Faery Economics 101

“Why are you doing this?” a faery voice asked.

I looked at the bills spread out on the desk in front of me. “I’m paying the bills. And the rent. Like I did last month. Didn’t we talk about it then?”

“Yes, but what you said doesn’t make sense to us. You said money is like crystallized energy—you use your energy to help someone and they give money to you, and then you can give the money to someone else for their help. We’ve been watching, and a lot of the time that isn’t true. The exchanges are not fair about the energy given. Explain this money thing again, please. We don’t understand.”

“It’s simple really. I do work for people, and they give me money. Then I use the money to pay for things I need, like food and electricity and things.”

“But why do you need the money? You do things for people, they do things for you—it all evens out, pretty much. You can tell by the energy you use, by the changes in your aura, who gave and who received more. We’ve been watching. Sometimes you do ‘work’ for an hour and it’s easy and fun, and other times you do almost the same thing for an hour, and it hurts and it’s really hard. But you get the same amount of money. So it isn’t about the work, is it? Or you’d get more when it’s harder. Some days you get really tired or things make you cry, but other days you feel happy and energized. Why isn’t the money different?”

“Maybe it’s about the time I spend. I give my time; they give theirs, and we use the money to keep track.” I know this is weak, and sure enough, they don’t accept it.

“But what if they don’t spend the same time or work as hard getting the money that you do? Some people get their money a lot faster and don’t do much for it and others get it slower and work a lot harder.”

“Well, okay. It’s a mixture of how hard I work, how valuable what I do is to them, and how long it takes.”

“How valuable it is to them? Who decides that?”

“They do. And I decided how valuable my time is to me by how much time I have and how much money I need to pay my bills.”

“That makes even less sense. How do they know how valuable it is going to be to them? It might make their lives better for years and years or not make them better at all. And anyway, it isn’t what you say or do that makes it important—it’s what they do with it.”

“Right,” said another. “And some people get much more money than they need to live and others get a lot less for the same effort.”

I’m silent for a while, thinking about things like “expertise” and “skill” and realizing that I’m going to run into the same issues of unbalanced exchange and opportunity. Someone says, “You know, the more we talk about this, the less sense it makes.”

Driven into a corner by my unrealistic belief that all questions must have findable answers, I flippantly reply, “Actually, it’s all a game, and money is the way we keep score.”

There is a stunned silence as we all recognize the truth of this.

“Hmmph!” an annoyed voice says. “I don’t think it’s a very nice game at all.”

That discussion was many years ago, but I still don’t have any better answer. Do you?

© Copyright 2013 by Jessica Macbeth. All rights reserved.

4 thoughts on “Faery Economics 101

  1. I think this is especially true for the self-employed. Some projects fly by easily and without much effort. Others are a struggle and I have to force myself to sit at the desk. The answer? One has piqued my interest, the other has not. So that kind of answers my side of the equation (and I am willing to charge less for things that I know I’ll love doing). On the other side of the desk – I have no idea. It *is* about how valuable my work is to them – but that’s about all I know.

    1. It’s hard to set a value on our own efforts. “What the market will bear” doesn’t seem the perfect solution. I used to work out what I needed to have to live and to divide it up by the time I could spend working, with a little extra time for giving away to people in need. It’s not easy to work that out, and I didn’t really think much about taking care for the future. And that was a mistake. 😉

  2. I don’t think there is a better answer. I think monetary economics might be one of those things that seemed like a good idea at the time and some how got twisted. Historically, monetary economics developed because it made bartering easier – you no longer needed to swap a potato for a cabbage in order to give the cabbage to someone else in exchange for milk. Of course, at some stage artificial factors crept in and now monetary economics is a mystery wrapped in an enigma and sometimes misused as a way of keeping store. As if the things that are truly valuable can ever have a price tag put on them.

    1. Tricia, you may be right. It seems as if “money” and “economics” are increasingly looking like an experiment that failed. On a grassroots level, where big media never goes, there *are* more people looking at the possibilities of alternative economics, and in a way this is being forced upon us by the very conditions that Big Money has created. We’re increasingly looking at “alternative” energy sources, “alternative” ways of growing food, and these things make an alternative to the current economic system absolutely necessary–and inevitable.

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