Money Does Not Buy Happiness

Prince Azim, the son of the Sultan of Brunei, has died aged 38, the country’s government has confirmed. [cnn]

The media appear to be speaking in code.

The sultan’s second-born son was well known for hosting extravagant parties with celebrity guests including Pamela Anderson, Janet Jackson and Mariah Carey.

The sultan of Brunei’s family has been notoriously sloppy oligarchs, with all the yachts, tacky parties, lavish spending sprees, and fast cars that go with it. It shouldn’t surprise anyone who suspects that their fondness for sharia law at home does not apply to their behavior in Mayfair, London or Cannes.

I’m going to bet that it was alcohol and pills. 38 year-old billionaires don’t die suddenly of anything else unless it’s a bullet, and a bullets are hard to suppress. If it was cancer, the code would be “after a battle with…” or suicide “struggling with depression…” is the media code. Yes, I’ll bet that he partied too hard.

The sultan and his family were welcomed in the upper crust, because: money. If you search the internet there are pictures of members of the family hanging out with all of the other oligarchs: Putin, Charles Saxe Coburg Gotha Windsor, etc.

Singapore’s Prime Minister, Lee Hsien Loong, said Azim “was known for his kind and generous spirit, and for his dedication to charitable, educational, and youth causes.”

Is that code for him being a friend of Jeffrey Epstein? Well, “one down” is a start.


  1. xohjoh2n says

    If it was cancer, the code would be “after a battle with…” or suicide “struggling with depression…” is the media code.

    For cancer they’d just say cancer. Suicide is “died after a long illness”, accidental overdose is “died after a short illness”, and if you’re going that way the actual cause of death is not elaborated any further.

  2. StonedRanger says

    I dunno, maybe its just me, but I think “Money cant stop death” would be a better title. He was probably pretty happy right up to the moment he died. I cant say for sure because like most americans I haven’t ever had enough money to put it to the test. But from where Im sitting, having some money would make me pretty darn happy.

  3. consciousness razor says

    Charles Saxe Coburg Gotha Windsor

    I guess you could have included a struck out “Mountbatten-” too.

    Prince Philip privately complained, “I am nothing but a bloody amoeba. I am the only man in the country not allowed to give his name to his own children.”

  4. Marissa van Eck says

    Whoever said money doesn’t buy happiness has never eaten out of a garbage can or slept in a train station.

    I have.

    And I can fucking well tell you that even if money doesn’t buy happiness itself, it buys the material prerequisites. It buys security. It buys knowing where your next meal is coming from. It buys a mattress and a blanket and pillows and a roof and four walls to store said mattress, blanket, and pillows in.

    “Money doesn’t buy happiness” is the exact same kind of pretentious, unthinking, middle-class horseshit as “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”

  5. Sam N says

    We are very adept at sampling our circumstances, which massively influences our future happiness upon it.

    Money absolutely can buy happiness for billions on this planet. People who started at the 1% may be kind of fucked in that regard though.

  6. Sam N says

    @5, if most of your life you struggled desperately to meet your basic needs, then at 48 are given a million USD in wealth, presuming you have the knowledge of what that is and what it can do. (I.e. don’t lose it all in a year). Yeah it’ll buy contentment, if not happiness. The amount of good you can do for people you know in that situation.

    If most of your life such security is just assumed, but you have an entirely different value system of your only worth being the capability to control many other people, maybe not so much. It’s such radically different perspectives.

    It’s one the reasons I find the gilded age levels of inequality coming back to be more than a little troubling. It’s unhealthy for the vast majority of people.

  7. Sam N says

    Riding on top of that factor of prior circumstances is additional variance I don’t have a strong grasp on. That additional variance doesn’t seem to be strongly money-dependent though.

    Research points to things. For example, whether or not you conscientiously acknowledge things to be grateful for. The more you do so, the happier people tend to be.

  8. John Morales says

    As others have noted, money helps happiness — more than one needs is pointless, but having at least what one needs is … well, needful for happiness.

    And, not being a saint or anything, I kinda get the sentiment here. When someone who has had the good fortune to be born of the right womb/from the right spermatozoon and thus can indulge themselves as much as they want dies younger than I, it provokes a certain satisfaction.

    (But then, I also think of those occasional unfortunates, such as the Romanov children — no satisfaction there)

  9. says

    As others have noted, money helps happiness

    It funds the research and development for sure.

    I wrote the title that I chose because, as I read the report, I wondered if he was happy or not. He seemed to be searching for distraction, but the sort of hedonism he was pursuing is not the sign (to me) of a satisfied person. Probably it’s my experiential bias speaking; I’ve known some very rich people who were also miserable while partying their brains out – it was what they seemed to feel they had to do. Again, it could be my bias.

  10. jrkrideau says

    I was listening to a radio broadcast this morning on the idea of money when you don’t have any. A research project in Vancouver gave a group of homeless people 7,500 each, in a lump sum. So far the results have been fairly good. Out of I think it was a hundred and fifty people something like 49% of the recipients had improved their basic standard of living and had a permanent place to live.

    One interviewee had just completed a community care worker program and still had a bit of the money stashed away for a rainy day a year later.. Money may not make you happy but it certainly can help.

  11. StonedRanger says

    After some thought, perhaps I am confusing being a little less miserable with being happy. Perspective is everything I guess.

  12. John Morales says

    StonedRanger, indeed it is.

    Most unhappy people would be happy merely not being unhappy, yet some people are only happy when they’re unhappy.

    And some people don’t realise they were not happy until they’ve become happy.

    (That’s word-play, but it is true, too)

  13. Ridana says

    OT 10) @Reginald Selkirk:

    “I don’t have a phone,” Mostly Harmless replied. Describing the moment, Mason remembers thinking, “Oh, this guy’s awesome.” Everyone who goes into the woods is trying to get away from something. But few people have the commitment to cut their digital lifelines as they put on their boots.

    Strange, sad story, but this part made me chuckle. Back in the late 70’s I hiked down into the Grand Canyon to the Bright Angel camp, and hit up some other campers for a sewing kit to repair my jeans. They’d lugged down a 2-burner Coleman stove, a cooler, a huge tent, a ton of food, and god knows what else. They were inordinately impressed with me (like the guy above), as all I had was my sleeping bag, a stick to carry it over my shoulder, a day pack with some snacks and water, and my plan to sleep on one of the picnic tables. They assumed I was a veteran outdoorswoman, when the truth was that I simply owned no camping gear at all, being an utter novice. Kinda like I still don’t have a cell phone.

  14. Dunc says

    My preferred variations are:

    1. Money doesn’t buy happiness, but poverty certainly can make you miserable.
    2. Money doesn’t buy happiness, but it can buy the sort of misery you can live with.

  15. says

    I think there have been studies that show that up to a certain amount, money does indeed buy a better shot at being happy, but there is a threshold after which it does nothing for you any more. Found it:
    Which may be a factor why some super rich people are unhappy: They believe that they should be so much happier because they are so rich, and if they’re not they think that more money is needed.

  16. Sam N says

    @16, I prefer 1 really.

    I come at this too biased from an American perspective, but there are plenty of studies showing for example, that people’s happiness depends substantially on their wealth to their perceived peers, and that the wealthier people are, the more happy the tend to be. I’m not aware of any ceiling effects there, although when you get into the truly upper echelons the sample sizes must be small to non-existent. I can imagine they might exist. On the other hand, if I were to land myself a billion dollars, I’d have the additional pleasure of starting a $990 million philanthropy focused on weird and creative progressive ideas that just don’t get funding otherwise. Which sounds extremely fun and fulfilling.

    The original phrasing sounds like a type of propaganda the wealthy throw at the poor: No you should be grateful for having nothing.

    I used to read this weekly comic special about a Mayan villager girl in the Prensa Libre when I lived in Guatemala, because it was aimed at children and so easy for me to read. In one issue the mayan girl meets an upper class boy who will become a religious leader. The protagonist (villager) talks about how having all the offerings and the living space must be nice. He replies how he yearned to be free to kick a ball around like she was. Ha. Such transparent propaganda: Hey you impoverished Guatemalans, you have it good with your freedom to chop wood all day. It’s those oligarchs we should pity with all their responsibilities of running the world!

  17. Reginald Selkirk says

    “Money can’t buy happiness. But it sure can rent it for a while.”
    – Kim Gruenenfelder, A Total Waste of Makeup

  18. springa73 says

    I think that while money can’t buy happiness, it can buy freedom from many sources of misery and anxiety.

  19. cjheery says

    Marissa, I’m with you on that one. Though I have never been homeless, I am disabled and often don’t have money for food. Money buys comfort, security, stability, and alleviates a tremendous amount of stress and worry. Those things would make me very happy and grateful.

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