How Money Became the Measure of Everything

Eli Cook, The Atlantic, Oct 23, 2017
Commentary by Stephen Downes

This story documents the conversion of the social order from one based on people to one based on money (and especially the accumulation of masses of money). It's not something that just happened; it is the result of years of media pressure. "Yale economist Irving Fisher... arguing for why people needed to be treated as 'money-making machines,' ... explained how 'newspapers showed a strong aversion to the harrowing side of the tuberculosis campaign but were always ready to ‘sit up and take notice’ when the cost of tuberculosis in dollars and cents was mentioned.'" The conversion happened around 1850, concordant with the rise of capitalism. Prior to this conversion society valued "a collection of social indicators known then as 'moral statistics,' which quantified such phenomena as prostitution, incarceration, literacy, crime, education, insanity, pauperism, life expectancy, and disease."

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