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Money Changes Everything

I was watching TV the other night and they’re now using songs like “All You Need is Love” to sell banking services. When I’m dependent on Chase for love it’s going to be a black day. That said, when I first came to America, I was astonished at the politeness of cashiers and over-the-counter people: when you said ‘thank you,’ they said ‘you’re welcome’ so nicely that it sounded sincere, and maybe it was; so did ‘have a nice day,’ honestly. A few years ago the cashiers at Chase briefly began to admonish you to “Have an ExcelIent Day,” but that was too difficult for them to say convincingly — it was like a dog walking on two hind legs — and they quickly dropped it.

I still don’t like peoples’ answering machines that finish by telling me to ‘have a wonderful day’ though, even though the machine doesn’t know who’s calling.

Anyhow, what got me thinking about money was an article this morning in the Sunday Times book review, which they deliver on Saturdays, about the bourgeois virtues and their origin in capitalism.

When I first came to America, I was increasingly struck by how money was the yardstick for respect and success. In England, Europe and even in S. Africa, there was a richer variety of metrics. But, it struck me, among those metrics were the way you speak, your accent, your vocabulary, education, your family background, class, etc., things you couldn’t really help too much. In contrast, when money becomes the measure of everything, it’s a crude ugly business, but it also removes from the equation many other more damaging metrics.

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