that is.
How many lawn cuts do you think it would take to keep your town’s fire chief from walking off the job? Off-the-grid organic farmers might have an early lead in a moneyless world since they’d be able to address the supply and demand needs for the one thing we all require to survive: food.
One of the many issues that would quickly arise in a money-free society would be the ability to maintain basic law and order. Walking Dead fans have seen a fictionalized prediction of what happens when cash suddenly means nothing. Take away the zombies of course, and you’d have large groups of people fighting over not how much five dollars should get you in the grocery store but how many cobs of corn it takes to get your hands on a cow.
Disputes would inevitably arise, but chances are high that police as we know them today won’t be around to settle the issue. Would you risk life and limb for a few tomatoes and a slightly used pair of shoes to deal with people fighting to survive and willing to do anything it takes to feed their family?
So society would absolutely need to change. People would be forced to work together for the greater good of everyone – to start with, anyways. Eventually, a pecking order would probably be established. People might not be bragging about how fancy their car is, but how many apple trees they managed to grow in their yard.
For those out there who are addicted to cash (and wealth in general), a world with no money would not be a kind one. Or, they’d be the one boasting about their apple orchard, one of the vital commodities on a planet where everyone was permanently cash-strapped.
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