Monday, January 5, 2009

Getting and Spending

So what can I tell you about. I don’t even know the guy’s name. Let’s call him Cash. Cash Money. I actually know somebody named Cash, and I actually know someone named Money. So putting them together in an amalgam name seems. Oh, I don’t know. Fitting. Fun.

So what can I tell you about Jack’s friend, Cash? Nothing really. No more than I’ve told you already. Did he serve Mammon? Which did he actually worship, God or Mammon? I don’t know. Did he feel impoverished as he went about his life? Crabbed? Miserly? Pained with self-denial? I don’t know. Did he withhold his love from others or did he lavish it upon them? Did he allow or encourage others to love him? I don’t know.

Jack was appalled, once he learned of the man’s wealth. A wealth that was carefully hoarded. Assiduously husbanded. Completely obscured. Jack says we should enjoy our wealth. Oh, not spend it all upon ourselves. But at least spend some of it on ourselves. Enjoy ourselves a little is what he asks. Why not enjoy ourselves as we are serving God? Why not take a little pleasure along the way? Why not spread the wealth a little as we go? Why save everything for the end? It’s almost like Cash was trying to buy his way into heaven.

This is what Jack thinks. These are some of Jack’s questions and concerns. But I don’t know. I do know that the engine of the economy needs fuel. Needs a little fuel from all of us to do its work. To do its life-saving, life-enhancing work. I do know that Greed is a tricky son-of-a-gun. That Greed motivates us much more than we understand. That Greed is used to standing on his head and does some of his best work in that position. That Greed dresses up in an array of costumes. That Greed in fact is almost always found in costume, wearing a mask that makes him look like someone else.

But never mind. Let’s set Cash’s extreme behavior aside for the moment and focus on what getting and spending is. We spend ourselves in getting our money, spend our time, our lives, our effort, our work, our very lives in making this value. We exchange ourselves—our work, the time allocated to us here on earth to do that work—for a value we can, if we wish, transfer to others. We can exchange ourselves and our time on earth for the improvement or the comfort or to relieve the suffering of someone else. Or we can exchange ourselves to purchase goods and services that provide comfort or enhance the value of our own non-work experience.

And this is true whether we purchase goods or services with this value or we merely hand off the value in the form of money to someone else. So getting and spending are sort of the Yin and Yang of the same thing. The left and right hands of the same organism. Or activity. Or dynamic. Or put more precisely or more vaguely or both, perhaps, creating monitory value and spending it are the inflows and outflows of. Of what? Greed? Love? Providence?

We are all economic engines, taking in fuel, putting out work. Putting out work that takes us or someone else somewhere. We are all travelers. We can enable others to travel also. Travel further and perhaps less miserably, more comfortably, than they otherwise would. But what is all this traveling for?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I love Schindler's List. It's a Wonderful Life, well. Why can't they colorize it or put it in 3-D. Come to think of SL would be better in 3-D. With more 360 angles slow-mo.