In its simplest form, money is a substitution for barter to make trade more efficient (formally: medium of exchange) but money is also a means for generating production by allowing for saving and investment (store of value) and for accounting and reconciliation (unit of account).
Different economic schools view money differently. Even for the doctrines advocating gold as money in some way, there's vast differences. An example is that followers of the Austrian school of economics propose that gold should be used as money generally whereas Freegolders view fiat money as the natural medium for exchange with gold as a store of value.
The distribution of money
There is no doubt enough resources for everyone to survive in the world.
Yet the monetary system is causing enormous disruptions. Western countries are debt stricken. Youth unemployment in Greece and Spain stands at about 60 %. Even when the population, like in Greece, gets sick of it all and votes for a new government or debt restructuring, nothing is changed. More credit. More debt. More unsustainability.
A far greater problem, although mostly ignored, is that there's 2,700,000,000 people in the world living on less than 2 dollars/day. More than 90 % of the population in Liberia, Burundi, Madagascar and Malawi has an income of less than 2 US Dollars/day.
Why are we facing these problems in a time when we have access to an abundance of resources and innovative capabilities?
I believe the monetary system to be the culprit. I can't conceive a monetary system worse than what we have today.
The 1729 quote from Voltaire "Paper money eventually returns to its intrinsic value -- zero" is as true today as ever. One of the most absurd contradictions in the 21st century is that people actually believe that fiat money has a value. Why would anyone believe that?
Credit money certainly shouldn't have any role as a store of value as it creates enormous imbalances between surplus and deficit countries when surplus countries save in debt instruments issued by deficit countries. For medium of exchange, it may be difficult to get rid of fiat money altogether but it's worth questioning if we wouldn't be much better off with the government just issuing the money debt free rather than issuing it as debt which can't be repaid anyways.
A much debated rhetorical and philosophical question is whether there is enough money. Opponents to the gold standard sometimes argue that there's not enough gold for it to work as a medium of exchange.
Followers of the Austrian economic school would argue that the quantity of money doesn't matter as gold can simply increase in value. Under a strict gold standard where the money supply is automatically governed by the supply of gold, price deflation should thus be the natural effect of productivity increases.
Followers of Freegold will argue that a gold standard is unrealistic as history has shown that governments will always eventually resort to credit money to finance whatever needs to be financed to guarantee them be re-elected. Freegolders oppose fiat money as a store of value as it is skewing trade and creating perpetual imbalances but not as a medium of exchange.
My suggestion is a simple one but perhaps utopian in these authoritarian times. Leave the monetary function to the market and there will always be enough money. Let people create their own medium of exchange as they desire. If people prefer credit money issued by a bank so let it be. But in doing so, they also have to be prepared to lose their wealth if the bank goes bankrupt. If people prefer cowry shells as money, which I incidentally believe to be much better than bank credit money, so let it be.
The misinterpretation of money
Money is a vehicle and a facilitator. It can be saved for investment into automation, mechanization, innovation and new products that makes our life more convenient.
But money is also information i.e. information spreading a message of status and power. When your essentials are met, wouldn't it be natural that you pursue your dreams and passions? Paint a picture, watch the stars, swim in the ocean or play football. Yet so many people are living lives and working jobs they hate.
Despite all the technological advancement in the last century improving living standards in many countries, a lot of people don't feel that their life is getting more convenient. Sure, most people in developed countries can earn a living but money has become an obstacle rather than a facilitator. Money is used in the pursuit of status leading people to take jobs because of the money rather than choosing a vocation they are passionate about. 40+ hours of work per week in a job you hate to make money chasing the empty promise of status is a false premise for happiness.
It's a double edged sword though because if you follow your passion and become your own employer, governments and authorities are adding so much bureaucracy into all entrepreneurial ventures that you risk spending all your time on paper work.
Entrepreneurs in many, if not most, countries are drowning in bureaucracy killing their original sincere intention and passion.
I'm a strong supporter of free enterprise. Free enterprise is a model for happiness. That's one of the reasons I have emigrated from Sweden, where most ambitions for small scale private enterprise is killed due to massive bureaucracy, to run BullionStar in Singapore. Singapore is the best country in the world to buy and store gold & silver. When you buy gold & silver in Singapore, there's no taxes whatsoever and there's no reporting requirements. If you store gold & silver in Singapore, you'll benefit from low costs as insurance is comparatively cheap due to the low crime rates, strong rule of law and strong property ownership rights.