The acquisition of money is the ruling passion of our times; most people believe it holds the key to happiness. The ethics of acquiring money vary widely, ranging from those who are willing to do anything to become rich, to those who have some vague but serious notions as to right and wrong ways of becoming wealthy. Methods of acquiring wealth vary from honorable (developing an important business), to lucky (winning the lottery), to sleazy (outrageous lawsuits), to simple theft.
More than any other factor, the unprincipled pursuit of wealth leads to mental and moral confusion, and to the conclusion that we live in an insane world. If the ultimate goal, happiness, depends on which ticket is drawn in a lottery, or what irrational verdict a jury may pronounce, then reason and other critical values like hard work, persistence, and honesty, have less than overwhelming importance. And if we are dependent on luck or the whims of others then we have no control over our destiny.
People seem to pursue wealth for two reasons:
• Keeping score — Many people use money to compare themselves to others: to keep track of their relative success according to whether they have more or less wealth than their peers.
• To enjoy luxury and leisure — Many people dream of endless leisure, but it seems that few people are happy living such a life; people seem to need to have some goals; some productive activity. To be truly happy, people need to create value.
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