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Over time people have become more and more

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Over time, people have become more and more specialized in their actions and more involved in trade and the money economy. The circle of cooperation has expanded. Winemakers can build their GOLD: THE ONCE AND FUTURE MONEY 3
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own houses, as the pioneer farmer did, but their house-building abil- ities are poor. They lack tools, knowledge, experience. Carpenters can make their own wine, but their winemaking abilities are poor. The carpenter calculates that the most efficient way to obtain wine is to build houses and trade them for wine with the winemaker. The winemaker calculates that the most efficient way to acquire a house is to make wine and trade it with the carpenter. By engaging in special- ization and trade in this way, both the winemaker and carpenter enjoy more wine and better houses. Consider a modern citizen, perhaps an advertising account exec- utive. She does not grow her own food. She does not make her own clothes, build her own house, construct or even repair her own car, generate her own electricity, or drill her own oil. She may even have someone else clean her house, have a different person take care of the garden, and eat most of her meals in restaurants. Instead, she special- izes in certain services related to advertising, which themselves are not very useful alone but only as part of a complex organization, the advertising agency. She consumes basically none of her primary pro- duction of advertising services, all of which she trades, indirectly through the money economy, for the goods and services provided by other people. She feels independent, maybe even isolated compared to the tight-knit farming communities of the past, but she, like everyone else, is embedded in a system of interdependency far more absorbing than those of long ago. The ever-increasing productivity of the advanced economies has been accomplished through ever- increasing specialization and trade. However, there is a danger inher- ent in such complexity, namely that a breakdown of the system would collapse the productive advantages with potentially disastrous results. It is not possible to go back to hunting and gathering, or even to the situation of a century ago in which most people were farmers. The concept of unemployment is a relatively recent phenomenon, which did not occur in traditional farming societies where you could always fall back on the fundamental economy of eating what you grew. People today are more dependent on the smooth functioning of the money economy than they have ever been. Good Money Is Stable Money 4
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Our day-to-day lives are so familiar to us that it is worth a mo- ment to consider the awesome complexity of the cooperative order that we participate in. We buy a cup of coffee on our way to work.
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