Posted by: Millard J. Melnyk | August 2, 2013

The Tyranny of Money

Prison is prison, whether it’s a bad job, a bad relationship, or literally trapped by exploiters or tyrants. No one likes the tyranny of money, but we can’t fathom a way to get free from it. So we do what all victims do having lost hope: we count it our savior.

Money is like an abusive husband–forcing itself on us, making itself first, always first. Love of money is love of a tormentor; but of course, we wouldn’t be so shallow and twisted. Not us! No matter that before we can do what we want, we have to take care of money. No matter that before we can give our children attention, we have to neglect them so that we can “earn” the “means” to concoct “quality time” with them. No matter that all they want are our bodies and hearts as near and for as long as possible, rags or riches regardless. No matter that before we can help others, our accounts must be full and content.

Take care of money first or it screams in our heads, drowning out everyone we care about, beating us up until food becomes a chore, sleep flees from us, and we dread each new day, putting on useless smiles, vainly hoping to avoid the next beating.

So, what can we do? More, of course. Just like any other abuser, money puts it all on us, promising that everything will change after more time, more work, more pain, more humiliation, more neglect of the very things that make anything matter at all, until we reach the magic tipping point: “enough.” Of course, “enough” never comes–not ever–no matter how much more we get.

When will we stop caving to tyranny, swallowing its bullshit, and slaving? Or did you think you were doing something else–following your bliss or living your dream, maybe? Judging by those who actually freed themselves from abusers, exploiters, and tyrants, we’ll liberate ourselves as soon as we stop caring whether freedom is “possible” and realize that–possible or not–it’s not worth living without. Not even for money.



  1. Excellent post, Millard!

    The thing about life is that it requires sacrifice. What I mean by that is that our organism gets affected by our environment from the moment we are born, and so the cells in our bodies are constantly battling against the elements by developing new defense mechanisms or improving the ones already acquired through hereditary means. There are also mental sacrifices we make in our lives with new information that comes into our consciousness, i.e., we tend to worry more with growing knowledge/information. The unfortunate thing is that we lag behind in wisdom with the increasing knowledge/information that we acquire–wisdom which would help alleviate some of that worry.

    So, although I am a proponent of stopping the caving to tyranny, which I do associate with the ”necessary” evil of money, I do not know an alternative path to move forward. I mean, why is it that businesses are increasingly adopting a model of 24 hours a day/7 days a week/365 days a year? Is it not because the customers/consumers demand it? Why do we as consumers demand so much, though? What is at the root of our desires/necessities? Don’t we as consumers fuel the enlargement of the moneymaking system? When will it ever be enough?

    Where in nature do you observe anything growing exponentially without end? I certainly do not know of any such example, but apparently since the 1970s some economists in America thought that it would be best for the US economy to be fueled by consumer spending (constituting approximately 70% of the US economy) thereby enabling exponential growth. How absurd is this, really? It is not just absurd, but it is a dangerous concept in my opinion. It enslaves us as people to an illogical economic ideology that can never ever be attained/sustained!

    As for an alternative to money, of course I have been contemplating this for some time, perhaps over the past 5-8 years or so. But, honestly I do not know of how we can develop a ”gratitude” economy. One way, perhaps would be to become less reliant on money and stop accepting the modes of currency we have been accepting to pay for goods/items. Instead, we could exchange helping each other out in communities for items–sort of a barter system. I really don’t know, but am open to hearing new ideas!

    • Christian, excellent points and questions!

      To your first paragraph about sacrifice, consider that all the things you mentioned could be viewed from other perspectives without inferring sacrifice, battle, or anxiety. Cells can be seen as accommodating and adapting to the elements without adversarial metaphors. We tend to worry more with growing information only when we presume that additional info implies additional threat. If the information increases our competence, what’s to worry about?

      2nd paragraph, trying to assign the demand for expansion of our CAPITALISTIC system (money can be used in other systems that aren’t as cancerous) is a chicken-or-egg dilemma. A good argument can be made that rabid consumerism is a function of manipulated human psyches, and there’s trillions of dollars worth of Madison Avenue activity to support it. There are common beliefs on both the demand-stimulating and supply-craving sides of the system that presume adversariality, scarcity, and indignity. I think that those presumptions are at the root of the forces that fuel the expansion on both sides.

      Totally agreed on your 3rd paragraph.

      I’m thinking about alternatives to money, too, but more basic thinking needs to be done first, because money isn’t the root of the problem, but an expression of it. Also, we need to reorient our thinking away from the structural/behavioral lens we were trained to see things through and start using a motivational lens. Jesus’ lambast of the scribes and Pharisees is a good example of contrasting the two lenses. As long as we think in structural/behavioral terms we won’t get to root causes, because decision precedes action, and intention/design precedes decision, and motivational attitude/orientation precedes the whole lot. We get the biggest bang for the change buck by paying attention up front to motivational issues, but we rarely do. Strange that, with so much spent on research, development, and education, most of it gravitates to the back end of structural/behavioral concerns.

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