Money, it has been said, can’t buy happiness. I may have believed that adage when I was a child. It probably made some sort of sense because we were poor, but — at least as seen from my child’s eyes — we seemed to be happy.
Every household in my neighborhood had about the same poverty-level income, but many other families seemed to have less joy than mine. Still, I imagined that people who had a lot of money were probably happier. I’m pretty sure that I was right. But, having had no contact with those who lived in the more satisfactory parts of New York City, I had no empirical evidence.
However, there were omens. People liked to make references to the Bible about almost everything. One of the oft-quoted bits of scripture came from 1 Corinthians 13:11: “When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.” As a youngster, I thought that the reference was to toys, favorite games and the worthless trinkets that I had hidden away.
It took a couple of decades for me to understand the metaphor. My “childish things” did not include concerns about economic security; political stability; national, local and familial safety; or anything remotely related to future scenarios. I’m almost positive that I was in my 20s before I fully understood that money made happiness more attainable, alleviated economic uncertainty and influenced politics...