WEALTH: an uncountable excess of ephemeral monetary potential

Although the word 'wealth' is used in economic contexts as a mathematical variable measured by such parameters as 'assets' and 'liabilities', it remains in common parlance as a description for a widely sought after state of financial abundance. It is the word that is used in everyday language to describe the social condition whereby individuals or groups have managed to stockpile and cache quantities of the community resources considerably in excess of the mean value. It describes the condition of an individual social entity whereby if the social credit potential of that entity is converted into the everyday coin of the local food-market, then counting those units would be an extremely daunting exercise.

Actually treating 'wealth' as a variable equivalent to 'assets' minus 'liabilities' might be of some use in demography, or economic planning, or social policy, but from the perspective of the individual it is often entirely useless. The monetary asset of a building can become zero in the time it takes for a magnitude 7.0 earthquake to run its course. Assets are only assets if they can be quickly converted into the social credits of the local currency. Objects like cars and cows and chestnuts may be useful to one individual in helping satisfy some of life's daily needs, but if no other social entity wants to exchange them for money, then they have no social economic wealth. If one cannot quickly lay hands on money... by selling property, shares, jewellery, sex or carrots... one is definitely not wealthy, no matter what the statisticians, politicians, insurance agents, or relatives might have to say on the matter. Wealth is having immediate access to abundant money.

Classifying individuals and groups could be simplified a little if the word 'wealth' is used only to describe a condition of 'potential' whilst a word like 'affluence' is used to describe the actual utilization and consumption of resources. There would thus be four possible situations. Both wealth and affluence is exhibited by the dictator siphoning state funds into personal accounts and living in ostentatious and unconstrained luxury. Wealth without affluence describes the parsimonious miser whose secure cash is readily available. Affluence in the absence of wealth is practised by the confidence trickster and certain nations that have elevated the concept of 'credit' to an art form. The last possibility... having neither wealth nor an affluent life-style... would be experienced by anyone outside of a disaster zone that was queuing for water.

Historically, ownership of wealth has always been difficult to ensure. Keeping control of one's own money... or of assets that are readily converted to money... has requires considerable vigilance and often a lot of deception and cunning. There is a timeless hoard of pirates, burglars, thieves, fraudsters, and the like, that will take monetary credits that are not their own by whatever means is necessary. Even with changing technology, keeping one's money in the memory of a bank computer with an associated unique ID is only a stimulus to the ingenuity of the cheats and scammers.

In order to facilitate infrastructure and social benefits, community wealth is a necessary resource. A wealthy community is able to resource educational medical and transport facilities for the enhanced existence of all its citizens. Whilst it is sometimes possible to put laws in place to ensure that communal wealth is used for common benefits, it is unfortunately the case that public individuals are unable to resist the personal benefits of public funds. Community resources are often plundered as opportunities present...'legally' or otherwise... by everyone from the standard esurient dictator to the dishonest treasurer.

The continuing presence of a genetic component to greed and the accumulation of individual assets can be linked very frequently to the cycles of wealth polarizations and subsequent 'corrections'. Wealthy individuals don't often use their resources to achieve anything other than a further augmentation of their resources. Besides helping assure that all their biological necessities of food, shelter and sex are amply catered for, they use their wealth to facilitate the manipulation of supposedly common rules in a manner to support corruption and tax avoidance schemes. By accumulating wealth in excess of what is necessary for a comfortable existence, and using that wealth to exacerbate the distribution profile, the resentments of those society members who are thereby subject to poverty levels of 'affluence' will relentlessly increase. The various supposedly pragmatic stratagems of legislation, suppression, propaganda and so on will run their course, but greed knows no limitations. History shows that matters will continue to smoulder until the deprived sectors devise a means of organizing their revolution.