Sunday, May 18, 2008

5-18-08: Potential to Consume

Did you ever wonder what the point is to making a whole lot of money? This is something that's been discussed by many, many people many, many times, so you're not likely to read anything new in this blog post.

So what I'd like to do is to just share a couple observations:

It seems like most people understand that money does not necessarily provide happiness, which is good. But many people seem to value others by their monetary wealth. Isn't that odd? Most people want to be happy. They realize money won't necessarily get them there. But... to be considered elite, all you need to do is make a whole lot of money.

I think another way to refer to monetary wealth is "potential to consume." I think it taps into the primal nature of most people. They see some one with more potential to consume the same resources, and it's simple jealousy. It does not necessarily mean they are jealous of another's happiness, though. Sure, you can easily be jealous of another person's happiness, but that frequently has nothing to do with that person's monetary wealth. Some of the happiest people I know almost never mention money.

But I also think there is a key difference to being a "materialist" and trying to achieve the most potential to consume. Materialism is a part of that, of course. It's more of an end result. Some one who is materially wealthy has stuff that they might not use to consume further. Art is a great example. Most people hold on to it, so it does not directly affect their potential to consume. Monetary wealth is an easy indicator of this potential, and it's also easy to see from the outside. Net worth does take into account other forms of possession, but people want to know how many figures are on your paycheck.

I'm not saying this is wrong, either. I just think some parts of this are odd. There is an obvious disconnect between one's happiness and one's potential to consume; I'm not trying to make the connection here, since I don't really see any logical connection to make. Many advertising agencies have tried many different methods to make this connection. One of my favorites is from the cover of a gun magazine, made famous by a songwriter named John Lennon in a song called "Happiness is a Warm Gun."

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