We’ve all heard the question before:
“Does money bring happiness?”
and we’ve all heard the various answers. We’ve heard of millionaires being miserable, we’ve heard of people with nothing being incredibly happy. and on the other side we see happy wealthy people with wealth in all areas of their life, and people who are so poor they suffer endlessly because of it.
Many of us feel that if we had more money we would be happier… almost all of us get excited about the idea of winning the lottery, a substantial raise always seems like a good thing… Yet we also realize the best things in life are free. We go camping to get away from the material world. We see the problems the lust for money creates in the world.
So what’s going on here? Why is there such conflict between the idea of money and happiness?
It is my theory that the problem with asking the question “Does money bring happiness” is that the question is flawed. My idea is that money does not directly relate to happiness at all… and if the relationship does exist, its very weak at best.
Money does however seem to have a direct 1-1 relationship which something similar… Something that when used effectively can create happiness, or when limited or not exercised properly can cause unhappiness… which in turn would explain why people with similar levels of money can be on such opposite sides of the happiness spectrum.
This 1 to 1 relationship, is the relationship between money and freedom.
Think about it. The more money a person has, the more freedom they have. And the less money a person has, the less freedom they have. The relationship is direct and complete.
On the poor side of the spectrum you loose the freedom to live in the kind of house you want, drive the kind of car you want or even own a car, put your kids in the types of schools you want, receive adequate healthcare (in some countries), you have no freedom to travel, and if you get poor enough you might not even have the freedom to buy food and survive. When money drops to 0 and without other intervening factors, you loose even the freedom to live, as hundreds of thousands do around the world every single day.
On the opposite side of the spectrum you have those free to see the world, buy the things they want, make more money rather easily, have the best healthcare, the safest security, get the best education, have the most free time, have the best experiences, control others, with enough money they may even be able to transcend the rules of the law by paying off the local law enforcement.
and those in the middle will have an average degree of freedom in these areas.
Now of course some of these freedom factors can relate to happiness, but you can clearly see that the relationship between money is directly to freedom and the rest is just an after effect of that.
Now when we accept that money = freedom and lack of money = lack of freedom we can begin to notice something rather off putting. We are all born without money, so we are all born with a serious lack of freedom, (apart from the freedom our parents provide to us)… essentially we are all born into a world of slavery where we must earn our freedom through countless hours of education and hard work.
Now of course some of us are lucky and born into families that already contain a high level of freedom, so we can have a lot of our freedom easily given to us… or we can be given great opportunities to earn a bit of our own freedom quite easily… But the sad truth is most aren’t so lucky and a great deal of the planet is born into families who have little or no freedom to spare.
Based on this understanding we can see that our freedom is directly limited by the amount of money that we have. Now while the majority of us in the rich countries have a large enough amount of freedom that we don’t really feel our freedom is all that restricted (except for our 9-5 jobs in which we have accepted as normal and necessary) we are around the world beginning to see the problems with this correlation. The big problem with this relationship is the idea of debt that we have created.
Money is essentially created out of thin air through the fractional reserve banking system, and must be repaid. However once the application of interest is put on top of it, there is less money in existence than that which needs to be repaid. This results in the necessity to add more and more money into the system resulting in less value for each dollar, and a need to accumulate more and more to maintain our level of freedom. In turn this creates higher and higher debts and less and less worldly freedoms.
In case I’m not being clear… “If all debts in the world were paid off, there wouldn’t be a single dollar in existence”
This of course helps to explain why the US debt is over 14 trillion dollars… and rising.
One of the questions I hope this article raises is: “What type of freedoms should be universal for human beings?” and of course, this question must be considered from the perspective that money = freedom. Should human beings be born with the freedom to have access to food and water? Or should that be a freedom that has to be fought for and earned? Our current minimum level of freedom on earth, is welfare in some countries, a couple homeless programs and stuff like that in the rich countries, and practically nothing but the occasional food drive for the hundreds of thousands in poverty around the world. With technologies in existence such as hydro/aquaponics, earthship homes, super-capacitors, renewable energies, and countless countless others, should we really have such a low default level of freedom on earth?
Another thing to consider is our maximum level of freedom. Currently our maximum level of freedom is based on how much money we have. The estimated number of millionaires in the world, (people with a good deal, but far from limitless amount of freedom) is 10,000,000 which is only 0.15% of the worlds population. Is this the best system we should be basing our freedom off? One that only provides a good deal of freedom to 0.15% of the world?
So how can we do better?
What if instead our freedom was not limited by money, but instead limited by the state of our technological advancements and the resources of the earth. What if the freedom to eat was not based off of how much money a person had, but instead how much food the combined efforts of the world could produce through advanced technologies? What if the freedom to travel was not based off money but instead how many automated renewable energy transportation systems we could create?
This is just a vague unexplained surface scratch of the ideas this train of thought produces, but the rest is far beyond the scope of this article. One thing we can see is that instead of our freedom being based off of money and the growing debts that are plaguing the system, if our freedom was based off of advances in technology and science it would always be growing and evolving. Essentially all people on the planet would become more and more free as our technology improves further and further. Now that’s interesting.
The train of thought I’m referring to of that of a Resource Based Economy. An intro to these ideas can be seen here:
In-case your not buying the whole ‘we are kind of slaves’ thing, here is another interesting perspective about the idea of how we are not very free: