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"Money can't buy happiness."

Can anyone please help me understand if this quote makes any sense at all? Is it right or wrong? What makes it so?

asked Feb 19 '11 at 12:54

HarPea's gravatar image


edited Feb 19 '11 at 17:26

Greg%20Perkins's gravatar image

Greg Perkins ♦♦

The human animal needs to engage in production to meet his needs for survival and to obtain goods wanted to have the level of comfort he desires. Money is an economic tool used to store surplus production. The human animal experiences the emotion called "happiness" when he survives and prospers. While it is not the ONLY factor relating to happiness, having a good supply of "surplus production" to meet survival needs and enhance life DOES bring a person happiness. The phrase "Money can't buy happiness" is wrong -- it is "anti-natural" since it ignores the nature of the human animal and money.

(Feb 20 '11 at 06:59) Joe Egan Joe%20Egan's gravatar image

Francisco d'Anconia explained the following to Hank Reardon on page 383 of Atlas Shrugged: "Money will not purchase happiness for the man who has no concept of what he wants: money will not give him a code of values, if he's evaded the knowledge of what to value, and it will not provide him with a purpose, if he's evaded the choice of what to seek. Money will not buy intelligence for the fool, or admiration for the coward, or respect for the incompetent. The man who attempts to purchase the brains of his superiors to serve him, with his money replacing his judgment, ends up by becoming the victim of his inferiors. The men of intelligence desert him, but the cheats and the frauds come flocking to him, drawn by a law which he has not discovered: that no man may be smaller than his money."

Happiness is not a function of money. An individual can earn happiness without an abundance of money, just as an individual can earn money without an abundance of happiness.

answered Feb 19 '11 at 13:11

dream_weaver's gravatar image

dream_weaver ♦

edited Feb 19 '11 at 13:59

So the quote doesn't apply to all the people?

(Feb 19 '11 at 13:24) HarPea HarPea's gravatar image

It would apply to all people.

(Feb 19 '11 at 16:55) dream_weaver ♦ dream_weaver's gravatar image

A small misunderstanding here. Of course, Fransisco's quote applies to every man. I referred to the "Money can't buy happiness" quote which, if wrong, wouldn't apply to anyone. I have one more question- is it possible that the central purpose of a man's life is to earn money regardless of what the means are (assuming that all the means are positive & moral)? In this case, the man places money above the means or his work. He earns money not for second-hand reasons like fame, admiration, etc but to meet his selfish ends.

(Feb 20 '11 at 14:49) HarPea HarPea's gravatar image

What is the difference between "Money can't buy happiness" if wrong, not apply to anyone, and "Money will not purchase happiness" being Francisco's quote applying to every man?

A central purpose is the long-range goal that constitutes the primary claimant on a man's time, energy, and resources. All his other goals, however worthwhile, are secondary and must be integrated to this purpose.

(Feb 20 '11 at 16:10) dream_weaver ♦ dream_weaver's gravatar image

Happiness is not available for purchase. It is achieved through the process of living and producing value with one's life and actions. Money is a medium of exchange used to simplify the procedures of trading one's produce with other producers. Unfortunately, governments do not understand that the value of money comes from that production. Simply stating that a piece of paper is worth a dollar does not give it any value. Accepting it in exchange for one's produce does give it value.

(Feb 20 '11 at 17:29) ethwc ♦ ethwc's gravatar image

What about professional investors or people whose main source of income is investment/ stock trading?

(Feb 21 '11 at 04:32) HarPea HarPea's gravatar image

I think the statement is wrong. the tenet that money can't buy happiness often manifests a broader hostility toward human beings' physical nature. To a considerable extent, disdain for money reflects platonic snobbery against the sensory "realm of particulars". It is the legacy of a mind-body dichotomy that pits the mind as morally superior and our material nature as base. Money contributes to happiness in a number of ways. For example money can buy you time and make it easier for you to produce certain goods e.g. Ellis Wyatt's advanced drilling production methods in AS.

(Feb 21 '11 at 05:54) Fareed Fareed's gravatar image

(continued) the extra money allows you to manufacture time, so you put in less effort and/or energy into producing those things and can devote greater time for other enjoyable activities. You can basically customize your days to your tastes. Apart from that money can be used to fulfill physical desires or to acquire material goods or to achieve spiritual values. Also the process of making money can allow people to reap a lot of values e.g. devising a more efficient manufacturing method or delivery system. Money buys happiness by facilitating, a person's achievement of his or her values.

(Feb 21 '11 at 06:02) Fareed Fareed's gravatar image

Money is just an economic tool. It is used as a store of wealth -- with wealth being "surplus production." "Making money" whether through direct production of goods/services, or through investment/ownership of businesses involved in producing goods/services, always is done with some "end purpose" in mind -- it may just be the emotional comfort one feels with the security (of being able to meet survival needs) money provides. One doesn't need to love the work one does to feel the positive emotions from the money that work earns. (Which is the way work is for much of the world's population.)

(Feb 21 '11 at 12:21) Joe Egan Joe%20Egan's gravatar image

HarPee, What is your point? Is it that investors do not produce anything? If that is your point, you need to consider that productive enterprises require capital. In many cases, the entrepreneur does not have sufficient capital so investors provide it. Analyzing entrepreneurs and deciding which are worth investing one's capital (the product of one's mind and work) is certainly a productive enterprise and one based on values.

If your point is that scam artists who "advise" others on how to invest are not productive, I fully agree with you

(Feb 22 '11 at 15:56) ethwc ♦ ethwc's gravatar image
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Asked: Feb 19 '11 at 12:54

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Last updated: Feb 22 '11 at 15:56