Thursday, May 30, 2024

For the Love Of Money.....

"For the love of money is the root of all evil." 1 Timothy 6:10

I was thinking the other night - a dangerous pastime - about how so many people in America worship the wealthy.  Whether it is Elon Musk fanboys or "Swifties" or people who follow sports stars or rap stars, it seems we all adore the wealthy and successful.  Well, maybe some do, I tend to be neutral about them.

Few people are fans of a local garage band or some obscure actor.  Few are fans of a sports player in the minor leagues or an unnoticed college athlete - I mean, other than their parents, of course.  It is only when they sign that multi-million-dollar contract that they become worthy of adulation and fandom.

And in some regard, some folks believe this is self-evident. If someone makes a lot of money, then they must have done something right or worked hard or was the best in their field.  I mean, if you won the lottery and became a billionaire, it wasn't just sheer luck - you were one of the chosen few!

Sounds stupid, but I think deep down, a lot of people think this way. Certainly billionaires do - about themselves.  But the reality is, extreme wealth is often a matter of luck.  Earning money - and more importantly, keeping it, requires real skill and hard work.  Many an athlete has signed contracts worth millions, only to be dead broke by age 40. Did they really deserve all those riches?  The folks who took the money away from them certainly didn't think so.

But it illustrates one way some folks get rich - by having fans or a following.  That seems to be the theme these days - everyone wants to be an "influencer" and have thousands of "followers."  Everyone wants to be a Main Character, but no one wants to be an ordinary person.  Problem is, not everyone can be a star.  There has to be an audience somewhere and at some time.

The quote from Timothy above is often truncated to "...[M]oney is the root of all evil!" much as 2nd Amendment types white-out the part about a well-regulated militia. No, the founding fathers didn't enact the Bill of Rights so you can go plink at old washing machines with your AR-15 on the weekends.  They had something more noble in mind.  And no, it was not insurrection.  But I digress.

The love of money is the problem, which I expounded on before.  Money itself is value-neutral - merely a tool to make an economy work in place of bartering.  But when money becomes an end in and of itself (and as a means of accumulating power) that's when it goes off the rails.

And yea, we can condemn those who hoard wealth and do evil things with it, to the detriment of a greater society.  But in most cases, it is we the citizens that allow them to accumulate wealth in the first place.  Most of these wealthy folks become wealthy not because they took our money away but because we willingly gave it to them.  Fan-boys and fan-girls hand over their life savings to go to a concert or buy the latest Apple phone or be seen in a Tesla.  And that is their choice, of course.  But you can't fly to Rio to catch the Swift concert and then text "wealth inequality sucks! - sent from my iPhone."

If we are ever to so something about wealth inequality, it begins with us.  And it begins with us not worshiping the wealthy like rock stars.  And that goes for the pretend-wealthy as well.  Marjorie Taylor Greene - the shame of Georgia - went on a Twitter rant about how Trump has contributed to society by building skyscrapers and "altering the New York City skyline" (like that hick knows anything about New York - I doubt she had ever left Georgia before she was elected!).  In other words, Trump is good because he was a successful "businessman" - although that balloon long ago popped as most if not all of his business ventures have failed and the only way he makes money is doing penny-ante things like grifting steaks and an online for-profit college.

But regardless, what I thought was interesting was that she admired Trump for his "success" - as false as it was.  In her mind, might makes right, and in this case, might is measured by dollar signs.  If you are wealthy, then you should be admired, followed, and listened to.  After all, you didn't just inherit that money and get lucky with it (or in Trump's case, squander it) - right?

Wealth-worship and worshiping the wealthy is, I believe, exactly what that quote from Timothy was getting at.  I am no Bible scholar, but reading the entire Chapter 6 of Timothy is interesting.  He (Paul) exhorts servants to serve their masters (no doubt added in translation somewhere along the way - can't have the Bible teaching Communism, can we?) provided, of course, that the master is a believer and does not blaspheme or confuse "gain" with godliness:

3 If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness;

4 He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings,

5 Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself.

Interesting.  Sounds like someone we all know - who confuses Gain with Godliness and holds his Bible upside-down, as only the Anti-Christ would do - right?

But such could be applied to anyone scrambling for wealth for wealth's sake.  Some men (and it is mostly men) try to accumulate vast sums of wealth in their lifetimes - far beyond what they need to support themselves in the foreseeable future (1 Timothy 6:19).  They still die, in the end, and their layabout children or grandchildren generally dissipate that wealth within a generation or two - or sometimes three.  It is inevitable, as each generation increases geometrically.  So what's the point?

There will always be such people, it is true.  Worshiping them, however, is to worship a false God.   Server your master (employer) if they are good people, "withdraw yourself" (quit) otherwise. But even if a rich person is a decent person who does good things, he is not worthy of worship - again a false God.

Worshiping wealth or the wealthy is just wrong.  And stupid.