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The Cons of Lewis Lapham's Claims that Success, Happiness and Self Worth is Associated with Money in America as Depicted in The Book Money and Class in America,

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In this excerpt from Money and Class in America, Lewis Lapham paints a bleak picture of America. He suggests that the United States, more than any other country, equates happiness, success, and self-worth with money. Granted, America has always been a capitalistic society, and the importance it places on money and material goods cannot be denied. However while many of Lapham’s observations are valid to an extent, he often goes too far, refusing to acknowledge the many exceptions to his claims.

Early in the passage, Lapham maintains that the faith Americans place in the almighty dollar “easily surpasses” that of other societies over time. However, history reveals that man, regardless of his country or culture, has always had an Abiding Faith in money in the tangible goods it can buy. The French King Louis and Queen Marie Antoinette epitomized luxury, decorating their palace at Versailles with gold and jewels and hosting elaborate ceremonies. Well they spent their fortune, the masses were too poor to even buy bread. The king and queen were more concerned with their own success than that of the people. Their money blinded them to the fact that their own country was about to revolt against them. Later, when the Spanish discovered the Americas, they traded with the indigenous peoples. They gave the natives things like buttons in exchange for knives, showing that they were not above using trickery to gain material wealth. The Spanish faith in money was stronger than their moral standards.

Lapham goes on to explain that Americans distrust “anything that cannot be counted, stuffed, framed, or mounted over the fireplace den.” In other words, they focus solely on man’s “visible signs of wealth” and place little value on his intangible qualities such as honor, intellect, or culture. Such is simply not the case. Professional athletes are among the highest paid Americans, but they are not revered for the size of their paychecks. People appreciate the talent and entertainment that they provide. Although they are paid millions of dollars, that is not their only contribution to society. In contrast, even the poorest people still value things like family over money. For instance, a dog may be another mouth to feed, but many poor or homeless people still own one. The companionship a pet provides is far more valuable to some than the extra money is. Despite the intangible benefits, people will still make financial sacrifices.

Finally, Lapham claims that in America, “a rich man is perceived as being necessarily good and wise.” In reality, however, Americans routinely question the ethics and intelligence of some of the country’s most wealthy individuals. Many people supported president-elect Donald Trump, assured that being able to run a business qualifies one to be able to run a country. Despite his wealth, the new president has been under fire for not releasing his tax returns and issuing a questionable executive order. Disenchanted with his sexist remarks, men and women around the world have been questioning his moral alignment. Public figures like J.K. Rowling have even spoken out against him. Trump is a prime example of a prosperous individual who many see as neither good nor was. Other celebrities such as the Kardashians have also been attacked for being handed wealth without contributing more to society than of a paid reality TV show. And, often times, some of the most intelligent innovators in science receive almost no recognition for their work. Most would not argue that all rich people are wise or vice versa.Although America is a majorly capitalistic and materialistic nation, not all of Lapham’s claims are true.

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The Cons Of Lewis Lapham’s Claims That Success, Happiness And Self Worth Is Associated With Money In America As Depicted In The Book Money And Class In America,. (2019, March 12). GradesFixer. Retrieved January 28, 2022, from
“The Cons Of Lewis Lapham’s Claims That Success, Happiness And Self Worth Is Associated With Money In America As Depicted In The Book Money And Class In America,.” GradesFixer, 12 Mar. 2019,
The Cons Of Lewis Lapham’s Claims That Success, Happiness And Self Worth Is Associated With Money In America As Depicted In The Book Money And Class In America,. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 28 Jan. 2022].
The Cons Of Lewis Lapham’s Claims That Success, Happiness And Self Worth Is Associated With Money In America As Depicted In The Book Money And Class In America, [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2019 Mar 12 [cited 2022 Jan 28]. Available from:
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