What's The Cost Of Money?

John F. Abess

We know the cost of gold, other precious metals, and stocks we own. Indeed, with the internet, we can track the cost of those items as they vary by each and every second. Day traders may spend entire days of seconds watching prices fluctuate. (That is NOT one of the top 10 ways I would recommend anyone utilize one of their lifetime days.) We also have up to date access about the cost of the U.S. Dollar, relative to other currencies across the world. However, it’s what we don’t easily see that is much more alarming. We don’t get to see “the real cost of money.”   

Constantly, we are told via reporters, politicians, land developers (and others that shape our world and our ways of thinking) that implementing this (or that) policy or legislation will “save this much money” or “collect this much money.” Then, as if there are no other considerations to take into account, the topic changes.    

We are left to surmise that money is the prime determinant of what all of us should decide and think. Noone, however, seems to be talking about how the excessive pursuit of money is actively stealing away our humanity. By humanity, I mean to include happiness, goodness, and the need to sustain a civilized, wholesome and caring society. Really now, shouldn’t factors OTHER than money be utilized to justify human policy?    

Point-fact: Too much emphasis is being placed on the pursuit of money. This over-emphasis on saving (or making) money will lead inevitably to money becoming the final arbiter of what is right and what is wrong.   

What it means for us: The highest bidder will ultimately prevail in terms of what they want. Money will end up trumping traditionally important suits such as the cumulative knowledge of civilization derived from history, literature, philosophy, and wisdom.   

Come to think of it, that IS a GREAT way to save even MORE money. No longer would we need to teach (or study) humanities in higher education! Think of the money to be saved by universities if they let go those teachers. Think of the money students could save if not having to pay for those low-tech, old fashioned courses. Just talking about it gets me excited! I can see why all the newscasters always mention how much money a choice will save or create. It’s just so exhilarating!  

People talk about money as if it brings happiness. It does not. I ought to know. Being a psychiatrist, I am privileged to be intimately involved with people’s emotions, thoughts and behaviors. It is clear to me that people still search for happiness in their life, despite having great financial success.   

Here is one example of an issue pertaining to money. A big deal was made recently about pharmaceutical companies influencing the prescribing practices of doctors. Personally, I never felt my own prescribing decisions were influenced by pens, pencils, coffee cups and an occasional educational dinner.  

However, in response to this purported big problem, our federal government has established The Sunshine Act. (The newly enacted Sunshine Act applies to medical doctors. It requires the reporting of all gifts >$10 starting August 1, 2013. The majority of the information contained in these reports will be available on a public, searchable website.)  

Actually, I don’t think this law is bad. This is because it appears to be a law that influences people (in this case medical doctors) to not to sell their integrity. Curiously, however, this anti-corruption law does not apply to congress where the law would likely have led to a substantially more widespread and beneficial outcome.  

The example provided above may not be all that encompassing. Eventually, however, because of the advancement of technology, society will be making decisions more pertinent and impactful to our humanity. I list some issues of this type below: 

Should we prevent the birth of individuals who may not be perfect, for example, perhaps those with genes for diabetes mellitus, or trisomy 21? Chronic medical disorders cost money to treat.    

Should we limit medical health insurance benefits for people according to their chronological age? Don’t people become more of a burden upon society as they get older?  

Who should be allowed to have children? Children born to the uneducated, impoverished, and immature often require social assistance. Sometimes these children turn out to be predators or sociopaths.  

How many children should people be allowed to have? A statistical analysis of the ideal number of citizens needed to optimally grow our economy can provide the proper number of children couples would be allowed to have.  

Should we allow parents to kill their children if their children don’t have the genes for blue eyes, blond hair, resistance to cancer, resistance to Alzheimer’s, or if they are not the desired gender? (Add here whatever worries you or may increases the expense of having children…)

Soon, genetic testing will safely enable us to ascertain the genetic code of our unborn children before they are born. Shouldn’t parents have a right to have more attractive, healthy and less expensive children?   

Belgium just passed a law permitting parents to kill their non-adult child having a terminal illness provided both the parents and the child concur.  

Personally, I think all of us are “terminal” and it seems uncivilized to give any one person or group the power to legally choose when to take another person’s life. Of course, Hitler was able to convince an entire country that genocide was right, but who needs those old fashioned humanity courses to remind us of mistakes made in the past when many of us are so excited and invested in having unrealistically perfectly happy wealthy lifestyles made possible now by technology?  

Hmm…  I have to wonder. Could it be that the computers and media we constantly engage are subtly subverting us into mechanistic computerized data sheet statistic blinded ill-educated short minded self-serving humanoid sub-servant and sub-human entities?  

If not, I bet there will soon be an “App” to do that to us.


Determining the value of a decision primarily upon how much money will be saved or generated is indicative of our society going astray. Where is a robust discussion of ALL important aspects of any issue? Tiny time bytes won’t cut it. Money saved or generated as the prime rationale to implement societal policy does not cut it. Of course, it is well known that “Time is Money” and thus, we only get little “bytes” and sketchy “statistics” from our media. Don’t you wonder who these people are that are culled out for surveys? Who are these people that answer their phones and agree to hang around to answer stupid pre-loaded questions with no good answer options? These responding people must not have much else to do and they must not be well educated.     

As a society, we have important decisions to make in this era of fast paced technology. These decisions need deliberation and humanistic consideration. We need to think about how the outcomes of our decision making process will influence future generations, not just our present selves. We must choose to make decisions based upon a foundational core of values that includes more than greed and self-centered thinking.

Money is fine. I’m all for it, but ask yourself every time you hear an issue being justified on money, “What will be the cost of that money?”