Nothing, as far as I know, destroys our autonomy and control as much as it. Any recovering drug addict, gambler, or obese person can testify to this. When a want dominates our thinking and goals negatively then it can be the most self destructive force in our lives.
Money, like drugs and food, has the ability to cloud our thinking and dominate our desires. Many people set their goals according to how much money they can make, and make stressful life choices in order to make a more of it even if they don’t really need it.
That last statement I think deserves attention in particular. To lose the ability to make the rational choice between different choices based on clear risk reward scenarios is very dangerous. This can characterize addiction to a large extent, which makes it a taboo.
But why isn’t the greed for money taken under the same light? Why is gambling a vice to many people, but wasting one’s health and happiness to make money not considered so. Just like how hard drugs are considered evil very broadly for its adverse affects on our well being, shouldn’t money be considered so as well?
What immunizes money from the discussion? The reasons that come to mind is that the people that have the most of it have a grave interest in maintaining its importance, and they have the power and means to exercise that will. The way they can do so extends from media manipulation to direct bribery, but the means are certainly very powerful.
What’s more is that people are often unaware of this, and this can be an even bigger problem. People don’t usually think there’s any issue with this subject. This lack of awareness is exactly what makes the addiction most deadly.
The only thing more dangerous to your health than having a disease is being unaware of it.
Another reason money has broken free from the shackles of wide public criticism is that money’s hazardous effects have a much longer timeline.
Much like smoking, the problems of money addiction are only seen after a long time in most cases. Drugs on the other hand have a much shorten time period before you see the undesired effects.
A final reason is that there’s a very shady line between what amount of money a person needs to sustain a happy lifestyle and how much he wants for the sole purpose of greed. Ask 10 people how much money they think is enough for them to live comfortably and you’ll get 10 different answers. I know, I’ve tried it.
This is a problem because trying to limit one’s desired income would immediately provoke ‘communism allergies’ and fear from loss of freedom. Neither of these are necessary consequences in either case.
Whatever the reason may be, we can’t solve it on a global scale. I suppose that the best we can do, and there is much satisfaction in this for me, is to be aware of the nature of money and try to orient our goals in a way that is less dependent on it. To live a fulfilled, happy, and memorable life has very little to do, in my opinion, with how many zeros there are in your bank account.
Based on the above premise, it seems foolish then to ever prioritize money above all else. The biggest challenge, however, is to try and coexist with a society that does.