WHICH COMES FIRST, MONEY OR IDEAS?
If you asked the estimated 7.3 billion people in the universe to choose between money and ideas,
I can comfortably bet that a very big majority would without second thoughts quickly opt for the
tangible commodity-money. Very few of us are like King Solomon of the Biblical times, who
when confronted with a similar challenge of choosing what he would petition his Creator to grant
opted to be granted wisdom. With wisdom, men and women are able to take dominion of the
universe. Without wisdom, mankind is doomed through self-destruction!
As we know it today, money is any legal tender that is issued in a given jurisdiction or country.
In its physical form, money could be in coins or notes. Some creative innovators have attempted
to create some virtual currency, Bit coins outside the purview of central banks. Besides being a
store of value, money is the common denominator in facilitating commerce and trade. Domestic
and international trade would be seriously constrained and cumbersome if buyers and sellers
were to –engage in the anachronistic barter trade.
Which one precedes the other, money or ideas?
Unlike the endless chicken and egg question, there is no doubt as to which precedes the other:
money or ideas. It is said that everything that exits, was created twice, first in the mind as a mere
idea and then physically through purposeful and coordinated action. The outcome of the second
level of creation could be in the form of a physical product or intangible service. For those who
believe in the story of Creation, it is evident from the narrative that God was very clear in His
mind on the logical sequence of the creation process. He triggered the process uttering some
word, “let there be light———.” The spoken words have their triggers in the mind. Nobody in
their right minds can engage in futile acts of creation. Nobody can engage in creating useless
things. It therefore follows that thinking or ideas formation in the brains always precedes the act
of forming or creating something.
In liberalized markets, the value or usefulness of a product or service is determined by the
invisible hand of supply and demand. That value or usefulness is objectively determined or
quantified in terms of money or legal tender of the given jurisdiction. In markets with
monopolistic tendencies and in situation where governments exercise some price controls, the
monetary value of products and services is thus determined.
In other words, ideas must be translated into some products or services whose monetary value is
determined by some other forces. In effect ideas always precede products and services and by
extension money. Money is a by-product of offering products or services that someone else is
willing and able to pay for.
The value of ideas
We have established that the brain is the factory of ideas. As a thought, an idea in someone’s
brain is both intangible and invisible. Only the idea owner can verbalize the thought or put is in
black and white. By itself, an idea is basically useless to the owner so long as it remains a
thought or a mere idea. On their own, ideas or thoughts cannot pay anybody’s bills. They are
absolutely useless. The world is inhabited by millions of financially challenged people who
allege to possess ‘breakthrough’ ideas. When challenged as to why they have not acted on their
so called ‘brilliant’ ideas to become wealthy, such persons always have perfect excuses. The
commonest excuses include lack of capital, fear of losing their ideas to bad guys, lack of
At this juncture, it is useful to distinguish between the information accumulated through the
education system and creative ideas. The traditional education system is all about dissemination
of a body of accumulated knowledge. The exit examinations normally test candidates’ ability to
remember and reproduced facts learned in class. The ability to reproduce or memorize these facts
has no market value, it is useless. The old cliché that information is power is erroneous. If it
were correct, then we would not be complaining of millions of unemployed products of our
education system. Why would highly educated students be moving around dejected and
powerless in search of elusive jobs? The bitter truth is that being a mobile reservoir of
information does not position anyone to add value in the market place. The market is extremely
selective in rewarding factors of production, including labor. The market place rewards people
for what they do with what they know, that is in terms of value addition in form of offering a
product or a service but not for merely knowing. Being very knowable has no market value!
The value of an idea depends on the potential monetary value of the product or service that can
be created out of it. Patents and copy right laws are formulated to protect such ideas as
intellectual property; just the same way title deeds and leases are issued for the real estate.
As earlier indicated, many people allege to possess breakthrough ideas that never see the light of
day. Every human being has the inalienable right and freedom of thought. But very few people
have the courage and determination to act of their ideas. Serious and reflective thinking that
triggers breakthrough ideas is not for everyone. Serious thinking is serious business. This
explains why only a small fraction of the global population is wealthy.
Ideas that attract disproportionate monetary reward are those that result in products and services
with the highest market appeal in terms of consumers, e.g. fast moving consumer goods like
tooth paste, mobile phones, money transfer, clothing, etc.
Going back to our fundamental question; which is better money or ideas? Well, applying
Solomonic wisdom, every reasonable person should pray and yearn for marketable ideas and the
courage to take action on the same. Ideas domiciled in their source, the brain have no market
value. It is only through purposeful and coordinated action can ideas be turned into some
marketable product or service to earn someone some money.
There is truth in the saying that a fool and his money soon part ways. If someone is given a tidy
sum of money but lack smart ideas on how to deploy and invest the funds for sustainability, very
soon one become a terrible broke. We witness this all the time with lottery windfalls. With a
sober mind, and a never give up attitude, a person who loses his or her fortunes to the vagaries of
the market place can always retreat to the source of ideas-the brains and come up with new ones
and move on.