Wednesday, December 21, 2011


What money buys

[click on the photo to enlarge it]

Earlier this week, in my piece in the Huffington Post, I mentioned that in wealthy areas "there is calm, above all, because that is part of what money can buy, and does." I think that's true, but incomplete.

When people talk about "what money can buy," they usually are describing physical objects they desire-- a car or a piece of clothing. In truth, though, what wealth buys in our society is calm and freedom.

The more expensive areas in any city usually tend to be islands of calm. The freeways go nearby, maybe, but not through those neighborhoods. There isn't much crime, and you don't hear sirens. People are not jammed together, so there is space between them to dissipate noise and anger.

The freedom is perhaps harder to see. The wealthy have the advantage to not constantly choose between two things they want or need; they often have the freedom to choose both. They are free to travel, because they can afford it, and they are free from the worry about money (though many still do worry about money anyways).

Money always purchases what is in scarce supply, so perhaps this tells us that calm and freedom are being rationed through disparities of wealth. Urbanization is a part of this-- when people lived on farms, there was calm even for the poor, and what they sought was stimulation. Now that we are urbanized, we spend our money for the opposite, for what comes for free when you live out in the country.

This is something I will think about when I sing "Silent Night" on Saturday-- that one of the promises of Christ is an occasional sense of calm and freedom, to the rich and poor alike.

This is an outstanding blog post. Requires a week's worth of thinking.
I think it would make a great study group topic. Thanks.
Wow - so much to contemplate today. I agree with Oso...

The distinction between wants and needs were core in my upbringing. I dare say my life and mind will be a little less cluttered if I start to remember and revert to these principles.
Thank you for this poignant reminder. Merry Christmas to you & yours!
Well said.
All money really buys is time - not to have to spend time growing food, making clothes, building houses, etc. And it buys time for calm reflection and the ability to live in an area where you don't have to spend time fighting intruders, doing your own medical treatment, and other things we would rather not do.

It buys choices of how to spend the time you buy. I can choose to buy a $5,000 handbag, or employ workers, or provide seed money for a charity, or work in a soup kitchen.

The choices we make to use the time we are able to buy defines us.

This is a revelation...a miracle. One thing there is that lies always like a stone on my heart. I sit peaceably,look at my meadow and eat whatever I like. Others in North Minneapolis sit a child at the table and do not know if a bullet might be served up as well. Thank you for this,Professor. You're the best. How much does this blog get me exactly "where I live?!" Artistically and Emotionally and Reasoning. Thank you. Merry Christmas!
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