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By anthrem in Culture
Mon Oct 22, 2001 at 05:27:26 AM EST
Tags: Round Table (all tags)
Round Table

Watching the news, listening to the radio, listening to conversations, and even examining my own motivations, the questions comes to mind; Is there any kind of motivation for activity in this life other than money?

In the movie, "Wall Street" Michael Douglas as Gordon Gecko says, "Greed is good, greed is right. Greed works." When I was in graduate school, I read Ayn Rand, in order to try and understand the idea that greed as a motivating factor would be beneficial to all in the society. I also remember reading about utilitarianism, as propagated by Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill. Bentham suggested that the most good for the most people is the best route. Mills felt that humanity's purpose is happiness, and since the propagation of that happiness is the end of all action, that the acid test for behavior by people is the amount of happiness that is produced. This idea suggests that actions in and of themselves are inherantly good or bad in view of their results.

Listening to the radio last night, I noted that Asian Pacific Economic Cooperation Conference going on in China had something to say about the terrorist attacks. Basically, the US president states that the terrorist attacks were motivated partially by the desire to destroy the world markets.

What is interesting is the response of Mahathir bin Mohamad, President of Malaysia.

"If I had a billion U.S. dollars, I suspect I too would be very committed to a fully globalized world without any barriers and without any constraints on what I can do with my money and how I can make even more money," he said, mocking the group's commitment to free trade.

This is not meant to be a political rant, but more or less a moral question. Ayn Rand believes that

"Man (sic) must exist for his own sake, neither sacrificing himself to others nor sacrificing others to himself. The pursuit of his own rational self-interest and of his own happiness is the highest moral purpose of his life."
Islam seems to eschew the idea of greed as good as a pillar of their religion. St. Thomas Aquinas, who has written an number of documents that detail the beliefs of Christianity, seems to think 'covetousness' is not a good thing. A comparison of all major world religions seems to suggest interest in money is not a good thing for the whole of humanity.

I don't see my reward for working or action as a human being solely to benefit myself; nonetheless I like comfort and things for myself as well. I think you be hard pressed to find a person that didn't want creature comforts.

Is the pursuit of money a good thing or a bad thing?


Voxel dot net
o Managed Hosting
o VoxCAST Content Delivery
o Raw Infrastructure


Greed is....
o good. Greed is right. Greed works. 7%
o I am a lover of objectivism....Ayn Rand should be on t-shirts. 2%
o My concerns are number one, I help others when I can. 25%
o I need things, but I realize and help others when I can 33%
o I give regularly to causes that assist the needy around the world 6%
o I am a monk 9%
o I live in a third world country and help people to develop better infrastucture 1%
o I am the Dali Lama 13%

Votes: 81
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o utilitaria nism
o the terrorist attacks
o pillar
o not a good thing
o comparison of all major world religions
o Also by anthrem

Display: Sort:
Money | 42 comments (38 topical, 4 editorial, 0 hidden)
Islam and greed (1.50 / 8) (#2)
by FattMattP on Sun Oct 21, 2001 at 01:14:44 PM EST

Islam seems to eschew the idea of greed as good as a pillar of their religion.

I followed your link and nowhere on the page does it say that greed is good. The only reference to greed or money is the third pillar:

Zakah is an annual mandatory payment of 2.5% of the Muslim's savings. This act of Ibaadah (worshipping) is meant to keep our wealth clean from greed and selfishness.
That doesn't sound like greed to me. Don't Christians do the same thing but at a much higher parcentage?

I am capable of masturbating for twenty-seven hours before achieving climax. This does include breaks for meals. -- Michael David Crawford

That is not what I say (4.00 / 2) (#4)
by anthrem on Sun Oct 21, 2001 at 01:29:31 PM EST

Islam seems to eschew the idea of greed as good as a pillar of their religion.

The idea in the article is that Islam is like all other religions, in that they suggest wealth and money are poor goals in one's life. I DO NOT SUGGEST THAT ISLAM PROMOTES GREED AS GOOD.

Eschew Es*chew" (es*chudd"), v. t. imp. & p. p. Eshewed (-chudd"d); p. pr. & vb. n. Eshewing. OF. eschever, eschiver, eskiver, F. esquiver, fr. OHG. sciuhen, G. scheuen; akin to E. sky. See Shy, a. 1. To shun; to avoid, as something wrong, or from a feeling of distaste; to keep one's self clear of. They must not only eschew evil, but do good. --Bp. Beveridge. 2. To escape from; to avoid. Obs. He who obeys, destruction shall eschew. --Sandys.

Disclaimer: I am a Buddhist. I am a Social Worker. Filter all written above throught that.
[ Parent ]
"Eschew" doesn't mean what you think (5.00 / 3) (#5)
by crank42 on Sun Oct 21, 2001 at 01:30:38 PM EST

Your quote provides the evidence that (I think) the article's author wanted. "Eschew" means to avoid. So, the article's author wants to say that, by virtue of Islamic tenets, the faithful should not be greedy. I agree, though, that the author's sentence is confusing.

[ Parent ]

eschew means to 'consider bad and avoid' (5.00 / 3) (#6)
by delmoi on Sun Oct 21, 2001 at 01:44:56 PM EST

see subject
"'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
[ Parent ]
Is it good? (4.85 / 7) (#3)
by John Thompson on Sun Oct 21, 2001 at 01:16:40 PM EST

Money is an abstraction of the value of goods and services it can obtain. IMHO, pursuit of money for its own sake is akin to mental illness (ie, obsessive/compulsive). Pursuit of money for power or glory is perhaps only a small step down from that. Personally, I see money as a means for obtaining a modicum of comfort and security for myself and my family, helping those less fortunate than myself and facilitating social change to improve improve my environment (social/physical, both locally and globally).

So given that, I see Dickens' "Scrooge" approach to money as obsessive/compulsive, Bill Gates' as a megalomaniac and Mother Theresa's as good. I place myself somewhere in the middle.


Megalomanical? (4.00 / 1) (#16)
by thecabinet on Sun Oct 21, 2001 at 07:57:59 PM EST

So given that, I see Dickens' "Scrooge" approach to money as obsessive/compulsive, Bill Gates' as a megalomaniac and Mother Theresa's as good. I place myself somewhere in the middle.

Based solely on his wealth and his acquisition of it (by being successful in business), you have no foundation to call Gates a megalomaniac.


  1. A psychopathological condition characterized by delusional fantasies of wealth, power, or omnipotence.
  2. An obsession with grandiose or extravagant things or actions.

It would be difficult for anyone to have fantasies of more wealth than Gates actually has, so that pretty much rules out 1.

To say Gates is obsessed with the size, or success, of his business is perhaps true, but I doubt anymoreso than most business owners. In fact, the struggling sole-proprietor is almost certainly more obsessed, as his livelihood is threaten by failure. Given that Gates owns in excess of one (1) billion shares of MS stock, he'll hardly be a poor man should the price drop to delisting values.

[ Parent ]

Look at it this way (3.75 / 4) (#7)
by spacejack on Sun Oct 21, 2001 at 01:55:12 PM EST

If you're not making money, and you're not a farmer, carpenter, clothier all in one, then someone else has to make money to support you. Otherwise you die.

I suppose you could barter for goods you can't make yourself, but that's pretty inefficient. Money makes these transactions efficient, and reduces waste.

The question is how much control should the government (or church in some places) have over the money, and what are you allowed to do with it? Should you be taxed to build roads? Schools? Hospitals? Public parks? To educate the poor? To pay for the arts? To build churches and retain religious leaders? Should you be allowed to use money to hire terrorists to attack the WTC?

I might criticise someone for being greedy in a certain situation to their face, but I'm not sure if I'd criticise people in general for greed. That's kind of like saying I'm against hurricanes or floods or earthquakes.

Depends on what you mean by good (4.66 / 6) (#8)
by crank42 on Sun Oct 21, 2001 at 02:06:15 PM EST

Is the pursuit of money a good thing or a bad thing?

Questions like that are not relative to some end. Without going down the utilitarian road (which is more a professional parlour game for academic philosophers than a way to learn anything helpful about what to do in some actual case -- but that's a rant for another day), one can say that the ends of some act or attitude are relevant to whether the act or attitude is good or bad. St Thomas (who was by no means a utilitarian!) would want to know under what conditions the pursuit of money was being made, to what extent it is pursued to the exclusion of other things, &c. Consider: is the pursuit of money in an attempt to feed the poor a good thing or a bad thing? What about the pursuit of money in order to build a nuclear bomb? What about the pursuit of money in order to build a nuclear bomb before anyone had ever built one? What about the pursuit of money to find a cure for breast cancer? What if that breast-cancer-money pursuit spends 25% of its earnings in order to pursue more money? And what of the source: if cancer research money comes mostly from the profits of companies that produce chemicals which are widely-released toxins which cause cancer, well, is it still good or bad to pursue such money?

You also, I think, have motive and ends confused here. A Randian objectivist might think the pursuit of money (for, say, cancer research) is good, and a Muslim cleric might think the same pursuit is good; but they would reason very differently to the same conclusion. In the case of good and bad, it is at least possible that the why is as important as the whether.

Really, the question is too simple (not to say simple-minded, although the latter might be said of Ayn Rand). That is why "all major world religions" (or, especially, their scholars) don't have an answer to it.

Interested in discussion on the matter (none / 0) (#15)
by anthrem on Sun Oct 21, 2001 at 07:53:33 PM EST

All I really wanted was a discussion. I put forth Rand, Utilitarianism, and St. Thomas Aquinas in order to stimulate debate. My interest lies is what you and every other person on K5 think.

Disclaimer: I am a Buddhist. I am a Social Worker. Filter all written above throught that.
[ Parent ]
Define "good" and "bad" first. (4.66 / 3) (#9)
by quartz on Sun Oct 21, 2001 at 02:06:49 PM EST

For me, pursuit of money would be a bad thing, but I don't condemn others for doing it. If money is what makes them happy, I have no problem with that. Personally, I don't care about money as such. Economic evolution has split us into producers and consumers, and so I find myself forced to produce something if I want to have food and shelter. Money is just a means to that end, so I don't give it much thought.

Money also brings power over other people and material comfort, but I'm not big on any of those things. Whenever I change jobs, I always pick the job that offers me the possibility to do what I like over the one that pays more money. And power? I want power over myself, not other people, and money doesn't help here. I don't care about other people enough to want to have power over them.

In the end, I guess if your goal is material comfort and/or power, then pursuit of money is good, whereas if your goal is less material, pursuit of money is not only bad, but counter-productive. And if you're looking for someone to tell you if pursuit of money is *generally* good or bad, I'm not the one. :)

Fuck 'em if they can't take a joke, and fuck 'em even if they can.
Like all things, yes and no (3.42 / 7) (#10)
by tudlio on Sun Oct 21, 2001 at 02:12:14 PM EST

Is the pursuit of money a good thing or a bad thing?

The pursuit of money is what drives capitalism. Capitalism is the best way humans have yet found to assign value to goods and services and therefore to efficiently organize societal action. Capitalism is also an excellent way to encourage innovation, which is the only way to continuously improve the human condition.

However, the pursuit of money also drives companies to dump hazardous chemicals in rivers and streams, then lie about what they've done. It corrupts governments, which establish the laws that allow capitalism to exist in the first place. It cannot place a value on intangible goods that psychologists and sociologists have demonstrated are necessary to human well-being, goods like friendship and family.

So is the pursuit of money a good thing? Yes. It helps us to live lives of relative comfort and ease. Is the pursuit of money a bad thing? Yes. It destroys the natural world we depend on for our physical health, it corrupts the institutions that build the social frameworks in which we exist, and it puts severe pressure on the relationships we depend on for emotional health.

insert self-deprecatory humor here
Money, money, money (4.57 / 7) (#12)
by Dlugar on Sun Oct 21, 2001 at 03:12:08 PM EST

For people who believe in life after death (namely religious people) the accumulation of money and wealth is not a "good thing." Namely, because "you can't take it with you." Hearses don't have luggage racks. Like the story of the rich man who died, the man asked, "How much money did he leave behind?" The answer: "All of it."

The thing you can take with you to the next life is knowledge and intelligence. You can also take personal relationships. Hence, some of the most important things we can do on this planet are "Love one another," "Serve one another," and "Enrich the mind and the soul." At least, this has been the consensus between great philosophers and great religious leaders from Plato to Aristotle to Jesus.

So where does money come into play? Well, money is just part of the three-fold distraction: Money, Power, and Fame. All three can be obtained easily by using the other two. All three can be used to love our fellow man, serve our fellow man, and enrich our minds--namely, for "good". However, we can do good without money, power, or fame. Hence those three can be quite a severe distraction from our primary goal, especially since their qualities make them quite addictive.

So is money, per se, bad? No, it's simply what you do with it that is bad or good--the same as with everything. But you ask a deeper question: is the pursuit of money a bad thing? My own personal opinion is that, yes, if we allow the pursuit of money and the comforts that money, power, and fame provide, to be more important in our lives than "good", to wit loving others, helping others, and bettering our own minds. Certainly we all must work to provide for our needs, and even some of our wants and comforts, and thus we must use and employ money. This is not "bad", it is only when it interferes with our lives that it becomes harmful.

To sum up: the accumulation of things, for those who believe in a life hereafter, is foolishness. The accumulation of things to the extent that we neglect the more important things in life is not only foolish, it is disastrous.


Really? (3.50 / 2) (#36)
by John Miles on Tue Oct 23, 2001 at 06:43:08 PM EST

The thing you can take with you to the next life is knowledge and intelligence. I'd be curious to hear some further details on this concept. As far as I'm aware, you can't take anything with you, including your awareness. Without your awareness, you have nothing -- no material goods, no spiritual qualities, and certainly no knowledge or intelligence.
For so long as men do as they are told, there will be war.
[ Parent ]
Fame -- for good? (3.00 / 1) (#38)
by xdroop on Tue Oct 23, 2001 at 08:35:58 PM EST

[...]money is just part of the three-fold distraction: Money, Power, and Fame. All three can be obtained easily by using the other two. All three can be used to love our fellow man, serve our fellow man, and enrich our minds--namely, for "good".

I don't see how Fame can be used for "good". Even Power is a little iffy -- I would say that on an abstraction level, Power is merely a lever through which you direct other people's resources (represented primarilly by money) in an effort to do "good" (for local values of "good"). Fame is similarly a lever, only it is a way of coercing people into redirecting their Money towards the goals which are defined as "good".

Care to explain?
xhost +
[ Parent ]

About Mahatir. (4.33 / 3) (#14)
by Apuleius on Sun Oct 21, 2001 at 07:39:56 PM EST

What is more interesting about his comment, is his context. Globalization entails severe risks for countries with a level of corruption like Mahatir's Malaysia. Mahatir learned this not so long ago when the country's currency crashed. Globalization threatens his power base - a graft-sucking bureaucracy for his relatives and cronies, and Mahatir has gone far beyond bashing free trade to deflect the blame. In the immediate aftermatch of the crash, he blamed (anyone surprised here?) The Big Bad Jews.

There is a time and a place for everything, and it's called college. (The South Park chef)
Is the pursuit of money a good thing or a bad thin (3.66 / 3) (#18)
by mjs on Sun Oct 21, 2001 at 10:55:13 PM EST

I think that, like most things in life, the answer is a matter of degree and we're all probably on different points of the line. Some of us would be comfortable with the idea that a single-minded pursuit of money to the exclusion of everything else is probably wrong, just as some would nod in agreement with the idea that he or she who makes no effort to provide sustenance to him/herself, living only off of charity, is probably not a model by which a society can be successful. In between these extremes most of us lie.

I was honest with my wife when I married her. I told her that it was extremely unlikely that I would ever be wealthy, because I have no interest in wealth for its own sake. My interest in money extends to a sufficiency to take care of my modest needs; once those are met I am completely disinterested. After observation of all of the wealthy people I have ever met, I believe that there is a personality type required to become wealthy which is simply incompatible with mine.

On a moral level, based on my life experiences, I have to agree to a considerable degree with those who assert that the accumulation of wealth, particularly great wealth, can not be performed in an honest, morally rightous manner. In other words, I believe that to some extent one has to lie, cheat, and steal (or worse) in order to become wealthy in the first place, other than by inheritance or luck (lottery.)


Three Ways to Make Money... (4.66 / 3) (#20)
by snowlion on Mon Oct 22, 2001 at 12:52:26 AM EST

Phil G liked to say that the Italians liked to say:

There are three ways to make money:

  1. Inherit it.
  2. Marry it.
  3. Steal it.

I know 2 rich people personally. I asked them if it's true, and they both somberly said: Yes. I didn't have the nerve to ask both of them how they did it, but one told me that for himself, it was all three.

Map Your Thoughts
[ Parent ]
Your forgot one big one... (2.00 / 2) (#26)
by brunes69 on Mon Oct 22, 2001 at 11:24:08 AM EST

At least nowadays. Win it. Unles you count that into inherit...

---There is no Spoon---
[ Parent ]
marry it? (none / 0) (#40)
by triticale on Thu Nov 01, 2001 at 11:59:30 PM EST

Well, I married a woman as frugal as myself and with more foresight. We bought a 2-flat in a bad neighborhood sure to be trendy, and if we had any money left at the end of the month we put it against the principle. We paid off a 30 year mortgage in 19 years, saving about half the purchase price in interest. The next year, when capital gains tax (tax on inflation) relief was enacted, we sold the house for 6 times the purchase price, moved to another city and bought our dream house with half the money.

I wouldn't call myself rich, but I'm living in a 4800 sq ft Victorian mansion with molded plaster trim in 2 of the 3 parlors and $5.00 oil paintings from the thrift store on all the walls. I've got Talisker, Macallen and Aberlour in my collection, but settle for far less if I'm simply imbibing. We've got enough in stable investments to live on for 5 years with no other income, and at age 50 we are both beginning new careers doing things we love.

If you check out the Forbes 400, you will find that merely inheriting money and not at least managing it wisely doesn't cut it any more. I suppose you could equate unfair business practices with theft, but most of the richest people have either created or intelligently collected a lot of their wealth.

[ Parent ]
Confucius (5.00 / 2) (#19)
by snowlion on Mon Oct 22, 2001 at 12:46:17 AM EST

There are many other relevant saying:

The Master said, "Conduct guided by profit is cause for much complaint."

The Master said, "Riches and position are what men desire. If their attainment is to be had by departing from the Tao, do not have them. Poverty and lowliness are what men hate. If their abandonment is to be departing from the way, do not abandon them. If the gentleman abandons benevolence, how is he to live up to his reputation! The gentleman does not deviate from benevolence, not even during meals, during hectic times, nor in destitution.

The Master said, "The gentleman understands righteousness, the petty man understands profit.

The Master said, "Virtuous indeed is Hui! One basket of food, one gourd of water, in a sparse alley. Hardship others cannot bear. Yet it does not change Hu's happiness. Virtuous indeed is Hui!"

Map Your Thoughts
Proxy (4.50 / 2) (#21)
by seebs on Mon Oct 22, 2001 at 02:17:59 AM EST

Money is a proxy for other things of value. Pursuing money is no less rational than pursuing peace of mind, happiness, or fluffy kittens; indeed, if you're not sure what combination of the above you want, money is a good deal, because you can decide later. :)

You can't buy happiness (none / 0) (#31)
by cyberformer on Mon Oct 22, 2001 at 10:31:46 PM EST

Or peace of mind. So pursuing money is only worthwhile if you eventually decide on fluffy kittens.

[ Parent ]
Right. (4.00 / 2) (#34)
by beergut on Tue Oct 23, 2001 at 01:48:20 PM EST

But, with money you can at least afford to put yourself in a position where your peace of mind is stable and easy, and where your fluffy kittens are well fed and sheltered.

Besides, to quote Weird Al, "You're dead for a real long time - you just can't prevent it. So, if money can't buy happiness, I guess I'll have to rent it!"

i don't see any nanorobots or jet engines or laser holography or orbiting death satellites.
i just see some orangutan throwing code-feces at a computer screen.

-- indubitable
[ Parent ]

Not quite (none / 0) (#42)
by Pihkal on Thu Nov 08, 2001 at 10:36:09 AM EST

So on his deathbed, a billionaire can buy a lifetime of fulfillment and happiness with all the cash he's saved?

As a former econ major, I couldn't decide which creeped me out more: that economists actually think money is a good measure of happiness, or that people actually took them seriously.

Here's the flaw: money is only a proxy for things money can obtain. All the money in the world doesn't allow you to live yesterday over again and correct your mistakes. Money can't truly make you content (unless you'll settle for endless prozac, and maybe not even then.)

Beergut (below) does have a point, though; it's a lot easier to focus on happiness when you're not struggling to survive. But then you could still argue that having some money is a necessary, but not sufficient, precursor to happiness.

"I will not be pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, briefed, debriefed or numbered!"
-- Number 6
[ Parent ]
MONEY! (2.00 / 1) (#22)
by Weyland Yutani on Mon Oct 22, 2001 at 07:02:56 AM EST

It's a gas.
Grab that cash
with both hands and make a stash!
But if you ask for pay rises,
No surprises,
They're giving none away.
Spinning my wheels on the launchpad, spitting I dunno and itch

Damn Floyd (5.00 / 2) (#29)
by KnightStalker on Mon Oct 22, 2001 at 06:08:48 PM EST

That song has been stuck in my head since this entered the queue.

[ Parent ]
The Pursuit of Money (Approximation Theory) (4.66 / 3) (#23)
by _Quinn on Mon Oct 22, 2001 at 09:30:27 AM EST

Democracy, I've realized, is system by whose intention is to approximate the optimal (governance) with the popular (candidate(s)). Capitalism, it seems, is a system which approximates global* (maximal) efficiency (allocation of resources) with a locally greedy algorithm. That is, the drive for money is important; the system falls apart without it. Like virtually any pursuit taken to an extreme, consuming greed is indicative of deeper problems. Capitalism is bad, inasmuch as it isn't an accurate allocation; it also bad inasmuch as it is accurate, in that its enviromental depredations stem from governmental inability or unwillingness to cast the protection of the enviroment in (explicit) economic terms. Corporate greed is another issue entirely, as it's mandated by corporate charters; a somewhat serious rewriting of the laws (and possibly the Constitution) would be required to combat it.

*: 'Global' being the logicians' term for 'everyone in the system,' not 'everyone on the planet.'

Reality Maintenance Group, Silver City Construction Co., Ltd.
Other pursuits (3.00 / 1) (#24)
by borodir on Mon Oct 22, 2001 at 10:38:13 AM EST

Conversion of others to Christianity. Looking good? Pursuit of the opposite sex.

Money is unimportant... (4.62 / 8) (#25)
by Kasreyn on Mon Oct 22, 2001 at 11:20:53 AM EST

There are things in life that are far more important to pursue. Money, success, power... these are unworthy reasons to live. If they're the only reason YOU'RE living, do us all and yourself a favor: kill yourself.

Even "happiness" as you put it, isn't a proper reason to live. Of course, the only happiness money can buy is entertainment. Diversion. Diversion being, a way to make the hours between when you wake up and fall asleep less boring. Success, money, fame, power, these things do not bring true, deep happiness.

If the only reason you're living is to avoid boredom, or to distract yourself, what's the use? There's no point in living if you can't find a better reason than that.

Living for yourself is actually, in my opinion, one of the LEAST moral, and LEAST worthy reasons to live. Taking that idea to its farthest extreme, we meet the Ted Bundy's of the world. Do you and Ms. Rand honestly think THAT is a good reason to live - narrow self-interest?

A better reason to live might be a person. If you're a parent and love and want to protect your child, there's a worthy reason. Live for them. If you're in love and want to always be with him/her, there's a worthy reason. Live for him/her. If you truly want to help others, go be Mother Theresa. Live for others. If you have a mission to do something for the world, do that. If you're a med student and you want to cure AIDS, live for THAT. Find a REASON!

Don't just live because it's the only thing to do, and don't just live because others think it's the only acceptable option. Live for an overriding reason that matters to you PERSONALLY, not an external condition that is imposed upon you from without, like the requirement to make money to live.

Of course, I'm a diagnosed depressive who has suicidal thoughts on approximately a weekly basis, so take that into account. But I mean what I say.


"Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
We never asked to be born in the first place."

R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
Yes ! (none / 0) (#37)
by Phage on Tue Oct 23, 2001 at 08:14:17 PM EST

Depressive or not, I could talk to you about some issues I have.
You sound saner than I feel.

I don't find Heathens to be sexy, as a general rule.
[ Parent ]

To quote The Hitchhiker's Guide intro... (4.00 / 1) (#27)
by Armaphine on Mon Oct 22, 2001 at 12:23:50 PM EST

"...and many of them were unhappy. Many solutions were proposed for this, but they largely concerned the movement of small, green pieces of paper. And this was odd, since, on the whole, it wasn't the small green pieces of paper that were unhappy."

Apologies if I butchered this in any way...

Question authority. Don't ask why, just do it.

Quotes r us (3.50 / 2) (#30)
by I am Jack's username on Mon Oct 22, 2001 at 07:42:29 PM EST

"This planet has - or rather had - a problem, which was this: most of the people living on it were unhappy for pretty much of the time. Many solutions were suggested for this problem, but most of these were largely concerned with the movements of small green pieces of paper, which is odd because on the whole it wasn't the small green pieces of paper that were unhappy." - Douglas Adams, 3rd paragraph of The hitch hiker's guide to the galaxy

"The country is headed toward a single and splendid government of an aristocracy founded on banking institution and monied incorporations and if this tendency continues it will be the end of freedom and democracy, the few will be ruling and riding over the plundered plowman and the begger in the omenry." Thomas Jefferson, predicting Western plutocracy in 1816

"If ye love wealth greater than liberty, the tranquility of servitude greater than the animating contest for freedom, go home from us in peace. We seek not your counsel, nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you. May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen." - Samuel Adams

"To be satisfied with what one has; that is wealth. As long as one sorely needs a certain additional amount, that man isn't rich." - Mark Twain

"He who possesses little is so much the less possessed." - Friedrich Nietzsche
Inoshiro for president!
"War does not determine who is right - only who is left." - Bertrand Russell
[ Parent ]

Hehe (4.00 / 1) (#28)
by trhurler on Mon Oct 22, 2001 at 04:50:55 PM EST

When I was in graduate school, I read Ayn Rand, in order to try and understand the idea that greed as a motivating factor would be beneficial to all in the society.
You are failing to distinguish between self interest and avarice.
I also remember reading about utilitarianism . . . This idea suggests that actions in and of themselves are inherantly good or bad in view of their results.
In that case, genocide to the point of only leaving one "race" on earth is probably "good." After all, dead people are neither happy nor unhappy, so the net effect of their contribution to happiness is zero, and the living would never again have to deal with racism, so they would be much happier, once they got over the shock of the event itself, which would only take a few months, or even maybe a few weeks. There would be more resources per person, and less pollution, and everything would be grand! Hint: utilitarianism is morally bankrupt.
A comparison of all major world religions seems to suggest interest in money is not a good thing for the whole of humanity.
Compare this to the behavior of the actions of religious authorities throughout history, and you will quickly see who the biggest hypocrites ever just might be. Your Aquinas reference is particularly amusing, seeing as the Catholic Church has traditionally been among the wealthiest and most greedy nongovernmental organizations on the planet, and has only fairly recently been superceded by multinational corporations in this respect.
Is the pursuit of money a good thing or a bad thing?
This is the kind of question that leads people to ban drugs, books, or forms of social activity. Almost nothing is always good or bad. Is it bad for me to switch jobs to make more money? Probably not. Is it bad for me to misrepresent myself in order to get a high paying job that I'm unqualified for? Yes. Both could be characterized as either "greed" or as "self interest" by someone sufficiently motivated, and what does that mean? The moral value of an activity is more complicated than just "X happened, therefore Y."

You find no answers because you ask the wrong questions. The question is not whether money is good or bad, but whether peoples' motives are good or bad, and whether people act on those motives consistently, and what the results are. Money itself is like a hammer; you can build a house with it, or tear one down.

'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

The Accountancy Shanty (4.00 / 1) (#32)
by Obvious Pseudonym on Tue Oct 23, 2001 at 03:36:53 AM EST

I've got ninety thousand pounds in my pyjamas,

I've got forty thousand French francs in my fridge,

I've got lots of lovely lira,

Now the deutschmark's getting dearer,

And my dollar bills would buy the Brooklyn bridge.

There is nothing quite as wonderful as money,

There is nothing quite as beautiful as cash,

Some people say it's folly,

But I'd rather have the lolly,

With money, you can make a splash.

There is nothing quite as wonderful as money,

There is nothing like a newly minted pound,

People always hanker,

For the butchness of a banker,

It's accountancy that makes the world go round.

You can keep your Marxist ways,

For it's only just a phase,

For it's money, money, money makes the world go round.

(with apologies to Monty Python if I got it wrong - I wrote it from memory)

Obvious Pseudonym

I am obviously right, and as you disagree with me, then logically you must be wrong.

Money is motivation for people in the 'real world' (3.00 / 1) (#33)
by Oak on Tue Oct 23, 2001 at 12:47:57 PM EST

Is there any kind of motivation for activity in this life other than money?
Money seems to be motivation for people in what americans call 'real world' (sic) (most of middle & lower class america). One could argue that the upper class (rich people), ironically, have so much money that they don't have to worry about it, nor are motivated by it anymore.

Other groups that do not belong in the 'real world' (sic) might include residents of the Ivory Tower, clerics, career military members, politicians, non-pop artists... Basically any profession that requires years of committment without commensurate financial rewards for the time spent in preparation.

The aforementioned groups might be motivated by prestige, but I think what really drives those men and women is the pursuit of their childhood dreams ("I want to be President of United States", "I want to be an astronaut", "I want to be a scientist", etc.). Sorry, "I want to be filthy rich" is not what *chidren* dream about.

(Of course there are exceptions for every group mentioned, but we are talking about the general consensus within each group.)

"For good people to do bad things, it takes religion." --Steven Weinberg, Nobel Laureate
Sure you can (4.00 / 1) (#35)
by epepke on Tue Oct 23, 2001 at 02:34:38 PM EST

They say that money can't buy happiness, but poverty certainly buys unhappiness.

The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett

Bad thing? (3.00 / 1) (#39)
by spcmanspiff on Fri Oct 26, 2001 at 01:49:44 PM EST

Well, since you're using such specific terms (*grin*), I'll have to throw myself into the 'bad thing' camp here, but with the caveat that money itself is just a 'thing.' -- I'm going to assume you're really talking about materialism, as in pursuit of money = pursuit of stuff, and that in turn means stuff = happiness.

I find that sick and wrong... but this is an almost universally accepted attitude to one degree or another in the developed world.

I'm not even talking about inequality in wealth distribution here --- just about the human tragedy of people too busy working and buying and working and buying and never coming quite around to the realization that there might be more to life, and then they die.

Not to mention all the collateral damage (environmental, sweatshops, wealth disparity, etc etc etc) that comes along with all that.

Something I've been wanting to do, but haven't been up for yet, is compare the number of times world leaders use words like "human being", "citizen", "person", et cetera, with how many times they say "consumer" or "consumers".

I imagine it would be a pretty depressing result.

Catechism (none / 0) (#41)
by PigleT on Fri Nov 02, 2001 at 06:58:43 PM EST

One option, then:

Ql: What is the chief end of man?
A: Man's chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him for ever.

(See http://www.iclnet.org/pub/resources/text/m.sion/cmshct01.htm .)
~Tim -- We stood in the moonlight and the river flowed
Money | 42 comments (38 topical, 4 editorial, 0 hidden)
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