Real Wealth/Living Wealth

Real wealth has intrinsic value, as contrasted to exchange value. Life, not money, is the measure of real-wealth value. Examples include land, labor, knowledge, and physical infrastructure.

The most important forms of real wealth are beyond price and are unavailable for market purchase. These include healthy, happy children, loving families, caring communities, and a beautiful, healthy, natural environment.

Real wealth also includes all the many things of intrinsic artistic, spiritual, or utilitarian value essential to maintaining the various forms of living wealth. These may or may not have a market price. They include healthful food, fertile land, pure water, clean air, caring relationships and loving parents, education, health care, fulfilling opportunities for service, and time for meditation and spiritual reflection. For most purposes, real wealth is living wealth, and living wealth is real wealth. Money is neither.

The most important forms of real wealth are beyond price and are unavailable for market purchase.

Because of the essential role of caring relationships, the monetization and commodification of real wealth, which generally translates into the monetization and commodification of relationships, tends to diminish their real value. The monetization and commodification of relationships, however, does translate into growth in the gross domestic product (GDP) and new opportunities for corporate profits. Replacing parental caregivers with paid child care workers is an example.

In contrast to a phantom-wealth economy, money in a real-wealth or living economy is not used as a measure or a storehouse of value, but solely as a convenient medium of exchange. A phantom-wealth economy seeks to monetize and commodify relationships to increase dependence on money; a real-wealth economy favors strengthening relationships based on mutual caring that reduce dependence on money.

From Agenda for a New Economy, pp. 18-19.