Where did our attitudes to money come from? Part 1

In 2006, I asked a simple question: Are you Salary Slaves? I have thought about it for quite a while, and I’ve come to the conclusion that many people are indeed salary or wage slaves… In this multi-part post, I’ll be looking at this issue in some depth each day for seven days…

Day #1 – Cash Transforms Our Subsistence

When people lived in agrarian societies, we all were tied in various ways to the land. We would all benefit when there was a surplus, and grow hungry when times were lean. When we were living in traditional societies, we’d live hand-to-mouth, literally. Even in countries that have just industrialized, there is a memory of what it was like to live on a farm, rearing animals, raising crops, picking wild fruit… and in many ways, life was great. Your shopping mall was outside your front door when it was warm, but if it turned cold and snowy, well, like the Ant in the traditional Anansi story, you’d had better have finished your preparations for winter.

However, once we entered the industrial age, many of us still assumed that the hand-to-mouth subsistence type of economy or society still existed. It did. It was called living from “paycheck to paycheck”. The cash we received was the equivalent of the stored value of the produce that we used to have on the farm.

But we’d get the paycheck or ‘wages’ paid on Thursday or Friday. It’d be gone by Monday or Tuesday and we’d be eating bread and drinking water for Wednesday and Thursday. With the coming of the middle class, wages become salaries, and weekly payments in cash became monthly bank transfers.

Do you remember your parents attitudes to money? How did they handle the cash? Were they good at it? Or did they just spend it?

Part 2 is published Sunday at lunchtime, then each day next week.

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