Money: The Root of Some Thinking

October 26, 2007

On Spending vs. Circulating

Why do we say we “spend” money?

That’s insane. “To spend” means “to use up” or “to wear out; exhaust.” It’s totally linear and pays no attention to the beautiful ecology of circulating money.

I don’t know about you, but when I buy a meal at a restaurant or buy a pair of tennis shoes or a new tire for my car, or whatever, I see the INCREDIBLY interconnected ecology of human beings that went into that simple purchase.

Pull the thread from any one of the components of a recent purchase and look at it. Let’s say you go out to eat. So, how’d that soup spoon get there? There are so many connections in that one object, it’s mind-boggling. Let’s give thanks to the person who set it on the table (as well as the person who made the table) and the person who bought it for the restaurant and the person who made the machine that made it and the person who packaged it up and the person who shipped it to the restaurant and the person who built the truck they drove and the person who built the stoplight and fixed the pothole and … and …. and…

That ONE item touched a remarkable number of people.

And what about everything else that went into that evening out?


It’s an infinite interconnected loop and if we took it far enough, that ONE meal comes pretty damn close to touching every person in the world.

So, I joyfully participate in that process with a huge amount of gratitude. And, I think we should call it “circulating” money from now on. :)


– Brian Johnson

And on that note, I need to stop ‘circulating’ so much money. I keep having the urge to buy things that I ‘need.’ Like this nifty little hard drive that’s ONLY $65.00!

The problem is, I don’t really have that money. And sure, I would use the hard drive [my buying habits aren’t quite as inane as the person who ‘needs’ jewelry and designer clothing]. But reinforcing a behavior that will put me in a hole isn’t the way to go [I always make fun of the people who have massive credit card debt. On second thought, it wouldn’t be that hard. Just keep buying the things you ‘need’ without having the money for it].

The right thing to do would be to get a job and then use that money to reward myself. Yeah, job. That comes post-XC season.

As you can see, I’ve been reading way too much behaviorism stuff for my own good. But I love it. It really does explain everything. Almost. If you ask me, it’s the closest thing to a ‘theory of everything’ that we have for human behavior. If you just choose to use it.


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