Schopenhauer: The One-Dollar Bill


Arthur Schopenhauer [1788-1860]

Everything else can satisfy only one wish’ wrote Arthur Schopenhauer, ‘[but] money alone is absolutely good…because it is the abstract satisfaction of every wish…

Take a look at the One-Dollar Bill. You’ll see the ‘Great Seal of the United States’. And lots of interesting symbols.

And inspiring Latin regularly misused by Presidents [Annuit Coeptis, E Pluribus Unum, Novus Ordo Seclorum]. And more.

It’s a rich, unappreciated, ignored document. I’ve yet to see anyone take a look at it twice. But they do count them very carefully.

The Dollar-Bill is in fact worthless if not for the signs printed on it.

You can buy a meal, have a drink with a Dollar-Bill. But you are not supposed to eat the Dollar-Bill for lunch.

The Economist’s term ‘Money-Illusion’, is the name for the state where you confound the dollar-amount of your Income with the things you can buy with it.

If you suffer from Money-Illusion, you remain unconcerned when prices double and your Income remains flat. Or you feel elated with a 10% bonus when the inflation-rate has just surged 50%.

Sign is like a Dollar-bill. A Dollar-bill is a printed piece of paper with a lot of signs on it. We can confound the paper with the things it can buy. And at the next level, the cheer it can bring. And so on.

This is Everyman’s ‘Money-Illusion’. The Economist’s can have theirs back.