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The love that we offer to our valentines has no limit. It is a process, not a bunch of physical stuff that we dole out. Of course we give gifts of physical stuff to loved ones, but love itself is invisible; it is an abstraction, a process. It is a process of promoting the well-being of loved ones. And because it is unlimited, it cannot be measured. A thing of infinite dimensions cannot be divided into equal units; we need a beginning and an end point before we can lay down a ruler.

You may object that the lover will eventually die, putting an end to his process of loving, and therefore it is not infinite. However, the time of death is never known in advance, and thus a process with an unknown end point is for all practical purposes infinite, and while the love is in process it cannot be measured, that is, broken down into units.

Valentine's Day brought these thoughts to mind and I was struck by the similarities between love and money (since I think about money a lot). Please continue below the fold.

Love and money are both abstract concepts, both processes. Both are used, or can be used, to promote the well-being of people and other creatures.

I think everyone agrees that love is a process, an abstraction. But for money, wait a minute! (some will say). Money is physical stuff, some will say, and pull some dollar bills from their wallet or purse and show them as evidence.

Well, I will reply, pulling a Valentine card from my pocket, "Is this card love? It says 'I love you' and does that mean that the card itself is love?"

Continuing, I ask, "Do you see that the card is but a physical representation or reminder of an ongoing process of loving? In the same way, your dollar bills are physical representations of a relationship between you and the federal government that printed the bills, and/or between you and the person--such as your employer--who gave you the bills.  If your employer had direct-deposited your pay into your bank account instead of paying you in cash, you would still have received money. Then the rearranged electrons in your bank account would represent the money or debt relationship, instead of the paper bills representing it.

"Both the bills and the electrons represent money but neither of them is money itself, any more than my Valentine card is love. Money itself is a relationship process, just as love is. Money can't be more than one thing. It can't be paper bills and metal coins and entries in a bank computer. Those things are accounting conveniences representing the real money, which is a psycho-social relationship between you and some other person or persons.

"Similarly, a Valentine card or a kiss or a smile cannot all be love. They are representations of a psychological, loving relationship between people, the condition that we call love."

I wasn't sure whether my explanation was convincing. I could have gone on to say many economists agree that money is non-physical, and that historians have found that from the earliest times the nature of money engendered two opposing beliefs: that it was physical stuff or was an abstract relationship. These beliefs seem to correspond to two different human mindsets: literal-mindedness versus abstract thinking. However, even those who can do abstract thinking easily still find it convenient to think in physical terms when dealing with money matters.

It is very difficult to think of money as an abstraction when we are so accustomed to using physical forms of money and when all our words about money have physical connotations—hiding, storing, hoarding, laundering, collecting, etc. And gold and silver are commonly considered money despite the federal government’s abandoning the gold standard in 1971 and adopting fiat money, which is based not on any national ownership of precious metals but on the full faith and credit of the government. US money has value simply because the government says so, and the Constitution prohibits the nation from defaulting on its debts.

But it seems that most of those in government still behave as if money were physical stuff like metal that is naturally limited in supply and must be conserved, to be spent only on projects that their wealthy lobbyists favor.

Everything changes

But once people realize that money, like love, is not constrained by quantities of physical stuff, everything is changed. If the major players in government really acted on this realization, they would begin to pay attention to the vast unmet needs of all the citizens and the physical environment in which we all live, instead of the false gauges of economic activity arising from discredited views of money.

They might remember that their jobs are supposed to provide for the general welfare, not to acquiesce to the machinations of greedy  sociopaths. Every citizen is guaranteed the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, but unless government players realize and act upon the true nature of money in promoting citizen welfare, their actions may be unconstitutional and approaching seditious behavior.

At the present our nation has many millions of people unemployed. Our nation has vast numbers of citizens homeless and/or hungry.
Our nation suffers from outdated, crumbling infrastructure that presents constant perils to citizen users.
Our nation is falling behind other major nations in its transportation systems, threatening inefficiency and economic decline.
Our nation is failing to address catastrophic climate change.

I have listed off the top of my head some major deficiencies, all of which require government investment to address. You may wish to add others to the list.

At the same time, we have enough resources to address these issues. We have shuttered factories, people seeking jobs, experienced people eager to tackle these projects. These are projects that will help every citizen, not only the poor. Revitalizing our nation will benefit the entire population, rich or poor. What is lacking is government investment.

If the government understood and acted upon the true nature of money, these projects could begin now. The closest approach I know to true money is found in Modern Money Theory. Government economists should adopt the MMT viewpoint and begin guiding the derailed wheels of our nation back onto the fast track to prosperity.

For more on Modern Money Theory, please follow the Kos group Money and Public Purpose.  And here is an introductory page of readings:

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