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Money Talks – The Power and Influence of Money

Money Talks - The Power and Influence of MoneyYou have probably heard of the saying “money talks!”  If you haven’t then it is a simple premise.  If you have money, then you have power and influence.  The more money you have, then the more power and influence you have.  We see this premise in action everywhere really.  It really shows up in business and politics.  I figured I would share a story with you that would bring home this phrase.  You probably don’t need a story to understand that money really does talk, but you are getting one anyway.  This is about a co-worker that was deep into politics, so much that she was planning a career switch.

A Bright Future

My co-worker has always been enamored by politics.  The thought of having the ability to change the way we function and fighting for the people was up her alley.  She has always been a very caring person that wants to make sure everyone is taken care of.  She is also very fiery.  She has passion flowing out of her veins.  She is the perfect candidate to be a politician.

I am not going to divulge what party she represented as that would just cause a battle between people.  Have you ever seen comments on articles from Yahoo, CNN, or other large news stations?  If an article is about a democrat, then the republicans slam it.  If the article is about a republican, then the democrats slam it.

Either way, my co-worker has been getting deeper and deeper into state politics in order to go to a national level.  She would go to many functions along with some of the biggest ones in that state and in the nation.  She was working outside of politics in order to make ends meet until she could get into a prominent position.  I thought she was about to make the move after a few years, but then something happened.

Realizing the Power of Money

At one of the biggest conferences in the nation, my co-worker was doing what most people wanting to get into politics do.  She was networking with some powerful people.  She had a plan to share what she wanted to accomplish when she go into politics.  Her ideas were very admirable.  They were truly ideas that would help out others and make our lives better.  They were ideas that most people would vote for.

She got to talk with an upper politician that has been around the block a few times.  These people have seen it all, but they also know how the game works.  She told him her plans and this is what he told her.  I am summarizing as she did for me.

This politician told her that the only ideas that make it into bills and make a difference are the ones that can get support.  Your ideas have to appease the people with money.  If you don’t get financial backing, then your ideas don’t get heard.  He told her that money talks for the most part.  If your ideas go against people with money, then they can destroy you.  Lobbyists are in government to make sure their backers get what they want.  If you don’t go with them, then they can destroy your career.  He also said that the people that have the power are the ones that have the money.  Politicians battle with lobbyists.

An Uphill Battle

My co-worker took in this politician’s advice.  She didn’t really like what she heard, so she decided to go talk with others that have been around for some time.  Person after person, she got the same answer.  You have to have money in order to have power and influence.  If you don’t have the big boys behind you, then you get nowhere.  While she knew that money had a massive influence in politics, she figured that her passion would get her through it.  If you put your mind to something, you can accomplish anything, right?  Well,that might not be the case in politics or business.

The story ends with my co-worker realizing that she didn’t want to be a part of our state or national politics.  The system is completely broken with no way of fixing it without completely revamping it.  You can’t do that because there are too many with power that want to keep it the same.  She figured she would try and change the world another way, as public service wasn’t it.

The Truth of Money Talks

The sad truth about money is that most of us are driven by it.  We all want to make more, but we have different reasons to do so.  If you want to make a difference, then you need money.  Our society has created this culture that is run by the people with money.  Our politics are run by those with money and those that can be bought out.  If you don’t know what lobbyists do, then go look it up.  They are the reason why not much gets done in our political system.  Well, it is lobbying and the weak minded.

I do think it is sad that we only can really speak with our wallets.  Isn’t that what we say when we don’t like a company?  Consumers can change how a company works just by talking with their money. If you don’t like how a company does business, then don’t buy their products or service.  Unfortunately, that same premise works for everyone.  If a company doesn’t like how a new bill is going to affect them, then they talk with their money.  They spend money to change language in bills and help buyout others.  Should it be illegal, maybe, but will it be?  Nope!  You have to convince the same people that are getting the money to stop taking the money.  How would you go about doing that?

Examples of Money Talking

A great case for how money talks in business is this new Comcast and TWC merger.  Though it hasn’t happened yet, I am sure that the fight will be a big one.  They are going to argue that it will be good for customers.  As customers, we all know it will be terrible.  There are a few regulators that think it is a bad idea, but what about the whole?  I don’t even want to know how much money these two companies are going to spend in order to “influence” the regulators over their case.

You can see the world of how much money talks all around us if you really pay attention.  Have you ever purchased a service that has support?  Do you see that you get different options of support depending on how much money you spend?  Well, that is money talking.  Companies will give you more options depending on how much money you spend.  The more you spend, the better the service.  When I used to run my e-commerce business I had to deal with suppliers.  When I was not spending much with them, my calls got put into a queue.  When I started spending more money with them, they gave me a dedicated representative that I could call all day.  The more money I spent, the more service I got.  This premise happens everywhere.

The same thing happens with regards to the law.  If you have the funds, you can get the best and brightest lawyers in the country to defend you. If you have nothing, then you don’t have a selection to choose from.  You have probably seen what great lawyers can do to a case.  Just name any number of high profile cases and the outcomes.  It all comes down to how much you are willing to spend.  The money gets you the connections necessary to change your outcome.  No money gets you nothing.

I realize that this is getting a little long.  The reason is because this topic is all too real in our lives.  There is always talk about how people that don’t have money, don’t really have a voice.  Well, this is true.  You can’t speak if you don’t have the money to do so.    Our society is run by money.  The more you have, the more power and influence you have.  You can disagree with me and that is fine, but I have seen this in action time and time again.  I see it on a business and personal front. I get more options and opportunities when I have more money.  I do think it is sad, but it is a fact of how it is.  Money brings you opportunities and what you choose to do with them are up to you.

What do you think about how money talks?  How have you seen this in action?  What do you think we can do to change how our society thinks about money?

Photo via Ervins Strauhmanis


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About the Author Grayson Bell

I'm a business owner, blogger, father, and husband. I used credit cards too much and found myself in over $75,000 in debt ($50,000 in just credit cards). I paid it off, started this blog, and my financial life has changed. I now talk about fighting debt and growing wealth here. I run a WordPress maintenance and support company, along with another blog, Eyes on the Dollar, which is another great personal finance blog.

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48 comments
John @ Frugal Rules says March 10

Good post Grayson and think it’s spot on. One of my younger brothers has been seeing this himself as he lives in DC. He has been trying to get a job on the Hill for the past three or so years and is getting nowhere because he doesn’t come from money. Not that he’s “poor”, but you get my point. The ones getting the jobs are the ones coming from multi-millionaire families who have connections. I don’t like it, but it is what it is.

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    Grayson Bell says March 10

    Ah yes, you need to come from money to play with them! If you don’t have the connections, you don’t get into the club.

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    Derek @ MoneyAhoy.com says March 12

    John, agree 100% I was in DC as part of our MBA class. It was amazing to me how everyone from the top all the way down to the interns came from a lot of money. It’s the way our current system works apparently 🙁

    It would be nearly impossible for “normal” folks like us to get our foot in the door.

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      Grayson Bell says March 12

      That is just truly sad. Most of our innovation comes from normal people, yet we can’t get those ideas through without money and connections.

      Reply
Brian @ Luke1428 says March 10

“Money brings opportunities” I agree with this completely. In some cases, excess money leads to opportunities/choices that we wish we really didn’t have to make. I can think of many people whose wealth granted them access to certain things (they otherwise wouldn’t have had) and that led to their demise.

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    Grayson Bell says March 10

    Great point Brian! There have been many cases where too much wealth have led to the downfall of some, but the premise still works that money brings opportunities.

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Jack @ SeeJackSave says March 10

Unfortunately you’re not wrong Grayson. In politics, often you have to “pay to play”. Regardless of what you think about the Occupy movement – their basic premise was pretty solid. The top 1% of society have their hands on the levers of power and as long as the middle-class continue to be con’ed into thinking that “they too can be rich and powerful someday” nothing is going to change.

I do think however lots can be done to reform the system. I happen to think that mass frugality will make a difference. The more people opt out of the consumerist society we currently live in and the more we normalize the idea that we don’t have to have all the nice shinny things – then those at the top have fewer and fewer serfs to live off of. That may sound a bit radical…but think about it.

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    Grayson Bell says March 10

    I do think the occupy movement has a solid premise, but their execution was poor. They offered no real solutions to fix the problem.

    The real way to fix the system is to get away from mass consumerism. People have to understand that their money talks. If you don’t like what you see, then walk away with your money and use it somewhere else.

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Lauren says March 10

It’s sad, and quite sickening really, once you realize that politics is all about the money. Unfortunately, this is pretty much the case everywhere. Some countries are more blatant and in your face with the corruption, while others like to maintain the ruse of a democratic process.

At the end of the day, we’re only going to end up with the candidates who raised enough money by promising things to big donors with interests. There’s probably no doubt that the Comcast merger will go through, but we’ll have to sit through watching some regulators and politicians feigning concern about it, even though they’ll gladly (or grudgingly) accept their payout behind closed doors. That said, I do still participate in the political process and make my voice heard when an issue concerns me.

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    Grayson Bell says March 10

    You are correct there Lauren. Corruption is everywhere, but some places just let it be out in the open.

    I will still go through the democratic process, but I understand more that my vote will not lead to many results. I have to speak with my money.

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Kasey @ Debt Perception says March 10

Great post, Grayson! It’s all so sadly true…and legal. I hate money and I hate our political system. “…of the people, by the people, for the people…” ONLY if these “people” have money! While normal folks like us can be frugal, politics will never change. It will remain corrupt, sans an apocalypse.

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    Grayson Bell says March 10

    It is certainly legal. Who would change that system though? You would have to convince the very people that get the money in return for their vote. Not many are willing to give up easy money.

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Holly@ClubThrifty says March 10

And we wonder why our country is so messed up. It’s sad that it’s so corrupt and that only the powerful and rich get to decide what’s best for the rest of us. How disheartening.

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    Grayson Bell says March 10

    So true Holly! I have spoken to some people that have no idea that money plays such a big part. They think that their representatives actually represent them. It only takes one company to come in with cash flying to change someone’s mind.

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E.M. says March 10

Very true, and it’s a sad reality we have to deal with. I have a lot of friends that are also passionate about wanting to change policies, mainly in education, but I doubt they will get very far because they don’t have the background for it. It’s disappointing because these people have amazing ideas, but no one will listen to them. There are just some hurdles passion can’t overcome when it comes to politics.

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    Grayson Bell says March 10

    There are a lot of ideas that will either never be heard or just swept under the rug because there is no monetary incentive to push them along. You have to come with an idea and money to get something in politics.

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MMD says March 10

You just summed up why I hate politics …

Unfortunately this is just the way that everything works. Even in something as simple as our jobs people will only respond when you can put a dollar figure next to it. Money really does make the world go round …

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    Grayson Bell says March 10

    It is a reason why I hate politics as well. I just see it more and more with everything we deal with. Maybe I was blind to it before, but now it is all around.

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Andrew@LivingRichCheaply says March 10

I’m with MMD…it is why I hate politics. While I’m interested in the issues, it is tough to follow when it seems everything that is done is based on money…those lobbying for certain issues, those contributing to campaigns, when the elections are, etc… While I didn’t always agree with the decisions of the former mayor of NYC, at least it was refreshing that his decisions were not based on what lobbyist wanted passed or what those contributing to his campaign wanted as he was already wealthy.

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    Grayson Bell says March 10

    Everything is based on money. It doesn’t matter the issue. The issues that get somewhere are backed by money.

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DC @ Young Adult Money says March 10

This absolutely makes sense. I think there are some causes that get financial donations that aren’t necessarily ‘money’ issues. Pro-life groups come to mind. They have a ton of financial backing from people who care enough about the issue to put their money where their mouth is. I was a polysci major and I particularly enjoyed studying policy. It definitely takes money to set anything in motion, and part of the challenge for some policy is getting the supporters to pony up money. I think Rand Paul largely appealed to Ron Paul’s supporters because they were willing to give money. He then leveraged the tea party for momentum, branding, and of course, money. Money is essential in politics and I don’t see that changing.

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    Grayson Bell says March 10

    I get that there are causes that get financial donations, but those issues don’t get anywhere without those donations. Money talks everywhere in politics, no matter the issue.

    You are correct on the last statement DC. Money is essential in politics and it won’t be changing.

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Shannon @ Financially Blonde says March 10

This is a sad but true commentary on not just our political situation but in other areas of influence as well. You see it all the time with “activist investors” who want to tell a company how to run itself. The only reason they get a “say” is that they have billions of dollars to invest. I tell my hubby all the time that I want to start a viable third party in the U.S. that stands for smart decisions and not money decisions. It seems with less than 20% approval ratings for Congress that we may get there sooner than later, at least I hope so.

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    Grayson Bell says March 10

    I would be a part of that system Shannon, but who would support it? Yes, the average American would, but since the most money comes from the 1%, we would still be far behind. Your “smart decision” party would be pushed around by big money. I think it would be great, but the fight would have to be on multiple fronts.

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Alex G says March 10

May be true in many cases, I want to believe it’s not always the case. In SF right now they’re looking at taxing soda. I’m curious to see how that goes. http://time.com/8758/soda-wars-bubble-up-across-the-country/

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    Grayson Bell says March 10

    I wanted to believe that it is not always the case too, but I have seen too many instances where money talks. If you want something done, then money is going to get it done. The soda tax was done in NY, but I think it was repealed. I hope it doesn’t go through.

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Raquel@Practical Cents says March 10

I have a friend who’s getting into politics. He’s making his first run at city council this coming May. He’s a nice kid with genuine ideas to make things better for people. We’ll see how he makes out. His family has some small businesses and connections in the city he is running but I’ll be curious to see how far he gets beyond that. Politics is an expensive business.

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    Grayson Bell says March 10

    I wish him the best of luck in his run. I hope his connections will help for city council, but beyond that, it will require money.

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Deacon Hayes says March 10

I think politics is a great example of when “Money Talks”. Often times it is the candidate that has raised the most money that has the best chance at winning. Not every time, but more often than not.

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    Grayson Bell says March 11

    I think that it is mostly the case of who raises the most money. More money means more ads being bought and more marketing that can be done.

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Tonya@Budget and the Beach says March 10

Speaking of cable, I hope that my money talked when I cancelled cable, and a lot of other people are doing the same thing. I hate how money and politics are intertwined. Big businesses are in bed with politicians, and it all feels corrupt to me. I vote, but I do so with caution.

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    Grayson Bell says March 11

    I was wishing my money talked when I cancelled cable, but they still get it for the internet. That is the big problem. Most cable companies also control the internet access.

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Pauline @ Make Money Your Way says March 10

It is pretty sad but that’s the way it is. Here politicians get votes because they give people a free t-shirt or a can of soda. Then they get elected, start stealing money, and get rich enough to buy the next election. Money should be a tool to make transactions cleaner but it seems to be all the contrary.

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    Grayson Bell says March 11

    Yeah, that is definitely corrupt and they don’t really care about it. Most politicians here just do things behind closed doors, then give a smile and a nice speech to get your vote.

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Debt and the Girl says March 10

I have heard about the Comcast merger. I don’t think it will be fine for the general customer either. Don’t really have cable anymore but I have heard it may even affect internet prices. Ugh!

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    Grayson Bell says March 11

    I don’t have cable either, but I do pay for internet service. My price will go up, I am sure of that.

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Kim@Eyesonthedollar says March 11

Money does talk. I have been involved in politics a little through the state and national optometric association, and getting bills passed all comes down to who has the most money and most lobbyists. My home state of Kentucky just passed a bill recently to let optometrist use lasers to treat glaucoma and post cataract problems, not LASIK or cosmetic things, even though only a handful of optometrists would ever even do that procedure because it just isn’t something relevant to a private practice. The optometry associations spent $2 million to get it passed, and there is no telling how much was spend by the MD associations to block it. (OD’s vs MD’s are worse than Dems and Republicans) That is why I get so put off by politics. If that money had been put into valid programs for eye services, I think that would have been a much better use. As it it, it’s all for bragging rights.

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    Grayson Bell says March 11

    Well that sounds exciting. That is the exact type of thing that is ruining this country. People are spending big money just to get their idea through, where that money could be used for many other things. Politics just make me angry.

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Shannon @ The Heavy Purse says March 11

I imagine it was quite disheartening for your co-worker to realize how much money would influence her ability to truly represent the people and help them. It is sad how money talks and gives such great power to a few. As much as I believe that money is a gift, we have elevated money to such a high pedestal where everyone covets it (often for the wrong reasons) and those who have it, hold all the power.

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    Grayson Bell says March 11

    Great comment Shannon. You are certainly correct here. We have give money power due to our desire to have it.

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Laurie says March 12

Awesome post, Grayson. I was involved with local politics in our former affluent suburb, and was being touted as the next “golden child” of the local arena, because of my passion for making things right. But, like your friend, I started to see the real picture, especially as I watched (and still watch) a good friend and mentor politician, who is in it for the right reasons, get more and more discouraged as the years roll on. I’m just waiting for the day when she comes to terms with the fact that it’s all about the money, and walks away. Obviously, I would love for her to stay, because she is one of the rare “good” politicians with her heart in the right place, but she is definitely an island, and it’s tough to see her being thrown under the bus for the sake of the almighty dollar. I fear that this country really is at the point of no return for that reason.

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    Grayson Bell says March 12

    Thanks for the comment Laurie! Your story is so true all around this country. There are some rare politicians that are there for the cause. There are also many that go in for a cause, then easily get bought out to support another cause.

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jefferson @SeeDebtRun says March 12

The influence of money on politics is something that has caused me totally lose interest.. At one time, our government was our best and our brightest.. Today, it’s our richest, or those that have been bought and paid for by our richest. Blech.

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    Grayson Bell says March 12

    I am with you there Jefferson! I feel the same way. It is depressing to know that we are controlled by a few and all of those made it there due to money.

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EL @ Moneywatch101 says March 14

I believe that as well. Money runs politics, and that’s pretty sad. I get political emails all the time to help with random petitions, and guess what they don’t get much traction. Only the big boys really have the power to change society.

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    Grayson Bell says March 14

    You are correct. The only way to change how it is done is by coming in with a lot of money.

    Reply
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