Cupidity of Commodity

in Article, News, Pop Culture
September 24th, 2013

WARNING: the following article features sentences written either by professionals or under the supervision of professionals. Accordingly, Matt and the producers must insist that no one attempt to recreate or re-enact any sentence or thought described in this article.

Personal Note from the Producers: Don’t feed into the character Matt creates, he truly is a good person. #NWTS

Cue the Pink Floyd…

Boom boom ba boom boom boom ching ching guitar riff….”MONEY!”


What do you want? What do you need? Food? Water? Shelter? Sure, sure, yes maybe, but what do you want? Dream bigger, you’re thinking too realistically! Stop limiting yourself, open up! Close your eyes, relax,  paint the picture how you see it. Don’t tell me, just visualize it, taste it, feel it! C’mon man, it’s in there somewhere! Yes Yes, exactly bottle up all those ‘it’s not gonna happen’ or ‘yeah right’ moments you experienced and strangle the life out of them! You want the Arancio Argos Lamborghini Aventador LP 700-4 with the matte wheels to match, okay. You liked that bachelor pad in Phuket didn’t you? The one with the wrap around balcony, snug love seat, black leather couch, gourmet kitchen, his/her bathrooms…yeah that’s the one. But how? That’s impossible right? How do you expect to reward yourself with such prodigal riches at such a young age? Who are you trying to follow? Me: Floyd “Money” Mayweather, Adrien Broner, Scott Disick, Lavish P! Because we’re all rich peasants! If you can’t afford to roll with the crew baby, then you’re merely a campesino (shout out to to the Spanish readers). We get everything we want! There ain’t no morality in this [bleep]! We might as well call ourselves the seven deadly sins! We take pride in our beliefs, feed off of your envy, consume more than we require, lust in the beauty of those we surround ourselves with, avoid physical labor, laugh at your anger, and most importantly: ignore the realm of the spiritual because its not worth a dime! Now, I love me some greed in the morning, especially served with a bowl of lucky charms. But is the idea of greed more innate than we think it is? Are the moral perceptions of greed and neuroscience more intertwined than we think? Shall we…

Barclays chief executive Bob Diamond once said that the best test of responsible banking is to know “how people behave while no one is looking.” Senior bankers are among the first individuals to be consumed by greed. Granted enormous amounts of ‘superpower’ if you will, these men often succumb to the brain-changing effects of prosperity which results in distorted forms of behavior, emotions, and associated feelings. But bankers are not the only ones to fault here. In any case, an added boost of testosterone increases the chemical messenger’s release of dopamine in the brain’s reward systems. Combine excessive power + additional testosterone + dopamine to essentially justify ones actions and you have a recipe for an egocentric, un-empathetic pig. But how can we measure the obsessive pursuit of rewards — financial, interpersonal, material, sexual — and likelihood to treat others as objects with a dulled perception of risk? By analyzing the neural ‘approach mode’ that focuses on the biases of attention, memory, actions, and emotions geared towards reward and conquest, we can identify which chemical messenger systems are responsible for the corresponding impulse. One study at Texas A&M University, for example, is analyzing these impulses to determine if their is an associated correlation between men’s willingness to cheat on women to fulfill the temptation created by this rush of chemicals. To better understand the chemical reward systems we’re looking at, let’s dive into the mesolimbic dopamine system.


Associated dopamine pathways reduce stress and reward behavior

Specifically, the VTA-NAc circuit is the key to understanding the impulse of a reward stimulus. Under normal conditions, the circuit controls an individuals responses to basic rewards, such as food, water, and social interaction; therefore, an important moderator of motivation and drives. Additionally, the activation of this circuitry reinforces the individuals actions so as to repeat what was necessary to receive the reward. In essence, if  a behavior can be successfully attributed to obtaining a particular reward, a rush of dopamine through the medial forebrain bundle will reinforce these actions in order to repeat the process. The flaw of this biological system comes down to the behavior itself. When behavior that might classify as ‘greed’ falls into this cycle, while varying greatly, the downward spiral can truly begin. While mild forms of greed can be an unwillingness to give a dollar to a homeless person, more severe examples can be seen via our senior bankers, who are capable of skimming off millions of dollars for further investment in adultery, fast cars, and other personal assets. But is greed simply a matter of falling into a self-induced mesmeric focus on personal gain without risk? Kind of, but mental modes are more complex than that. For example, a depressed person may have greater difficulty recalling a positive experience while those with a more ‘buoyant’ mode of thinking may have greater difficulty recalling  a negative experience. Research being done at Tilburg University is looking into the effect power flux  has on these mental modes. Studies have currently shown that individuals with increased power and avarice often lack sympathy towards others and can be hypercritical despite their judgments being self-applicable. Coupled with increased unethical tendencies in decision-making its no wonder why such individuals are disliked by your average person.

If you’re unaware of ‘Lavish P.,’ I would start there. He’d be your first rate example of what greed might be. I’m not firing shots at him or his twitter account because personally,  I do find him interesting. Flaunting Louis Vuitton as his favorite brand and dropping his recent single “I Get Everything I Want” on Youtube, Lavish isn’t shy when it comes to showing what he has. He’s not afraid to take shots at celebrities, not afraid to give away money to the “peasants” that are beneath him (AKA everyone?) , and not afraid to stand by the persona he’s created, which is at least admirable. But does he fit the mold? Who knows? In fact, nobody except Lavish knows whether or not he’s created a remarkable publicity stunt through social media or he was just born this way.  I guess if I’m the next peasant in line to receive $100,000 from him, I won’t complain. But for now, I’ll admire from afar, keeping my expectations of my future assets in perspective, while aspiring to fulfill my dreams at the same time because at the end of the day, isn’t that why we’re here?

Matthew Jahnke


Neuroscience of Greed – The Guardian

Neuroscience and Morality – Cambridge Press

Brain Reward Pathways – Mount Sinai

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