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It is absolutely imperative that you understand that money exists only in the human mind. You can not hold money in your hand, not you, not any one. Money exists as an unreal concept to enable us to run our economy easier. Money must only represent the value of human labor (including services) and the natural resources labor touches. Being unreal, money can NOT be printed.
Some analogies from our everyday life will help to explain these concepts. The numbers and numerals that we studied in school are imaginary, meaning unreal. Plain, old numbers are unreal. When attached to something real, they take on more meaning, but the numbers are still unreal. When attached, numbers represent a certain amount of something real or unreal. In that way numbers are like currency that represents unreal money. Let’s consider 3 apples. The apples are real, but the 3 is unreal. Instead of saying apple, apple, apple, we can say 3 apples. That is convenient. We are using an unreal idea to make communication easier.
Later in school, in algebra, we learned that x could equal something we needed to find. That x is certainly unreal, but it is useful in finding an unreal number that can be attached to something real. In algebra we use unreal to find more unreal, and it works well to our benefit. Then we learned about negative numbers. They were appropriately called imaginary and minus. Negative numbers can exist only in our human mind, but they are handy to use to find other numbers and to represent an absence. A negative amount of money can mean how much we must dig up to pay our bills. That’s handy, though painful, and is unreal, though binding. The positive numbers are called real numbers, but are they really real? This may be the subject of another thesis. But anyway, you get the idea. In math we learn to use imaginary concepts that are useful in thinking and communicating.
If you continued in math, you learned about i, the square root of minus one. It does not exist and can not be changed to a real number. But its concept is handy to use in finding other numbers.
For those of you who don’t like math, let’s take a look at literature. There is fiction, which means unreal, and there is non-fiction, which means real. Fiction is a story that never was real. Non-fiction is a story that once was real.
Then there are pictures. Let’s compare art with photographs. A picture painted by an artist is that artist’s unreal conception. It may be of a real subject, but it is nonetheless the artist’s conception, or unreal idea, of what it looks like. Most photographs, on the other hand, are a true representation of the subject. True, they can be altered, but a straight photo tends to be real, even if it does capture your bad angle.
So, understanding the idea that money is an imaginary concept should not be too difficult. We understand how to use unreal numbers to find real numbers. We understand the difference between art and photographs and fiction and non-fiction. Now, apply that idea to currency and money. Currency is something real that we use to represent something unreal, money. This is convenient. We can not hold unreal money in our hands, but we can grasp and trade real currency that represents our unreal money. It is extremely useful in our lives. Without money, we would be forced to trade eggs for shoes in the terribly awkward and slow process of barter. Our economy would come to a screeching halt. The imaginary concept of money is very useful in representing values (which are also unreal). Money represents value which represents real things such as human labor. This enables us to trade amounts of money which represents value instead of actually trading eggs for shoes. Currency speeds up the process, making it faster and easier.