What Money Does and Doesn’t Do

It doesn’t buy happiness but it’s a damn good down payment

Photo: Alexander Schimmeck/Unsplash

We all know all of the money cliches’. It’s the root of all evil, doesn’t grow on trees, doesn’t buy happiness, and so forth.

While I have no qualms or bones to pick with those first to, I’d argue that the last one is a bit more complicated and far less black and white.

In theory, I agree. Money — as plenty of people throughout history have shown us — doesn’t seem to buy happiness. Plenty of people who had plenty of millions in the bank have ended their own lives.

Happy people don’t kill themselves, but rich people do and have. This should tell us all we need to know in regards to money and happiness.

Furthermore, while sure alcohol and drugs very well may have played a role, some of the happiest, most jovial and positive people I have crossed paths with have been homeless people on the street, who not only didn’t have money but didn’t have food or shelter either.

There they were though, singing and smiling on a rainy street corner.

So there’s evidence you can be filthy rich and unhappy enough to end your life along with tangible proof you can be piss poor with a positive attitude and a perky smile to match. We’ve therefore established money and happiness more or less aren’t strongly correlated, at least not universally or absolutely.

No Money, Mo’ Problems

What it does do, however, is make any unhappiness in your life a bit easier to cope with. It provides solutions to many of the problems we all face. Money gives you leverage and options. It provides you with the means to hire people to help solve the problems you’re not able to on your own.

Not all, but many people’s main source of stress or problems is money.

Not making or having enough of it, spending too much of it, owing large sums of it to others — I’m sure most people reading this can relate or have found themselves in one of those scenarios at one time or another.

Money is the square root of the majority of crimes and murders that occur in inner cities, especially my city of supposed brotherly love, Philadelphia. It is the motive behind every illegal and legal drug sale that takes place globally. Every drug war, over every gang turf in every city in America and elsewhere, was over money. Not even a lot of it in some cases. Terrible crimes have been committed over petty amounts of pocket cash.

When I was 20 years old, a kid I grew up with’s 17-year-old brother was robbed at gunpoint, in front of the convenient store at my corner. He immediately handed over his money, as they asked. When they found he only had four dollars on him, they shot him anyway and took it.

He was pronounced dead at the scene from two gunshots to the head.

If it wasn’t for money, my friend would still have a little brother. His mother would still have her youngest son in the flesh, rather than in an urn on her mantle. Maybe if the perp who shot him had come from money, or if my friend’s brother had more of it to hand over, that senseless tragedy wouldn’t have happened.

The point I’m trying to illustrate is how many everyday atrocities we see on the news and read in our papers, are caused exclusively by money. If it wasn’t for money, there would be very little incentive for anyone to live a life of crime.

Poverty gave birth to every ghetto and bad neighborhood in America. State and city governments not being willing to invest in those areas or spend taxpayer’s money to help improve them, is what keeps them ghetto.

Money may not buy happiness, but having none or very little of it almost guarantees you’ll, at the very least, be renting unhappiness for a while. This being because, without money, you can’t pay things like your actual rent. Money doesn’t buy happiness but it buys food and can stop you from being hungry. When you have acquired money and are still unhappy — at least it’s with a roof over your head and food in your stomach.

Money can divide and isolate. Families and loved ones fight over it and each other for it. It has been responsible for a countless number of betrayals and knives to the back — both figurative and literal ones.

Money damn near invented the violent crime. At a minimum, it co-wrote and produced them. Money, power, and fame — it’s all the same.

Get Rich or Die Trying

While having money eliminates certain kinds of money problems, this doesn’t mean the wealthy don’t also have money problems — they just have much different and better kinds of them.

Higher taxes, prejudices that come with affluence, loved ones asking to borrow money, old friends and associates constantly pitching business and investment ideas to you — I promise you nobody is completely free of money problems.

Wealth provides freedom. Freedom of choice and from being forced to do something you hate for someone you don’t respect eight hours a day. It stops people from ever having to beg, borrow — or in some cases even steal.

It causes envy, jealousy, entitlement, and hate. It breeds haters. Creates them out of so-called friends and people you thought cared about you. Money exposes you to yourself, as well as to others and others to you.

I’ve had days with plenty of it and others without any of it. The days where I had it were always without a doubt easier. They were still far from perfect, some of them may not have necessarily been better than the days I was broke — just easier.

Money isn’t everything, by no means should we put it over or in front of everything. Family, friends, our wives, husbands, and health all take precedent over money — or they should anyway. But there is no denying it is necessary, even if a necessary evil.

Sweat, fight and bleed for it if you have to — just don’t sell your soul, morals, or principles for it, regardless of who’s trying to make the purchase. Not everything should have a price, some things are simply invaluable.

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Writing About the Human Condition, via My Thoughts, Observations, Experiences, and Opinions — Founder of Journal of Journeys and BRB INC ©

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