The Logical Philosopher

Friday, June 23, 2006

Money Changes Everything

"It wasn't about the money," she said. "The money made me realize she had different social ambitions."

Money Changes Everything, NY Times, May 2006.

I'm sure we all agree on this: Money makes things go round. I never understood the social norms of Keeping up with the Jones' mentality. For the most part I would like to think I primarily purchase because I actually need something. Some people may find that lacking competition with my neighbor, but I see it as fiscally responsible. Of course there are some notable exceptions, such as cool bike stuff.

I read an article entitled Money Changes Everything in the NY Times last month. It was one of those "keep this in the back of my mind" articles. Let it bubble. Let it simmer. And then do the writing. Today is the day where it seemed to want to flow.

I have friends in all walks of life: lawyers, teachers, dentists, students, carpenters, engineers, small business owners, artists, sales reps and even one semi-unemployed (a.k.a. "part-time"). I make more money than some, and less than others. But the one consistent thing is that none of us seem to let that get in the way of our friendship - we all seem to silently, and unconsciously, adapt to the social situation we are in. Dining out, short vacations, birthday presents... all based on our relationship with each other, not our social status.

I had a few friends that their whole being seemed to focus around money and their success. How much they made, were going to make and how much I was wasting my time by not following the same lifestyle and business direction. At some point it became arduous and exhausting to even get through a conversation - each one filled with insipid facts of their most recent purchases and travel destinations.

Over time we drifted apart. I never really clearly understood why until I sat and thought about the NY Times article - it wasn't about the money, it was their social ambitions. I suppose they felt it was hard to "one-up" me when I didn't rise to the challenge. Or perhaps I didn't like being used as a stepping stone to make them feel better about themselves. We all started in the same spot, all sharing the same life goals. Only over time we each evolved employing different social ambitions on how to attain our relative riches. Unfortunate for all of us I suppose, depending on which side of the social ambition you fell.

So yes, money makes things go round, but it's the social ambitions that wield a greater influence, or destruction, of what you have. Postulating that I will finish with two points.

Point #1: I'm sure we still all agree on this:
Money makes things go round.

Point #2: A corollary we should add is this:
Social ambitions influence who you hit when you go round with your money.

And on that note, you should be careful how you hit because as the old saying goes:

RAGS make paper,
Paper makes money,
Money makes banks,
Banks make loans,
Loans make beggars,
Beggars make rags

Suddenly a life of simplicy seems to be calling...