by The Urban Blabbermouth
Can money buy happiness? Most of us say no. But money does more than buy things. Where and how one spends money sends messages and those messages can make us happy.
Money turns out to have more value than its economic use. Economists look at money as a medium of exchange, that is, I can use it to buy goods and services. Economists also say that money is a store of value, that is, I can save it up to use for some future purchase. Economists completely miss the aspect where money stores social goodwill, that is, my deep friendship for you.
Let's say I take you to lunch. We can eat, tell each other bad jokes, and gossip about everybody we know. By treating you to lunch, have I bought your friendship or bought your time? Sure I can buy your company but if that’s all there is then the happiness fades when I stop taking you to lunch.
Taking you to lunch sends subtle messages -- that I value you more than I do my money. My money is important to me because I spend much of my time, knowledge, and skills at a job to get it. I put up with annoying customers, demanding bosses and uncooperative co-workers to earn my money. Now I am spending it on you. I am telling you in deeds without telling you in words that, for all the effort that I put into earning my money, I like you enough to spend my hard earned money on buying lunch. It makes me happy to buy lunch for my friend. Whew, that’s a mouthful.
Money does not stop at just friendship. Money has other social uses. There is a weird ritual, Potlatch, where people destroy wealth to show their greatness. It's an odd idea that one can gain great status and praise because one is so rich that one can destroy a Mercedes Benz automobile and not care. I prefer to take you to lunch. We can enjoy good food, drink too much, get fat together, and that is worth all the money in the world.
But why stop at lunch? For those of us who are friends with benefits, we can substitute money for physical intimacy in those times when, well… we just can't get a room. We can go on a wild abandoned shopping spree, spending money outrageously, and then engage in an orgy of gift giving with each other.