A look back from a 2000 perspective on our “Money” Culture

Back in January 2000 I saved a very poignant and well articulated article from MSNBC. Maybe our current financial mess is a consequence of our “Money Culture”.

In these times of instant fortunes and tremendous wealth, living a good life is banal and enough is never enough. MONEY LUST, our obsession with personal wealth has bankrupted our quest for the common good. A preoccupation with getting rich quick has defined the last years of the 20th century and continues to define the first days of the 21st. On television, it seems that every commercial break, even from the most vapid and moronic programming, has at least one advertisement for online investing. Somehow, these ads always make me feel like an idiot for actually spending time reading a book or thinking instead of hunching over my computer screen buying and selling stocks. Even worse is the avalanche of financial networks and internet sites constantly flashing stock quotes and presenting a succession of financial “experts” whose credentials seem to consist of having made a few bucks telling us where to spend our hard-earned dollars. The pitch seems tailored to the average hardworking person who’s terrified that judicious savings, responsible investment through a pension plan and mere human planning simply won’t cover it when retirement time comes. Nowadays you can’t even flip through a fashion magazine and snicker while looking at emaciated models wearing uncomfortable looking outfits you’d never be seen in public without being dot-com’d to death. Discard that denial, girl! It’s not that the clothes often look ridiculous and are always over-priced, it’s that you’re a loser and can’t afford them not to mention the price of the prescription drugs, diet pills and cosmetic surgery it would take the average woman to obtain a body to fit into them. ENOUGH IS NEVER ENOUGH All people talk about is money; how much you made, how much more you’d like to make, and the better life you’d have if you just had more cash. It’s hard to even go out for a walk and commune with nature without encountering a billboard or bus plastered with an ad for on line trading or an advertisement for “Who Wants to be a Millionaire,” “Twenty-one,” or “Greed,” all television shows about getting rich quick. Hanging out with friends, most of whom are successful people by rational standards who definitely aren’t living from check to check or worrying about where their next meal is coming from, all the talk is about money: how much people made, how much more they’d like to make, and the better life they’d have if they just had more cash. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not denying that living well is important, I’m just troubled by what we define as “well” these days and to what purpose?

The obsessive pursuit of mo’ money, mo’ money says something deeply disturbing about the values of the culture we live in, namely that the satisfying of individual desires, however extreme, is far more important than contributions to the collective good. We think that somehow if we accumulate enough cash we can buy ourselves out of a culture fraught with violence, an inadequate public education system, racism, sexism, homophobia, the destruction of the environment and a struggle between church and state disguised as family values vs. big government, to name just a few of the problems confronting us.

About MZR

I am a middle aged man trying to be the best person I can become, make a positive difference in our world, while trying to make sense of my life's journey.
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