About two-thousand years ago, Mr. Judas Iscariot ratted out his good friend, Mr. Jesus, to the cops for thirty pieces of silver. This trade (considered by other friends of Mr. Jesus an inexcusably irresponsible bargain) irreparably connected capitalism to Christianity, and in spite of much criticism, both merchants have been quite pleased with the results. Their marriage has been a happy one for a long, long time.
They needed one another, the Almighty Dollar and the Son of the Almighty, you see.
When Mr. Judas figured thirty pieces of silver to be the going rate on friends, he unwittingly immortalized both capitalism and Christianity. He proved to humanity that even gods have price tags, and in return, capitalism blessed Christianity with the crucifixion, a rather sloppy departure from the marketing campaign Mr. Jesus had previously implemented with so much success, but a now-famous stunt the impact of which has kept advertising moguls salivating for centuries.
Regardless of its obvious romance with cashola, though, the church maintains that its official doctrine regarding money is hostile: “For the love of money is the root of all evil . . . ” [1. Tim. 6:10]. This is unsurprising, because the greed of some few has been the bane of everyone else since cashola first came around, and besides, if there’s anything that particular holy text does well, it is appealing to the masses through ancient traditional cliches that most people presume true anyhow, cliches like, “Money is the root of evil.”
Everybody knows that cashola killed the video star.
Cashola is not really the problem, though. Cashola, in fact, only barely manages to keep itself employed, because with an increasingly unstable value on the global market, and itself having no practical use except as a measurement for things which are useful — things which can, themselves, be traded — it would dissolve into obscurity were it not for the vehement and tireless support of the extremely wealthy, those persons whose continued existence has depended on their network of economic resources for generations.
Of course, the pathetic fragility of currency mirrors the pathetic fragility of the modern human value system. Modern society gives almost every obtainable thing and experience a cash value, so one must develop the “second sight” of a mystic in order to intuit the illusory nature of price tags. This creates a self-defeating cycle in which blame can be placed on neither money nor consumers, because money lacks intrinsic value, and consumers lack the ability to discern the intrinsic value of anything else.
Cashola wasn’t ever meant to do anything but represent other things, real things of real consequence*. When one becomes concerned with dollars, one does well to think of them in terms of man-hours. For example, imagine that a teenager washes a car in thirty minutes for five dollars. If he buys a cheeseburger for five dollars afterward, then he a washed a car and earned a burger. Not five dollars. A burger.
This seems elementary, true, but who doesn’t fall into the habit of measuring everything cash-wise, rather than by the actual qualities and attributes exhibited by goods and services for sale? Whether the kid’s burger was worth the work is up to him, regardless how much it cost. Publilius Syrus said in 100 BC, “Everything is worth what its purchaser will pay for it,” ten glib words which nullify the value of currency as an absolute at every level.
Cashola is neither to be feared nor admired, studied overmuch nor especially regarded. It’s a gauge that tracks where spent human energy goes, nothing more. It’s a fucking thermometer. It’s included in several games by Milton Bradley.
So stop it, all this yammering about financial wizardry and fiscal metaphysics. My age group increasingly reminds me of Wiccans arguing over the proper way to conjure beings from the spirit plane. Playing Parcheesi is more mature than keeping up with the Joneses, you goofballs, and a great deal more honest. Have some self respect, for crying out loud.
Find the hilarity that is inherent in the concept of so-called financial security, or one day the joke may be on you — and you won’t get it.
With nothing up this sleeve and naught but wood’n nickels in the other, I remain,
*It must be noted that the author does not believe in “things of real consequence,” and so should be considered disingenuous, as well as discredited.