If a Monkey Hoarded More Bananas . . .

2022-01-03 – There’s a meme going around:

“If a monkey hoarded more bananas than it could eat, while most of the other monkeys starved, scientists would study that monkey to figure out what the heck was wrong with it. When humans do it, we put them on the cover of Forbes.”

I love this meme. But I have to point out one thing:

Money isn’t the same as a banana. A banana has value as food. Money is symbolic only. Money can buy food—of course! But money also buys power and status. If the rules of society say that it takes $10 million to have status, they’ll fight to get $10 million. If the rules of society say that it takes $10 BILLION to have status, they fight to get $10 billion. The number really  doesn’t matter. What matters is having more than everyone else.

Monkeys have status wars, but maybe they only tangentially involve bananas (I really have no idea if this is true). Status wars injure the losers, not just with humans.

But we’ve boiled everything down to money, so the damage from the status wars is more widespread.

Maybe that’s the point of the meme.

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