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Trust, Wealth, & Morality

I wrote this piece sometime in 2018.

March 30, 2019.

My friends have eaten food that I cooked without asking for a food permit. I have helped them academically without being asked for a teacher's degree. I have helped someone lose weight without a fitness trainer's certification. All these transactions became possible because people trusted me, not because I was certified.

How many of you look up a barber's transcripts or the college he went to instead of looking up his google reviews? How many look up all the certificates a vehicle has before looking up its reviews? People look for trust. They go to the barber they trust, the car mechanic they trust, the doctor they trust. Trust is what makes transactions possible. The more transactions a nation has, the more goods and services its members exchange. The more needs and wants get satisfied, the more problems get solved.

Trust leads to transactions, which lead to wealth, or trust leads to wealth. If the relationship is true, why do nations want to make more money? They should really work on building trust among their citizens. For instance, modern liberal democratic nations seem to be obsessed with education. Yes, it has a high multiplier. Perhaps, college graduates outearn high school grads. However, would you not get your car repaired by an 8th-grade dropout whom your friends go to, who has been repairing cars for 10 years? Or would you go to a flashy shop where the mechanic has a technical education? Do you want to trust experience or education? Let us also not forget that an educational degree also needs trust for its own validation: trust in the people who certified the learner. Without trust, it means nothing.

Money is just a measure of wealth, not wealth itself. Wealth is produced when people exchange things and do things for one another. It can exist without money. It can grow so long as people trustfully engage in mutually beneficial exchanges. In fact, wealth isn't solely an economic phenomenon but a moral one. In an immoral society, people are bound to be poor. They wouldn't be able to trust one another, because they want to protect themselves. This would limit how many transactions they engage in. They wouldn't offer their services to those they don't like, nor would they buy products and services from them. They may even prefer to take small losses to buy from people they like or associate with. Thus, the market wouldn't be as competitive. It would operate at a sub-optimal level.

Consider what I observed in Starkville. The college community was divided into religious, racial, and ethnic groups, such as Baptist Student Union, Black Student Association, and Indian Student Association. Students joined these groups because they did not feel supported/accepted by the majority (white folks). They became sub-societies premised on mutual support, a value missing in the original society. Over time, the separation allowed biases to develop. They started to live, hang out, date, and trade only within their groups. They left out most members of outgroups and often developed biases against them. To me, they looked like nations that weren't trading with one another, because they couldn't trust one another. Since I made friends with everyone, I was able to see what they were missing. Often, members of one group had solutions to problems of those of other groups. In hindsight, my intuition was right. Dividing people by race and ethnicity was bad leadership. Mississippi State severely impoverished the student body. A united student body would have exchanged much more socioeconomic resources among themselves, becoming much wealthier than they were in small groups.

As we see, a nation should build trust among people, not breed dumb money. A population with a lot of gold would become poor if they can't trust one another enough to exchange socioeconomic resources. If they kept their gold to themselves, it is only about time they'd have no cars, no food, and no housing but just gold. Good luck eating gold then.

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