On Money and the Pursuit of Happiness…

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Money can definitely, absolutely 100% buy happiness. If it could not, there would not be all this mad rushing around all over the globe, every millisecond of the day – one would simply be happy within oneself and there would be no need to subject yourself to a soul destroying, life wasting 9 to 5 job just to “pay the bills”, “pay the mortgage” or whatever.

Why are we paying the bills, the mortgage, racing, racing, racing around all the time like mad? Because we are seeking (in the pursuit of) happiness on the most essential level and money delivers the goods. Yet, for eons of time even the idea of money was completely non-existent. These are modern problems. The important distinction here is, money can buy happiness but it cannot buy lasting, abiding joy or contentment…

Will the millionaire with 50 million be that measurably happier with another 30 million? I think not – we have all heard of people who apparently “had it all” but then committed suicide (Robin Williams, etc). So supreme wealth will not buy supreme happiness; there is definitely a law of diminishing returns when it comes to money. But tell someone who is making under 250K that money cannot buy happiness – they may agree with you, and then run off on a mad dash to go make some more MONEY.

Happiness as I define it is by its very nature a temporary thing, a transient energy state. I was happy the first time I went to Disney World or listened to Pink Floyd’s ‘Dark Side of the Moon’, but now I feel blase about it…been there, done that and got the t-shirt. These are random examples but it can apply to anything. We are all a product of money, everything costs money, but why do we buy anything at all? To increase happiness of course, which I am defining broadly here. If you feel protected from the brutal cold in your climate controlled home, you feel safe and secure and that is a form of happiness.

If you still disagree with me that money cannot buy happiness, then send me all of your money, right now. Clear out your bank account, take it down to $0.00 and send it to me. No? Then you either have not really thought this through or you are robotically repeating something you heard from someone else somewhere along the way or you are trying to relieve your conscience for having so much money while others have so little. I think this issue is worth thinking through. We might start telling our kids early on how much of a money game this all really is – we would teach personal finance in the first grade rather than stumbling upon it later in life out of necessity.  

I’ve been to places like the Philippines and seen people running around joyously who live in cardboard boxes and have hardly any clothes. But our game is different in the West. They have no hope for any kind of true societal change frankly…some 3rd world nations are so primitive its not even worth comparing them to a place like America. You cannot run around in America with no clothes and live in a cardboard box and be accepted at any decent level of society. Those that do live this way are considered the very filth of the earth in America. Technically you could live in a box, and maybe technically you could manage to be happy in a cardboard box but the bottom line, money does indeed buy happiness. What a silly argument to even have, the answer is so blatantly obvious.

I’m really more interested in the philosophical argument of this…I’m not suggesting that universal basic income is the way to go or whatever. But America has a nasty habit of preying upon the poor because they are an easy target. Cops don’t really go get the real bad guys, they go for the easy targets – law abiding citizens who are doing 45 mph in a 35 mph zone. Its very similar to how a predatory animal will single out a wounded animal for its dinner. IRS agents go after poor people because they are easy targets. Rich people can afford lawyers, poor people cannot. Too many hard working, honest Americans are nickeled and dimed to death with taxes of every kind and sort by politicians on both the right and left, simply because the can. These politicians know that most Americans are sitting ducks, easy prey…where else are these people gonna go? They are stuck with the mortgage, etc. America has many wonderful qualities but our culture of enslavement in not one of them.

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