“Dirty Money” ~ essay ~ by Jessan Dunn Otis|Writer
Think of all the things you’ve done to “make money”. That, in itself, is a ridiculous concept. We don’t “make money”, the government does. We, you and I, earn money.
I started earning money as a girl – granted an allowance for accomplishing certain chores. Chores done, allowance paid. No chores done, no allowance. Some chores completed, partial payment.
At 19 I landed my first “adult” job as a clerk-typist at a social service in Providence, Rhode Island. Paid weekly. Still living at home with my parents in Warwick, RI. Within a few months I fledged myself. Time to go out on my own. One room apartment on the East Side, shared bath, no parking. Independent. Earning money. Paying my own bills.
Some time later I began to see and understand better about what money, as a thing, did to folks. The earning of it, who had more of it, who had less of it and how those two conditions stratified and segregated people from and against each other. Judgements. “Better than” because one had more money. “Less than” because of having not so much money.
This is nothing to say about how the getting of that money perverted folks – what one did to get more, as if the flash and bling and apparent “power” that all that money was had made a person, somehow, superior or more influential, ultimately.
I still earn money and appreciate what it allows me to do – support a household, buy food, purchase something beautiful, share it to support a charitable cause or initiative. There are times, however, when I think about the earlier tradition of barter – I have something you want, you have something I want, we determine a fair value, make the deal and each of us walks away satisfied and happy. Simple. Neverthemore, in most Westernized societies, barter has faded and it’s the dollar that rules.
Next time you think about money, think about what it really is – a coin or a decorated piece of paper – and, what it takes to earn it, how the having or not having it creates false and devastating divisions between us (as people and as nations); and, what’s the true value and human cost of “earning money”.
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(c) 6/8/ 2017
written by: Jessan Dunn Otis|Writer