I'm changing tack a bit here, but recent news about bankers and bedroom taxes and food banks has got me thinking.
Money - we don't have to like it but can't live without it. Yet it's no more than a means of exchange. When Pol Pot abolished money in Cambodia men and women bartered: I'll swap you half my bowl of rice for your shoes, that sort of thing. In our prisons, cigarettes are used in much the same way.
So, if money is no more than a means of exchange, how have we reached a point where the value (as opposed to the worth) of anything is measured be something that is, effectively, nothing more than a piece of paper? Just suppose - bear with me - our means of exchange were ears of wheat, or mittens. We could have green mittens, blue mittens, red mittens - I'll swap you three blue mittens, or ten ears of wheat, for that sparkly iPad.
Wheat, mittens - neither intrinsically beautiful in themselves yet both have value; and both are fundamentally useful.
For how have we - a wealthy country (I'm in the UK) reached a state where there are people with insufficient money (which is simply paper) to heat their homes and have enough to eat? They are cold and hungry, for want of enough paper. If mittens were our currency I could unpick an old jumper and knit a pair or two. Wheat - my cooking is truly rubbish but I have a friend who can make bread. Neighbours could pool bread, or mittens - unite and make sure no one went cold or hungry.
But we don't. Instead we have paper money. We count it. We put it in banks. Some people have so much of it that they think it makes them better, or more important, or worth more, than those who have less. The Government measures wealth by it. Yet, for want of paper, our poor and vulnerable are abandoned.
Where did our priorities go so awry?