To be rich… This is a fairly common dream smoldering in the heads of young and old alike. It is worth adding at the outset that there is nothing wrong with the desire to possess. After all, this subconscious desire goes back to its roots in historical times. So, in order to translate it into modern language, I must first invite you to travel through the centuries to understand what wealth is and how it has been defined over the centuries.
Wealth – a definition
First, let’s sort out the term wealth itself, which is defined as follows:
"is the totality of goods that have a high material value; also: abundance in these goods."
Such a broad treatment of the subject still tells us little about what to do to be rich. We don’t know which goods have high material value and which will bring us closer to our desired wealth status.
At the dawn of antiquity, slaves were a key determinant of material wealth. It was for their contribution that the magnificent pyramids of sunny Egypt and the historic pyramidal structures of the Maya were built. From the hands of slaves were erected not only the modern glorified pyramids, but also the most outstanding statues of Greek and Roman deities, monumental fortifications as well as objects of worship (temples) and recreational and sports facilities like coliseums. It is impossible not to notice that many of these centuries-old slave works are cultural achievements written on the pages of the UNESCO World Heritage Site. Admiring this artistry, one thing comes to mind – “What wealth”.
The economic context indicates that the price of a slave in the Roman market at that time was the equivalent of 10,000 – 20,000 PLN. All this brings us to the conclusion that here it was not the building (the result of the investment) or the money (the cause of the investment) that mattered, but the slave himself (the core of the investment). Thus, the ancient investment in a slave is the modern equivalent of investing money in a stock that “works” in the market to achieve its results.
The Middle Ages
Nobles, patricians, wealthy lords or well-placed merchants exhibited their wealth through excessive consumerism. Its greatest stigma became apparent in exhibitionist terms. It was the richest who dressed in an excessively lavish manner and at the same time lived in exquisite mansions or the most beautifully decorated townhouses. The promotion of luxury dripping with gold led to a sharpening of polarization and the outlining of layers in society during this period. It can be said that although money was often squandered during this period, it became known as a desirable thing – desirable in all its prestigious forms.
The formation of the spirit of mercantilism in modern times turned the eyes of wealth-seekers to the stock of bullion. According to this view, wealth resides in both gold deposits and its silver counterpart. It is worth adding that the bullion of the time was also the most ordinary money, which was minted from the aforementioned materials until it became fiat money. For this reason, the abundance of money was a 3-in-1 investment, since it was not only a means of payment, but also part of the process of hoarding and, above all, synonymous with wealth.
The end of bullion was soon put to President Nixon by suspending the convertibility of the dollar into gold in the 20th century. This was a watershed moment when means of payment ceased to be identified with gold and silver. For this reason, modern money today is based on the principle of trust. Nevertheless, in times of economic and currency crises and escalating conflicts, it is very difficult to solicit this foundation of trust. The question that many citizens ask themselves today is what is their own definition of wealth. Is wealth for me in the pricey oil? Do I see wealth in the real estate industry? Or is today’s manifestation of wealth the unearthing of bitcoin?
Just as slavery was abolished,
Just as the medieval layer of nobility disappeared,
Just as commodity money has been replaced,
Just as the modern symptoms of wealth are about to degrade. A centuries-long analysis of wealth leads to a very simple conclusion –
Wealth in its nature is intangible, and thus in its construction impermanent and transient.