develop me : Tapiwa Gomo
EVERY generation has its own characteristics and cultural lifestyles largely determined by technological inventions and innovations, wealth generation and consumption patterns.
Understanding these dimensions and how wealth is defined, produced and distributed is critical in figuring out how to position development strategies within societies.
Historians, scientists and anthropologists all concur that from stone to the computer age, the tools that made up the means of production have had a huge influence on how wealth is created and how political power is distributed. The tools humans make, define them, including how the resultant wealth is distributed. But the same tools and technologies supply us with an identity and character. Today, humanity seems to be all about easy money, wealth and corruption. Corruption is now major source of income.
During the stone and metal age era, the makers of the tools defined the means of production and what could be made of the tools. These tools influenced shelter designs, food production and consumption patterns, the political system and quality of life. For example, with tools and knowledge of growing crops, agriculture became means of food production, while houses made of stone were reserved for the wealth and the powerful. Such shelters became centres of power, pride and opulence.
The ability to make and use tools was a major source of power and wealth. Tools were traded and tool makers were hired to provide and impart knowledge to other communities in exchange for other means of wealth. They exercised agency and sometimes power. What is critical to note is that the design of tools influenced production and wealth generation. Wealth distribution then became cyclic in the sense that the producers of tools traded with those who needed to use them to expand their wealth who then created labour opportunities for those who did not have neither of the two. In all these stages, wealth was acquired and distributed through either labour or trade.
A major boom in the way tools influenced wealth production was witnessed during the Industrial Revolution, now also known as the First Industrial Revolution, between 1760 and 1840 in Europe and United States of America. The period saw the transition to new production processes from hand production methods to machines, new chemical manufacturing and iron production processes, the increasing use of steam power and waterpower, the development of machine tools and the rise of the mechanised factory system. The Industrial Revolution also led to an unprecedented rise in the rate of population growth. Power was centralised in the production or ownership of the means of production.
Industrial Revolution also spawned the growth of modern commerce which saw money emerging as a central agent in facilitating trade. Wealth began to be quantified in monetary terms.
While production of goods and services continued to increase, multiply and diversify, money market became a component of the economy initially to provide short-term funds.
As money became a commodity, its market became a component of the financial market for assets involved in short-term borrowing, lending, buying and selling with original maturities of one year or less. As money assumed commodity status, it began to be traded over the counter. People bought and sold money as a stand alone object of trade.
At this stage, the role of money was beginning to shift from being merely a facilitator of wealth exchange or commercial trade to becoming the determinant of or wealth itself. Before this shift, the appetite for money by people was limited as wealth was located in objects and means of production with money only required during times of trade. Societies only needed money to purchase what they needed and other than that money was of no essence to them as wealth was located in objects of wealth.
As trade evolved with the aid of technology, money became the ultimate symbol of power and wealth. This is means that he/she who has more money has more power and sometimes undermining those who own the means of production and those who occupy elected political positions.
This is simply because the global society has put itself in a situation where nothing functions without money, thus ceding power, in all its aspects, to those who have control over money. It seems that everything about our lives these days is about money and it is what we need to survive and to acquire what we want or need.
Today’s generation has read into this so well that they no longer see the need to sweat to earn money. They just need to make money through ways that uncut and undermine the production processes that traditionally sustained and expanded economies.
The appetite for money has increased which explains why there is massive invention of easy-money methods ranging from money laundering to collecting it in the name of God. It also explains why crime and corruption globally are increasing and why politics is fast becoming a lucrative arena for free money.
Corruption costs developing countries US$1,26 trillion every year, including through bribery, theft and tax evasion, and other illicit financial flows. While the world continues to view corruption as a social ill, it has not deterred corruption from being the fastest growing industry in the world. At more than US$3 trillion per year or around 5% of global gross domestic product, it is the world’s third largest industry. This may not be a feat to be celebrated as corruption undermines all systems designed to counter it and also robs poor people of resources that improves access to essential services and opportunities.