Real Wealth

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Real wealth has intrinsic value, in contrast to phantom wealth, which has only exchange value. Life, not money, is the measure of real-wealth value.[1]

The most important forms of real wealth are beyond price and are unavailable for market purchase. These include healthy, happy children, loving families, caring communities, and a beautiful, healthy, natural environment. Real wealth also includes all the many things of intrinsic artistic, spiritual, or utilitarian value essential to maintaining the various forms of living wealth that may or may not have a market price They include healthful food, fertile land, pure water, clean air, caring relationships and loving parents, education, health care, fulfilling opportunities for service, and time for meditation and spiritual reflection.

Because of the essential role of caring relationships, the monetization or commodification of real wealth, which generally translates into the monetization or commodification of relationships, tends to diminish its real value. Examples include replacing parental caregivers with paid child care workers.

A phantom-wealth economy seeks to monetize and commodify relationships to increase dependence on money; a real-wealth economy favors relationships based on mutual caring that reduce dependence on money. In contrast to a phantom-wealth economy, money in a real-wealth economy is not used as a measure or a storehouse of value, but solely as a convenient medium of exchange.

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Author: David Korten