The Medium of Money
by David Rippe and Jared Rosen
Coauthors of The Flip—Turn Your World Around

Money in and of itself is neither a good nor a bad thing. It is simply a medium for facilitating the exchange of goods and services. How we use money to fulfill our needs, wants and desires determines whether we have a healthy or detrimental relationship to money. In terms of Maslow’s widely accepted Hierarchy of Need seen below, money can satisfy our physiological needs: food, water, clothing, shelter. It can serve some of our safety and social needs as well. Wealth can even help us achieve success in the upper ranges of Maslow’s pyramid. A normal human being in a Right Side Up world would first satisfy one’s needs at the physiological level, then graduate to covering the need for safety and security, and moving to ever higher levels as the needs are met.

In the upside-down world, these human needs are preyed upon and turned upside down, perverting our natural value system. The pursuit of wealth becomes a substitute for our actual needs. This distortion of “what really matters” is driven and reinforced by the economic powerhouses of marketing, advertising, and public relations. Examples of skewed values include: the pricing of fashionable gym shoes at $150 after they have been produced in foreign sweatshops, under horrid conditions, for $2; athletes making more in one year than teachers, fireman and police officers do in a lifetime; tickets to the theatre that cost more than it would to feed 100 of the hungry and homeless.

How we spend our money does matter.

Fortunately, a major financial flip is in full bloom. Examples of the flip taking place around the world are abundant. The growing Fair Trade movement (see or links consumers who want to purchase products such as coffee, tea, chocolate, rice, and bananas to companies who pay their workers a living wage, promote health and safety, and adhere to sound environmental and conservation principles.

There is a long and growing list of companies which manufacture, distribute, and sell eco-friendly fabrics and clothing. These organic clothes are soft, comfortable, strong, and grown without toxins from pesticides. One excellent source of information for all aspects of the money flip is Co-op America (, which functions as a clearinghouse for all things green. This site is a wealth of information and resources from organic products to cosmetics to socially responsible mutual funds.

Looking for somewhere to invest for retirement that has you and the best interest of the planet in mind? Socially responsible investing (SRI) is a rapidly growing industry that allows the investor to integrate personal values and societal concerns with investment decisions. Besides individuals, social investors include corporations, universities, hospitals, foundations, insurance companies, pension funds, nonprofit organizations, churches and synagogues.

Socially responsible investment funds typically incorporate three key elements: screening, shareholder advocacy, and community investment. There are hundreds of socially responsible funds available. The Social Investment Forum ( offers detailed data, portfolio make-up, and performance of each fund. This is a great way to put your money where your heart is. Many of these funds regularly outperform traditional mutual funds.

Here are a few other resources you can tap. While we aren’t making specific recommendations, investigating these sources of socially responsible investing will certainly put you—and the earth—on a more harmonious path.

There are a number of community-centered banks and credit unions that believe in personal service investing in local communities. You can visit the Credit Union National Association ( for a review of the benefits and list of local credit unions.

Jared Rosen and David Rippe are coauthors of The Flip—Turn Your World Around, Hampton Roads Publishing Company. They can be reached at or 513-253-4854.


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