Friday, April 10, 2009

Gotta Have It

...Money, like nicotine or cocaine, can activate the brain's pleasure centres, the neurological pathways that make biologically beneficial activities such as sex feel so rewarding. Of course, money does not physically enter the brain but it might work in a similar way to pornographic text, argue Lea and Webley, which can cause arousal not by giving any biochemical or physiological stimuli, but by acting through the mind and emotions.
Mark Buchanan

For the love of money is the root of all evil... God.

Me and the missus recently welcomed a new addition to the family. Yep, a new Lunatic has been added to the brood, and one of the main things on my mind right now is money.

Diapers, car seats, strollers, food, breast pumps, formula, health insurance, college and everything else in between. They call babies bundles of joy, but they should really call them bundles of debt. Those little suckers are like walking ATM debits; every time one of my babies breathes, it costs me some money.

But, I'm not here to complain. Lord knows I'm way too blessed to waste my time complaining. Nah, I brought up my changing financial situation because I read the quote above in a story about how the need, or want, for money affects our lives. Basically, folks can get addicted to the "high" of making money, the same way they can get addicted to lotion loving on the couch. I always knew that money had the power to change folks, I just didn't realize it had that kind of power.

Does the idea that money is addictive change the way you view our current economic crisis? I mean, if the greedy bankers and soccer moms who ran up mountains of debt that collapsed into ruinous rubble were actually addicted to money like Pookie loved crack, well does that make them more sympathetic? Nobody truly likes a junkie, but we typically understand that some of their actions are beyond their control because of the insidious power of dope.



While I can see and understand that argument about the addictive power of money, I can't quite put it on the level of heroin or, even, porn. Maybe it's because while I like money, it doesn't make me go crazy. I'm cheap as hell, but that doesn't mean I fiend for money. It's hard for me to imagine anyone having the same sort of addiction to money that crack produces.

Maybe I need to expand my thinking. After all, as I thought about all the things people do for money, I started to realize that it's not that far-fetched to conceive of a money addiction. People sell their bodies, they sell their souls and they generally do all manner of evil just to attain little green pieces of paper with dead white men on the front. Just think about the crazy things that happen in the world because of the mighty dollar...

Maybe this addiction thing has some legs.

If we view the love of money as an addictive behavior, does that change how we as a society view folks who are successful? Can we compare the drive to be rich to the drive to get high? If so, how horribly does it reflect on America that we have placed such an emphasis on acquiring money?

I've written in the past that the current tough economic times (TET*) cannot be blamed solely on greedy bankers and unscrupulous Wall Street traders. Most Americans are also to blame for living lifestyles that they knew in their hearts they could not afford. If this information about the addictive power of money is true, then not only are Americans the consummate consumers, but we also might all be junkies.

I don't know, it's a tough pill to swallow that some folks get their "fix" from cold cash. It makes me question my own attitudes about money and wondering if my miserly instincts are really a sign of a deeper problem. Am I frugal because it makes sense, or am I frugal because I can't bear to be without my dough?

I can't figure it out.



Darth Whitey said...

Congratulations Big Man!!

Money doesn't buy happiness, but it doesn't prevent it either. I wouldn't say the drive to be rich is like getting high, but certainly it can escalate to that after a certain point.

For instance, folks like us want to earn more money so that we can have more security, but also so that we can increase our standard of living and then maintain it. There's nothing wrong with that, even if you get to the point where the monthly expenses of maintaining your yacht, your eight homes, your private jet, and your army of servants is in the tens of millions of dollars.

The problem lies not in making wealth itself, but in how you make it, and then what you do with it. Look at Bill Gates. Here's a guy who "gets it". He built something extraordinary (yes yes and flawed) out of nothing, and now he spends all his time figuring out good ways of giving it away. He's not out trying to make more (yes yes it could be self-serving blah blah everything can be seen that way if you try hard enough.)

Deacon Blue said...

I think there is perhaps merit to this theory in some respects, but at the same time, I am amazed at how many things that were once considered personal responsibility-type issues are now "addictions."

I know addiction exists, but I am much more likely to give credence to it when neurochemical issues are directly involved...chemical from outside body goes in, balance is messed up, addiction ensues.

With things like shopping, sex, money, etc. I'm not saying people cannot have issues with them related to "addictive personalities" but in the end, I think many of them are just trying to make excuses for their behavior...or others are making excuses for them.

Big Man said...

Thanks for the comments guys.

I'm kind of on the fence with this one, as you can see from the blog.

On one hand, I see things like Deke. I think that lots of stuff has become an "addiction" that used to just be a bad habit. Since addictions are diseases, and you can't always control diseases, well it almost seems to remove responsibility.

Then again, who knows why some folks are compelled to behave in a certain way, and other folks are not. It could be a lack of willpower, or it could be an combination of a chemical imbalance and flawed rearing. If it's the latter, can I really blame folks for the bad behavior they show.

When I think about the way some folks view money and their need to have money, I can truly seem some behavior that reminds me of addiction. But, I guess in the back of my mind, I'm thinking they should be able to shake that.

MacDaddy said...

Speaking as a former counselor, I can say with conviction that simple bad habits should not be elevated to the level of addiction, or diseases that make you rob stores or abandon your children for a fix. But many people elevate their sorry behavior to a disease to rationalize to themselves and others a behavior they don't want to change. And they don't want to change because, consciously or unconsciously, they get something out of it.

blackgirlinmaine said...

Good post! To some degree I think money can be an addiction yet its a strange one because unlike drugs or alcohol its something we actually need to live. So we have to find a way to make peace with how we feel about money.

My Pops used to always say money is an energy, and I think that is true. Think about the times when you are broke, bills may be paid, you have the necessities yet you have little spare cash. I know those are the times I get annoyed easily at life. Yet let some extra cash come my way and I feel my attitude turn for the better.

MODI said...

my guess is that you are miserly out of self-preservation instincts.

And congrats on the new lunatic!!!

Raving Black Lunatic