Money is power. Never forget that.

Favorite quotations, etc.
MountainMan
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Re: Money is power. Never forget that.

Post by MountainMan » Tue Aug 27, 2013 2:12 am

secretwealth wrote: The conversation afterwards was to academics what anus sniffing is to dogs.
Thanks for sharing SW, I can relate a lot to your story, made be laugh! In the academic/medical/hospital environment I work in you are judged on the Dr. or Prof. title on your badge, and its colour, red for medic, green for lab staff, bordeaux red for academic support staff, brown for the cleaning staff (which for some obscure reason is very similar to the academic support staff colour), an golden stripes for very important people.
Nearly reaching FI/ERE this year has indeed been extremely empowering for me in this context.

oldbeyond
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Re: Money is power. Never forget that.

Post by oldbeyond » Tue Aug 27, 2013 3:13 am

Great post. I was also quite dismissive of money, thinking that the only things it could buy were more of the same crap I already had too much of. Pursuing some kind of cause or passion seemed like the way to go. When I stumbled upon ERE and MMM I realized the value of money for the first time.

I guess this is pretty common. At least in my experience, the people who talk the most about money are usually heavily into consumerism and status-seeking. I've met a lot of wannabe Patrick Bateman-types in my life, but never heard someone boast their savings rate or talk about the value of financial freedom. I guess those people just focus on living their lives.

sshawnn
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Re: Money is power. Never forget that.

Post by sshawnn » Tue Aug 27, 2013 7:13 am

secretwealth,

The op is easily the best post you have ever made! Thank you for sharing!

You have made some heavy changes in your life and your professional views that allow the freedoms you mention. IMO your freedom has been cultivated more by your change of views rather than stockpiling tons of money. (I think the same about myself.)

If I were a student I would MUCH rather have a professor like you than a view craving, self serving, ass sniffing instructor.

secretwealth
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Re: Money is power. Never forget that.

Post by secretwealth » Tue Aug 27, 2013 8:37 am

Ego wrote:Was it power or freedom that you bought? Did you buy it with money or with redundancy (multiple options)? Did you buy anything at all, did you earn it, did you learn it or did you just become it?

Rather than "money is power" could you say "having redundancy makes me free", with money as a footnote?
I slept on this question because it's such a good one. And I think I stick by my original word choice--money bought me power.

When I say "power" I specifically mean the ability to not be under the power of other people. Thus I now can combat the power others try to have over me with my own power, which I only have now because I have money to leave any work situation I don't like and I don't have to pursue a career to insure I have a place to sleep and food to eat.

So, yes, I also got freedom as well, but I think that freedom was only possible because of the power I have to resist the power of other people (universities, hiring committees, department heads, journal editorial boards).

At least from this perspective, it paints society in a depressing light: social institutions give individuals power to assert control and restrict the freedom of other individuals. This describes colleges to a T (and also reminds me of the "I will downgrade you if you play with your phone in class. I will downgrade you if you miss two days. I will downgrade you if your political opinions differ from my own." warnings that you hear on the first day of class, let alone the nonsense that goes on in research).

@Dragline: The last time I adjuncted was in the late 90s when I was trying to start an academic career. Boy, is it a different feeling now! I imagine I can do this for several years for fun; I'm very curious how the students are going to react to my shockingly honest and anti-academia but pro-knowledge lectures.

Chad
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Re: Money is power. Never forget that.

Post by Chad » Tue Aug 27, 2013 9:10 am

secretwealth wrote: @Dragline: The last time I adjuncted was in the late 90s when I was trying to start an academic career. Boy, is it a different feeling now! I imagine I can do this for several years for fun; I'm very curious how the students are going to react to my shockingly honest and anti-academia but pro-knowledge lectures.
I assume quite well, as everyone sees hints of this "oppression" (I'm not just talking about academic).

secretwealth
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Re: Money is power. Never forget that.

Post by secretwealth » Tue Aug 27, 2013 9:13 am

The perception of academia really has changed--when I was a kid they were respected and admired Very Important People. That seems to have pretty much vanished from the public consciousness, and not for no reason, either.

prosaic
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Re: Money is power. Never forget that.

Post by prosaic » Tue Aug 27, 2013 9:24 am

I could have written long stretches of that, except that I dropped out of a PhD program and then spent nearly 20 years juggling educational publishing, higher ed administrative positions, and adjuncting in an effort to maintain my "professional status" in academia.

Fucking bullshit.

I spent a few years of therapy sessions trying to disengage from teaching, which I began to hate as students were treated like customers and deans forced me to dumb down material (think college-level 101 courses taught like 8th grade). I always had better-than-average teaching evals. Still told to do this.

Anyhow, my big epiphany came about a year before I quit working in higher ed administration (this mast March), when my boss ordered me to pretend I had made HER/HIS mistake. It was a face-saving measure for her/him, and it was clear I was expected to do it. I did. It was humiliating and hierarchical and all that crap. God forbid a university committee think she/he sent the wrong document/email/whatever.

It's the old adage: Why are the fights in academia so vicious? Because the stakes are so low. Your anus-sniffing comment is so dead on it made me laugh and cringe at the same time. So true.

And then I began a second income stream that released me.

Money IS power if you use it to buy *freedom*. We're now out of debt except for our mortgage and I never, ever have to go back to an academic position. The irony is that my second income stream is a nose-tipper in academia: I write genre fiction. Romance novels.

I also outearn every member of the administration at my old college except for the president.

Tyler9000
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Re: Money is power. Never forget that.

Post by Tyler9000 » Tue Aug 27, 2013 9:34 am

prosaic wrote: Money IS power if you use it to buy *freedom*.
Interesting how so many people seek power to control others, but so few seek it to wrest back control of themselves.

Freedom ain't cheap. But that's because it's so valuable.

Chad
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Re: Money is power. Never forget that.

Post by Chad » Tue Aug 27, 2013 9:41 am

"Academia" is like any large organization, as it grows old it decays. I would bet that "academia" worked rather well before a college degree became a must have for everyone. We need some creative destruction in the education sector.

secretwealth
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Re: Money is power. Never forget that.

Post by secretwealth » Tue Aug 27, 2013 10:03 am

I have difficulties thinking about academia as just any large organization. For me coming from a poor family in a really uneducated city, academia was salvation. It was an escape from a society I found dissatisfying and a lifestyle I found demeaning. It didn't really live up to the fantasy I built up in my mind around it. The only thing that has is money.

Chad
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Re: Money is power. Never forget that.

Post by Chad » Tue Aug 27, 2013 10:59 am

Agreed, it isn't a traditional large organization, in that there is one leader for all the schools. However, all the schools went down the same path, which resulted in similar cultures.

Seneca
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Re: Money is power. Never forget that.

Post by Seneca » Tue Aug 27, 2013 11:19 am

secretwealth wrote:I think those axioms like "money can't buy happiness" and "find your passion and do what you love, don't care about the money" are propaganda to keep the lower middle class poor and enslaved to their soul-sucking menial jobs, whether in cubicles, on construction sites, or elsewhere....
I totally agree. I have also retorted to people who say this, "well, you're not spending it right then".
workathome wrote:Also "money is the root of all evil"
This oft repeated abortion of what the Bible actually said is an even more succinct attempt to keep people from the freedom created by well handled money and resources.

I think the level of wealth most on this forum appear to have is more akin to freedom as Ego posited, not power. You had freedom from that tenure tract "anus sniffer", but you didn't actually have power over her. You have to have a crapload of money to hit that level, and not just millions.

Chad
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Re: Money is power. Never forget that.

Post by Chad » Tue Aug 27, 2013 11:30 am

Seneca wrote:[
I think the level of wealth most on this forum appear to have is more akin to freedom as Ego posited, not power. You had freedom from that tenure tract "anus sniffer", but you didn't actually have power over her. You have to have a crapload of money to hit that level, and not just millions.
I don't think the definition of "power" in this thread is the domination of others, but about the domination over ourselves. SW's wealth gives him the power to take the situation with the professor anyway he wants, as he can live with any of the repercussions.

Seneca
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Re: Money is power. Never forget that.

Post by Seneca » Tue Aug 27, 2013 11:35 am

Chad wrote:
Seneca wrote:[
I think the level of wealth most on this forum appear to have is more akin to freedom as Ego posited, not power. You had freedom from that tenure tract "anus sniffer", but you didn't actually have power over her. You have to have a crapload of money to hit that level, and not just millions.
I don't think the definition of "power" in this thread is the domination of others, but about the domination over ourselves. SW's wealth gives him the power to take the situation with the professor anyway he wants, as he can live with any of the repercussions.
He stated that well in his response to Ego.

I just don't agree, and also don't share his implied negatives but instead see it as the exact opposite, a freedom that is a net positive to both the relationship with the aspirational prof and society.

To me power would be you think a dean is terrible, so you hit the president and board of trustees with an offer to build a new college wing if they replace the dean. Or maybe you just want to force the college to put your name on a building, so you do the same. That is true influence, power, over others.

Being able to ignore someone, even smugly, is not the message I understand the word power to convey.

secretwealth
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Re: Money is power. Never forget that.

Post by secretwealth » Tue Aug 27, 2013 11:44 am

Yes, Chad's got it. Power doesn't always mean domination over another individual.

@Seneca: You're free to disagree on my definition of the word "power". Taking the second definition from my New Oxford American: "the capacity or ability to direct or influence the behavior of others or the course of events", I'm using the word to mean "the capacity to influence the course of events", whereas you're focusing on the former aspect of the definition. I don't find such semantic quibbling terribly useful, do you?

Felix
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Re: Money is power. Never forget that.

Post by Felix » Tue Aug 27, 2013 11:44 am

I find the distinction artificial. It is power that you get with money - in areas where you are powerless otherwise and where people have power over you. Your employer determines the size of your paycheck and if you get one (do you eat or not), your bank can take your house (do you have shelter or not) or your car (transportation or not). Having money turns you from powerless to powerful.

In that state where others no longer have power over you, you finally have freedom from them and power over your own circumstances which formerly resided with others.

I always see it as buying yourself out of slavery.

The amount of negotiation power with employers I already have with my little stack of savings is very impressive to me. It changes a lot.

Seneca
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Re: Money is power. Never forget that.

Post by Seneca » Tue Aug 27, 2013 12:05 pm

secretwealth wrote:
Ego wrote:Was it power or freedom that you bought? Did you buy it with money or with redundancy (multiple options)? Did you buy anything at all, did you earn it, did you learn it or did you just become it?

Rather than "money is power" could you say "having redundancy makes me free", with money as a footnote?
I slept on this question because it's such a good one. And I think I stick by my original word choice--money bought me power.

When I say "power" I specifically mean the ability to not be under the power of other people. Thus I now can combat the power others try to have over me with my own power, which I only have now because I have money to leave any work situation I don't like and I don't have to pursue a career to insure I have a place to sleep and food to eat.

So, yes, I also got freedom as well, but I think that freedom was only possible because of the power I have to resist the power of other people (universities, hiring committees, department heads, journal editorial boards).

At least from this perspective, it paints society in a depressing light: social institutions give individuals power to assert control and restrict the freedom of other individuals. This describes colleges to a T (and also reminds me of the "I will downgrade you if you play with your phone in class. I will downgrade you if you miss two days. I will downgrade you if your political opinions differ from my own." warnings that you hear on the first day of class, let alone the nonsense that goes on in research)...
@SW- I commented on the power/freedom discussion because your reply to Ego made it seem like you thought it was both important, and carried in to defining societal interactions, which is interesting.

Had your response to Ego been to regurgitate a dictionary, I'd never have commented.

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jennypenny
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Re: Money is power. Never forget that.

Post by jennypenny » Tue Aug 27, 2013 12:20 pm

I don't find the distinction in definitions artificial. It inflates the importance of money. Money is a tool you can use, but there are others. I'm not taking away from the OP, but you don't have to wait for a pile of money to stop the madness. Does a person really need a lot of money to have power over themselves and their life?

Switching from power through academic credentials to power from money just seems like a kind of transference to me.

Felix
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Re: Money is power. Never forget that.

Post by Felix » Tue Aug 27, 2013 12:24 pm

I just think that "power over yourself" (I think that's SW's definition here) and freedom are pretty similar things.
Yes, you don't need money, you can also get there through skill-building, but the money does help a lot, I think.

Spartan_Warrior
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Re: Money is power. Never forget that.

Post by Spartan_Warrior » Tue Aug 27, 2013 12:26 pm

Good OP, secretwealth. So far the relationship between money and power seems to be the major lesson of my 20s. The most interesting thing to me is the cognitive dissonance at the cultural (or even species?) level. The older I become, the more blatantly obvious it seems that money--which essentially translates to control over resources--is the only real store of power, and has been since the dawn of time. Yet so many people have these misguided and awkward psychological attachments to money, rooted in the belief that "money doesn't buy happiness", so they are made to attach shame and guilt to the "greedy" pursuit of money.

I wonder how this looks throughout different cultures. For instance, I wonder if the belief in democracy shared by western nations contributes to the fallacy that "money doesn't buy happiness". We want so badly to believe that everyone is created equally and everyone has an equal voice in government, it might be harder to open our eyes to the fact that money remains the only real force for change or influence.

In terms of power vs. freedom, both sides of the argument seem true to me. Power is a spectrum, from utter helplessness (indentured servitude) to absolute power/omnipotence (God). "Freedom" is the point along the spectrum at which you have enough power to see to your own livelihood without being dominated by the power of others. However, mere freedom is certainly a far cry from the true heights of power that money can buy. Seneca is right to point out that most of us on the forum will reach the "freedom" part of the spectrum but never the "true power" to, for instance, buy government favors.

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