“So you think that money is the root of all evil? . . . Have you ever asked what is the root of money? Money is a tool of exchange, which can’t exist unless there are goods produced and men able to produce them. Money is the material shape of the principle that men who wish to deal with one another must deal by trade and give value for value.” — Ayn Rand Letter 1971-1976 (“Hunger and Freedom)
However, direct payment isn’t always how value is exchanged. On this site, I hope to provide something of value to you, while also exploring the philosophical life. This is provided free of charge…well, sort of. When CBS televises, the NFL playoff game between the Houston Texans and the New England Patriots (go Houston!), both the NFL and CBS do so “free of charge.” What they know, however, is that millions of fans are provided value in watching the game. For 3 hours, they get to be part of something, whether it’s the feeling of being part of either team’s effort, just to escape for a while and have fun, observe the strategy of the game, or even observe the prowess of the athletes…millions find value in those 3 hours. More importantly, advertisers know the fans are watching and want them to know that they can provide value as well, so they pay the NFL/CBS some big bucks to get their products in front of these fans. These ads will mostly miss. Many viewers will not even pay attention, others will watch the ads simply for the entertainment value, but if 1/10th of 1% buy the product and 1 million are watching, then that is 1000 sales, which would lead to those buyers telling their friends and maybe remaining a returning customer. Value is very important in this whole setup. Everybody divides their value into tiny fractions, and everybody is a lot of people (I think 7 billion or so at last count).
Whew, that was a mouthful, but it had to be said. Anyway, I provide you with (I hope) just a tiny amount of value with each posting. Just enough to make you (and me) think, and hopefully read again. Maybe you’ll even share the post with friends, and they will tell their friends…and on, and on. Hopefully, you will come back. Like the NFL, I hope that these posts can take you to a place of value, and like the NFL I hope advertisers will see this through my number of hits, views, shares, loyal audience, etc.
Essentially, I am banking on my own ability to convey the Heroic Stoic philosophy to an audience such that they find value in my work. First of all, I can look myself in the mirror each day and say that what I do is a worthwhile effort. Additionally, I can view whether my work is catching on. Without a doubt, this endeavor is not only for money (really, it’s not even close), but at some point I think the value of what I provide will manifest in “certificates” of value (i.e. money).
This, I think is the essence of enlightened self-interest. I pursue my life, as well as my work because it satisfies me, AND I hope what I provide is a fair trade for others’ labor. I help you, you help me, etc. We trade, albeit indirectly.