* They do not feel poor. They have few material possessions, but they dance and sing.The Bushmen of the Kalahri are happy to be eating ostrich eggs and boar’s heads, cooked in hot sand and embers, and feel extra privileged to get a bite of mostly cooked boar anus or a roasted beetle. Jakob Malas, a Khomani hunter from a section of the Kalahari that is now Gemsbok National Park says "The Kalahari is like a big farmyard, it is not wilderness to us. We know every plant animal and insect, and know how to use them. No other people could ever know and love this farm like us."
And we might envy that happiness, that simplicity. Life in the Western world is hard apace, and filled with choices and conflicts. We lack the deep knowledge and support of each other that comes with living closely in groups. Modern economists call this social capital. And money can be very hard to think about. My mother, raised during the great depression, used to agonize over balancing her checkbook to the penny. She would sit at the kitchen table and moan and swear. The consequences for not thinking about money are high. We can loose our mode of transportation or our home. But it is worth noting that the consequences for the bushman who fails to think ahead are even higher.
In truth, even in the developed nations, we have the option of checking out of the economy. People have been making communes for generations, some of them non-monetary where resources and labor are pooled for a common goal. And yet only a small portion of the population chooses to do this at any given time.