Friday, March 28, 2014

For Love Of Money

Social Ills

"They were careless people, Tom and Daisy—they smashed up things and creatures and then retired back into their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made."
F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby (1925), Ib.9

"The love of money as a possession—as distinguished from the love of money as a means to the enjoyments and realities of life—will be recognized for what it is, a somewhat disgusting morbidity, one of those semi-criminal, semi-pathological propensities which one hands over with a shudder to the specialists in mental disease."
John Maynard Keynes, Essays in Persuasion (1931), pt. V


I Need More: One of the chief obstacles to treatment of hoarding of money in its various forms as a mental illness is that accumulation of wealth is considered perfectly normal and acceptable under market capitalism. "People who hoard often don't see it as a problem, making treatment challenging," the Mayo Clinic says.
Credit & Source: The Unbounded Spirit


Hoarding is classified as a mental illness; and its effects are evident to see if one has the opportunity to visit someone who suffers this illness; such individuals collect and store items in their houses to the point that they are eventually trapped by the possession they have collected. The items have no use, no purpose for the hoarder, other than being in their possession.

The Mayo Clinic's definition of hoarding follows this line of thinking and is as follows:
Hoarding is the excessive collection of items, along with the inability to discard them. Hoarding often creates such cramped living conditions that homes may be filled to capacity, with only narrow pathways winding through stacks of clutter. Some people also collect animals, keeping dozens or hundreds of pets often in unsanitary conditions.
Hoarding, also called compulsive hoarding and compulsive hoarding syndrome, may be a symptom of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). But many people who hoard don't have other OCD-related symptoms.
People who hoard often don't see it as a problem, making treatment challenging. But intensive treatment can help people who hoard understand their compulsions and live safer, more enjoyable lives.
Then there are the hoarders of money, accumulating wealth for no discernible purpose, no different than the hoarder of items who drowns under the accumulated weight of her possessions. The only difference, in my view, is that the billionaire's habits are considered normal and even preferable in our market-capitalist economy, while that of the housewife is considered a mental aberration. Money confers, it seems, a high degree of immunity from public scorn and public scrutiny.

Yet, the hoarders of money have a far worse mental illness, in that it harms not so much themselves, but chiefly the many others outside their eccentric orbit, in that the super-wealthy move through our planet with apparent impunity, "smashing up things," as Fitzgerald notes, and expecting others to "clean up the mess." That this shows definite signs of socio-pathic behaviour is clear, as one B. Lester has eloquently pointed out:
If a man has an apartment stacked to the ceiling with newspapers we call him crazy. If a woman has a trailer house full of cats we call her nuts. But when people pathologically hoard so much cash that they impoverish the entire nation, we put them on the cover of Fortune magazine and pretend that they are role models. 
And other business magazines. Yet, it is precisely such individuals who use their mental illness to become super-wealthy, who influence our economic systems and who have a high degree of power that affects the lives and livlihoods of those who are dependent on their favour, which essentially is providing well-paying jobs. This is often not the case, since today's cohort of oligarchs tend to view their purpose in life as accumulation and acquisition. Lack of empathy and compassion inures these ones to people's personal misfortunes; such social misfits view the vast majority of people who have not "made it" as weak and inferior, and thus explaining both the contempt and arrogance.

But these men (and it is mostly men) do not view money for what its purposes chiefly are—as a tool to purchase goods and services, or as a means to invest in job-creating businesses, which has net social benefit—but as Keynes says, "a possession." Well, powerful people guard their possessions with jealousy, similar to the known views of the god of the Jewish Torah, what Christians call the Old Testament.

It might well be that the money hoarders view themselves as deities, or would-be deities, if only they could get to the top of the money pyramid and be no. 1, and have billions in their possession. And what to do with this money; well, accumulate more.

Cui bono? The answer is painfully clear; and for what purpose the hoards of money? To have and to hold, it seems; to have and to hold.

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