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Money, is it worth it?


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The best things in life are free
But you can give them to the birds and bees

Just give me money. That's what I want.

 

Seriously, though, what's the alternative? Barter? Actual communism?

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, dimreepr said:

The Diderot effect would sugget otherwise....

If you buy new CPU you need to buy new motherboard (because CPU socket has changed) with new RAM (because memory slots have changed) with new storage/disk/drive (because you don't want to lose old data or old one cannot be even attached) with new gfx card (because old one would be bottleneck or does not match PCI -> AGP -> PCI Express.. VGA -> DVI -> HDMI) etc. etc. ;)

In modern times manufacturers of devices decide for you instead.. forcing people to puchase their products. They could be giving CPU as free gift (like dressing gown from essay) and if somebody would like to have any use from it, would have to buy all the rest of equipment. It is widely used in modern computer games: base version given for free to download but if player wants to have any chance with a more advanced players must get paid additions (and perhaps at the end spend more money than he/she would in old times buying box version).

Electronics break after a while of use. Elements are designed in such way to break right after warranty ends plus a small margin. You can't get into a shop or manufacturer and request a replacement for an element. It is no longer produced. Every year or every two years they design new models which have incompatible parts. Even the cheapest things are redesigned from scratch. Everything is done to disallow reparation and to force people to buy new product every couple of years. 

Edited by Sensei
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3 minutes ago, swansont said:
Seriously, though, what's the alternative? Barter? Actual communism?

I think the mistake we keep making is fostering the perspective that money is the most important barometer for our economy, or the only one. Folks with lots of money keep telling us that money is what makes a person valid. The Diderot effect has been weaponized by the wealthy.

What about a society where minimum needs are met with a combination of communist and socialist programs, allowing a better educated and healthier citizenry to do what they're best at, including (perhaps especially) private enterprise? Many studies show money is not among the top things that make humans happy, so we need to place a higher value on those things that do. 

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3 minutes ago, swansont said:
The best things in life are free
But you can give them to the birds and bees

Just give me money. That's what I want.

 

Seriously, though, what's the alternative? Barter? Actual communism?

I don't know...

Perhaps we could, revisit the question and ask why communism?

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9 minutes ago, Phi for All said:

I think the mistake we keep making is fostering the perspective that money is the most important barometer for our economy, or the only one. Folks with lots of money keep telling us that money is what makes a person valid. The Diderot effect has been weaponized by the wealthy.

What about a society where minimum needs are met with a combination of communist and socialist programs, allowing a better educated and healthier citizenry to do what they're best at, including (perhaps especially) private enterprise? Many studies show money is not among the top things that make humans happy, so we need to place a higher value on those things that do. 

Not so much weaponised by the wealthy as by the marketing departments of consumer goods companies, I'd have thought.  Whole industries have been built on creating and fanning the flames of dissatisfaction. It is a commonly observed fact that poor rural families with very little by way of possessions often seem far happier and more contented than blokes in jags.

I myself remember when I got rid of my old Morris Minor, in favour of an MGB roadster, that I was suddently assailed by worries about it getting scratched or stolen, whereas before I couldn't have cared less about the rusty old Minor.

Same when I bought my first house.

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3 minutes ago, dimreepr said:

I don't know...

Perhaps we could, revisit the question and ask why communism?

State ownership of specific, essential services can remove the pressure for profit and allow a more level, manageable economy. Not everything, but energy, education, roads, and ports are some of the best things for the state/citizens to own. If a country installed a solar grid for electricity and managed it using state or public funds, and made it available to EVERYONE at a steep discount, the whole society benefits.

4 minutes ago, exchemist said:

Not so much weaponised by the wealthy as by the marketing departments of consumer goods companies, I'd have thought.  Whole industries have been built on creating and fanning the flames of dissatisfaction.

The companies are owned by people with a vested interest in keeping cash the currency of the realm. The wealthy hired the bean counters and the ad men and the efficiency experts that drive consumerism.

 

7 minutes ago, exchemist said:

It is a commonly observed fact that poor rural families with very little by way of possessions often seem far happier and more contented than blokes in jags.

There have been some massive research into what makes people happy, and you're right, the wealthy aren't any happier than the average person, and you're more likely to find happy people without a lot of material wealth. 

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9 minutes ago, Phi for All said:

There have been some massive research into what makes people happy, and you're right, the wealthy aren't any happier than the average person, and you're more likely to find happy people without a lot of material wealth. 

Money does, however, help buy happiness up to a point... According to recent data, anyway. Around October of last year, some new research came out suggesting that the threshold is somewhere around $70K per year. Happiness is harder below that point and easier above it, but the gains in happiness don't continue to grow as income does... For example, $300K per year is not meaningfully different from $70K per year in terms of happiness.

This suggests that the money / happiness connection exists, but is less about being happier per se, and more about struggling less and not consistently experiencing poverty  anymore once money is available.

An interesting aside is that greater access tp money/wealth DOES allow one to have greater experiences (both in terms of frequency and quality), and research shows that experiences DO lead to more happiness, FAR more than materialistic possessions.

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18 minutes ago, exchemist said:

I myself remember when I got rid of my old Morris Minor, in favour of an MGB roadster, that I was suddently assailed by worries about it getting scratched or stolen, whereas before I couldn't have cared less about the rusty old Minor.

That's funny, I use a similar anecdote to show the importance of NOT buying junk. I used to lose pens and sunglasses all the time because they were cheap and I didn't care about them. After a friend sat on my last pair, I decided to spend some money and get some nice sunglasses. I NEVER set them down carelessly, and for the first time I was able to keep a pair for a good long time. I bought a nice pen as well, and made sure I never loaned it out, or kept track of it on the rare occasion a friend asked. 

I justified that as being a responsible consumer choice as well as practical. I bought a $20 pen instead of 30 $1 pens, so I was saving the landfills AND my money. But I can look back now and realize that I might have put a bit too much importance on those pens and sunglasses. It took more time and effort to put those expensive glasses back in their case so they wouldn't get scratched, and I'm sure at some point I could have helped someone who really needed a pen, but didn't consider them a good security risk, not Pentel-worthy. Expensive things can de-value our points of view.

2 minutes ago, iNow said:

An interesting aside is that greater access tp money/wealth DOES allow one to have greater experiences (both in terms of frequency and quality), and research shows that experiences DO lead to more happiness, FAR more than materialistic possessions.

I'm really noticing that the answer to many things these days seems to be diversity, and efforts to reduce diversity are causing us big problems. Where we (and nature) have a broader variety to choose from, we help create sustainable systems that can adapt with us, and everything benefits. The focus on private ownership is reducing our economic diversity.

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12 minutes ago, Phi for All said:

I'm really noticing that the answer to many things these days seems to be diversity...

Agree 100%.

It is difficult to be a BMW snob when you've also owned a Tesla.

It is difficult to hate Mexicans if you've lived and worked with them.

It is difficult to be a racist if you find friends of all races.

It is difficult to have a deficient diet if you eat some of everything.

It is difficult to hate whiskey once you've had Johnnie Walker Black!

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1 hour ago, dimreepr said:

Perhaps we could, revisit the question and ask why communism?

If you, and everyone else, are provided with your needs, then no actual money is required. 

The issue I think you are describing is driven by wealth inequality, which is (in principle) eliminated. 

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23 minutes ago, iNow said:

Money does, however, help buy happiness up to a point... According to recent data, anyway. Around October of last year, some new research came out suggesting that the threshold is somewhere around $70K per year. Happiness is harder below that point and easier above it, but the gains in happiness don't continue to grow as income does... For example, $300K per year is not meaningfully different from $70K per year in terms of happiness.

Yep. Higher income means different expectations and different worries, which are largely self-generated. You have the money and now you want a bigger house, a swimming pool, nicer (and possibly more) cars, kids in private schools. None of which is driven by need, but by expectations of self and society. Keeping up with the Joneses.

And you can also end up with nothing saved up for retirement, because you spent so much on transient goods. 

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Posted (edited)
12 minutes ago, swansont said:

None of which is driven by need, but by expectations of self and society. Keeping up with the Joneses.

I think this line from Sheryl Crow's Soak Up The Sun got it right.

image.thumb.png.64e4130ad1dbfae5d5ef695d3d775307.png

Edited by zapatos
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34 minutes ago, swansont said:

Yep. Higher income means different expectations and different worries, which are largely self-generated. You have the money and now you want a bigger house, a swimming pool, nicer (and possibly more) cars, kids in private schools. None of which is driven by need, but by expectations of self and society. Keeping up with the Joneses.

And you can also end up with nothing saved up for retirement, because you spent so much on transient goods. 

Therefore those negatives you outlined are not inevitable.  It depends on the value ascribed to those material possessions on the part of each individual.

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Just now, Alex_Krycek said:

Therefore those negatives you outlined are not inevitable.  It depends on the value ascribed to those material possessions on the part of each individual.

They're part of human nature, so they are inevitable, and why nobody has gotten communism to work. It's never true communism. You end up at Orwell's "All animals are equal but some are more equal than others" 

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1 hour ago, iNow said:

An interesting aside is that greater access tp money/wealth DOES allow one to have greater experiences (both in terms of frequency and quality), and research shows that experiences DO lead to more happiness, FAR more than materialistic possessions.

I see a correlation here with Eric Fromm's work, specifically his book: "To Have or To Be?".

Seems the countries that are getting it right these days (happier citizens, more productive, more creative) are focused on creating the conditions for people to be intrinsically happy rather than to have something in order to be happy.

2 minutes ago, swansont said:

They're part of human nature, so they are inevitable, and why nobody has gotten communism to work. It's never true communism. You end up at Orwell's "All animals are equal but some are more equal than others" 

Disagree.  There are plenty of rich people who don't continuously want more and more material excesses as they accrue wealth.  They get to a certain point where material luxuries are vacuous, preferring instead more meaningful aspects of life.  

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1 hour ago, Alex_Krycek said:

Disagree.  There are plenty of rich people who don't continuously want more and more material excesses as they accrue wealth.  They get to a certain point where material luxuries are vacuous, preferring instead more meaningful aspects of life.  

Until that becomes "all" then you can't really disagree. Some people will inevitably want more, and that's why the system fails.

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2 hours ago, Alex_Krycek said:

Disagree.  There are plenty of rich people who don't continuously want more and more material excesses as they accrue wealth.  They get to a certain point where material luxuries are vacuous, preferring instead more meaningful aspects of life.  

But those rich people do nothing to stop the capital extremists, who are often looking for positions of power so they can grow their money exponentially. The wealthy who would stop at nothing want to reduce regulations to a minimum, using profit alone as the barometer. The rich people you're talking about need to stop following them, draw the line, and stop voting for extremism in leadership. They need to stop voting for disparity just because the taxes are lower.

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Posted (edited)

Reading you guys, I wonder whether you are living in a parallel Universe.. Meanwhile, in the real world:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/niallmccarthy/2016/09/23/survey-69-of-americans-have-less-than-1000-in-savings-infographic/

"A new survey suggests that nearly 7 in 10 Americans have only $1,000 or less in their savings accounts. GoBanking asked 7,000 people around the country how much money they had set aside in savings accounts for the future, and found that 34 percent of them have absolutely nothing set aside."

https://www.statista.com/chart/amp/20323/americans-lack-savings/

How can somebody being really happy knowing he or she is just two weeks out of work to bankruptcy (or homeless)? For most people, this is (or would be) an extremely stressful situation.

(Hence the incidents of mass murder after dismissal from work of person "on the edge")

Whether somebody earns $7k, $70k or $700k per year, does not matter. It does not tell about non-luxury obligatory spendings and debts. The stress of the person who owns a home bought on credit and knowing that its price is lower than the bank debt can have devastating consequences for mental health in times of economic crisis.

Edited by Sensei
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4 minutes ago, Sensei said:

Reading you guys, I wonder whether you are living in a parallel Universe..

It was pointed out early on that a certain amount of money was mandatory to happiness, in order to remove the concerns you mention. I'm not sure why the rest of the conversation went beyond your understanding. 

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5 hours ago, swansont said:
The best things in life are free
But you can give them to the birds and bees

Just give me money. That's what I want.

 

Seriously, though, what's the alternative? Barter? Actual communism?

Family, friends, relaxing, having a beer while watching the footy, having enough to be comfortable are imo the main ingrediants to a reasonable happy satisified life. 

I have lived for periods of time, in Fiji, and there typical layback gregarious village life, without any monetary or material excesses, is something I love and relish in. The sea at their door step, the rich soil waiting for cultivation, the closeness  of neighbours and friends, the often impromtu nature of mixing a bowl of kava, grabbing a couple of guitars and breaking into song and dance, seems to have really struck a chord with me. So  much so, that I now have a place there, I am able to call home, whenever I wish. 

Until covid 19 came along and reared its ugly head.

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5 hours ago, Phi for All said:

It was pointed out early on that a certain amount of money was mandatory to happiness, in order to remove the concerns you mention. I'm not sure why the rest of the conversation went beyond your understanding. 

One of the problems regarding capitalism is the pressure it puts on people to pursue material wealth.  I see this primarily as a cultural problem.  If you don't earn enough money in a capitalist system, you will become homeless and starve.  Such pressure is counterproductive for several reasons. 

First: it locks people into jobs they don't want to do, jobs that are generally unnecessary for the advancement of society.  Society becomes full of people selling useless junk to each other or doing services that in no way benefit mankind: an endless procession of scam artists. 

Second: it corrupts those disciplines that are truly beneficial for mankind, twisting them in the direction of self-interested profit. 

Third: money, and not true individual talent, become the end goal of all creative action.   In my view this is the most regrettable consequence.  Because of the aforementioned reasons:  extreme pressure to earn a living and an incentive to work in a job that is superficial in nature, most people never really tap into their true creative ability, whatever that may be.  Yes, there are a few who break the mold and actualize their creative potential, but in the vast majority this talent is suppressed, leading to a society where most people are not contributing their talents to the betterment of human civilization.  For this, we all suffer.  "Creative potential" is an aptitude in any discipline:  engineering, mathematics, writing, - whatever discipline a person is naturally good at and interested in.  

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