The American dream is that we can all create our own fortune, and with equal opportunity. But why are we so preoccupied with the creation of wealth? Is the only measure of happiness and success, the amount of money you have in the bank?
Locke wrote in The Second Treatise of Government that money could be as a medium to exchange for perishable goods that someone may have in excess. He did not put the worth of every object in terms of money, rather the goods themselves were the objects of value, and money something that we simply agreed to be worth something in terms of goods, for ease of trade.
Yet now all goods are appraised in terms of money, thus leading to the growth of many new dilemmas. Because when the worth of anything can be measured by one sole thing, then that thing is the only object that has any true value. This translates to living beings too, society manages to make humans valued at how much currency they can collect.
In Karl Marx’s manuscript The Power of Money he refers to money as “the general confounding and confusing of all things”. An example of this would be that someone of wealth could easily become an artist, easily buying the materials that they need, and then having the connections to put their work out there and be respected. While someone else could have an affinity for art but not have the notoriety or means to be an artist. Therefore we have the opposite for both of these people, they become what they are not.
Many would point out then that plenty of artists have come from nothing. People like JK Rowling and Eminem started out as nobodies and raised themselves to be who they are now. But they are only considered artists because they have money, so now they are people of worth. Had Rowling written Harry Potter and not sold a single copy of it she would not be considered an accomplished artist, but since she grew a huge fortune from that franchise she is considered one of the best. Many famous artists weren’t considered to possess skills of any merit, and their art never earned them a cent during their own lifetime, like Van Gogh. He committed suicide at the age of 37 after only being able to sell two of his paintings. Yet now he is considered one of the most acclaimed artists of history and his paintings are worth a fortune. So when his paintings had no monetary value he was a failure, but when they’re worth a small fortune, he was a success. Yet the art itself never changed.
The point I’m trying to make is that the only value that we place on talent, and success is how much money we can garner. We live in a world where we are worthless without money.