Sunday, 31 July 2016

The Meaning of Money

Stephen Hawking writes about our attitude to wealth. 

I don’t know what I would do with a racehorse, or indeed a Ferrari, even if I could afford one. So I have come to see money as a facilitator, as a means to an end – whether it is for ideas, or health, or security – but never as an end in itself. 

We hear about Sir Philip Green whose Knighthood is supposed to be under some or other scrutiny because of his involvement in destroying BHS, though he's done nothing illegal.  He owns how many yachts? 5? 27? 3? At £100million a pop it's all a bit academic.

One. Hundred. Million. Pounds. Spent on one yacht. Just let that settle into your mind for a moment.

On one occasion while in Switzerland early on in my career, I developed pneumonia, and my college at Cambridge, Gonville and Caius, arranged to have me flown back to the UK for treatment. Without their money I might not have survived to do all the thinking that I’ve managed since then. Cash can set individuals free, just as poverty can certainly trap them and limit their potential, to their own detriment and that of the human race.

Money is like fire, intrinsically neither good nor bad, just a tool. It can save one persons life. It can manifest yet another yacht for someone who wants more than one yacht.

Money has always signified a persons worth; people who don't have much are considered individually, personally much less valuable than individual people who do, and the more money one has the more valuable one is. We know that happiness is linked to money but there remains a myth of "We Woz Pore But We Woz Happy" Cui bono? What does this myth serve?

There's some research to show that having above £56.5k only makes you happier if you're investing in other people's happiness. And an Office of National Statistics study suggests that the richer we become the happier we are, but this article proposes more nuance.

What the people here who became rich overnight are saying is that they feel isolated and their lives have lost meaning.

which is perhaps why so many lottery winners return to work.

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