During the last two weeks, I’ve been dealing with a service provider over billing errors. The first invoice was correct. On the following four invoices for the exact same service, they had either changed the name of the service or doubled it and charged me twice as much. Insurance covers the service, so I’m not responsible for the entire amount. However, four of the invoices are incorrect and I have disputed them. I am waiting to hear the verdict on their review of two of them, but I’ve heard about the other two and the verdict was that their invoice was correct as is. So, I’m in the process of drafting an appeal letter to continue to dispute the invoice.
I bring up this experience with billing errors because I’ve been very suspicious that the billing errors are in fact a way for the vendor to get paid more than they are actually owed because people don’t always examine their invoices carefully. Indeed, a friend has cautioned me that business consultants have been known to advise some businesses on how to do this. And why would a business want to rip off a good customer? Money.
Think about it. In America right now, the purpose of life is to acquire money. We need money to live as much as we need clean air and water. Money buys food, clothing, transportation, shelter, medicine, and household necessities like toilet paper, chairs, a stove, a refrigerator, a phone, etc. As my father used to say, “Money doesn’t grow on trees.” In order to feed ourselves, we must find a job that will pay us money. That job will probably be with a company either privately or publicly owned. The people who own the company want their company to make money for them, the more the better, so they are interested in cutting expenses in order to increase profit. Which could mean cutting wages or eliminating raises…. Or double-billing a good customer….
A couple years ago, I began thinking about how money has metastasized throughout human life and how it affects human behavior. People marry for money. They kill for money. They steal money. They gamble to win money. They invest money and gamble that way. They acquire money to have power and influence. The amount of money one has determines what one buys, what services one can have, where one lives, etc. What would life be like without money? How could money be completely eliminated from the planet? Would we just replace it with another thing like money? These questions led me to ask myself what money does, really. It is a way to define value, what something (or someone) is worth. So, in order to eliminate money, we’d have to find a different way to define value.
In Perceval, I decided to create in my 2048 world an international “Value Commission” consisting of representatives from all countries. This commission would have a website where people could contribute their comments and ideas. The purpose of the commission would be to re-define value and to identify the steps for eliminating money gradually from our world. It would need to be gradual in order to protect all the people whose jobs depend on an economic system, e.g. banks, economists, financial advisors, etc. In Europe, the first step had already begun, i.e. gradually phasing out the use of cash in favor of all-purpose bankcards. How much money a person had would be on paper only, and money would be transferred by computer from bank to a retail outlet’s account or a landlord’s account, etc. So, one of the first things Evan notices while on his European tour is that few people carry cash. He must carry cash because he’s not in the European banking system. In fact, in America, cash exists as it always has. In America, the New Economic Party elite use money as the incentive for workers to produce.
Evan’s question, and mine, about this is: would people accept a different definition of value that did not involve money at all? And the larger question: could people really imagine a world without money?
To be continued…..