Money No Mo’ Money
posted by July 3 at 15:03 PMon
In a week when oil prices shot to $143 a barrel, the mood at the World Petroleum Congress in Madrid is surprisingly somber. Perhaps the oil company CEOs and OPEC ministers, gathered for the biggest conference in the industry’s calendar, are feeling besieged by the relentless drumbeat of public outrage. Perhaps they have been worn down by their ongoing efforts to blame each other for spiraling prices. Or maybe they just think it in poor taste to gloat about their record profits.
Which do you think is the source of the somber mood: feeling besieged? worn down from blaming each other? or out of a sense of decency?
While you think about that, have a look at this old (now dead) lady and her dog:
The late US real estate tycoon Leona Helmsley reportedly wanted her estimated $8bn fortune spent on dogs.One of the most common products of wealth is an iron misanthropy.
She left instructions that her estate go towards dog welfare, according to the New York Times, and animal welfare groups are elated.
The newspaper said that while her wishes were not part of her will courts do consider expressions of intent.
Mrs Helmsley, who died last August aged 87, was dubbed the “Queen of Mean” during a trial in 1989 for tax evasion.
Money is, of course, the substance of a wonderful article by Trisha Ready:
We have reached the end of what author Philip Cushman in a 1990 article in American Psychologist called the “post World War II empty self” era. Cushman writes about the change in America from the Victorian era of saving money and restricting impulses (sexual and otherwise) to the consumer self who is “soothed, organized, and made cohesive” by being filled up with food, objects, and celebrities. Cushman blames psychology and advertising as tools of the financial power structure that created the consumer self by preying on humans’ abiding feelings of insecurity and doubt. Credit made us more interesting and glamorous and more competitive with one another even if the things we purchased never did deliver the promised redemption of saving us from our limitations.
What’s fascinating about her article is it’s attempt to locate (or define) the new American thinking, feeling, and being—the American that is no longer saved from its limitations. An American with limits is something new (or renewed) in the world. This new thing might actually be the “flattening” effect of globalization. Not a flattening of access to new technologies and the competition of international companies and markets, but, instead, a flattening of citizenship. No citizenship in the near-future world will save an ordinary person from a life with limits.