All the money in the world is not enough

This is interesting and jibes with my view of the role money/taxes plays in politics:

Simply being highly paid isn’t enough. To be happy, people need to perceive themselves as being more highly paid than their friends and work colleagues.

“Our study found that the ranked position of an individual’s income best predicted general life satisfaction, while the actual amount of income and the average income of others appear to have no significant effect,” says lead researcher Chris Boyce of the department of psychology at the University of Warwick.

Earning a million pounds a year appears to be not enough to make you happy if you know your friends all earn 2 million a year.”

(bold mine)

Broadly speaking, liberal policies are based on the notion that it’s important for everyone to have basic necessities, conservative ones on the notion that it’s important for some people to have more money than other people. At first blush, one would think that liberal policies would have much broader appeal. But this study shows why that isn’t necessarily the case.

90 replies
  1. 1
    tofubo says:

    almost OT, if the righties don’t want their taxes to subsidize others with their insurance payments to the insurance companies, they should lobby the business owners to pay the employees enough so they don’t hit the triggers that warrant being helped

  2. 2
    Tom Q says:

    Two old but germane quotes.

    The first (I can’t remember the source, but it might be Oscar Wilde): “It is not enough to succeed — others must fail”

    The other, courtesy Mr. Burns on The Simpsons — “I have all the money I could possibly want — but I’d give it all up for just a little more”

  3. 3
    Robertdsc-iphone says:

    I’ve seen this in sports for a while. At one point a pitcher had a clause in his contract that he be the highest paid pitcher, so the team had to add a dollar to his contract to make it so. Ridiculous.

  4. 4
    Lev says:

    It’s called pride. There’s a reason it’s a deadly sin.

  5. 5

    Someone here once said:

    “[Today’s Conservatives] would be happy living homeless under a bridge cooking sparrows over a trash can fire, as long as the family under the next bridge over didn’t have any sparrows.”

  6. 6
    Osprey says:

    OT (well, kinda fits in with the narrative lately)-Not sure if anybody saw this or posted yet (apologies if so), but it was a terrific read.

    http://tpmcafe.talkingpointsme.....php?ref=mp

  7. 7
    Bob K says:

    Maybe it’s just a case of “If we wish really really hard, one day we’ll be just like them.” I’d like a unicorn for Christmas. Hope Santa notices how good I’ve been this year.

    Reading about the G(NO)P senators going home after 2 p.m.

    How long till they start throwing temper tantrums and holding their breath till they turn blue the rest of the day? Oh wait, they’re already doing that. Carry On.

  8. 8
    Xecky Gilchrist says:

    To be happy, peoplegreedheads need to perceive themselves as being more highly paid than their friends and work colleagues.

    I don’t actually care what my friends and colleagues make, and I know some of them are worth a higher salary than I am. Somehow I muddle through – not always happy, but when I’m down, that isn’t why.

  9. 9
    J.A.F. Rusty Shackleford says:

    There was a study a number of years ago that determined that people aren’t as interested in making more money as they are in making more money than their co-workers.

  10. 10
    PeakVT says:

    Yeah. Unfortunately, what people want is relative power, not absolute wealth. That explains why banker and executive bonuses keep getting cranked up year after year despite the fact that the compensation has long been beyond the point of having added utility. They don’t really care about the money; they just care about the prestige of earning more than the other guys at the country club.

    ETA: The up side to this is that having a high top marginal rate (over 50%) wouldn’t kill the economy. The elites would just find another way to inflate their prestige.

  11. 11
    media browski says:

    We’re not selling happiness, we’re selling good policy. It’s good policy to ameliorate income disparities b/c, as the study shows, they make people unhappy. This leads directly to the old econometric observation that greater income disparity results in higher crime rates.

    Funny how the right thing to do morally is often the right thing to policy-wise.

  12. 12
    Michael says:

    Conservatives don’t think that they’ve benefitted knowledge gleaned from 10000 years of human experience, nor by the sort of stability that comes from an educated populace and a mostly functional/efficient civil and criminal justice system.

    And they haven’t benefitted one iota from an infrastructure paid for by tax dollars – maintenance or improvement might result in there being a clamor for more dollars for Strapping Young Bucks and Welfare Cadillac Queens.

  13. 13
    jl says:

    The economist, Robert H. Frank, explored the implications of a person’s perceived welfare being related to relative rank in consumption and status, as well as the level absolute consumption.

    His first book on the idea and implicatios for public policy is:

    Choosing the Right Pond: Human Behavior and the Quest for Status

    It will be interesting if the results of the study are confirmed and extended. Might be first real opportunity to connect conventional ‘welfare economics’ theory to the real world (so some parts of economics could make a small move towards real, as opposed to sketchy scientism and ideology).

    Disclaimer: I am an economist, so can slam certain odd aspects of the econ tribe if I want to, based on my knowledge of those numbers thingees and geometrical statistical logic, since I found the key to get to the strawberries!

  14. 14
    Michael says:

    One more thing – conservatives are happy to steal your shit, and then want you to pay taxes to support police and military forces that will prevent you from dealing with the fact that they stole your shit from you.

  15. 15
    cleek says:

    @Xecky Gilchrist:
    ditto

    i’d be equally happy at half my current pay. sure, i’d have to drink less single-malt. but that’d probably be for the best…

  16. 16
    Arclite says:

    Can’t attitudes like this be mitigated through training/education? Have any studies been done showing this?

  17. 17
    ruemara says:

    *sigh* I’d like to earn 40k again. It’s been 10 years and I never felt richer in my life than when I finally was earning the big bucks. fuck everyone else, who cares. At least I could afford to care for my family. People who worry about everyone earning more than themselves are idiots with no problems. I’d like to slap them.

  18. 18
    Sentient Puddle says:

    I suppose it helps that I have no idea what my friends and fellow co-workers make.

  19. 19
    Butch says:

    Well, then, considering my income I guess I should just have myself ground into cat food and get it over with.

  20. 20
    Warren Terra says:

    @Robertdsc-iphone:
    What idiot employer signed that contract?
    If only he could have managed to have another pitcher sign the same deal with another team – infinite money!

  21. 21

    I’m 12 and what is this

    I don’t even

    ????

  22. 22
    Menzies says:

    @Arclite:

    You must be kidding. Train our children – America’s future – to avoid one-upmanship, to be happy with less, to be free from greed? What kind of pinko are you?

    No, but seriously. I’m not sure that studies have been done, but I do know that economics, even in Europe, has taken to following the tendency that this is exactly how human beings operate, psychologically speaking.

  23. 23
    flukebucket says:

    @cleek:

    i’d be equally happy at half my current pay.

    At half my current pay I would be eating sparrows under a bridge

  24. 24
    JGabriel says:

    OT, but this really is hilarious. I just the last few minutes laughing my ass off. Gawker presents Joe Biden’s Greatest Gaffes (via Wonkette ).

    .

  25. 25
    Jeremy H. Boob, Ph.D. says:

    Love the shout-out to Liz Phair.

    (in the post title)

  26. 26
    Nellcote says:

    “Earning a million pounds a year appears to be not enough to make you happy if you know your friends all earn 2 million a year.”

    I must be wired wrong as this does not apply personally and never has.

  27. 27
    kay says:

    I don’t feel like this and have never in my working life felt like this.

    I compare to what I “used to make” or “made ten years ago” but I never compare with other people.

    And I’ve been unhappy at jobs for lots of reasons, but it was always bigger than comparative pay.

  28. 28
    cleek says:

    you said things I wouldn’t say
    straight to my face, boy

  29. 29
    aimai says:

    I remember an earlier study that argued that people routinely thought they’d be happy if they made a third again as much as they currently made. I loved that study because it showed that people’s expectations were, in fact, very tailored to their own specific histories and their own specific class and age location/lifestyle.

    aimai

  30. 30
    Nellcote says:

    @JGabriel:

    I’m amazed that Biden saying fuck(ing) is a two day story.

  31. 31
    freelancer says:

    REALLY OT- But I’m beginning to suspect that one of Sully’s interns monitors my blog.

    I literally posted this last night, and he just posted it as a Hathos Alert within the last 20 minutes. It’s not viral or anything, it only has 45k views, and there was a weird thing about 3-4 weeks ago where he posted something I had posited previously as well, but I chalked it up to “Eh, the web is nonlinear and coincidental, so this probably happens all the time”.

    eerie.

  32. 32
    DonkeyKong says:

    The germans have a word for this.

  33. 33
    Sue says:

    Isn’t there something we forgot? You have to earn more than your friends/neighbors/coworkers while making sure everyone knows that you did it ALL BY YOURSELF with NO HELP FROM ANYONE.

  34. 34

    @Nellcote: You have just underlined the awesome utility of Joe Biden right there.

    Somebody up for a ethics investigation? Hmm, let’s get Joe Biden’s opinion on that….

    *SHORYUKEN!*


    Instant narrative shift.

  35. 35
    Ed Drone says:

    I had a friend who made about two or three times what I was making at the time. He complained, “After paying for housing, food, clothes, the car and all, there’s nothing left for ‘living.'”

    I answered him, “If you can pay for housing, food, clothes, the car and all, you ARE living!”

    Somehow, now that I make about what he was making then, I’m still not really paying for all those things without going into debt. Wonder what happened?

    On another tack, someone noted recently that the high cost of living somehow hasn’t hurt its popularity.

    Ed

  36. 36
    bartkid says:

    >“Earning a million pounds a year appears to be not enough to make you happy if you know your friends all earn 2 million a year.”

    So, make friends with broke people to be happy?

    Or, don’t ask people what they earn.

  37. 37

    @freelancer: Then I thank both his interns and you for your labors, because that was a great find. That thoom-thoom chorus is still all up in my jesushead.

  38. 38
    some guy says:

    “Broadly speaking, liberal policies are based on the notion that it’s important for everyone to have basic necessities, conservative ones on the notion that it’s important for some people to have more money than other people, conservative ones on the notion that it’s important for some people to have more money than other people.”

    I think one big difference between the two is that liberals for the most part do not begrudge some people having more money than others, while conservatives really do seem to hate the idea that everyone should be entitled to the basic necessities.

  39. 39
    jl says:

    @JGabriel: All of Krazy Train Joe’s gaffes are equally great. As a new fan of the old goofus, I am deeply offended that they would favor some gaffes over others.

  40. 40
    Stooleo says:

    My favorite quote from John Scalzi’s famous rant “I Hate Your Politics”

    Not every conservative is an old wealthy white man on his third wife, but nearly every conservative aspires to be so, which is a real waste of money, youth, race and women. Genuinely fear and hate those who are not “with” them — the sort of people who would rather shit on a freshly-baked cherry pie than share it with someone not of their own tribe.

  41. 41
    Tonal Crow says:

    My take (as usual) is that this behavior had survival benefits during most of our evolution. If an animal has more food, a better nest, and a healthier mate than nearby animals, it will be more likely than the others to survive bad times. Such survival differences will tend to make traits that contribute to higher comparative wealth more common. One of those traits might be elevated happiness when an animal has higher comparative wealth.

    We are animals with a big cortexes and a veneer of socialization. We forget that at our peril (e.g., Rove).

  42. 42
    freelancer says:

    @Jason Bylinowski:

    If you like that, you’ll also dig this Ke$ha parody.

  43. 43
    gnomedad says:

    What’s remarkable is the number of people who cheer for the right at the same time they are being screwed because they expect one day to have more money and power than the losers or need to blame “the liberals: to explain why they have failed to do so.

  44. 44
    Lisa says:

    Ruemara I am with you on that.

    Why worry about that shit? Many, many of the people I have been friends with since childhood have become millionaires many times over. I don’t feel broker or less happy because of it. The parties and presents have gotten way better. And that, my friend, is a plus in my book.

    If you can pay your bills and put a little something away for a nice holiday, you are doing swell. That shit makes me plenty happy.

  45. 45
    Bill Section 147 says:

    @Robertdsc-iphone: Sports Salaries. If I am the highest paid shortstop, I am the best, by definition.

  46. 46
    Menzies says:

    @some guy:

    I pretty much agree. I’m not sure conservatives hate the idea of “basic necessities” for everyone so much as they see their own money flowing into said necessities, and moreover their concept of “basic necessities” about matches the average family’s quality of life in Haiti.

    That said, I’m a liberal and I sure as hell begrudge some having more money than others – but mostly because I have a hardcore hate-on for anyone who hasn’t earned their money, and tons of the rich and obscenely rich in America fall into that category nowadays.

  47. 47
    Sentient Puddle says:

    @Nellcote:

    I’m amazed that Biden saying fuck(ing) is a two day story.

    I’m sure people like us, who absolutely agree with Biden, put the quote on t-shirts, and want to name reform the “Big Fucking Deal” play a part in this.

    Inasmuch as that’s the case, I’m not complaining.

  48. 48
    Tax Analyst says:

    @Nellcote:

    @JGabriel said:

    I’m amazed that Biden saying fuck(ing) is a two day story.

    @

    I think Obama should adopt this aspect of Biden’s personality, as in “Didn’t we just stomp the fucking shit out of Boehner & McConnell and all those other NOPER-GOPER dick-wads? Fuck yes, we did.”

  49. 49
    liberty60 says:

    As I mentioned in another thread, this is why the wingnut who lives in a double wide trailer isn’t happy until the strapping young buck next door is forced to live in a single wide.

  50. 50
    Bubblegum Tate says:

    @cleek:

    Anytime’s a good time for Liz Phair!

  51. 51
    General Egali Tarian Stuck says:

    Money

    Can’t Buy Me Love

  52. 52
    Folderol and Ephemera says:

    “I don’t want the world. I just want your half.”
    TMBG

  53. 53
    WaterGirl says:

    Now that Blanche Lincoln will vote “no” on the senate health care bill, MoveOn wants contributions for Bill Halter, who is running against her.

    All these primary challengers are blurring together for me – do we like Bill Halter? A quick google tells me his is against abortion personally but pro choice. Is he just as conservative, or more conservative, than Blanche Lincoln?

    I want to see her out of office – I’d like to see every Dem who votes no out of office – but not if the likely winner in November will be worse.

  54. 54
    General Egali Tarian Stuck says:

    @WaterGirl:

    I want to see her out of office – I’d like to see every Dem who votes no out of office – but not if the likely winner in November will be worse.

    This

  55. 55
    TooManyJens says:

    @WaterGirl: People who know more about that race than I do say that Lincoln is toast in the general. I get the sense that at this point, deciding whether to support Halter is a case of deciding whether you want Lincoln to lose now or in November.

  56. 56
    some guy says:

    Sure, but I was thinking more along the lines that liberals are not, well, communists… which is sort of the implication of the dichotomy DougJ outlined above.

    I mean, liberals aren’t advocating that street sweepers should make the same salary as doctors, or that university professors are awful people because they make more money than elementary school teachers. We have no problem with the idea that some people make more than others, generally speaking.

    And just because we believe in a minimum standard of living doesn’t mean we necessarily want to proscribe a maximum standard of living, too.

  57. 57
    meander says:

    There is also plenty of research on happiness that shows that one can become happy by reaching a certain plateau, and going beyond that might cause a temporary increase in happiness, but one that quickly fades away. For example, buying that new house will feel exciting for a little while, but the feeling will fade over time and you’ll be wanting something else. The work of Sonja Lyubomirsky (professor of psychology at the University of California at Riverside and author of “The How of Happiness: A New Approach to Getting the Life You Want” ) looks into this.

    Because, of course, it’s pretty damn hard to be happy if you’re starving or living under a bridge. But if you have the basic necessities, you can take steps to have a rich family life or a fulfilling social life, and so on.

    A call-in radio program from KQED covered some of these topics. MP3 download available here: http://www.kqed.org/epArchive/R812261000

  58. 58
    CalD says:

    The obvious solution then would be to tax away everything anyone makes above a million pounds. Then, once someone reaches that point they can finally be happy.

  59. 59
    Menzies says:

    @some guy:

    I should’ve phrased things better. I’m not disagreeing with you, though I’ve been described as having “a Communist mindset” before. Must be the Cuban in me. You were right all along.

  60. 60
    NobodySpecial says:

    @aimai:

    I think a large (and unsaid part) of it all is also the need to belong. I know I myself worry about social interactions with people because I’m as blue collar as blue collar gets. I have distrust that other people can be truly impartial and not color me with what I do or how much I make. I’m sure most other people have at least flashes of that as well.

  61. 61
    Randy P says:

    I used to live in Montgomery County, MD, in a house that we bought for under $100K but where all the neighboring houses were probably $200-250K and up. And when they built new houses on our street, those started at $350K.

    I knew what our mortgage cost us in terms of strain on the budget and I was making pretty decent money. I used to wonder if everyone in the entire county was really making 4+ times what I made, or were they just living way beyond their means.

    Montgomery County has a reputation for a high median income, but still. EVERYBODY can’t be a stockbroker or lawyer, can they?

  62. 62
    Citizen Alan says:

    I actually feel like I have personally experienced this issue. When I first got out of college with a teaching degree, I was making $21,000 a year on my first teaching job, and I thought I was richer than Solomon. When I went on vacation, I actually flew in a real honest to gosh airplane (something neither of my parents have ever done in their 75+ years on this planet).

    Twelve years and one law degree later, I’m clerking for a federal judge making four times my previous salary, and I was constantly insecure about money, because now instead of having a peer group of public school teachers who were making the same salary but who had families to support, I was constantly surrounded by big-shot private practice attorneys who regularly gave more to charity every year than I took home as income. It was a big factor in my leaving government work back in 2006 for private practice, unfortunately right as the Bush Depression was going into full swing. Now, I kind of miss that teacher’s salary. :)

  63. 63
    aimai says:

    NobodySpecial,
    I think that’s a very good point. I take it that you are arguing that the people in the “1/3” again as much study are really thinking “I make the same now as everyone else in my social circle and I’m having trouble getting the luxuries, or the security, that just a bit more money would grant me just like they are. If I only had a third more money I could take care of my bills, do a bit better than the rest, but still be comfortably in the same milieu.” 1/3 more than you make is an amount that is profoundly *relational* and not transformative. Its the amount people might offer up that enables them both to remain who they are, with more or less the same relationships, duties, and assets but which decreases liabilities or increases security.

    Its the difference between hoping for a small raise in your current job, and hoping to win the lottery so you can quit your job entirely.

    aimai

  64. 64
    Citizen Alan says:

    Also, I can say with some degree of confidence that if I were making a million dollars a year, I would live on something around $50k a year and then retire after five years rather than sit around moaning about how other millionaires were doing better than me. I consider workaholics to be an alien species.

  65. 65
    Josie says:

    I wonder if this could be a cultural phenomenon. Years ago, when researching the Hispanic culture, I read that their outlook was the opposite. If you were the only family on the block with a color television or a refrigerator, it was bad manners to let people know. It was considered bad form to be better off than your neighbors. This belief probably didn’t make for upward mobility, but did keep peace in the neighborhood. Does anyone know if there are other cultures with similar tendencies?

  66. 66
    Rich T says:

    Doug J

    Almost! Liberalism did for a long time believe in very high marginal rates of tax, which effectively put a salary cap on most people. This reduces the disparities that cause unhappiness.

  67. 67

    Damn Joneses. I hate those people!

  68. 68
    kay says:

    @Randy P:

    That was really hard during the Bush “rack up crazy amounts of debt” years if you weren’t doing that.

    My daughter used to complain “why are we so poor?”

    I’d tell her we’re not poor, we just spend what we make, and they spend more than they make. She got it, though. She’s good with money, and she treats debt like a horrible fever she might catch if she goes too close to a lender.

  69. 69
    MattR says:

    @Citizen Alan: I was unemplotyed in NYC about 9 years ago after I got laid off by an Internet starup company. One area that I was looking at was programming financial systems on Wall Street. A recruiter was telling me I could start at a salary around $120K and get up to $250K or more in annual compensation pretty quickly. My first comment to the recruiter was that it would be great to double (or better) my salary because I could save up a ton of money and retire earlier down the line or take a lengthy sabbatical at some point. His response was that he had heard that line before but pretty much everyone who said it ended up spending all the extra $$ once they took the job, largely because you spend a lot of time around other peolpe who spend money like water.

    I ended up deciding that the stress was not worth the extra money. It took me a bit longer to find a job outside of Wall Street, but I am still here almost 9 years later.

  70. 70
    Dave says:

    “not enough to make you happy”

    Yeah, this is the point of conspicuous consumption. Veblen ftw a century ago.

  71. 71
    liberal says:

    @some guy:

    We have no problem with the idea that some people make more than others, generally speaking.

    The problem isn’t that some people make more than others. The problem is that some people make a lot of money by collecting economic rents. In other words, a lot of money for doing nothing productive, usually based on unfair advantage gained through government-granted privileges.

  72. 72
    liberal says:

    @Menzies:

    tons most of the rich and obscenely rich in America fall into that category nowadays.

    Fixt.

  73. 73
    someguy says:

    Studies also show that 54 percent of people are abject morons.

    I just made that number up but it’s true.

    And Some Guy, what’s up with the name? Do I have to change my name to Somefuckinotherguy now?

  74. 74
    CJ says:

    Tim:

    I, like you, am puzzled as to why liberal ideas don’t have more appeal. However, I’d like to point out that your statement that “it’s important for some people to have more money than other people” isn’t so much a conservative cause as an effect. In other words, other than the truly odd ducks out on the edges, I feel that you’d likely have trouble finding conservative people to actually support your statement. Rather, I think it more accurate that conservatives would support a system where one person could have more money that other people, the system being impartial as to who has what. On its face, this isn’t particularly controversial.

    That said, I’ve never been too sure how one can make the leap from health care to full blown whatever-ism.

    CJ

  75. 75
    agio says:

    I believe it was Mencken who said, “A rich man is someone who earns a hundred dollars more a year than his wife’s sister’s husband.”

  76. 76
    MattR says:

    @someguy:

    Studies also show that 54 percent of people are abject morons.

    Reminds me of my favorite Carlin line: Think about how stupid the average American is. Now realize that half the country is dumber than that.

  77. 77
    Dave Paulson says:

    I agree with whoever said that this behavior links back to our evolutionary past. It’s all tied to “fight or flight.” But more than that, it’s really based on a scarcity mentality. The rank and file red-winger isn’t trying to make a million. They’re just trying to keep the socialist liberals from giving away what little they have to a bunch of lazy illegals, minorities and other freaking commies.

    At the end of the day, it’s not their greed that’s the problem. It’s their fear, and Satan spawn like Beck and Limbaugh do everything they can to scare the living crap out ’em.

  78. 78
    Genine says:

    Soylent Green is Tasty!

    Now that HCR has passed… that’ll freakout right-wingers even more. DEATH PANELS!

    Ha! Good one. :)

    OOps: Wrong thread. But it’s still a good sub-header.

  79. 79
    liberty60 says:

    Back in the day, when I was a conservative, I saw it as a manifestation of natural human diversity, that incomes would be scattered along a bell curve, even in a perfect world.

    I still do, in fact; But what has changed for me, I would now make a conservative argument for “spreading the wealth around”, in Obama’s words.

    A well-ordered society, where there is peace and stability, depends in large part on a widespread understanding of justice; that we see those who are rich or poor, and accept the justice of it.

    When the upper quintile sees wild exponential gains, as they have over the past couple decades, while the rest of us see stagnation or worse, this makes it impossible to see this as a natural dispersion; there just isn’t any reasonable explanation for how one tiny segment somehow earned that wealth, other than unjustly. In the 1960’s, a CEO might earn 75 times the base pay of his workers; today its something like 475 to 1.

    So this wild inequality isn’t just unfair- it knocks the legs out from the supports that build society’s sense of cohesion, and justice; its why even a few isolated cases of executing innocent people cause an earthquake of anxiety and shock- it leads you to question the basic premise of the system.

  80. 80
    agio says:

    I saw it as a manifestation of natural human diversity, that incomes would be scattered along a bell curve, even in a perfect world.

    Seems to me more like a Pareto distribution.

  81. 81
    Sister Machine Gun of Quiet Harmony says:

    @Sue:
    That isn’t entirely truth. None of the neocons seem particularly bothered that they owe everything to nepotism. It really is fun imagining what they would have done with out their parents setting up a career for them:

    Jonah Goldberg fired from McDonalds for stealing fries
    William Kristol running a tanning sallon.
    Etc.

  82. 82
    very reverend crimson fire of compassion says:

    @freelancer (itouch): Credit where credit is due:
    The gorgeous quote was by Davis X Machina, and it goes

    *The* salient fact in American politics is that there are always enough people to deliver an election who would *volunteer* to live with their family in a cardboard box under a railroad bridge, and toast sparrows on an old curtain rod over an open fire, if you would only guarantee them that the people in the next box over — black, gay, foreign, liberal, different — don’t even get the sparrow.”

    Thank you. That is all.

  83. 83
    Sister Machine Gun of Quiet Harmony says:

    God. I can’t spell.

  84. 84
    JadedOptimist says:

    After a certain point, the quest for more more more money seems to turn into an addiction. I would guess it is more like a food addiction than her oin or other drugs in that we all need SOME money to survive.

    But after a certain point- a point I’m not likely to see, but can imagine- there is little, if any, personal utility gained from having more money than you currently do. But some people, like the banksters, the Wall Street kings of the universe, Bernie Madoff, take huge risks to amass still more. The money is probably substituting for some self-perceived failing, just as massive food consumption does for others.

    It’s addiction, pure and simple, and as addicts they will do anything for the thrill of their next hit. Doesn’t matter who they hurt along the way.

  85. 85
    WereBear says:

    I’ve always felt that greed had its roots in the fact that they substitute money for other needs, such as emotional ones.

    These needs aren’t satisfied that way, and so there is never enough money.

  86. 86
    some other guy says:

    @someguy:

    “And Some Guy, what’s up with the name? Do I have to change my name to Somefuckinotherguy now?”

    Haha. Sorry. I’ll post under a different name from now on.

  87. 87
    NobodySpecial says:

    @aimai:

    I take it that you are arguing that the people in the “1/3” again as much study are really thinking “I make the same now as everyone else in my social circle and I’m having trouble getting the luxuries, or the security, that just a bit more money would grant me just like they are. If I only had a third more money I could take care of my bills, do a bit better than the rest, but still be comfortably in the same milieu.”

    That’s certainly part of it. The other part I’m thinking of, though, is the very real fact of classism in America. Most of us in the bottom half are very aware of the fact that we ARE in the bottom, and we see so few move beyond that. That reinforces the idea that in order to move beyond being a peasant, you’d better make the dough. I myself am not full of self esteem and would have a hard time chasing a woman above my social/economic/educational class because of it, and I’m hardly an exception.

  88. 88
    Fred Fnord says:

    Wow. Just wow.

    I will say that I felt somewhat put-upon at my old job, because I worked 70-hour weeks and was paid less than 75% of the rest of the company, despite being a ‘manager’. So maybe there really is some of that at work in there.

    In my current job, though, I’m working 40 hours a week and doing rewarding, interesting work. I’m well aware that I make less than the majority of people in my group, but… eh, I have plenty of what I need, for the moment. The only times when I wish I was making more is when I look at the cost of moving into a different apartment, which would cost me on average around an extra $10k per year. Ack.

    The perils of living in San Francisco.

    -fred

  89. 89
    Dave Paulson says:

    @liberty60

    We’re on the same page. Different pay for different work is a healthy motivation to excel, but when it gets as far out of line as it is today, it breeds nothing by discontent. This disparity is definitely a big part of the current unrest. And BTW, the numbers I have are 24:1 in 1965 and 431:1 in 2004.

  90. 90
    RonG says:

    As a conservative, all I want is what I’ve earned. Problem is, it’s the same thing for a liberal…

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