Bastiat, on money:
This is the time, then, to analyze the true function of money, independently of mines and importations. You have a dollar. What does it imply in your hands? It is, as it were, the witness and proof that you have, at some time or other, performed some labor, which, instead of turning to your advantage, you have bestowed upon society as represented by the person of your client (employer or debtor). This coin testifies that you have performed a service for society, and, moreover, it shows the value of it. It bears witness, besides, that you have not yet obtained from society a real equivalent service, to which you have a right. To place you in a condition to exercise this right, at the time and in the manner you please++ , society, as represented by your client, has given you an acknowledgment, a title, a privilege from the republic, a counter, a title to a dollar’s worth of property in fact, which only differs from executive titles by bearing its value in itself; and if you are able to read with your mind’s eye the inscriptions stamped upon it you will distinctly decipher these words:
“Pay the bearer a service equivalent to what he has rendered to society, the value received being shown, proved, and measured by that which is represented by me.´´
Now, you give up your dollar to me. Either my title to it is gratuitous, or it is a claim.If you give it to me as payment for a service, the following is the result: — your account with society for real satisfactions is regulated, balanced, and closed. You had rendered it a service for a dollar, you now restore the dollar for a service; as far as you are concerned you are clear. As for me, I am just in the position in which you were just now. It is I who am now in advance to society for the service which I have just rendered it in your person. I have become its creditor for the value of the labor which I have performed for you, and which I might devote to myself. It is into my hands then, that the title of this credit — the proof of this social debt — ought to pass. You cannot say that I am any richer; if I am entitled to receive, it is because I have given. Still less can you say that society is a dollar richer, because one of its members has a dollar more, and another has one less. For if you let me have this dollar gratis, it is certain that I shall be so much the richer, but you will be so much the poorer for it; and the social fortune, taken in a mass, will have undergone no change, because as I have already said, this fortune consists in real services, in effective satisfactions, in useful things. You were a creditor to society; you made me a substitute to your rights, and it signifies little to society, which owes a service, whether it pays the debt to you or to me. This is discharged as soon as the bearer of the claim is paid.”
Fortune consists in real services.
Voluntary trade and commerce adds to the wealth of society.
Sound money is a tool. A measure of satisfaction.
Shuffling money around based on whimsy, emotion, or someone’s master plan is actually harmful because there is a loss. Some one may gain a dollar and someone may lose a dollar, but the loss is in the value of that trade, the service, that did not occur, and the service is the real wealth.