Saturday, July 01, 2017

"Money Talks, Bullsh*t Walks"

One of America's favorite sayings is, “Money talks, bullsh*t walks.”

I have a number of reasons to challenge that saying.

The first is that money does not always talk. Brittney Spears had millions of dollars, but she lost her children to her former husband who was nowhere nearly as wealthy or as famous. The Romans had much more money than did the Vandals, but the Vandals conquered Rome.

Another is that money is not the only thing that talks. Genghis Khan did not have that much money, but he and his descendants conquered half the world. Jesus did not have much money, but He became the most powerful person in history. Marx lived his adult life in poverty, but for a long time two fifths of the world's population followed his ideas. North Korea has per capita GDP comparable to that of Uganda, but it has nuclear weapons. Gandhi, Mother Theresa and many others lived in poverty, but they became very influential in the world.

Furthermore, a lot of money is owed to what people who believe such things would regard to be bullsh*t. Most of what business sells is technology, and technology comes from science. Science, in turn, comes from philosophy - a pursuit that many people regard to be bullsh*t. Philosophy and intellectual pursuits have also had a very large role in conceptualizing, justifying and popularizing capitalism. Adam Smith, Ayn Rand and Milton Friedman were all intellectuals; yet without them capitalism would not have survived.

Then there is the oodles of money that some people make from actual bullsh*t. Many salesmen, lawyers, psychiatrists, priests and Hollywood figures are bullsh*t artists; and many of them make lots of money from their bullsh*t.

The dismissive attitude that many people hold to philosophy and intellectual pursuits has a deleterious effect on the civilization. People fail to avail themselves of crucial perspectives, and they make stupid mistakes. These often lead them to follow genuinely destructive bullsh*t, such as jihadist Islam (, Holocaust revisionism ( and political correctness (

In no way am I against money. I am however against ignorance; and this is what we see here. Money is not the only thing that talks; sometimes it doesn't. Much of money made is made from things that these people would regard to be bullsh*t. And much money is also made from actual bullsh*t.

The conflict between the business world and the intellectual world has been ongoing for a long time. Both parties are very much in the wrong. There is no contradiction between prosperity and intellectual and creative pursuits. The people who think that there is have not studied history.

One situation in which business and the creative world successfully co-existed was Renaissance Italy, in which there was both a revival of commerce and creation of what many regard to be the greatest artistic masterpieces ever produced. Closer to home is 1920s America, in which there was both economic boom – as we see in Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, Nikola Tesla and any number of others – and cultural unfoldment – as we see in Scott Fitzgerald, T. S. Eliot, Louis Armstrong and many others. In 1920s America became the unquestioned leader of the world. It owes that stance both to business and to culture. It stands to recapture this greatness by resurrecting that spirit.

I do not look back to 1960s; I look back to 1920s. I am in favor of both prosperity and the arts. The two can co-exist; the two have co-existed; and the two should co-exist now. Once that is done, America will regain its greatness, and the outcome will be a golden age that people will remember fondly for generations to come.


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