So my editor told me that this week’s issue of The Uniter (the one you are currently reading, or wrapping fish with) is all about power. So I’ve decided to follow suit and address the morality of power. My article this week might be a little more serious than some of you have come to expect from me, but in my defense, I don’t give a shit about what you think, so you can suck my butt.
Money is power:
We’ve all heard the old adage “money is power,” but unless you’ve ever sat down to really think about it, the true aptness of this statement is easy to miss. Of course it’s true in the figurative sense, but it’s also very true in a literal sense as well. What is money, if not an arbitrary symbol for pure power over those around us? It’s the power to have others serve you, the power to travel, the power to obtain goods and services and even the power to have someone strip naked and sing show tunes in a mall (if you have enough money, and he or she is desperate enough). As true as this statement has proven to be, however, it makes absolutely no normative claim about money; that is to say, is this power ethically justified or morally repugnant or neither?
Might makes right:
Another common phrase, “might makes right,” refers to the fact that those in power often have a large hand in deciding what is right and wrong. Consider the fact that in any society, laws are made by those with the most power. This is especially true in the United States, where those with political power are essentially puppets for those with financial power (due to campaign contributions, corruption and various lobbies). So power enables individuals to shape laws. In some cases however, even religion has been modified by those in power. Consider the King James Bible. It certainly wasn’t named after him because he liked it so much. Therefore, to at least some extent, power does let those who posses it control or shape morality.
So if money is power, and might makes right, why do we waste our time with moral deliberation at all? Why not just call the richest person we know and ask him or her what the morally correct action is in any given situation?
Well, I’ll tell you why: it’s certainly not because the rich person would (or possibly could) be wrong, but rather that it would be unethical for any of us to waste the time of someone richer than us.
Rich people have far better things to do than to ease the minds of simple peasants like us. If someone is richer than you, then they are more powerful, and therefore more important than you are.
Take me, for example: I have no money at all. In fact I am in so much debt that I’m beginning to consider having kids, just so I’ll have someone to leave it to. Given that (presumably) some of you readers have at least a little money, it is morally reprehensible for me to have wasted your precious time with this shitty article. I sincerely apologize. If anyone needs me, I’ll be naked at the mall, waiting for work.
J. Williamez is a local musician. You can find him at Shannon’s Irish Pub every Monday and since there’s no cover, he cannot logically waste your time.
Published in Volume 63, Number 19 of The Uniter (February 5, 2009)