employment

The Meaning of Money

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Is money the root of all evil? Or is it what makes the world go ‘round? What IS the meaning of money?

Most of us receive most of the money we will ever make in exchange for our efforts. Our labor, our knowledge, our skills may be sold to employers if we are workers. They may be sold to customers or clients if we are in business. For this reason, in large part, money is the residue of the sweat we make while providing value to others.

What could be more noble than this symbol of being worthwhile to the rest of society?

In this framework, a 401(k) balance at retirement may be the end result of a lifetime of effort. An inheritance might represent two or more lifetimes of hard work. What could be more worthy of our best efforts to preserve and extend it?

While its sources are of interest, the uses of money have come into sharp focus for me recently. For the most part, my material needs are few. But money has become a vital factor in securing the health and welfare of loved ones.

The recent severe weather has resulted in hardship, pain, suffering and sometimes death for those who could not avoid its effects, or afford backup systems to meet special health needs. Oxygen concentrators require electricity, which sometimes fails. Refrigeration is needed for some kinds of life-sustaining medicine. Mobility is required to avoid some dangerous situations. All of this takes money.

When the power failed, we had a backup generator. When the storm threatened, we could leave the area. When the oxygen concentrator failed, we had another source. All of these things take money. And we had it.

Cathy’s care for children and work in the corporate world produced some of it. My efforts to help people with their plans and investing made some of it. Being good stewards of the amounts we were able to save provided some of it. The money came from worthy efforts, and it does important and worthy things for us.

Is money (or more properly, the love of money) the root of all evil? I don’t think so. It may be the evidence of lives of service and thrift. Luck? Certainly good fortune plays a role. And ill fortune surely plays a role in some people not having much of the stuff. We each must come to our own understanding of the meaning of money. This is mine.

Clients, if you would like to talk about this or any other pertinent topic, please email us or call.


The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.

Investing involves risks including possible loss of principal.

The Robots Are Coming!

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Some forecast that there will be no jobs in the future, as software and robots and other forms of mechanization take over more and more tasks now performed by actual people. To understand the issue, we need context and background.

Manufacturing output in the US is near record levels, up 30% from the recession levels of 2009. Yet manufacturing employment peaked in 1979 at 19 million workers. The total today is around 12 million workers1. One might say ‘The robots are already here.’

While seven million manufacturing jobs were lost, fifty million jobs were added to the total. Manufacturing jobs were not the only ones that disappeared, however. Millions of other jobs became obsolete. File clerks, telephone operators, laborers with shovels, elevator operators, secretaries, and farm workers were displaced by new machines and new methods.

In a dynamic economy, we perpetually do more with less. In the year 1900, 40% of Americans were engaged in producing our food2. When that declined to under 2%, we didn’t end up with 38% unemployment.

There is another way to look at it. Tens of millions of people are now engaged in occupations that did not exist forty years ago, near the peak in manufacturing employment. Similar change happened between 1900 and 1940, and 1940 to 1980. Why would we doubt that 2010 to 2050 would be any different?

A recent report in the European Parliament concluded that “Humankind stands on the threshold of an era when ever more sophisticated robots, bots, androids and other manifestations of artificial intelligence (‘AI’) seem poised to unleash a new industrial revolution, which is likely to leave no stratum of society untouched.” This presents more opportunity for society than danger, if history is any guide.

It’s going to be exciting. Please call us or write with questions or concerns.

1,2Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.