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We are afraid that if we allow those with less the right to choose what quality of life means to them, they may make choices that lower the quality of our lives. If a slum-dweller chooses to use resources to buy a TV rather than address the squalor that intrudes on the visual and olfactory lives of the rich, there is a problem. A problem to be addressed by taking away cash and offering in-kind “aid” in the form of housing and sanitation projects that conform to the aesthetic priorities of the rich.
The free response of less privileged individuals to perceptions of relative deprivation is not always what the more privileged hope it will be. If I were poor, and had to choose between eating more protein and escaping the hopelessness of my life for a few hours a day by watching TV while stoned, I’d probably choose the stoned TV-watching. Like millions of actual poor people seem to. Along with their $75,000+ middle-class peers.
Money does not buy happiness not because it cannot, but because the freedom to spend it intelligently is locked away in institutionally advantaged scripts that make irresistible claims on marginal discretionary dollars above that amount.
Which is why fuck you money is the right term for aspiring to more. To reach for $75,0001 while rejecting the approved list of ways to spend the extra $1 is to say fuck you to somebody else’s notion of a happiness-and-well-being script. Incentives to conform to said script be damned.