Money is a harsh mistress.

Lincoln memorial cent, with the S mintmark of ...

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MONEY.  Songs are written about it.  Lives and reputations lost because of it.  Some say the love of money is the root of all evil, but is it?

 Can anyone truly love money and is that truly evil? It’s dirty, that I know. My mom wouldn’t let me put it in my mouth as a child..”It’s dirty”, she said.  Damn right, it’s dirty and it gets around. Your average quarter, or nickel or dime probably travels through quite a few pockets and grubby unwashed hands before ending up neglected sitting alone in a change jar on someone’s dresser top or in your average toddlers mouth. How can you love that? Or those colorful but mostly green pieces of paper that spew out of the ATM? Those things with the pictures of dead presidents and the like with the phrase

 In God We Trust 

I can tell you one thing for sure; no matter how I personally feel about it, money certainly does not love me…

..And can anyone truly love it? And if so, is that evil?

Money

Money (Photo credit: 401K)

Definitely money can buy things. Stuff. Mostly crap we pretend we need because we just want to buy something new…shiny.. and expensive, but  it’s difficult to have regal tastes on a paupers budget and these days more and more people are finding themselves with a cash flow problem…meaning it doesn’t…flow.

Our heads get crammed full of things they say we need.  China makes it. The media sells it.  The banks provide credit, or at least they once did. And people suck it up like crazy.  Very few invest or save.  It’s nearly impossible not to be in debt these days.

 The youth are our future

It falls heavy on the children of those with fewer resources. Too often the only way to higher education is for these young people just starting out in life, to take out  student loans on the promise and the hope, really, that a future career with a good salary will be worth the large amount of debt they will accrue.  I don’t have to tell anyone how well  many new grads are fairing. Jobs are scarce these days.  It’s  no wonder why so many younger adults are so angry and so full of extra time to express their frustrations.

Money is a great cause of worry to many, myself included.   Money buys security and so it stands to reason that a lack of money buys insecurity  Money affords safety.  A roof over one’s head, electricity and a full refrigerator.  A current income increases your likelihood of not being thrown out into the street and forced to live under the bridge.  Money means comfort and ease and nice things.  Money means your child will be able to go to a good school and you will have a nice car.  Enough money means anything you want.  Want to travel the world? Wear designer clothes and have all the bright new shiny things and big kid toys you can find?  Want to be looked up to?  Admired? Listened to? After all, money does buy influence and power. Sufficient funds can put your name on a sports stadium or hospital wing. How about public office?  Money certainly buys that.

Money can buy anything. It can buy friends or at least the semblance of them.  It can buy what some may proclaim as love or some sort of affection.   It can buy hangers-on and toadies and users.

English: Imitation paper money (issued by &quo...

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The 99%

Money can buy power and privilege. Money can insulate if one allows it  and money does buy exclusiveness. The chosen few ride first class while most of us ride in coach with the rest of the 99%.  Money makes the world go round but it can also make one lose touch with what is important. Sometimes people see money as an indicator of the worth of a person; the measure of a man so to speak. It’s a widely held misconception among the rich that poor people somehow deserve their plight and that poverty is the result of bad breeding and idleness.

 Oscar Wilde once said: “There is only one class in the community that thinks more about money than the rich, and that is the poor. The poor can think of nothing else.”  How true.  If the credit hounds are at your back door or the balance of your bank account doesn’t remind you, the hard edge of the sidewalk will.

People are emotional about money.  This I have seen many times in my work in the financial industry. People make rash and important money decisions based solely on emotion.  That is never good. Numbers are not emotional. Interest is not emotional. Life is not fair and you better read the fine print.

Money is a harsh mistress…

Money can change people and our perceptions of them.   People fight over it, they lie, cheat and steal.   It can ruin friendships, relationships, marriages too.  I guess one could say that some sell their very souls for money. But does it buy happiness?

Can it buy love, real love?  Or real friends? Or real anything?  Can money really buy anything but things? Can money buy appreciation? Or humbleness? Or the depth of intelligence? Can money buy good taste or good sense? Or creativity, innovation or ideas?

Can riches buy respect?  Can the possession of things make one person better than another? More worthy?

Or does a measure of a man, or a woman lie not in monetary worth but in human worth?  In decency and respect for life.  In love for one’s fellow human. That’s the love affair that should be going on and the one we should be talking about.  For it’s not the money; it’s the person behind the money.  It’s the heart and the soul of that person.

  In the right hands money is a powerful tool that can be used for the benefit of us all.

Being wealthy doesn’t automatically make one evil or an uncaring, unsympathetic selfish jerk and wallowing in poverty doesn’t make anyone a saint either. It’s easy to judge and it’s easy to expect those who can most afford to pay for those who can’t.   It is also easy to see why the rich might not see it that way. Nothing is all black and white.

So what am I trying to say with all this? I suppose it would be that perhaps we should be aware about what we teach our youth about money, about the value of money and the value of a human life and which holds the most worth. No one is born with a love for money and we as a people, I hope, can progress to a point where we can get over this bad love affair with money. There is a good reason why it goes by the alias.

Cold hard cash.


We are all connected

We humans of the planet Earth are all in this together. What affects one of us affects us all. How we treat each other and what we value shows what kind of people we are.  It’s a small world and it gets smaller everyday.  We are all connected,  rich and poor alike. And all of us will have to do our part if we are to ensure a better world for all.

The Earth seen from Apollo 17.

Strawberryindigo.

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23 thoughts on “Money is a harsh mistress.

  1. It’s funny reading your article because I had a discussion with my 13yo about money this very afternoon.

    She thinks food is necessary and therefore should be free. It led to the whole discussion and my final argument was money gives you choice.

    You’re so right about it being dirty – as a studnet I worked in a busy shop one Christmas holiday (on the till) my hands got so dirty, they were actually grey. I ruubed my eye without realising and gave myself conjunctivitus.

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    • I agree, money does give you a chioce, it is too bad that many of the people with the money make choices to benefit themselves alone. I agree with your daughter ( a very intelligent 13 yr. old by the way) food should be free but unfortunately we as a people (“civilization”) have not progressed to that point of enlightenment. Perhaps our( mine is 14) daughter’s generation will be.

      I also had no idea how dirty money can be-Yikes…Your story about your eye should serve as a warning to others. Thanks for adding to the conversation and for visiting.

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      • I 100% agree that people with money use it to benefit themselves (not all of them, but the exceptions are rare).

        I think some things in the world are changing but I doubt we’ll see free food in our lifetime. It’s good that our children have such optimism and think not just about themselves but about others. That could bring an amazing future.

        I enjoyed taking part in the discussion so thank you!!

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  2. This was a very satisfying meditation on the topic, Strawbi. Well done!

    The hidden truth about money it took me five decades to learn is that you only need “enough”, AND that “enough” is much less than traditional sources of advice (such as financial planners) will tell you. Wisdom traditions universally caution against attachment to materialism and the acquisition of excessive possessions. You are correct in calling for reassessment of terms like “value”. I would add the importance of realizing that health is wealth.

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    • So true Invisible Mikey, As long as one’s physical needs are met and probably a little extra for padding and who needs any more. I think that sometimes the more one has, the more they fear its loss. Thanks for your thoughtful comments. You truly add value to the conversation.

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      • Even when I was younger, I wasn’t aiming to be super rich. I want “enough” to make sure I’m living comfortably, not so much money that I’m constantly worried whether my accounts manager is stealing from me. Money that I can handle and just meets my needs.

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  3. We are all connected! And I still have that taste in my mouth from sucking on that dastardly penny. I get a lot of judgement from some folks about my income. They think I have no worries because I make a decent living. It’s something that is private and they have no idea where my money is going and why should they feel slight animosity for my earning potential? I don’t put my income on an altar to be worshipped and I certainly don’t define myself by it. I think it’s sad that they can’t see beyond my wallet.
    Love this post very muchly.

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      • Thank you for the food for thought. Have you heard the Ninch Inch Nails song “Head Like a Hole”? NIN might not be your cup of tea but this song goes along with the “god money” theme.

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        • Hi morezennow: Nice to see you. I had to look up the song but once I read the lyrics I remembered it. Yes, it is my cup of tea, as I like all kinds and it really does fit the “god money” theme. I was originally going to entitle the piece “The Almighty Dollar” but I thought that it might attract readers who were looking for a more “religious” type slant. 🙂

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  4. Ah money. I do understand how people can think of it as “evil”. However, it really is just like any other tool, neutral in nature but only good or evil based on the use it’s put to. It, like anything that gives power, would be able to corrupt as absolute power corrupts absolutely. Well phrased post. 🙂

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  5. I so agree with what you’ve written. If we could return more to the barter system, you help me, I help you, it would be such a more personal interaction rather than just handing someone a piece of paper. We still have so much to learn.
    Thank you for visiting my blog and liking it. Namaste.

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    • Hello Tovarysh: You are so right we have so much to learn. I like the idea of a barter system. That way we could value the person and the work that they do. Thank you so much for visiting and for your thoughtful comment.

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  6. Great monetary post! The only thing missing is credit and how it deflates a person’s worth…

    The one great thing that money can do is to stabilize a society. One bad thing is that it’s just too bad that it takes money to stabilize a society!

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