Jeff Bezos spends money better than you or I do. When we spend money, we’re basically influencing what someone else does with their time. There are certain tasks that are better for humanity than others, one would argue having someone spend their time to build a house, or cook a meal, is more valuable than banging buckets as drums on a downtown sidewalk or cooking meth.
In the book Bold, the authors mention that to fix developing countries you can fix certain problems such as giving a place electricity or better ovens and this solves a pile of other problems. This is in contrast to solving a problem like hunger by giving a free meal, which doesn’t really solve a problem for very long and also creates more problems when well fed people then have the strength to reproduce and create even more mouths to feed.
When a hobo is given $20, then that money commands more liquor store owners to keep showing up, make new stores, or brewers to get more barrels to brew booze in. When Elon Musk is given $20, that money commands a kid to stay in school to keep studying rocket science in hopes that Musk will hire him to help get us to Mars. Getting to Mars is likely better for the human race than brewing more booze.
This is why the government doesn’t want certain people to pay any taxes. The government knows that business owner will spend that money better than the government can. A regular wage earner will likely not spend the money in a good way that benefits a lot of the economy and society, and therefore the government takes it and spends it the best it can to encourage more people that CAN spend the money than them to emerge (ie. the entrepreneurs). The only reason we have a job working for some company where the CEO pays no taxes is BECAUSE the CEO pays no taxes. This is a highly incomplete view of this economic theory, but the point is to think about how money influences others to make humanity better (or worse).
Also, in terms of making things better, we should consider what things make us better vs not. If you have a hobby, like singing, drawing, painting, this may seem like a selfish thing, but many of these things can be performed or done for others and that brings joy to those other people enjoying the fruits of that person’s hobby and practice. Even things like philosophy, which are usually unemployable skillsets, may bring some value to others in terms of helping people see ways to progress mentally.
It’s probably worth considering the scale of what’s valuable and not. An example is knowing different languages is probably one of the worst things humans do in terms of making the world productive and better, and we’d all be better off if we just picked one language and everyone was taught that. Learning how to write in funny ways like cursive might be exceptionally low value. But learning government, even if someone isn’t going into politics, is probably higher value to make sure we’re not going down the path of a tyrannical government that destroys a society’s productivity. And maybe higher is learning digital arts like movie production, animations and image editing. And maybe the highest is learning chemistry, building trades, engineering, and software development.
It’s also interesting to note that some things may have nearly no value whatsoever. Like memorizing the latin names of animals, or perhaps even knowing how to identify certain bird sounds with certain birds. Does it make the world a better place to know how many eggs a sea turtle lays in a season? Probably not. This isn’t to be confused with whether something is profitable to know. Philosophy may not have much profitability associated with it, but if you meet Jeff Bezos and tell him some philosophical story of how people that do great things receive a lot of criticism at first from skeptics, and that’s the story that keeps him going, then philosophy is highly valuable to a growing society.
Even harder sciences don’t necessarily make the cut such as paleontology. If someone spends their days with a paintbrush delicately brushing away dirt from a bone, and we see that bone and then make predictions about it (ie. “It’s 20,000 years old!”), does it really matter? Granted, on some level everything matters, and also perhaps, nothing matters. But some things will matter to more people than other things. If you learn how to make a seed that yields 5x the crops, there’s a lot more people that such a discovery will matter to than finding another old bone. If someone discovers a technology and builds a business around it that comes to town and has 10,000 jobs, that may matter more than knowing how long a whale can grow to be.
The point is that there’s some things in life that matter to more people than others, and maybe we should focus on those things as a society. Beware of the piles of infinite information that don’t do anything for society or you, and simply clog your brain. And consider how when you spend a $1 how it can affect the world and how spending in certain ways vs others, controls whether humanity progresses or regresses.
If you consider yourself a little microcosm society, what things should it learn the most? What things should it try to compel others to do via spending money? What behaviors can start a flywheel of prosperity or happiness to begin to spin up?