Wednesday, December 14, 2005

I Love Money

It seems like a politically incorrect statement, as if I'm just materialistic or self-centered or something. But is there really something wrong with loving money?

For some people they are gathering money because they want to blow it on the world's biggest yacht, or go vacation in five-star resorts. There is nothing money could buy that I want.

Others are in a race to outdo their neighbors, prove themselves, or control others. I couldn't care about what anybody else has relative to myself.

But I still want to amass a fortune of money in my lifetime. I want to make money hand-over-fist, and I don't want to stop until the day I die.


What is money? When one person does something of value to another person, he receives payment for his action in cash, based on the relative value of the benefit. If I give my neighbor a haircut, he gives me $5 in recognition of the benefit I've done for him. If I do his taxes, he'll give me $100, since I've really given him a good deal. And everyone that does something for me, such as gives me a hot hamburger, will be rewarded for helping me out.

So you get dollars for doing, producing, acting on behalf of others, and you pay money when you rely on other's to provide for you. So the more you produce in excess of what you consume, the more dollars you will have. Meaning that the more you do for others over and above what they do for you, the more you will have in your bank account, but also you have a measurable sum of how much of an impact you have had on those around you.

No wonder I hate receiving gifts. You'd think everyone loves getting something for nothing. But the way I see it, it just means you're going into debt. You're being taken care of by others instead of taking care of them.

Not that you need to benefit others for the reward, to count how much they need you. But if those piles of money mean I've spent my life toiling so that other's could enjoy life, then I'll take pride in what I've gathered.

If the pursuit of money is irrational, then it will never bring joy. Money is the representative of an orderly world, and those that chase it as if it alone will solve their problems will never find happiness. But if you understand what money is, and what it does, then it is one of the best gifts you can ever attain.

If I give my neighbor a haircut, he gives me $5 in recognition of the benefit I've done for him.

$5! Try 5 shekel.

But an interesting way of spinning money lust.
So I guess you would be pretty disapointed if you won the lottery.
I agree that it's an interesting way to look at it. I never would have thought of that. One thing, though. If money is just a tangible measurement of what a person has done for others, wouldn't that person do for others regardless of money? If he cares for money only as a sign of the "toiling so that others could enjoy life", wouldn't he be equally happy with philanthropy as his profession?
Money is the easiest thing to make (there are always jobs whether you want them or not), the first thing you will loose and has the least value.
Giving gifts is a joy to some people. The knowledge that after searching I finally found a gift I know will be enjoyed and appreciated; there is great satisfaction in that. As for receiving gifts (which I also find difficult)it is about acknowledging that the giver is attempting to do for you or literally give to you. Accept it with grace as it was meant to show love or appreciation.
pachim k'tanim?

taking is hard isn't it?
>No wonder I hate receiving gifts.

I hate to disagree but what can I tell you. I think there is almost nothing better than giving a gift. The look of happiness on their face
and the joy that you bring them cannot be found anywhere else. If you are willing to give to someone on a physical, sometimes materialistic, level it shows that you are also willing to give to them emotionally and spiritually.
If you love to give so much you have to appreciate the huge amount of giving involved in gifts. If you understand the joy in giving then you must understand the joy in recieving. Giving has to go both ways. If you don't like to accept than you don't approve of anyone besides you giving.
P.S. everyone loves pretty wrapping paper and a big bow!!!
In that case, i'd gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today
Neph - I don't deny that there is such a thing as "money lust." There are those that see money as an end unto itself. But in its essence, money does not equal greed.

CWY - Not at all. There's tons I could do with that money better than the government. But I'm not buying a ticket.

Sara - good questions. One of the fascinating aspects of Capitalism is that unlike other ideologies, it doesn't assume that man is an idealist. It takes the average person, and realizes that barter is the only fair way to motivate towards mutual benefit. While obviously any person who is an idealist would be able to do this without money as a reward, he would face the same limitations as every other man. He too must feed his family, and if he wishes to have a larger impact on the world, will only require greater resources to accomplish this. Bill Gates has done more for others than any hippy do gooder I can think of.

PC - I've always been bad at receiving gifts. Even gratitude. I do have a problem that when somebody says "Thank you," I usually say "It was nothing." I've been told to just accept the gratitude, but I'm not good at it. Even though here it may have actually been earned, I just don't feel comfortable receiving. And I think it goes back to the idea that at the end of the day, I want to make sure that my "Give" amount is much greater than my "Receive" amount.

Masmida - Thanks for inspiring the Dvar Torah.

Araya - Giving on a material level is the easiest way to avoid giving on an emotional level. Just look at divorced parents trying to buy their children. While I agree that the "perfect" gift does show that you understand a person's most inner desires, I think you're take on gift giving is heavilly influenced by American consumerism. Marketers bombard us daily with the warm fuzzy feelings of getting gifts. It creates quite a selfish culture. But, hey, it sells stuff.

Your point on giving needing to be a two way street is true, to a certain extent. I've never been good at receiving, in this sense, which makes it hard to "connect" with me. I can listen forever, but will almost never talk myself. It is partially a character flaw, but not totally. If somebody else needs "help," and is talking to me about their problem, I want to give and listen. But I am not looking for help. So what is accomplished by me asking for help?

And I don't understand the fascination with shiny things with no use. Maybe I'm just too practical, but such disposable uses of wealth disgust me.

Elster - Sure, with 9% APR interest.
happy hanuka
you are the man!
Asking for help has nothing to do with you needing it. If you are not able to ask for help when you don't need it then you will not be able to ask for help when you do need it. Asking has to do with you practicing to reach out to other people and you giving other people a chance to reach out to you. Someone once told me that you should ask for help atleast once a day- and you are gonna be annoyed because you could do it much better or faster yourself but you need to learn how to ask. It was good advice. It doesn't matter if you need the help at all, you need to let people give back to you otherwise they will stop taking. No one wants to be pitied,and even if that is not your intent if you won't receive they feel like they are not able to give and so are taking for free.

I love shiny things. It's a real condition that's highly addictive. I've been trying to stop. I was doing so well but now christmas is here and the world is overwhelmed with bling! The streets are filled with wrapping paper and bows, and I am left with my love of sparkles for a little bit longer. Ahh...who doesn't love bling?!
Araya - You have beautiful points, and I can understand you on a logical level. But it doesn't seem to sink in on an emotional level. It almost starts to feel circular, ie I only ask you so that you can ask me so that I can ask you. I think you have some kind of secret that I have yet to learn. I don't fully understand the concept of Tzedaka, and I think it's related to the same shortcoming. In my world, everything would be perfect if nobody asked for anything. But I know this is not the Torah way- Gd wants us to give, and we can only give if people take. So your circular logic is true, and I need to internalize it. I'm just not sure how.

As far as bling, I just don't understand. I'm too practical...
I don't have any advice on how to internalize it except to practice. You may just have to do it without beleiving it to learn how. Without this ability I think that you will find yourself lacking in other areas of your life because of it. I don't mean to make it sound like you have a huge emotional issue-it might just be a good thing to work on. Our world stands on giving and taking, and our hearts depend on it. If you think about it, anyone in your life that you have known to love you completely was because they gave constantly. And if you hadn't been able to take it, how would that level of love ever have been established? Maybe it is a circle, maybe logic does prove it to be odd, but maybe logic has nothing to do with it. My advice-you are living too much with your mind, maybe you should start living some areas with your heart.

I'm sorry to say, but this whole anti-bling thing has gone too far. No one is too practical for bling- it's just not how G-d intended things to be. You might have to practice this too- and I strongly suggest you do.

A little sparkle can change your life, inside and out. There is something about anything shiny that just has to make you smile. I know it's in you somewhere, you just might have to look for it!
Araya - You're right! Don't let me lose sight of my emotional side-wherever it may be.
What about volunteer work? That contributes to society, help others, and yet you recieve no money.
The beauty of Capitalism is that those who can be altruistic without receiving anything in return will still do so. In Communism, these are the only ones who contribute. In our world, they just go above and beyond.
I knew if I rambled long enough I could get you to agree!
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