One of the earliest mathematical principles I was taught was to reduce things to their lowest common denominator. What makes mathematics an art as well as a science is the infinite permutations of viewing that commonality.

Why does everyone want money, vast pots of it? Sure, it’s important to have enough to feed, shelter, and comfort oneself and one’s beloveds, to have extra pleasure and a bit of fun, but just about everyone I know is desirous of – even desperate for – more. Not talking about folks with no roof over their heads or inadequate shoes or winter coats, I’m talking about the American middle class.

I’m a little slow, sometimes the simplest concepts take time to permeate. Of course, sometimes society works to engender those obfuscations, but still.

We’re most-of-us mired in the potato-chip mindset fostered by capitalism – I have one acquaintance who holds down a good, fulltime job with healthcare, has a free ride for a tertiary degree, and begs whenever he deems it appropriate. Not hat-in-hand or sitting-next-to-a-sign begs, but whenever money is mentioned, he seriously asks for some. He has no dependents, no mortgage, buys a new car every couple of years and spends pretty freely. But it’s not enough.

It’s my guess that it will never be enough, and that his mindset is fostered and bolstered by the way the American (and, increasingly, world) economy runs.

Back when the market was doing well, I spent a lot of money that I wish I had now. The amount of time and energy it’s taking to sell that stuff – because I’m sure I need more money – so that I can buy more stuff? or? – is probably worth more than the stuff itself.

Capitalism encourages us to want money so that we can spend it, preferably on tangible goods, even more-so on ephemera or goods with a limited shelf-life (even if that limitation is merely perceived). Many people want money for the power it gives them over others, but see that power as the ability to buy more, bigger, shinier stuff. Which keeps each of us in thrall to the larger, darker powers-that-be, the ones who don’t want us to see what they’re on about, so (my guess, my take on it, nothing more) we won’t notice that they’re controlling our lives.

What’s my epiphany? Having money means having the power NOT to indulge in capitalism, the power NOT to think we need to control others, the power to NOT be controlled. Having money means the power to answer only to yourself, to rescind or avoid others’ power over you.

What could be more valuable?


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