Everybody likes and wants to have money. If someone tells you the opposite then he’s probably lying or he has enough money to afford having the image of not wanting money, but in essence, we all want money. Now, although we all desire to have money, the reasons behind that desire are different.
In a country such as Venezuela, I feel that people work just to survive or maintain a status quo –which is almost impossible to maintain with a 30% annual inflation rate- rather than to improve and grow. Here, people work countless hours just to earn enough money to have 3 decent meals a day and pay debts. You rarely see the average (excluding young people still maintained by their parents) citizen working for something different to buying food, pay for the bills and occasionally go have some dinner at a regular restaurant. Live here is really expensive and money seems to fit survival rather than pleasure or improvement; small variations in wages or income allow us to live without debts but not necessarily allowing us to buy with our effort that which we want.
Just a normal pair of shoes can cost around 800 Bolivares ( Aprox. 100 Dollars at unofficial rate or 200 Dollars at the official rate) which means 2/3 of minimum wage here in Venezuela. 2/3 of a minimum wage in average shoes, I’m not talking about some ultra-special shoes. So when you work harder and get some extra money, it goes really fast in things so simple as an average pair of shoes. Is it really worth it?
Recently I was in the US and one of the things that shocked me was entering Wal-Mart and seeing how things that are considered unaffordable or luxury in Venezuela are bought by the average American citizen. Living in the US with a regular or low wage, imagining yourself buying a used car a PSP or a computer is not a dream, it’s a goal. The motivations to earn money are not the same as in Venezuela. In Venezuela, you know that by putting some extra hours a week in your job and going the extra-mile will only allow you one “fancy” dinner or to decide which shampoo brand you like instead of choosing the one you can afford while in US it means affording the new TV you want or the new toy for your pet or those inventions you know you’ll never use but make you happy just by buying them. The incentives are others and this obviously has an impact on the quantity of hours people work. It’s never the same to work with the hope of maintaining your acquisition power versus the inflation than when you work to buy the things that bring you extra points of happiness and utility.
When the basic needs are met with, people do not only save money but also use them to buy things that, according to the individual’s preferences, will bring them more utility. We always want to buy things that make us happy, are useful for us or simply improve our way or quality of life but it is only when we have money that we can truly create a demand and allow entrepreneurs to satisfy the demand by the invention or production of that which we need or want.
Competition among enterprises and entrepreneurs always assures something: the best product at the lowest price. Controls lead to reductions in the supply of goods and services and lead to rising prices without necessarily meaning quality improvement. All restrictions lead to scarcity and “black markets” with higher prices that form a vicious circle that blocks “extra-money” that creates demand for goods that satisfy our personal desires or wishes rather than just the means for survival. Money creates demand. Money creates jobs.
I hope sometime we’ll work with the motivation of not only paying our bills but with the motivation of traveling or buying whatever increases our utility.