Measuring Wealth


Wiki > Chapter 2: Tyranny > Measuring Wealth

The ultimate goal of need-based vote sizing is to enable people to vote in a government with a fighting chance to reject the excesses that capitalism might throw at it… but before we can go about sizing votes relative to ‘wealth’, we will have to figure out how to physically measure it – and in order to do that we need to understand what it is we actually mean when we say ‘wealth’. The question may sound trivial – but only because we rarely stop to consider it. We can’t just say ‘this class will have this many votes’ or ‘this class will have none’. For one thing, such measures would impose artificial gradations upon the people, which would cause internal strife between classes and inside each group. Secondly, we haven’t come any closer to determining who belongs to what class. Classes are merely subsets of a capitalist system, which is (as we’ve seen in the previous chapter) the social mechanism by which we organize trade among ourselves to facilitate our growth into the environment. ‘Classes’ and ‘capitalism’ are big-picture, institutional, social engineering concepts, but unlike many other grand socio-economic theories in circulation, vote sizing doesn’t try to work on that level. Vote sizing doesn’t say we need to change classes or capitalism per se (the Democratic Empowerment Party may, but we’ll talk about that later); instead it operates on a much more personal and intimate level, so talk about capitalism will get us only so far. Therefore, in order to locate wealth values, we’ll need to look for something much more tangible.

And that tangible thing is m-m-m-money. Whereas capitalism indicates social wealth, money indicates personal wealth – literally as the currency (liquid capital) through which capitalism flows. Money plays many roles in our lives: It enables us to dream, to strive; it fosters competition and innovation; it relays information about supply and demand; it enables us to put our mark upon the material world around us; and it gets other people to work on our behalf. We can make money, save money, spend money, give money, get money, love money and hate money.

So when we look closely at money, we see that it mirrors capitalism at the level of the individual. We’ll save the discussion of which comes first until later in the book, but for now it’s important to acknowledge that they both perform the same tasks, just on substantially different levels. For the most part we use money to experience the world by buying homes, cars, clothes, toys and vacations. This is not the only aspect of money – sometimes it is donated to charities or used to implement ethical business practices, and these in fact change the world – but these other roles money plays are residual.

However, within wealth’s function, there is still another distinction we need to make in order to determine how much wealth someone has. No matter how hard we try to make it so, calculating wealth is not an exact science. If we ask different accountants how much someone is worth, and they all pore over the same numbers, they’ll often come up with different answers. In the same way as we examined power in the previous chapter, it seems that we can measure this money of ours in any mix of three different ways: 1) external wealth: our influence and control over wealth not our own; 2) internal wealth: represented by the balance of our assets and debts; and 3) synthesis wealth: somewhere in-between the two, where we survive day to day through our income / expenses. Let’s take a look at these in a little more detail:

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