Money for Money’s Sake

Penny Wisdom

By Emeka Uzoatu

Why do people make money? That’s the question of the moment. But as easy as the answer to this oft-repeated poser appears, there’s often more to it than the need to make ends meet to part no more. 

Well, I’m only asking because this morn I’d woken to the rhymes of an old-time tune Satisfied Mind. Originally written by Joe ‘Red’ Hayes and Jack Rhodes, it has been performed by many acts from Johnny Cash to Jeff Buckley. 

The version I listened to though was a cover by none other than the inimitable Bob Dylan. Like written, it makes the invidious assertion that there’s hardly a rich man in ten with a satisfied mind.

O yes. For what is mostly found are situations where when enough money is made to make ends meet in umpteen lifetimes, people are still enmeshed in the craft. As though they haven’t even a mere farthing made.

Much like a good friend of mine had answered upon being asked how he was surviving the hard times. Appearing not to have given the question any thought, he had curtly replied: 

‘By breathing oxygen and carbon dioxide in and out respectively.’

To compound the issues at stake, some of these characters end up putting no atom of responsibility to the effort. In fact, much as in Machiavellian politics, only the end justifies all their often heinous means of investment. 

In the end they only strive at straightening their hitherto dubious paths. Often, in the search for subterfuges, they end up in politics. And once ensconced in its cooling balm, their sole aim becomes the pocketing of our commonwealth in off- and onshore bank accounts.

Beside politics, these money-making human machines are found in all types of illegalities ranging from human trafficking, fake pastoring, to drug pushing. And even when the transactions are legal, they end up not paying açcruable duties and taxes to the government.

More interestingly, they would often cover their atrocities with dubious philanthropic gestures. Thus, rather than empower the government to carry out its social responsibilities better and evenly, they end up constituting themselves as though alternative governments.

Of course, initially their relationship to the powers that be is as cordial as ever. They are not only afforded all types of waivers but are even granted outright monopolies. This has them so powerful that through political sponsorships they are able to install whomever could not dare rock their boat of enterprise.

A view of Maitama, the abode of the rich in Abuja.

However, this only subsists as long as they do not want to be crowned kings themselves. Yes, because only then are they put in their places and almost always exile becomes the only way out.

The most-apt description this disease has been given is ‘making money for money’s sake’. Often this is justified by the truth that money amounts to what it can afford it’s account owner. Thus, you are not monied until you display it.

This has blokes engaging in all types of tomfoolery just to announce their arrival. For instance, houses are no longer built for accomodation. They have to possess definitive characteristics that emphasize the owner’s net worth.

Cars, for now, are only bought for locomotion by outright paupers. The rich do not buy vehicles just for movement from point A to point B. The one owned by the ousted and late Shah of Iran Mohammad Reza Pahlavi(1919-80), for instance, even had an escape car in its booth!

Interestingly, a possible explanation for this cognomen to this disaster comes from a similar turn in the liberal arts. Codenamed ‘art for arts sake’ it has artists labouring as though in vain. Accordingly, many practitioners in the art genres have taken out time to comment on this apparent perfidy as it were. 

Our own dear late master novelist, the late China Achebe (1930-2013) for one. Writing in Morning Yet On Creation Day, his compilation of essays, he had this to say about the nuisance:

…’art for art’s sake is just another piece of deodorised dog shit’ …

Back to its money alternative. On its strength, one would have thought that its supposed practitioners would have been of a different disposition to it. Characters like the also-late American multi-billionaire John D. Rockefeller(1839-1937). 

In his own case, he ended up making the kind of money that cannot but draw someone into philanthropy. But he had this to say about the matter on hand:

‘I know of nothing more despicable and pathetic than a man who devotes all the hours of the waking day to the making of money for money’s sake.’

What more can me and my keyboard add? Basically nothing, other than some advice for its professed practitioners. Religion apart, what shall it profit man or woman to take the rest of us for granted?  

Anyway, just excuse me while I try to make some change for myself.

Emeka Uzoatu, a seasoned journalist and writer, is the editor of He writes the occasional column, Penny Wisdom.