Frustration Friday: Money Is The Measure

I wonder why people associate having money with being some kind of authority.

Let's face it of the many lessons the Great Recession is shown us it's that having money and making money don't necessarily correspond with brains, ethics, or doing anything productive. Some people were just nasty bastards that manipulated the system, got enriched, and help shake up the world economy. I'm not seeing dollar signs translate to some kind of authority here, unless it's expertise in exploitation (and even then some of the stories sound like sheer luck and bad regulation were major factors)

This is an issue of been curious about for a while;, why someone's bank account equals a kind of moral economic, and even political authority.  Certainly we can observe many people that came into money by luck, inheritance, unethical but effective behaviors, and so on.  Certainly people don't look to those made rich by acting or sports performance as authorities on life as much as they do others, so there are instinctively different kinds of "rich experts."

There are people whose large bank accounts certainly have demonstrated talent; Bill Gates, Mark Zukerberg, and more.  Hell, I live in Silicon Valley, a giant mass of smart people making huge amounts of money, and many times that does have to do with talent.  Yet, it's not consistent enough for me to think it's some kind of useful measure or the major measure of someone's authority.

So I've come to the conclusion. This money-is-authority mindset is just easier

It's easy to assume lots of money equals talent, and moral and economic authority. It's a number, a score, a simple way to look at. Very simply it takes less thought.

It's kind of like a financial version of being ordained by God, of divine rule. It's a simple thing to accept and not complicate your worldview with all the messiness of actual life. The King used a rule because God said so, now such and such investment banker or business guru is supposed to be listened to because of his bank account. Numbers as a substitute for God.

I dunno.  Maybe it's a kind of Calvinist thing.

This is just a distraction from the complexities of life. It's just an attempt to make things simple, and easy–and as usual attempts to find simplicity lead to conclusions that are terribly wrong. People can be rich–and poor–for number of reasons that have nothing to do with authority, talent, skill, ethics, or any other virtue. That's just life

Heck, I've ranted about this before. I've even noted that some of us are not paid based on “value” but for other reasons that are entirely legitimate and understandable. That's the way goes.

So, let's get over the idea that bank accounts equal authority. It just means you have money, and you can have it for number of reasons. Looking for leadership, inspiration, understanding, and guidance requires a complex assessment of the people involved.

Sadly, I think we'll be dealing with the idea of authority by bank account for a while to come. I just hope that the trauma of the Great Recession means people are less enchanted with the concept.

Steven Savage