If there’s one thing I hate in this world, it’s money.
Now of course I don’t say that when someone is giving it to me, and no, I wouldn’t complain if someone handed me a million dollars. Still, at the end of the day, I can’t think of anything else that causes more relationship problems or so often brings out the worst in people.
Much like the Joker, I recently undertook a little social experiment. I sent out an email asking for money for my Ironman. I never would have thought that was as bad as loading people into boats loaded with bombs, but it seems some people disagree. That’s because, in a capitalist society, asking people to give money without offering them something in return is like owning private property in Stalinist Russia. Why?
I’ve had good friends, generous people, treat me like I’m Jessy James because I asked them for money. These same friends would cook gourmet food for me, hold my head while I turned myself inside out, or do any number of things requiring true sacrifice. Logically, given their hourly salaries and the emotional trauma, all those things are worth more than $5, but to them it’s different. Ok, but how?
Another friend offered to send me training goodies in the mail. Great, I love snacks! Still, I get the feeling that they think they’ve somehow avoided being fleeced by me. That if they just sent cash I’d go all Charlie Sheen and buy a briefcase full of coke and a posse full of hoes. Now they can rest easy knowing I’ll only be downing Gatorade. Of course, I could just use the money I’m now going to save on healthy snacks and use that money to party. Is that different somehow?
My real favorite is the friend who didn’t want to send money, but offered to give money to charity instead. If only Dr. Freud were here to work this one out with me. Is it better to give to strangers than friends? Is it that and Ironman is painful and so is giving money away, so we’ll be comrades in suffering? I’ve got it, next time a friend asks for my help moving I’m going to say “No, I won’t help, but I’ll tell you what, I’ll give my loose change to the homeless just for today!”
To be fair, some people have tried to explain their objections to me, but these are just as interesting: “You’re off in Europe enjoying life. Why should I give you money to do that?” Sounds fair, but does that mean people should only give to those less fortunate than themselves? Is giving something people do only to feel good about their own positions relative to others? If so, why do people give wedding presents? Is it simply social obligation? Shouldn’t people respond by saying “hey, you’re already happier than me since you’re in love, that should be enough for you!”?
I could go on all day, but really, at the end of the day, the sad truth is that for some reason or other most of us, myself included, would rather buy some useless piece of shit that we don’t need than give the money to someone else. $12 for a beer at a baseball game? Ok. $75 for a dinner cooked by exploited illegal immigrants? Check. $100 for a tenth pair of shoes made by child labor? No problem. $5 so my friend can do something worthwhile with his life? No way!
I’d like to end with one more experiment, and I’m serious here so play along. I’d like everyone to take a dollar out of their wallets. Just one. If you don’t have one, don’t finish reading this until you do.
Ok, now think of all the dollars you’ve wasted and just how little one dollar is worth. Hell, it couldn’t buy the left over beer at the bottom of your last glass. Now take that devalued, nearly worthless piece of currency and rip it into little pieces. Ok?
Come on… do it.
DO IT NOW!
No? Why not?
What makes money so damn special?