The Love of Money

617px-Moneyfrog

The problem with money is everything starts being about money. A common unit of exchange becomes more common, and its meaning begins to supersede all other meanings, conflates to a number that tells you everything you need to know about an activity, product, or person. Anything without monetary worth is worthless and, because time is money, not worth your while.

Financial failing becomes moral failing, a background ad hominem justifying derogation.

If you’re so smart, why aren’t you rich?

Money, the concept of money, it feeds itself with itself. Those who have wealth have everything to gain, psychologically and materially, by maintaining the myth that money means everything. That myth means they are not only materially more powerful than others, but that they are so because of an innate virtue, that their conquest is manifest destiny.

The problem with money is that having lots of it makes you wealthy, which gives you a vested interest in maintaining the supremacy of money as a measure of worth. Having none of it makes you invisible, and powerless to fight against the same – as well as tired, hungry, and with inadequate health care. If you want to survive, you best start worshipping at the altar of money, because love and fulfillment and happiness don’t pay the bills or feed the kids.

If you can’t pay the bills or feed the kids, you are a bad person by the moral standards of money. You have done something wrong and are being punished by god for your sins. If wealthy people universally deserve their wealth, and the comforts that wealth brings, then it only follows that poor people deserve poverty, and whatever discomforts, dangers, and deaths that may accompany.

The point is, practical solutions become cultural movements, and conveniences shape the way we view the world. The point is, the more we automate and abstract, the easier it is to feed us lies about where our lives, and the systems that enable them, come from.

Monetary success is not a measure of value to the community. This should be obvious, but the reversed assumption is built into so much of the way we talk about money. Wealthy CEOs are tautologically declared to be worth their exorbitant salaries because the market is willing to pay that much because they must be worth it because look at how much they make… And so forth.

What about me? Where do I lie in this?

I’m sick of worrying that people think I’m lazy, incompetent, or morally weak because I haven’t made a lucrative career out of my skills, of being told “if you just worked harder” or “if you don’t like it get a real job”. I’m sick of seeing people disrespect artists solely because it’s a traditionally underpaid field, seeing them called greedy for charging enough for a piece to feed themselves for the time it will take them to create the piece. I’m sick of seeing good writers and developers worry that they’re wasting their time and their lives because they aren’t receiving the monetary rewards that, we’re told, are synonymous with success.

I’m sick of the idea that we shouldn’t put resources into feeding or sheltering the poor because that might incentivize poverty, or punish it insufficiently.

I’m sick of worrying about what might happen if I actually get sick.

I’m sick of not knowing what to do about any of it.

I’m sick of being poor.

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