What If People Stopped Valuing Money?

Mexico and Chile and Brazil and Argentina were likewise bankrupt--and Indonesia and the Philippines and Pakistan and India and Thailand and Italy and Ireland and Belgium and Turkey. Whole nations were suddenly in the same situation as the San Mateo, unable to buy with their paper money and coins, or their written promises to pay later, even the barest essentials. Persons with anything life sustaining to sell, fellow citizenes as well as foreigners, were refusing to exchange their goods for money. They were suddenly saying to people with nothing but paper representations of wealth, "Wake up you idiots! Whatever made you think paper was so valuable?"

* * *

There were still plenty of food and fuel and so on for all the human beings on the planet, as numerous as they had become, but millions upon millions of them were starting to starve to death now. The healthiest of them could go without food for only about forty days, and then death would come.

And this famine was as purely a product of oversize brains as Beethoven's Ninth Symphony.

It was all in people's heads. People had simply changed their opinions of paper wealth, but, for all practical purposes, the planet might as well have been knocked out of orbit by a meteor the size of Luxembourg.


Vonnegut describes a fictional account of the currencies of numerous countries in the world suddenly being no longer valuable, making them just pretty paper.

Folksonomies: value money currency

/law, govt and politics/government/heads of state (0.576149)
/finance/personal finance/saving (0.575988)
/business and industrial/paper industry (0.570226)

fictional account (0.908756 (negative:-0.326426)), numerous countries (0.884023 (negative:-0.326426)), San Mateo (0.877775 (negative:-0.603536)), barest essentials (0.875862 (negative:-0.260072)), oversize brains (0.868630 (negative:-0.449479)), fellow citizenes (0.864905 (neutral:0.000000)), human beings (0.850714 (positive:0.318595)), paper representations (0.850046 (neutral:0.000000)), paper wealth (0.837761 (neutral:0.000000)), paper money (0.833508 (negative:-0.626021)), practical purposes (0.831833 (positive:0.271981)), people (0.704425 (negative:-0.408921)), millions (0.652136 (negative:-0.620948)), food (0.621968 (positive:0.001393)), death (0.620929 (negative:-0.555607)), planet (0.618656 (positive:0.318595)), Vonnegut (0.602633 (negative:-0.326426)), currencies (0.589550 (negative:-0.326426)), idiots (0.588876 (negative:-0.306522)), foreigners (0.587163 (neutral:0.000000)), promises (0.581698 (negative:-0.392764)), famine (0.578284 (negative:-0.449479)), situation (0.574014 (negative:-0.603536)), Chile (0.572598 (negative:-0.390666)), meteor (0.570750 (neutral:0.000000)), world (0.570307 (negative:-0.326426)), orbit (0.569956 (neutral:0.000000)), Luxembourg (0.568678 (neutral:0.000000)), plenty (0.568562 (positive:0.318595)), Indonesia (0.567193 (neutral:0.000000))

Vonnegut:Person (0.845414 (negative:-0.326426)), San Mateo:City (0.776178 (negative:-0.603536)), Luxembourg:City (0.712661 (neutral:0.000000)), Indonesia:Country (0.690712 (neutral:0.000000)), people\:City (0.682399 (neutral:0.000000)), Argentina:Country (0.671893 (negative:-0.390666)), Chile:Country (0.663028 (negative:-0.390666)), Turkey:Country (0.650900 (neutral:0.000000)), Brazil:Country (0.648335 (negative:-0.390666)), Philippines:Country (0.648238 (neutral:0.000000)), Pakistan:Country (0.646151 (neutral:0.000000)), Mexico:Country (0.645792 (negative:-0.390666)), Thailand:Country (0.642087 (neutral:0.000000)), India:Country (0.613273 (neutral:0.000000)), Belgium:Country (0.597599 (neutral:0.000000)), Ireland:Country (0.584666 (neutral:0.000000)), Italy:Country (0.582869 (neutral:0.000000)), forty days:Quantity (0.582869 (neutral:0.000000))

Money (0.943783): dbpedia | freebase
Human (0.726784): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Coin (0.705650): dbpedia | freebase
Liberal democracies (0.692361): dbpedia
United Nations (0.629479): website | dbpedia | freebase | opencyc | yago
Famine (0.607087): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Poverty (0.605392): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Philippines (0.604255): geo | website | dbpedia | ciaFactbook | freebase | opencyc | yago

Books, Brochures, and Chapters>Book:  Vonnegut , Kurt (1985), Gala'pagos, Delacorte / Seymour Lawrence, Retrieved on 2011-03-12
  • Source Material [books.google.com]
  • Folksonomies: politics evolution culture fiction science fiction darwin


    13 MAR 2011

     If Money is Fiction, What Happens When People Stop Believ...

    Money is Fiction > Cause and Effect > What If People Stopped Valuing Money?
    This American Life argues that money is a fictional idea that we all agree upon; Kurt Vonnegut speculates on what happens if we stop believing in money.