Chesterton on Aussie Billionaires

Chesterton on Aussie Billionaires June 5, 2012

Turns out all that stuff you mom taught you about money not buying happiness is true:

The motivation of the rich has long been a topic of interest to psychologists. Paul Wachtel, a professor of psychology at the city college and graduate centre at the City University of New York, published a paper a decade ago called Full Pockets, Empty Lives in the American Journal of Psychoanalysis.

His research found one of the great pitfalls of the wealthy is a compulsion to accumulate more. Wachtel acknowledged that while money can be a symbol of success, there are often hidden drivers behind a yearning for more wealth.

”The pursuit of money and material goods as a central aim in life comes at a rather high price,” he wrote, noting that money plays ”a strikingly small role” in a person’s real happiness or wellbeing.

In fact, argues Wachtel: ”We may want, not just what others have, but more than others have, or more for more’s sake.”

The super wealthy take their wealth accumulation very personally, with their view of their self-worth apparently characterised – by the media at least – through achievements.

Among the rich you will never find a really generous man even by accident. They may give their money away, but they will never give themselves away; they are egotistic, secretive, dry as old bones. To be smart enough to get all that money you must be dull enough to want it. – GKC

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  • Anthony

    All I can say is thank goodness for dull people otherwise I wouldn’t have a job or a livelihood!

  • E. Robert

    “Rich or poor, it’s nice to have money”

  • Ted Seeber

    I was recently having an e-mail discussion with a fellow Brother Knight over our duty to vote for The Thing that Used to Be Conservativism, when he accused me of envying the rich while admitting that he admired them. I wrote in response:

    I neither envy nor admire the rich; instead I pity them. If I feel guilty spending all this money keeping my family under a roof and with food in their bellies, how much worse should they feel if they realize the millions that are starving or freezing to death or forced to get abortions because of their greed.

    • Dan C

      The rich have always been with us. They are a Cross.

      Jesus told us: “The poor you will always have with you.” It was a blessing. Not a curse. It was the thing that the disciples should have been concerned with, too. But lavishing attention on Him, by a woman unlikely described as “well-to-do,” was good, also. But only for the temporary. Otherwise, the poor, we will always have with us. They will always be a blessing for us.

      The rich though, the psalms, the Magnificat, the Gospel…well, they get a different treatment. We should pray for them.

  • Marthe Lépine

    I have a “philosophical” theory about greed: If my memory is correct, it is St. Augustine that wrote something to the effect that “there is a void in every human being’s heart that only God can fill” (correct me if I am mistaken). From that point of view, there will never be enough money and worldly possessions to fill that void, and those whose hearts have been hardened do not even know that their real need is for God. Basic evangelisation is needed there, but I cannot think of anything else than prayer to help those people at the present time.
    And, to Anthony: Based on my knowledge of economics, I have come to the conclusion that the rich and powerful, and their instruments, the corporations, are not the real creators of jobs. Instead, they are “consumers” of labour, and like all consumers, they are only too ready to discard the “consumer goods” (workers) that no longer serve their needs and to be constantly on the lookout for cheaper workers abroad. On the other hand, it is proven, at least in my own country, that a very large number of “real” jobs are actually created by the small and medium-sized businesses (who, obviously, cannot afford to have their work done in developing countries), although they are not the ones to be rescued by the government and at taxpayers’ expense if they have financial difficulties.

  • Dan C

    One should never perceive “job creation” as anything but the fulfillment of a responsibility. It is like going to Mass on Sunday. It is a requirement and a duty.