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The Diminishing Power of Money

This notion of the diminishing power of money is powerful in itself, reversing a pattern that has been in effect for thousands of years. Especially with globalization, it’s difficult to live without the ‘almighty dollar.’ There are a number of lenses which can be invoked, but let’s start with the current election cycle.

The guy spending the most money is losing. That should be impossible in a world where money rules, impossible in our consumer culture where we are told what to think and do, rich only in propaganda. We can discuss Mitt Romney’s weaknesses as a candidate [or Obama’s as a president], but that supposedly doesn’t matter when ‘consumers’ can be sold anything. Yet what we’re seeing, in spite of massive amounts of campaign dollars, is that there is a saturation point, whereafter more money doesn’t translate to better poll numbers. Even the most rabid consumer has a bit of citizen within themselves, waiting to emerge.

Of course in the case of our government, there is not yet a diminishing of the power of money. If there was, we would see some effort toward governing. Instead we see fierce obstructionism and the constant nod and wink to corporate behemoths. Barring a fresh wind in the upcoming election, the federal government will be the last place we see the diminishing power of money. And corporate-owned media will be the last to talk about it.

Yet on the local level we’re seeing all sort of examples of folks working together to reduce the primacy of money. We’re seeing urban farming and community gardens explode. [Beyond air and water our biggest need is food. Duh!] We’re seeing activism and social awareness burgeoning all over the place even now. We’re seeing new groups and new projects emerge. And we’re seeing a host of new groups, like Cleveland’s GreenCity BlueLake, Cincinnati’s CoreChange or Agraria in Yellow Springs - and this just a taste from Ohio.

One of the silver linings of the 2008 Financial Meltdown [don’t get me started] was that as cities, counties and states became forced to cut programs and people, passionate folks started to look for and find work-arounds. If there are less police we better get to know each other better. If there’s no public assistance for housing we better get creative in considering homelessness. If there are no jobs in the classical sense, we better find new ways to support ourselves.

This in no way justifies the Disaster Capitalism inflicted on us by psychopathic elites, but it does show how, still today, necessity is the mother of invention. And these bastards and this corrupt system, failing mightily in anything life-supporting, have created the necessity of a new cultural paradigm.

Studies conclude that the presumed relationship between happiness and money, beyond the basic level of having needs met, is false. Indeed, wealthier folks often give up quality of life moments like socializing for long hours or long commutes, which are not so fun and tend to create stress [just like food or safety insecurities]. Mitt Romney’s recent comments about some 47% that don’t pay taxes and feel like victims is false in so many ways it deserves scrutiny only for its foolishness.

Perhaps the most important aspect of the diminishing power of money is within each of us. We widely understand now that the so-called American Dream is a nightmare. That buying the latest and greatest to be happy is a false idea, and one that wreaks havoc on our ecosystems. That some McMansion far removed from neighbors and community is desirable. That in trying to get ahead we but alienate ourselves from our sisters and brothers. [It’s tough to focus on ‘winning’ and being together at the same time.]

Busted. That dream is over, except for the few who refuse to open their eyes, the few that hold onto what they were taught by this failed culture until they lose their fingers, and then wonder how they lost them. Cognitive dissonance is a poor strategy for happiness.

We, as in people across the planet, are waking up to our citizenship and rejecting the consumer identity. This is ultimately what Occupy Wall Street and the Arab Spring and so much else going on these days is about. One can argue that this outcome was inevitable, given the recent and now constant overreaching of the corporate overlords. One can also argue that things will get worse before they get better, given the now-consistent fundamental of a shrinking middle class.

What is certain, and far more easily appreciated in these times, is that our happiness comes from within - the decisions we make about what we think and we how we feel as we course through the moment. And from without - our relationships and interactions with family, friends, coworkers and community. This is the stuff of our lives. This is what is worthy of our attention. ‘Cause money can’t buy me love.’ And only love makes us happy.