What Is Money Anyway?

A quick guide on where it comes from and why that’s important.

Joshua Edward


In a perfect world there would be no need for money. If humans could work together in the John Lennon envisioned sort of way, then all things could be attained without having to account for any of it. Unfortunately, that’s not reality.

The Tragedy of the Commons is a problem in economics that describes how there will always be some people who simply do not follow the plan. In other words, there will always be people who screw it up for everyone else.

Now, if we could easily identify who those people were, then it would be simple to round them up and send them off to some island somewhere, right?


The situation in the Tragedy of the Commons largely exists because of a lack of information or trust, or both.

Imagine All The People

Pretend that 10 people live by a pond that is plentiful with delicious and nutritious fish. Each day all ten people take exactly five fish for themselves. For a while this works okay, however, over time one of the people starts to notice that it seems as if there are not as many fish as before.

Now, rather than coordinate with the others, this one person instead decides to take 20 fish for himself and then not tell the others. Why did he do this? Because he was afraid that eventually the fish will run out, and he didn’t trust the others to provide for him if that ever happened. Rather than risk starving, he preemptively took more for himself.

This person might sound evil, but in reality, it could be anyone, even you.

While this example above is quite simple and extreme, many situations arise each day that challenge us to take less and leave more for others — most of the time we don’t do that.

Answer the following questions honestly:

  • Would you give up your car and instead take a crowded bus to work each day in order to reduce pollution?
  • Are you willing to entirely stop eating beef to reduce the level of methane gasses in the atmosphere?
  • Are you willing to stop traveling by airplane and instead take a train



Joshua Edward

Left the USA for Europe as a solo parent and raised a kid in a foreign land.