Value and Wealth
Since this is an essay on poverty (part 1 here), it is useful to consider its polar opposite, namely wealth. Defining wealth precisely is therefore the first order of business. Wealth is anything that is of some value to some person. Value is hard to pin down because it varies according to the person doing the evaluating. Just as beauty lies in the eye of the beholder, value lies in the mind of the evaluating person.
One man’s garbage is another man’s treasure, as the adage states quite correctly. Therefore two people may value the same thing quite differently. That difference is the only reason that people exchange stuff. For example, when Jim buys a sandwich for $5 from Joe, clearly Jim values the sandwich more than he values $5, and conversely Joe values $5 more than he values the sandwich. Also worth noting that exchange involves distinctly dissimilar things. Continue reading