Posted by: Millard J. Melnyk | April 15, 2017

Only Ghosts Want Just a Little Bit More

Rockefeller’s “Just a little bit more…” answer to, “How much money is enough?” gives a peek into the mind of the so-called “rich”.

Hoarders hoard for inordinate fear of loss or scarcity. Excessive, yet still within the realm of the understandable. They want to have stuff because they see value in the stuff itself. We see a problem with that not because it’s hoarding, but because we don’t agree with their sense of what’s valuable. When it comes to things we consider valuable — like money or gold or art — hoarding suddenly doesn’t seem inordinate to us, but instead makes all kinds of sense. Either way, hoarders or those who (naively?) think they’re not hoarders, most people key in on the intrinsic value of the stuff in question.

Not so for the fools we call “rich” — they hoard stuff for a completely different reason. “Having more than” is not simply about having stuff — it’s about how much stuff they have in comparison. In comparison to what? Initially, in comparison to how much others have. In extreme cases it goes obsessive-compulsive and becomes in comparison to what they had yesterday, even if they have far more than most everyone else — the same kind of obsession that drives business “growth”. So their hoarding is only incidentally about the intrinsic value of the stuff they have. For the “rich” the real thrill is to be more than others. Obsessive show-ups-manship is bad enough but, pitifully, they seem to understand being only in terms of owning. They define who they are defined by what they have. Wouldn’t it be nice if they defined being “more than” in terms of admirable human qualities or virtues? I suppose the fact they don’t is telling. It might be slightly more healthy if they defined being “more than” in terms of accomplishment, and some of them do, but that alone is not enough. No one cares unless they also have lots of stuff: material stuff; intellectual stuff; legal stuff; you name it. Otherwise many of the poor would be called rich, too. Their virtues and accomplishments without relying on those even poorer far exceed the virtues (if any) and accomplishments (such as they are) of the rich who could do nothing at all on their own.

In other words, the “rich” are completely driven by and obsessed with dependency. They live their lives as reflections of comparison. It’s not that they feel they don’t have enough if someone else has more — it’s that they feel like nothing until they get more than others.

This turns everything into a competition, a struggle, a battle, a war. No wonder they say that both love and business are war. They make war out of everything. Everyone else is a potential threat, so love is impossible for them. All are rivals, if not enemies. This is also why their lust to dominate knows no limits. It’s not about how much is enough or how much is too much, because no amount however much can be enough unless it’s more than.

This is also why they tend to prevail against people who are not afflicted with their syndrome. A relatively normal person has a sense for the value of what they’re competing or fighting for, and when the cost of the struggle exceeds the value of the rewards, they’ll disengage. Not so the “rich”. They have no genuine interest in the value of the contention bone — all value for them lies in winning regardless how Pyrrhic the victory and paltry the spoils. They fear that they’re losers unless they prove themselves winners. They fear that they’re fools until they make others out to be worse fools than they are. And when one of them finally does “rise to the top” of their coveted hill at the expense of hundreds or thousands or millions of others, they spend the rest of their short lives in the darkness of their narcissism, afraid that everyone else wants to be them, take their place and steal what they have. Much like what they did to get there.

The “rich” don’t live as rulers. That’s just the optics. They live in abject dependence on everyone else, both to facilitate their rise and to maintain their status. And that’s just psychologically speaking. Physically speaking, also, they live in abject dependence on everyone else around them, because they themselves don’t know how to make the dang things work. They just know how to get others, who do know how things work, to make things work for them. This is a completely useless skill among peers — which is why they cannot tolerate or allow peer-based relationships. What good are they in situations where knowing how to work together is the critical skill, not knowing how to get others to work for you?

We call their “must have more” obsession “greed” and think we’ve named it. Actually, no, we’ve merely named a facsimile. Greed means to want too much of something. So greed still deals with the intrinsic worth of things, of which more than a certain amount, we think, constitutes “too much”. This entirely misses the point of what drives the “rich”. What’s more, it ends up in useless arguments about what constitutes “too much” — a quantity that’s almost impossible to determine, because no one thinks they want “too much” of anything. Everyone wants just as much as they think they should have, while at the same time quite sure that they know what “too much” is for everyone else.

Jesus’ parable of the widow’s mite shows that even a very small bit of what little one has can be worth far more than exorbitant amounts given from surplus. By the flip side of the same coin, when you can’t be happy unless you have just a little bit more than the next guy, fretting no more than pennies, you have a problem even though it doesn’t qualify for “greed”. The same problem as the “rich” have.

Maybe love of money is the root of all evil because money is how we prove we are more because we have more than others. Or that they are more because they have more than us. Money is just the golden calf of the God of Relative Supremacy, whose devotees live life as ghosts, mere reflections of stuff vs. stuff, derivations of a contrast, making the “rich” forever dependent, their self-worth no more substantial than shadows in the light of others. Others are their standard, the measure of their worth. They pretend to be greater and to rule others by having rendering themselves everyone’s bitch. The proof they feel inferior is their obscene and inordinate drive to prove they’re far from inferior — not to themselves, but to others; not as inherently valuable but in contrast to others — by physically depriving others and aggrandizing themselves, then claiming this proves their superiority. So, to compensate for their psychological deficiency, they physically harm others to create disadvantage that they pretend entitles them to social privilege. This is not to be rich. This is to be as pathetically poor as could be imagined.

If a person like this were the only one left on Earth — and so by definition they “owned” the entire world — it would not remotely be enough for them. That person would be miserable, because for maybe the first time he or she would come face to face with the truth:

That they own nothing at all…

because what they mean by “ownership” isn’t about possession…
but is secretly about the right to deprive others…
deprivation, not possession, is the power they drool over…
so with no one left to deprive…
“ownership” becomes moot…

and despite all they might possess…

which, when there’s no one else to see it, is precious little…
because just how many estates can you live in…
yachts can you sail…
cars can you drive…
clothes can you wear…
food can you eat…
or amazing gadgets can you use at a time…
and for how long until you bore yourself to tears?

So, having everything, they turn out to be nothing more than what they would be if they had nothing at all.

They would be mortified for lack of anyone else to gloat over, and the entire world of stuff that’s theirs would mean nothing without someone else to flaunt it to.

They might suddenly realize they have no idea who or what the hell they actually are, and that they were fools who didn’t have a clue what they truly wanted in the first place.

Even the poorest of the poor are often far richer than that.

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