Is your “dirty” money making you feel sick?
Hang on Giaan, last week you were telling us to roll with our greed. Now you’re saying money is dirty? You’re all over the shop.
We think money is filthy.
At one level, we’re right. Money is kind of disgusting.
It rides around in back pockets or under bra-straps, passing from hand to hand to filthy hand.
Does it ever get a wash?
(I used to have some friends on Lygon Street who ran a money laundering business, but I heard they got shut down.)
We know all this. A study in the UK found that there were more germs on a £1 coin than there were on a regularly cleaned toilet seat. The average European bank note has 26,000 potentially harmful bacteria on it.
We’re a little better off in Australia. We were the first country in the world to introduce polymer bank notes back in 1988. Germs don’t like plastic as much as paper it eems. Still, we have coins like everybody else.
And I loved that story a few months ago, about retailers in Geraldton and Carnarvon in WA putting a ban on “undies money”. Apparently, so many women were keeping their money in their bras, the shops had to put a ban on it. It gets hot out there, and plastic money can get awfully sweaty.
Or how about that study in the US that found that 85-90% of American bank notes have traces of cocaine on them (up from 67% in 2007!).
(That sounds like something I just made up, but here’s the link. And for the record, I never make stuff up. No BS.)
Apparently the practice of rolling money up to snort cocaine is so common that they all end up with traces of coke on them.
That might make you feel gangster, but when you think about how hygienic it is, it’s pretty crazy.
“Hey G-dog. Want to snort some coke.”
“Sure, I just found this straw in the public toilets at central station.”
It’s another reason why I only use my specially-minted, William and Kate Royal Baby commemorative $1000 note.
So money, as a physical entity is a bit grubby. It’s a bit gross.
But as an abstract concept, it’s also seen as unclean.
It’s like one of my favourite scenes from Pulp Fiction. After John Travolta and Samuel L. Jackson blow away that kid in the back of their car, they head over to Quentin Tarantino’s cameo character to clean up.
As they’re washing up they give Tarantino some money for his trouble.
He says, “Hey! This money’s got blood on it.”
Jackson says, “Ever see any that didn’t?”
That line always struck me as profound.
The amount of cash and coins in the country is only about 2% of what we think of as money. Yep, 98% of it is ‘made up’.
So our money moves around a lot. Probably a lot quicker than most people realise. And this is also one of the reasons it ends up with so many germs on it.
But it also means that the same money that you’ve got in your purse or wallet (or bra strap), was also used at some stage to snort coke, do a drug deal, maybe even pay to have someone killed.
And given the integrated nature of global finance, in a digital sense, it was probably also used to bribe African mining officials, cover up an oil spill, pay off a militia, or overthrow a country.
All money has blood on it.
In our collective psyche, we’re keenly aware of this. “Money is the root of all evil”, as the saying goes.
Of course, money itself isn’t the root of evil. Money is just a convenient way for evil to buy the goods and services it needs – of rewarding its friends and punishing its enemies.
Evil just likes the convenience.
But while all money is blood money, and we’re aware of this, the reverse is also true. But we don’t focus on the positive side of money.
I can’t even think of a clever way to say it… all money is fairy-sprinkle money? All money is McHappy Meal money?
But its true that while money is used to facilitate a great quantity of evil, it is also there when a great deal of good is done too. The aid missions, the flood-clean ups, the food and shelter for the needy.
Money as a tool played a role there too. But we overlook it because more noble motivations are engaged. Nobody becomes an aid worker for the money. A wage is part of the package, but a desire to make the world a better place comes first.
Evil doesn’t have that feel good factor. So a lot of evil wouldn’t happen if it weren’t for money.
“I need you to go and kick that dog over there.”
“How much will you pay me?”
“I was kinda hoping you’d do it for a sense of personal fulfilment and meaning.”
A lot of evil wouldn’t happen if it weren’t for money. A lot of good still would.
However, the truth is that right now, a lot of good couldn’t happen if it weren’t for money.
So you know, just saying, we tend to get caught up on the negatives.
But this can create problems for us. If we hold the idea in our mind that money is inherently dirty and evil, then our minds will make sure we have as little as possible.
Not consciously, obviously. But the subconscious is more powerful than we think, and takes responsibility for a lot of things in our lives.
If money makes us feel sick at some level, then we’ll find ways to avoid it…
… even if that means making other aspects of our life harder – like paying the bills or living the lifestyle we want.
Worse still, if you think money is dirty, then you’ll think you have to do dirty things to receive it – like whoring your time out to some middle-management overlord.
None of this is true. Money isn’t evil. People are evil. Money just makes evil people more productive.
But the same is true for good people.
Money is a tool. “Dirty” and “clean” are just stories we tell.
Have you had to change your relationship to money? How did you do it?