The high price of money

20dollarBill_1 I can remember my mother preaching: “Money is the root of all evil.” Her preaching was appropriate because we had little of either.

I am not one to downgrade money as a means of exchange – money for goods and money for services. But what happens when money becomes the meaning of life?

What happens to us when we dedicate our lives to its acquisition, that we judge our worth, our success, our power, our beauty, our intelligence and our right to dominate others depending upon how much money we have acquired?

What happens when we admire those who have much money, squeezed from the hides of helpless workers and we fail to recognize the mother, stricken with poverty, who, nevertheless, put her children though college. What about the father who dug ditches and cleaned latrines but set a role model of honest labor for his sons, while the corporate executive played money games on the stock market and wrested unearned bonuses from his shareholders?

This so-called down-turn in the economy is a danger to us. But as all dangers are likewise opportunities, these times give us an opportunity to rethink what is worthy of our admiration, both in ourselves and others.

As Sitting Bull said, “I have spoken.”

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30 responses to “The high price of money

  1. “Sitting Bull” was a great American, a native American, a son of the plains, a spirit of the ghost dance, a warrior for his people. May his large stone mountain Statute over look the hills for eternity, the Black hills, and may the white buffalo roam, again, and we dare say let us genuinely honor this great man on M day, before Summer officially starts.

  2. I don’t admire the billion buck bail outs to Investment banks by GOV HACKS in POWER. The down turn was used to exploit things to past the costs to the ordinary citizens, and their childern for generations to come.
    The profits were baked in the bail outs to those who caused the melt downs.
    What is there to admire in that audacious change to raw power run amuck ?
    Life is not defined by money, life is defined by scientific nerds as:
    “Life is a thermodynamically open chemical system with a semi-permeable boundary. It contains an information-based complex system with emergent properties, part of which drives a metabolism based on a proton gradient. The said gradient generates the necessary potential difference across the semi-permeable boundary. The information is heritable and coded in such a way as to allow variation and thus evolution.”

    Life is : La vita e bella.

  3. Gerry: That’s what my mother always said, too. But my brother corrected her. The exact wording is: The love of money is the root of all evil. But that is what they meant, I am sure.
    Wouldn’t it be great if we all did do some re-examining of what is important in life. Like how many lives of others did we touch and improve? How many problems were we able to alleviate? How many were we able to encourage to find their talents and pursue them?
    I hope the greedy people of Wall Street, and others, can learn to share when they have more money than they truly know what to do with. But I am probably a dreamer. Thanks for the good thoughts again.

  4. christopher eisenhart

    Gerry,
    I have the utmost respect for you and your sage observations. But what is to be done with the money changers and callous hoarders of wealth?
    It would seem that the rule of law has been suspended, not only in this once proud nation but also elsewhere worldwide.
    One would suppose that a Zen like attitude a la the Hsin-Hsin Ming writings of Seng-Ts’an would provide the necessary answers, waiting for the Mayan prophecy of what awaits in 2012, or listening to the elders of the Southwest might give solace and allay concerns.
    But it would seem that no one is listening. At least, not those elected and sworn by law to obey law and fairly represent their constituents.
    I am sure you have further thoughts regarding this.

  5. Sitting Bull’s grave is not far from Sherdian:

    SEE:
    http://www.watermargin.com/graves/sittbull.html

  6. Gerry,
    Your Mom was alone in omitting the first part of the quote is “Lack of Money is the Root of All Evil” George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950). To me Shaw’s original makes more sense and explains the behavior of the parent who would steal medicine for their sick child.
    I find the reduced quote to be valuable as well as the lesser-known original because it illustrates your point that for far too many Money is the only commodity they value above all else.

    For me I value health and family very highly. In our business wouldn’t we all love to give back an injured person (or a widow) what they lost due to someone’s negligence or corporate greed. Money comes in as a lowly substitute for health or the love of a family member, but it is the only tool the law has. (and speaking of family I hear my little baby waking up- I’m gonna go hold him for a bit before I leave for the office.

    Your Pal,
    David Stewart

  7. Shouldv’e written “Your mom was not alone”

  8. Money certainly isn’t the meaning of life for me, although I’m sure many of us, myself included, would like NOT to have to worry about it as much as we do now. Those who have lost their jobs for whatever reasons and who have not managed to find new employment probably worry about it a lot more than those who are safely employed.

    I hope, with a new administration in place, that we can find new ways to get more people back to work again and to help more people, not just young folks, learn new talents and skills that could lead to satisfying jobs. I think it can be done, if more employers are willing to think outside the box rather than inside. :)

  9. From history of Sitting Bull addressing the Blue coats, and the BIA, and War Dept, and all their vast staggering corruption.
    ” I could tell you more, but this is all I have to say.
    If we told you more–why, you would pay no attention to it. I have no more to say”.

    In some ways, Sitting Bull, and Crazy Horse are heros… They are after all–Native Americans.
    I just love it—that Polish family taking an entire mountain to make the biggest statute in America, on Crazy Horse.
    They have been working on it for over 60 years:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Korczak_Zi%C3%B3%C5%82kowski

    Life—I think the life of Crazy horse, and Sitting Bull offer important lessons in America.

  10. Dinero,l’argent,bounty,spoils, wampum,treasure,reward,lucre,just a very few synonyns for dead presidents. The oldest alleged profession in the world,no not banking..hurpumph..prostitution..exchanging goods for services. Trade creates money. I could trade bubble gum cards as a kid for candy or for a nickel to buy some more candy from the corner store.The ante got raised and a kiss was traded for special favors by kissing daddy on the cheek and saying “pretty please”to get some buckeroos to go to the skating rink or getting a Dr. Pepper.Then, the big time bartering where the fast guy in the fast car asks you out on a date to the drive in so he can flash a ten dollar bill to the attendent and get 9 dollars change back to buy popcorn and cokes and some time..to.. watch the three stooges or King Kong or some scarey movie where you might sit closer from the fearful sights and sounds on the big screen. Oh, money,it bought some good times.. Like Las Vegas with the oil tycoon who looked like he never missed a meal in 50 years and drank whiskey like it was going to be rationed or abolished again..but yet, he had a certain green tinted appeal as he flashed $100 bills at the craps table and tossed some casually your way. Ah, evil,filthy,dirty,sickening money..
    God Bless the Child, Blood Sweat and Tears sang to my delight, that’s got his own. When you got money you got lot’s of friends,but when the money’s gone… UH OH!! That, my friends, is the test of the power of money and the power of friendship. Lessons learned, time well spent. There is nothing evil about money. Evil is the mind that idolizes the power money provides. Howard Hughes amassed a legendary fortune by his genius,and in his time,was one of the earth’s wealthiest people. Alas, his latter days were not filled with happiness or bliss,but secrecy,imprisonment by his own wealth and all that MONEY for what?? Like a peak and valley experience, his life was grand,and the grandeur faded into a grotesque life in seclusion and alleged drug induced death. Wealth is it’s own prison if not shared for the betterment of others. Achieving success and reward is admirable,but can be lonely and dangerous. There has always been, will always be those who seek the easy way to gain wealth..off the back of others,whether they be the downtrodden poor, or the unsuspecting rich. It’s really a game of who gets to keep this temporary medium of accumulation. Tallullah Bankhead the actress has been quoted to have said one of my favorite quotes:”I’ve been rich and I’ve been poor..but I like rich..Bettah!” Me too, Tallullah. Poverty is not for everyone, just the poor who live and die in it’s grip and struggle throughout to escape. Some manage to escape the restrictions it places on mobility.Some never do,and die in the dirt like they were born. Some escape one kind of dirt and become dirty in deeds to erase the memories of their past poverty. They drink,pretend, dress up like Rhett Bulter and Scarlett to become pillars of society. But Mammy knows the truth..

  11. Dear Gerry,
    There are those who will reduce all human interactions, all human relationships, to an exchange of goods and services. I feel sorry for those folks and wonder what could have happened in their childhood to make them so jaded. Personally, I try to ignore them but they just won’t go away. I try to remain hopeful that love conquers all and my children are listening.

  12. Re; ” an opprotunity to rethink what is worthy of our admiration”
    I was like everyone, I think, relieved to read about Mr. Obama’s Supreme Court Appointee. Hallelujah, no more two dimensional characters who even with a liftime appointment do not evolve… no more living dead.
    Then I asked myself how the country would feel if the resume was different. What if it read born in the projects and valiantly represented indigent crimnal defendants her whole life,
    or provided top quality represention for thirty years at neighborhood legal services, or even gosh-darn mediated divorce and child custody matters and had an astounding high proportion of satisfied human beings.
    Instead we get “prosecuted criminal defendants and then graduated to trying cases where one corporation sues another corporation for money”. And we are relieved because the resume does not say ” has horns” or “wants you to believe that your rights stopped growing in 1789″.
    We are a long way from Eden. The question is if the serpent is gaining on us. If we need to measure to find out, lets measure his distance in dollar bills.

    • GEORGE, yes. I laugh to think of the arguments that would be made against his appointment if Jesus were nominated to the high court. The intellectual quibblings that occur there often seem unrelated to justice or the condition of mankind. It is a small community of judges who live in a different world than the one in which most citizens live, sweat, suffer and die.

      Gerry

  13. Jesus never exactly had stellar legal representation, before he got nailed.
    Ironic, the Judea Bar cares little to get into the high priest decrees in matters.

  14. Money is neither good nor evil. It is what you do with it that makes it so. (upon reflection, also how you get it)

  15. Those who reduce human interactions to money are called lawyers, who have a civil practice. That is what they study in law school, cases about who got the money judgments, and how they(judges)…
    computed it, came to assorted rulings in a court. It is is juris prudence.
    The study of law and its links with money is a reality, civil practice of law.
    Do you feel sorry for Gerry , Ms Wendy when he boats of that $$$ judgement, and so and so money judgment, and winning so and so money verdict ? It must have helped some marketing aspects of a law practice.
    But, of course a lawyer is not in court on that 24 hours a day. Lawyers, do thing that other humans do, have emotions, feel, etc etc., hike up mountains, feel the awe of nature.
    Do you feel sorry for a butcher Wendy when he sells a hunk of beef at his butcher shop, too ?
    Oh pity those who engage in any commerce for a living, to feed their kids etc..
    Not all people are on the welfare roll, to avoid having to work, but the price of some money is higher for some, than others.
    A Mexican illegal worker probably adds more to society in America with his carpentry skills than most lawyers, who do a variety of things in the law(civil practice).
    A hedge fund manager who makes a billion dollars a year adds little to society.
    But, the plain fact of the matter is lawyers deal in money issues, and law school is not the Juilliard School of Music, or the Navajo Rug weaving College.
    But, Gerry is special, he tells all who got a J D sheep skin, they were mostly defrauded by the law schools they attended.
    Such a pity. Do lawyers use time clocks to bill ?
    Some seem to, they have those sheets that are marking time, and putting a dollar value on it…..
    They have to–and be accurate, otherwise, their fee petitions are shredded by judges, for a variety or reasons.
    Pity the poor lawyer, who puts in years on a case,(without a cent of compensation) and is never made “whole”–at the end…
    America seems to look the other way on that, when some engage in slams on the same old same olds.
    Yes, Wendy what happned to all those in childhood, who later went on to law school, and then practiced civil law in America ?
    Tell us Wendy, get up on your high horse and tell us, tell us the truth…why don’t you ?

  16. I believe I may hold the record in law school( U of W), for getting kicked out of a certain class.
    The one professor calling on me and asking me to brief the case. I having to admit, sorry I have not read it, have no clue on it.
    Then, was asked to leave the class. One professor was so mad at me, I am sure he dinged me, despite my AOK on his final test.
    I don’t know if this qualifies me as an exception to love of money darts and arrows.
    I can recall some law school classes, on taxation which were so boring, it was a form of torture to even listen to the material.
    I got my sheep skin, and then the practice of law was exciting.
    To this day, I do not prepare a tax return, leave it to a CPA, and as you may have guessed, I never practiced tax law.
    For some, reason it was a required course at U W…
    I had no option, to not take it.
    The professor was a nice enough chap, just I had no interest in that subject.
    But, to get a sheep skin,
    i paid my dues…
    However, most estate lawyers, hire CPA’s, and
    valuation experts.
    A CPA , his working hours, are taken up with money runs, of one sort or another.
    I don’t believe they are somehow a product of some wicked childhood experience that deformed them.
    I know some CPA’s, encounter them on a variety of matters.
    I never pry into what they do on week ends, what they do, out of the office.
    I don’t belive it is a a good idea for one profession to have that holier than thou thing, using money as some angle on put downs, absent some solid reasons.(like a reason to sue).
    Like professional breaches, etc…

  17. Money is neutral. Money is neither evil nor good. Money is the great magnifier. Money in the hand of the generous manifests the generosity of the holder. Money in the hand of the miser manifests the meaness of his spirit. Money in the hand of the wise manifests her wisdom. Money in the hand of the fool manifests her foolishness. Money in the hand of the thief manifests his crimes. Money in the hand of the careless manifests her careless. Money in the hand of the poor manifests the needs. Money in the hand of the rich manifests his wealth.
    Money is the great magnifier.

  18. Whether we like it or not, having enough money does provide a certaub independence. My husband’s and my net worth looks amazing to most Americans, but if it is invested at 6% and the capital is never touched, it will provide a yearly return of about one yearly Social Security income. We live on two SS incomes and his pension. In a few years, the SS incomes will be gone, along with Medicare. We both have disabilities because of serious autoimmune disorders, so after the medical expenses eat up the rest of our capital, we will be wards of the state living in a smelly warehouse where everyone is waiting to die.

    We did everything right when it came to saving and had good luck in real estate investments and the stock market. We’re worth more than we ever dreamed of. What we didn’t count on was the bottom falling out of Social Security and Medicare.

    Respect for money is a good thing, whether on a personal or governmental level. It’s easy to say money is evil when you have it and you haven’t been corrupted — yet.

  19. Jesus would offend the God complex upon which most of the be-wigged members of US Senate claim a proprietary interest. He’d never be confirmed.

  20. Gerry, surely, you of all people would not favor judicial judgements based upon emphathy as opposed to consitutional law?

  21. As they say, “money can buy you a dog, but it will not wag its tail.” I think that sums it up nicely.

    But, your mother and mine were wrong on the scripture …it was the “love of money is the root of all evil” and that makes the point even better, because, as always, it is the intent that governs the crime, not the dumb money itself.

  22. The price of wampum was even higher, as it turned out in some Territories, along the Snake, Platte, and other rivers, once the domains of the early natives.
    Apparently, wampum won’t even buy a high end fur coat in Jackson Hole any more.
    But, Gold is near a $ 1,000 bucks, and oil is going up again, valued in green backs. But, some get your drift, money in what ever denominations are the way some keep score, and they rig it so their Club wins, and basically puts some jack boots on most of the rest of the others in some Nation, society, State or enclave.

  23. money is a evil for it forces us to compete with each other rather than work together, it separates us in groups.

    money is also a bully mentality, in a school yard a bully uses his superior physical power to enforce his will upon another, in the same way a person who knows the ways to earn money and thereby earns power can force his will upon another.

  24. Genuine wealth lies within what we give of ourselves. Money on the other hand is only a tool… not a measurement of worth.

  25. But what happens when money becomes the meaning of life?
    When you wrote this sentence I could only think that people are forced to put the meaning of their lives on the line based upon their money situation. If you don’t have the money to pay for a good lawyer you get stuck with the lawyer that lowers himself to accept cases that the public defenders office has conflicts of intrest with, therefore he gets paid less to work your case and in the end it shows with your guilty verdict or with him demanding that you accept a plea agreement for a crime you did not commit. I don’t know what ever happened to people helping other people out of the kindness of their hearts and apparently there needs to be an exchange of currency for this to happen in todays world. Just the other day I saw an elderly couple broke down at the store and jump started their car for them and the second it was done they asked how much they owed me, I told them nothing and there was nothing but shock on their faces. People place money above everything else in life and it shouldn’t be that way. We are all common people with the same goal in life to survive.
    The greed of the local governments is unbelievable! They can come into you home and take everything worth of value because they have a search warrant with multiple address on it, and then tell you that to get them back you have to show proof of ownership. The guns that were taken from my home are from 3 generations of collectors. In Arizona there is no gun registeration, so how can you provide that? Shouldn’t it be enough that they took them from my home to prove they are mine? These guns were going to be sold when my son was ready for college so he would have a better chance at being able to provide for his future family and now they are going to be auctioned off to people that have enough money to buy them? Talk about greed, you don’t even get the profits taken off of you fines? It goes straight to the sheriffs office budget. Now, here I am at the age of 33 getting ready for open heart surgery and I am considering signing the DNR because I have nothing left except for a 70 day jail sentence without my medication and a huge fine to pay. At my sentencing the judge told my lawyer to fine a motion and he would make a court order for my medications. My lawyer let over 90 pass and finally I filed it myself only to have the judge say he isn’t a medical facility and dening my motion.I have filed a post conviction relief motion to present the evidence that my lawyer never did to prove my innocence and I am going to try to represent myself, while taking the chance at 38 years in prison, but I feel I must fight for what is right! As the great Rocky Maricono said, “always keep punching, even if its the last round of your last fight”. I appologize for the e-mail I sent you with the 49 attachments of my case files, I truely hope that you have had a chance to read them and didn’t just hit the delete button. I hope you have one round in you to help me.
    I greatly appreciate our corrospondence through e-mail, I relize that you must be a very busy man, it’s been a great honor for me to have had replies from the great Gerry Spence
    Respectivily
    Robert Racicot

  26. Mr. Spence, I’m an expert on Mark Twain and he said:
    “LACK of money is the root of all evil.”

    Love, Stevie

  27. (Dad says that’s why I have a paper route, “To keep you IN money and OUT of trouble, son.”)

  28. A little off the subject maybe, also a bit of a weird query, but I’m just looking for a bit more information about the manufacture of Uggs boots. Does anyone know which type of sheep they are manufactured from? And are real UGGs made from the same type as the many imitations?

  29. Some of us are overjoyed that Bill Gates and Warren Buffet have signed on (already) 40 billionaires to leave atleast 1/2 of their fortunes to charity/non-profits. More coming, am sure. If it just isn’t / won’t be too late………

    Individuals who become wealthy honestly through hard work themselves are to be admired for their achievements. Those who use their wealth to help those less fortunate through charitable endeavors deserve GREAT respect.

    Not to mention that VOLUNTEERS who donate their time and energy to any worthy cause are of equal importance as the benefactors. God bless them all.

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