Money Makes the World Go Round


I had the wonderful opportunity of seeing Cabaret last week, starring Alan Cumming in the role that has become a trademark for him. What prompted this post involves some readings on economic theories in globalization and the popular song “Money” which takes place in the second act. Essentially, the saying holds true, but I find there are some ethical concerns if we consider the world Millennials may wish to create and how globalization plays a part.

[Spoiler Alert Next Paragraph – Cabaret the musical]

So, turning to readings from my class, I dove into the world system theory whereby nations are divided into core, peripheral, and semi-peripheral nations. This kind of situation funnels all the power to the core nations through the avenues of commerce as well as the maintenance of power systems by available resources and political (read “force”) capabilities. In the musical, the repeating refrain of “money makes the world go round, the world go round, the world go round” can make the audience forget what that money is actually going to support. In the story, the lead narrator is given a suitcase to deliver on behalf of whom we later learn to be the Nazis. I interpret this as having a great metaphor for the unseen connections of power and how money flows in the global system.

Reading into additional articles, I came across this great post on Mother Jones about companies that have switched their tax allegiance. Essentially, companies that started in the United States, or companies that had done tremendous business with the United States started seeking ways of getting around the tax systems. This almost seems to skirt the notion of core countries in favor of core companies, but any way you look at it, I interpret this kind of move as being somewhat parasitic. If we look at mosquitoes, no matter how much benefit they have in feeding other creatures, the itching and potential transmission of disease seem just like a company that took its time getting strong in the United States and then sought a tax shelter overseas. Feeding off the strength of a larger country, or company, may make sense to people intent on nothing other than riches, but it really hurts the global system by restricting the flow of capital to be held by these firms. It’s almost as bad as Standard Oil from the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

The challenge of the globalized world is that there are so many new places to exploit for money that companies are seeking every available option. However, the more money that is drawn from the public and then held in the reserves of the large corporations the less power exists for citizens to enact changes or express themselves. In a better global system, while there could be room to make money and celebrate the individual’s accomplishment, there would need to be more balance in the allotment of wealth across nations. As the world diversifies, people need to understand that true power doesn’t come from hoarding power or finances, but from being in a position to influence the flow of power or resources. By ensuring everyone has a strong baseline of resources and prosperity, companies could improve their sales and leverage power in ways that don’t require holding onto massive stockpiles of wealth. Adding to this, there is a sense of patriotism in staying close to the country of origin, but one day soon, we may need to see ourselves on a world scale.

In closing, I am reminded of a quote that I will paraphrase: It is a large double standard when those who hoard stuff or pets are labeled as crazy, and then we take people who have a ravenous obsession with money and put them on the cover of “Forbes.”

How do you see the larger economic system? Can money keep the world going round? Continue the conversation.

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