Issues of finance, ‘making money work’ for us and the like is very problematic to discuss. There is a minefield of facts, figures and conflicting ideologies. So this is simply a starter discussion.
A basic understanding of shares in public companies in theory makes them accountable to the shareholders. So far so good… however, in many cases the shareholders are simply looking for a return financially. The Oakland Institute published a report that hedge funds are buying up great parts of Africa – in 2009 alone they bought up as much land as would cover the nation of France – where they can increase their profits for shareholders. In the short term they might be employing people on the ground, but long-term investment into the future of Africa is not the agenda. They will give a good return to their shareholders. Accountable to the shareholders, but accountable for what? They are not being held accountable morally nor ethically, solely to make money and as much as possible. (And there are notable exceptions in the public arena, however the financial sector itself is very weak in such moral and ethical areas of accountability.)
So, can we invest in the stock market, or is there something intrinsically wrong with investments that are simply to make money? Or to put it more simply – can we make money work for us. If I invest money into a project in (say) Africa that brings work there, and it makes a return to me, is that counted as ‘work’, and I have the right of earning that money? I could get richer by so doing. And assume it was an amazing return and I never needed (money-wise) to get out of bed again, but could now retire, is that legitimate? The money is working for me, but I am no longer working.
So as this is just a starter discussion: how about
- the possibility of money working for us, if the money is as a result of ‘work’, so it now symbolically represents work, and
- it is invested into ethical / creational / new-creational settings
- but at the same time I do get out of bed to make a contribution to this world (‘work’) whether that earns money or not.
In other words if we bring a separation between money and work can we both critique money making money, and yet make room for an element whereby money can work for us?