Sunday, 21 November 2010

'Respectable' Theft

On the same day I read this: 
Stealing calls to mind such felonies as robbery, extortion, and burglary. People do not commonly realize that it has more subtle and respectable forms. We may understand this better if we consider why money is useful for the conduct of economic affairs. The shoemaker accepts money in exchange for his product, even though he has no direct use for it, because he knows that it can be exchanged for articles he values. Money serves him as a medium of exchange and thus, although it is perfectly useless as a commodity, permits him to transcend the barter system and to engage in a specialized economic function. Secondly, it serves a store of value, permitting the shoemaker to save rather than consume, and so accumulate capital for investment. Without capital investment there can be no prosperity, a fact that is true of all economic systems. To steal from the shoemaker the fruit of his labour, one can take his product or the money he has received for it. Or else one can so tamper with the monetary system that the money will not serve to purchase economic goods equivalent to the product the shoemaker provides. Outright stealing is widely recognized for what it is, but the economic crime that accomplishes the same thing through debasing the money is not. Yet the motive and the effect are the same.
(p89-90 Idols for Destruction: The Conflict of Christian Faith and American Culture)
 I read this by Jeff Randall. Here is an appetising quote from it: 
The problem with counterfeit paper is that it’s not backed by gold or any other store of value. Whereas proper money, printed by the Bank of England, is, of course, er… also not backed by gold or any other store of value.

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