Saturday, January 07, 2006

Money Brings Happiness

Here is another pervasive idea in the United States. I suppose it is present to some degree in any country with a capitalist economic system. And perhaps that fact - the existence of a capitalist economic system - explains why the idea is taken seriously by so many people.

Like all of the ideas that pervade society we would be well served to ask some hard questions about it. Not to idly criticize the idea. That is lazy thinking! No, the point is to make sure the ideas that form the basis of social life can survive harsh scrutiny. If they cannot, perhaps they should be replaced. This is when the real work begins. (Perhaps the creation and diffusion of new ideas needs to be addressed in future posts.)

So, here are some specific questions we should be asking about the idea that money brings happiness:

1. Where did the idea come from?
2. What causes the idea to stick around?
3. Is the idea logical?
4. Is the idea consistent with the facts?
5. Does the idea tend to support or undermine widely held values?
6. What are the social functions and social dysfunctions of the idea?

Next time I will answer questions 4 and 6.


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