Money = Happiness? I Don’t Think So

Can money truly make you happy? Well today in The Guardian there is an article that certainly thinks so. The author uses research and performs a level of secondary analysis, in order to arrive at the conclusion that money does bring you happiness and we need to recognise that. The author even goes so far as to recognise the inequalities in the world, but this fails to change their conclusion.

Oh how I could not disagree more. What bullshit. Of course a simpleton could claim that money brings you happiness, but anyone with a brain can clearly see that it is money that has caused the unhappiness originally.

Stuck in the pursuit of money purely to pay the bills or afford your mortgage, does that equate to happiness? Of course the author recognises this fact, but fails to see that with the abolition of money or the equal distribution of wealth there would be increased happiness.

Denmark consistently polls as one of the happiest nations on earth, why? One of the main reasons is that the levels of inequality in Denmark are minimal. Whereas inequality in Britain, although not as stark as in the third world, remains continuously present,

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs presents the path happiness clearly, our physical needs need to be met before any further happiness. As such money can go only so far as meeting our physical needs and allowing a more active social life, but that is as far as it goes.

Happiness undoubtedly is a complicated notion, for each of us happiness presents a different thing, it takes a different form, each one unique to our own mind. Money is a red herring; the only purpose it holds is to enslave us to the current system, shackling us with debt so that we can live a material life, filled with consumption.

 

Work Through My Lunch? Start Working Earlier? You Must Be Mad?

The other day my manager sat me down, he told me I shouldn’t read my book before work if I’m at the office because other people start working when they get there.

I told him that if I sat in my car, read my book and came in at 5 minutes to the hour that he wouldn’t have a problem, he agreed.

What is wrong with these people? Why are they all so eager to work beyond their paid hours? That’s right I said that magic work PAID.

What does being paid entail? Well, even to the most intellectually challenged it is clear, I give you a service or a product and in return you pay me. That is to generalise the concept without any complexities thrown in, such as engaging in charitable work.

You don’t walk into a shop, buy a sandwich for £3 and then decide you want the crisps for free, if you walked out of the shop that would be stealing. You don’t buy a house and then decide you want the furniture as well, that would be naive.

But, my manager complaining that I read my book in the office before work, or the dirty looks I receive when I’m the first to leave as soon as it hits the hour, they aren’t the same thing?

Of course they are, to expect me to work beyond my paid hours amounts to stealing, stealing my time that is.

Because as a member of the proletariat what do I have to sell but my labour?

In the race to reach the ‘top’, and I use the word top lightly, colleagues scramble over one another to outdo each other, each working past their weekly hours to ‘impress’ their managers so that one day they may become the manager.

What utter tosh. What absolute bullshit. Only a fool would do such a thing.

In this exchange of money people have forgotten what exactly it is, a business transaction!

As the common saying goes ‘look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves’, yet with this extra work those pounds slip away, your hourly wage rapidly diminishes to below minimum wage with all those lost hours.

Now that’s not to say you should never work past your hours, there is definitely an element of give and take, just don’t forget to receive your return.

You should work to live, not live to work.

Money, Money, Money

I am consumed by thoughts of money, everywhere money, everywhere temples to the great god Capitalist, my mind shrouded by constant festivals of consumerism, money is inescapable.

Marx wrote that in every epoch there are the rulers and the ruled, even the blessed right wing couldn’t refute this fact, but what is the main instrument of rulers? Money of course.

Every worker is consumed by thoughts of money, how will I pay this bill? Or buy that thing? It’s endless. Our employers dangle the carrot and the stick, promotion or firing.

Finances or lack of, are the shackles that tie us down; mortgages, phone contracts, gym memberships, car leases, buy now pay later, the list goes on and our shackles get heavier.

When did we lose ourselves so, in this myriad of financial woes. We are trapped by these implanted impulses that advertising has brought us.

Money worries can ruin the most beautiful of days with its crude hard grip upon our ignorant minds.

Yet there is no escape. No escape without revolution.

From a young age we are taught that money is the sign of success, how much money you have will determine your worth, your access to money will define you!

Because of course money defines the individual in this pitiful excuse for culture the west now finds its self within. Money buys the clothes you wear, pays for holidays you go on, obtains the car you drive and provides the food on your table.

Are we not defined by the things we own and use? Of course, you only need to look at the exorbitant difference between a plain black t-shirt and an Armani plain black t-shirt.

And with this definition we find ourselves trapped within the system, unable to act for ourselves in a communally constructive manner until we all wake up to a new dawn. A new era of humanity based on principles of equality, humanity and compassion, for in the pursuit of money we have forgotten our fellow man lying crippled on the ground.

We have been brainwashed into accepting the state of affairs we are presented with and I feel insane to think differently.

Living Life in the Wake of a Stroke

For most twenty-something individuals, the weekend is full of drinking, smoking, eating and perhaps some drugs. Not for me. I have to be careful.

I am 21 years old; a little over a year ago I suffered an arterial retinal occlusion, essentially a minor stroke.

Thankfully for me the only lasting effect is that I can only partially see in my right eye.

How do I reconcile this development in my life? How do I remain ‘normal’?

I am tired of the constant inputs of, “don’t do this” and “don’t do that”, it’s incessant. Quite obviously this stems from love and concern. My friends and family love me undoubtedly, but being reminded of this predicament only serves to send me into a spiral of self destruction. I bury the constant spectre of my new condition under hedonistic spontaneity; a ‘fuck it, I’ll be fine’ kind of attitude.

For the rest of my life I must now continue to take two sets of pills a day, for the rest of my life I will never have my full vision and for the rest of my life I will have this ogre leaning over me, informing everything I do.

If there is one thing this experience has taught me it’s that life is short, an obvious fact, but the philosophical argument pervades, do I continue to enjoy the vices of life or do I enter the temple of sobriety?

For someone who once struggled with drinking, everyday drinking, drinking all the time, looking forward to getting fucked up everyday, I know both sides of the argument.

Life is short but do I want to live a long life with every moment spent sober, being the only one at the party not drinking? Not really and no that’s not because of peer pressure or foolishness.

No I want to be able to enjoy the pleasures that life has to bring because life is meant to be enjoyed, life is for living. What is the point in longevity if those years are tinged with regret?

Regret that I spent all those moments refraining from being able let myself hang loose and partake in the great social act of drinking.

And perhaps that regret in 50 years will be that I enjoyed myself less, however, for now I will embrace the happy medium and enjoy pleasure in moderation.

How I Long to Live

Someone said to me the other day what do you do for a living? I said eat, read, sleep, go to the pub. They said they meant what do I work as? I said that’s not living, that’s just what I do in order to live.

Are we not all insane to think that working 9-5 plus commute is perfectly normal? If we all live to retirement age at 67 and start work at 18, that’s a whopping 49 years of labour.

49 YEARS!

For 49 years we are expected to attend a place of work where we are restrained from recognising any concept of free will in order that we may go home at the end of the month with a pay check. We mock and degrade prostitutes for selling their bodies yet do we not all sell our bodies? Whether we work with our bodies or we work with our brains we still ‘rent’ ourselves for 8 hours a day.

This morning I woke up at 5.30, I went to work, I got home at 6 and had a brief 3 hours for me.

Now don’t get me wrong work is understandable, things need to be done, societies chores need to be completed, it is the volume of work in relation to pay that begrudges me.

The vast majority of my day is spent at a desk undertaking task after task that hold little resemblance to life I wish to lead and by the time I get home I have used all of my productivity for a means to someone else’s ends.

Does it not occur to anyone that many ‘jobs’ are simply replicated, if all the gas companies became one we would only have need of one customer service department. If we cut the bureaucracy we may cease to have inspectors of inspectors.

Not that I wish for there to be mass unemployment, quite the opposite I wish for everyone to be employed but to simply diminish the burden. If we acted collectively for a common aim we could all benefit from greater free time.

How I wish to wake and know truly that my day was mine to enjoy, my day was without the constraints of time. For the only free time we have is polluted and sullied by the ever looming prospect of the next working day.

We are all so caught up in the ‘rat race’, in trying to be better than everyone else that we forget all notions of community and compassion, consequently placing selfish principles as our goals.

Life has become a competition, a competition against everyone else to see who is the most productive, who is the most successful, who is the most popular, who has the nicest clothes, this never ending battle only serves to distract us from realising that life has become alienating.

The capitalist machine has caught us in its snare, we are but animals in a zoo, trapped, cornered and enslaved without truly knowing what it means to be free, for as Voltaire proclaimed ‘it is hard to free the fools from the chains they revere’.

The Perils of Being a Socialist

Being a socialist in a capitalist world is no easy feat. First of all there is the obvious, being a socialist naturally provides one with an alternative view point, a view point which is contradictory to the nominated meta-narrative.

Last week a couple of directors from my company took my team out for dinner and drinks. Once politics arose and my beliefs stated I was subjected to the typical barrage of you’re wrong, you’re crazy and what a load of bollocks.

When you’re a socialist criticism becomes expected, criticism becomes the calling card of any political discussion.

However, it is this criticism that precisely defines my viewpoint, as it is only through discussion we develop our own thoughts and arguments.

Such is the nature of socialism that we inadvertently call upon criticism to be bore down upon us like a napalm strike. Yet this in itself provides opportunity, it provides opportunity to present a different discourse to those suffering from chronic paradigm paralysis.

As an individual I often wonder am I insane? Do I need help? Is something wrong with me? How can I see this world in such a different light to many millions of other people?

For the peril of the socialist is living within a nightmare, a nightmare with seemingly no end but for the dream that we can collectively organise ourselves compassionately.

Everyday when I travel to work and I see all these hamsters running viciously within their wheel desperately trying to reach work on time. Or on lunch when colleagues batter there keyboards whilst shoving processed food into their mouths, somehow forgetting that lunch time is unpaid.

For being a socialist is to be both the animal and the observer, trying to understand the behaviour of others whilst you yourself exhibit the exact same actions.

We all wake, go to work, eat, sleep, pay taxes and eventually die, yet as a socialist I am alienated, I yearn for something more, I yearn for some meaning, but most importantly I yearn to live free.

Who am I?

How well do we truly know anyone? We’ve all seen Hollywood films where in the moment of crisis someone acts selfishly or out of character, like in ‘The Guardian’ where the husband and wife are floating in the sea and the husband is pushing the wife down to stay afloat.

How well do we know anyone? I’m sure the wife didn’t expect her husband to utilise her as his personal buoyancy device. Today’s world has entered into a state of flux with technology promoting an ever changing world at ever faster speeds.

I still wonder who am I? What makes me who I am? Does my gender define me? Does my political viewpoint? Or does my favourite food?

Post-modernists would argue identity has entered a state of flux, where we can decide who we are through the clothes we wear, the products we consume and the way in which we consume. However, does this really encapsulate me?

Does the fact that I decided to buy Chelsea boots shed some insight into who I am? Well yeah, surely to a point I am defined by the consumerist choices I make on a daily basis, but why do I make these choices? Why does anyone decide anything?

Durkheim argued for socialisation, primary socialisation being the effect our parents have upon us and secondary socialisation being the effect our school has, so our experiences shape us?

I pulled a dogs tail when I was young, he bit me, I didn’t do that again.

We learn from our experiences, we learn from the experiences of others, but our own experiences shape us in a way that is profound.

Your own experiences undoubtedly shape you, but how do we determine our reactions to new experiences? I am sure cultural, societal, personal and mental factors all play equal parts in this process but what determines you at your core?

Now ‘your core’ is a seemingly subjective mess, there is of course the explanation of ones soul ,for the religious ,and atoms , for the scientific, but how does one determine the true source of this knowledge?

The other day my mum asked me ‘why can’t you just be normal?’ how do you answer a question such as this? I am just me, I did not choose to be as I am, I am simply me.

Identity has been debated since time immemorial, religions have fought wars over the source of creation, yet even know with all our knowledge we are no closer to pin pointing our identity.

The rebellious teenager has long been a staple food of the film industry, consistently chuffing out plot lines on the subject matter has only served to trivialise our life journey into that of cliché.

The prevalence of escapism in all of its forms is a sure indictment of the mystery surrounding our identity as we struggle to come to terms with what we seem to be and who we want to be.

The question isn’t how well do we truly know anyone but how well we know ourselves between this moment and the next.

Life After University

I think it’s safe to say that life after university was a surprise.

Imagine living a life where for 21 years all of your major decisions are either chosen for you or are extremely limited. History or Geography GCSE? Apprenticeship or sixth-form? University or work?

Then out steps a new dawn. The day arrives when you graduate; you have finally finished your education, what now?

What now? That’s a good question but not one with an easy answer. Between the draw of your dreams and the pressures of society there isn’t much choice. Get a job for money or pursue your dream (which most likely pays an non-existent amount)?

Trying to reconcile your dreams with the practicalities of life is the mark of adulthood finally wrestling the last few drops of freedom from your now cold veins.

Despite this overly pessimistic tone the truth remains, life after university has suddenly become aimless. Once the aim was education and now what aim is there ?  A career?

Let me tell you this, I have started a career, the 9-5 world becomes an effortless circle of life where the only respite is but a too brief weekend. A weekend that is tainted come Sunday by the looming presence of Monday.

I have become a weekend warrior, fighting the week with a strong dose of intoxication. Muddying my thoughts until the thought of work becomes a long forgotten chore.

Sobriety has become my enemy. A clear mind fails to banish the hopelessness of another 50 years of this stifling monotony. We are but free range chickens with only the illusion of freedom to keep us producing.

Akala was right when he said ‘If ignorance is bliss then that explains my misery’ .

Youth in crisis: The curse of living at home

Today’s youth face a dilemma of life changing proportions, the stark prospect that traditional notions of home ownership will only ever be but a dream surrounded by youthful optimism. Monster.co.uk has found that the average earnings of a permanent worker in the UK are £27,119 PA, which when you consider the ONS’ average house price as £282,000 the reality of homeownership slips away.

In Brentwood especially, all hope may be lost as the average price of a semi-detached house costs £387,572, a whopping hundred thousand more than the national average. Even renting in Brentwood isn’t any easier with average rent standing at £1,205 pcm. Essentially, home ownership is entering the era of the myth, the result of this is that the social fabric of British society is being torn apart.

Historically speaking, we British have been a nation of homeowners, not serial renters like many of our European cousins, but with house prices reaching stratospheric heights what options remain to the increasingly disillusioned youth? I would argue not many, except that we embrace the bitter pill of renting.

Renting, that state of becoming comfortably numb. A horror filled world where money slips through your grasp in a cacophony of grunts and sobs, simply to pay the mortgage of some lucky soul. Lucky to have been born in a generation when owning a home wasn’t just an abstract thought.

It is this increasing sense of desperation that is pushing young people into the arms of Anonymous and the hope of revolution, the hope of a brighter future. Because in this capitalist world of competition where globally citizens jostle and jive to get the upper hand, compassion has lost its place at the dinner table.

We youth don’t need the world, just a humble corner that we can call our own will do. But instead I am faced with living with my beloved parents until one of us commits some sort of violent crime because I didn’t load the dishwasher or they didn’t knock loud enough on my door.

The youth are starting to lose hope and the inescapable notion that I may be living at home well into my thirties is fast becoming a reality.