Occidentals often find the Oriental practice of burning paper houses, pictures of goods, and "banknotes" issued in astronomical denominations ostensibly by the "Bank of Hell" or some such institution, either naïve or quaintly humorous. The idea is that by burning such "ghost" or "hell" wealth, their deceased relatives and friends will be provided with the actual spirit wealth in the next life as a means of enjoying the hereafter in comfort.
High denomination "hell money" — some of it in the billions — is justified on two counts, aside from inflation. One, why deprive your dead relatives unnecessarily of the wherewithal to enjoy their death by omitting zeroes that cost nothing to add? Two, the wealth has to last for eternity, so stinting doesn't make any sense.
The western tradition was, of course, much more sensible. In ancient times people buried or burned the actual wealth. In the first case this was an open invitation to grave robbing and destruction of the body to avoid ghostly revenge for theft. In the second case, it deprived the living of the benefit of the wealth permanently.
The West in our day, however, has improved greatly on both traditions. Governments today issue massive amounts of ghost money not for the dead, but for the living, to be redeemed by future generations. The living are not charged with the maintenance of the dead. Rather, the unborn of future generations are charged with the maintenance of the living.
This method of money creation adds zeroes to the denominations of the currency that effectively costs nothing except for printing, and at the same time deprives the living of wealth by burning it in the magic fire of inflation. Who cares if there's nothing of real value behind the currency? As long as the currency is backed by the State's promise, the only thing necessary for things to keep going is sufficient faith in the State.
Clearly this understanding of money precludes any respect for the dignity of the human person. Everyone becomes a "mere creature of the State" when the State controls all agriculture, commerce, and industry through the control of money and credit. There is no possibility of justice in an economic system based on ghost money.
What we need is a new understanding of money and credit that takes it out of the realm of ghosts and demons, and brings it back to earth where it can be placed at the service of humanity through conformity with the natural law based not on someone's understanding of God's (or the gods') Will, but on Nature — or the common understanding of all humanity as to right and wrong, an understanding that, in Jewish, Christian and Islamic thought is a reflection of God's Nature, self-realized in His Intellect. Whether or not you believe that, the bottom line is that "right" and "wrong" are discernible by reason alone, not faith. Faith can illuminate and deepen the understanding that reason brings, but cannot substitute for it, however fervent that faith may be.
The chief precept of the natural law is that good is to be done, evil avoided. Putting it another way, humanity's job on this earth — whatever religion or philosophy is followed — is to acquire and develop virtue. Virtue is the habit of doing good. The chief "temporal virtue," that is, the primary virtue above all others for which humanity has the natural capacity to acquire and develop, is justice. To have a rational money system, then, it must be just.
The obvious question now is, what must we do if we are to replace hell money in the economy with something more suited to use by the living instead of the dead or unborn?