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What Money Can’t Buy: The Impact of Money on Our Society

PoliticsWhat Money Can’t Buy: The Impact of Money on Our Society

Professor of Law at Harvard University and American political economist and philosopher Michael Sandel (Michael Sandel, 1953~) raised the following question: “What are the things in modern society that cannot be bought with money?” 

This topic became a subject of public discussion and led to the publication of a book (“What Money Can’t Buy: The Moral Limits of Markets”) and lectures. 

At a time when capitalism pervades all fields, we need to deeply contemplate such questions.

Some scholars argue that the advent of capitalism marks the beginning of another class society, and the outcome varies depending on the means. The means here refer to money within capitalism itself. 

We possess money (or currency and credit cards) to purchase goods and services. Similarly, businesses exist to generate profits, and for economic growth to occur, the circulation of money within society must be active. 

This article aims to describe the personal and societal implications inherent in the meaning of money and its impact.

It is not necessary to possess a lot of money. However, severe deprivation of capital makes it difficult to dedicate oneself to other activities. 

Consciousness is essential for human beings. Indeed, according to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, basic consciousness, including life goals and achievements, should be the foundation of life. It is commonly said that happiness cannot be bought with money. 

However, without assured consciousness, one cannot even feel the emotion of happiness. Engaging in political, religious, and cultural activities is also difficult when consciousness is unstable. One essential condition enabling consciousness is “money.” 

This is not just a matter of personal expenditure. National defense, which protects citizens, is also directly linked to money. 

Even if individuals possess capital personally, if a country is exposed to an unstable environment, it is difficult to achieve basic human needs such as consciousness. Almost all activities we commonly engage in, such as studying, working, dining out, become unsustainable without consciousness. 

It is said that love cannot be bought with money. This may be true. However, in a situation where consciousness is lacking, even the emotion of love may be difficult to manifest. This is not an unfounded story but a credible narrative demonstrated by human history. 

Sacrificing the lesser for the greater is one example. Furthermore, Professor Sandel, in his lecture “On Justice,” mentioned five sailors stranded at sea for two weeks. 

This incident, a true story, demonstrates human instincts for life in a situation devoid of consciousness.

The meaning of money can be viewed socially beyond the personal dimension. In this case, its value becomes infinite, exerting influence in all areas. 

National defense is one of the important factors for protecting a country. However, if a nation lacks capital, not only defense but also the political system can be destabilized. 

Money not only signifies capital but also plays a role in providing individuals with a stable society. 

In an environment where the circulation of capital is unstable, individual freedom and activities are likely to be suppressed. In medieval times, the phrase “Feed us before giving us freedom” emerged. 

Interpreted, it was a petition from citizens to ensure a humane life (including consciousness) before discussing freedom. It is commonly said that freedom cannot be bought with money. 

Yes, the commodity of freedom cannot be bought with money. However, some level of capital is essential to provide freedom to human life and society. 

Human beings inherently need a sense of belonging. It has been proven in many papers that the satisfaction humans feel within society can change depending on the amount of money. 

Are there really things that cannot be bought with money? Of course, there are. However, since this answer varies depending on individual values, it cannot be specifically mentioned. 

But the fact we must realize is this: even something someone thinks cannot be bought with money, someone else may think otherwise.

Money goes beyond mere capital and signifies the extent of power and influence. This is one characteristic of capitalism and one reason it can lead to negative outcomes. 

We need to contemplate things that cannot be bought with money. If the presence of money changes even the innermost and intrinsic values of humanity, our lives will deteriorate.

Whatever the answer may be regarding things that cannot be bought with money, we must train for internal maturity.

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