Moral Obligation of our Use of Money

Last night I was out with my best friend grabbing cocktails on West 6th. I have fallen in love with the jewelry she wears every time we go out. Delicate silver bangles, statement pieces, charms, and thick rings hung on her body. So I decided to ask her where she got it all. They were gifts, mostly, but their price ranged from $50 to $300 per piece. Altogether, we established her entire day to day jewlery cost a little over a grand. Coming from the same financial background, I questioned myself. Why don’t I own the incredible jewelry she does?

I was watching a youtube video with Peter Singer on Applied Ethics. Singer was walking the streets of 5th Avenue with a cameraman discussing how people spend money on the newest designer bags at Prada, upcoming line of stilettos at Gucci, or even a suit at Dolce and Gabbana which was equivalent to the price of average rent in California. Singer asked people about an hypothetical regarding a child in danger of drowning vs a pair of nice shoes. The hypothetical was this: If you were walking and you saw a child about to drown and you were wearing a pair of expensive shoes (knowing they were going to get ruined), would you go save the child? Everyone who responded to the question replied that they would save the child over ruining their nice shoes. Additionally, Singer goes on to say how the money spent on a nice pair of shoes could potentially save multiple children in the hearts of 3rd world countries battling standard illness.

His point was this. Throughout the world (especially America), we live in a very material world where we spend a multitude of money on insignificant things. We have an issue with managing our money as well as what we spend it on. He states the money we spend should be dependant on our moral obligation to help others.

Personally, I agree with him. I believe people have some selfish instincts they need to correct. But, I am no saint. I get caught up in the sterling silver, the brand names, and the beautiful downtown high rises just like my best friend. Maybe it would be easier for us to separate ourselves from our material lifestyles if society didn’t advertise and adopt its production. Maybe it’s just a part of maturing. It’s easy for me to use the bare minimum during our family trips to Baja, MX. Why can’t I incorporate the way I live that lifestyle into the one I have at home in Austin?

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