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Money vs Morals - Dilemma of the 2 'M's

Updated on May 31, 2015
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Money is the Root of All Evil

'Money is the root of all evil', is a commonplace quote that people hear it occasionally. In today's context, money has become more important than ever. More people are getting richer each day and the demand for luxury goods increases exponentially daily. Last week I happened to chance upon a news: Plastic Rice consumed by a girl in Medan, North Sumatra and that made me ponder the length at which people are willing to brave to earn that extra little money. I wondered if the notion of thousands of people dying of food poisoning ever come across their minds. Below are my 2 cents worth as well as a rhyme that I composed.

My Short Humble Rhyme

Oh, gold and cheques that they yearn,

No blood and sweat easy to earn

Morals and values have they forsaken,

Lies and treachery that's been hidden.

Money can do wonders I afraid not,

Justice cavalry's here to sought odds.

In bid of fairness we shall not

Harm each other or we rot.

Do you think Money is the Root of All Evil?

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Happiness caps at $75K
Happiness caps at $75K | Source

Happiness CAN'T be Bought

In order to understand why people are willing to get their hands dirty to earn more money, we ought to study the correlation between happiness and wealth. After all, individuals earn money to indulge in their exotic wants. In my opinion, having more money would mean greater happiness. There is no such thing as 'I have enough money', considering inflation and the influx of more luxury goods. You can never get enough of good food and gadgets. When you are poor, you spend on more economical items and buy goods of lower quality to make ends meet. When you are rich, you tend to splurge on big ticket items, and hence having a higher expenditure. In other words, you spend more when you earn more; there is no end to it.

Surprisingly, studies have shown that there IS actually a limit to how much happiness can be 'bought'. Studies from Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School claims that having an annual income of USD$75, 000 is the most optimum. The lower a person's annual income falls below that benchmark, the unhappier he or she gets. But no matter how much more than $75,000 people make, they don't report any greater degree of happiness.

What is working smart?
What is working smart? | Source

Work Smart = Get Dirty?

They always say you don't have to work so hard to complete a task. If you work smart, they say. Returning back to the topic of money vs morals, is forsaking morals a method of working smart? Well, the sad truth is yes. You can get dirty and do things in an unethical way and obtain the same results as those who put in a lot more effort. While we do not encourage those who earn money through illegal means, there exists such people in the world. I hope that for those who have yet to commit any evil deeds, I advise you to stay 'clean'. For those who is a foot in the 'dark side', I advise you to revert to being the righteous person you used to be in the name of justice. For most cases, no crimes go unpunished and a man pays for his wrongdoings. At the end of the day, you might lose more than what you gain for getting 'dirty'. Working smart does not necessitate you to commit morally incorrect deeds for the sake of money. It's simply not worth it.

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    • Wong Yan Zhi profile image

      Wong 2 years ago from Singapore

      Yup, that's why people need to know their limits when pursuing wealth ;)

    • HeyHuJiao profile image
      Author

      Wong Seng Wee 2 years ago from Singapore

      Valid points raised! However, my question is, can you be greedy but be morally righteous in your endeavors? You can be greedy and ask for more through the proper channels. Evil only comes into the picture when you are greedy and commit crimes in a bid to earn more money. In actual fact, greed is what spurs the society to progress; the desire to get more out of a boon is what grants human evolution. Only when betrayal of their own moral compass will lead to a boon turning into a bane.

    • Wong Yan Zhi profile image

      Wong 2 years ago from Singapore

      Money is the ubiquitous medium used for transactions between people. But before money, people used other medium such as gold or goods (barter trade). I believe that just because most of the crimes in our world involve money, doesn't necessarily mean money is the culprit. In fact, picture a world with no money. Will all evil be gone?

      On money being the root of evil: Money, after all, is just a medium of exchange. It is a standardized item that is accepted by most parties (businesses, people) to purchase goods and services. Evil stems from the mindset of greed. Greed is the root of all evil, and it is expressed in the form of want for more money, at the expense of others. If we were to live in a socialist/communist world where money doesn't matter, will all evil be gone? Sadly, no. There will still be people blinded by greed; as evidenced in the failed communist states of the last century where some people believe that they are "more equal" than others, leading to corruption and a host of other problems that culminated in the demise of the socialist state.

      How do we then tackle the issue of greed? Yes, governments have to play a role. They have to strike a balance between motivating people to work for money, and regulating excessive greed, while also maintaining a clean, transparent slate of public servants. This is not an easy feat; that is why we observe cracks in today’s capitalist system (excessive leveraging of money in the US finance sector; corruption in capitalist governments lobbied by Big Pharma/Big Oil).

      There is greed everywhere; and I believe that the key to a truly harmonious society is to let the right people be in charge; that is, those who are not motivated by greed for money, but by the drive to make the world a better place. But sadly these people are rare; few and far between. (As a sidenote, I am grateful that this has happened during the economic boom of Singapore where LKY and his team used greed in a benign way, to motivate people to work hard towards a better and prosperous society. He worked hard for the country and not for himself, not for money and not for politics.)

      On correlation between income and happiness: I happen to read many personal finance blogs that regularly discuss the relation between happiness and income. This article from Financial Samurai http://www.financialsamurai.com/the-secret-to-happ... has shown that the income of $75,000 where you will be the most happy is subjective. The same set of data interpreted differently (by a different study) leads to a different number – of $500,000!

      Another article http://www.financialsamurai.com/they-key-to-happin... makes a good point that money if used correctly, actually enables you to be happy. In fact, why is it that the unhappiest people tend to be either the poorest or the uber-richest (http://www.financialsamurai.com/only-the-poor-or-s...

      I cannot deny that the poorest have reason to be happy, since they cannot even fulfill the most essential of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. The richest are unhappy because they are scorned by the poor as undeserving of their money, and they seem to miss out on many of life’s journeys and experiences of working hard, interacting with others, celebrating achievements etc.

      So, I believe that the middle class will have the greatest tendency to be the happiest. Since most people lie in the middle class, most of us should be happy, right? At the end of the day, our happiness can be boiled down to a person’s greed again. One sentence in the article sums it well: “The reason why money does buy happiness is because once you have money, you don’t worry about money anymore.” The reason why many in the middle class are not happy is because they spend above their means (take on credit card debt) and are not content with their current lifestyles. They succumb to the rat race, wanting to "keep up with the Joneses" and leading to unsustainable lifestyle inflation. This is a worrying problem whereby economic growth (and recovery from the recession) in most countries around the world in recent yesrs are fuelled mainly by debt and credit. The best advice I can give is to find inner satisfaction, and be content with having less, while also striving to improve the things around us, and the things that matter to us.

      People might resent those who are lucky. But let's not forget that greedy people who are lucky will become even more greedy, and thus never truly be happy.

      On working smart and morals: I think a line has to be drawn between working smart and working without morals. Working smart is about discovering and exploiting inefficiencies and loopholes to give you a headstart and advantage. Working without morals is doing the same thing without regard to others. I definitely approve of working smart, since this mindset is what led to many of the disruptive changes we see in society today. Working smart can be beneficial in workplaces also, as you can make use of some loophole or undiscovered tool to finish a project faster or reduce the cost of doing something.

      With all said, the world will definitely be a better place if everyone actually cared for one another on the self-pursuit of wealth. The notion of "Money is the root of all evil" wouldn't even have existed then.

      By the way, nice poem!

    • HeyHuJiao profile image
      Author

      Wong Seng Wee 2 years ago from Singapore

      True true, but there's only a certain extent that the government body is able to regulate the flow of money. For some countries with corrupted government authorities, can we trust them with the people's money? When these authorities siphon the taxpayer's money for their own selfish gains, the citizens start to lose faith in them and take things into their own hands. This is when the notion of capitalism sinks into the minds of many poor fellows. Many are willing to fight for the monetary benefits at the expense of morals and values. Sadly.

    • tata799 profile image

      Tarek Nofal. 2 years ago from Kuwait

      i think money on itself is not problem. we have many regulations can organize the behavior of people towards money ... first, the authority must to be in the governments not in the money makers hands. we need a system preserve people from the money ,,,this system is combined of communism and capitalism. and all of that is exist in Islam but it's not applied in the Muslims countries.... Allah wants to save us and protect us from the evil so that he sent for us messengers to give us the human catalog for life but,, the evil don't want people to live safe, the evil wants people to be always need new technology,women,travel,luxury and all of that means need of money.

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