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Put Your Brain Where Your Head Is.



"Wanna' bet?"

Sometimes as kids we actually did bet money, or something else of value, but most of the time we considered the invitation to "put some money on it" just a figure of speech. Apparently for some people it's more than that.

Lately in another forum a guy has been testing the sincerity of people's beliefs by suggesting that if they really believed what they said they believed, they would bet money on it. "Put your money where your mouth is." I guess the idea of this shtick is that if you rilly, rilly, rilly believed what you say you believe, you would stake some actual cash money on it. Which is to say, you apparently have no discernible integrity unless others can first discern your hard-earned scratch.

I don't get it. Why would people feel the need to put up money to get some clown to think highly of their sincerity? If I wanted to pay money to have a stranger tell me, "I believe you", I'd consult the lavishly illustrated ads in the back pages of the Village Voice. At least then there would be the additional promise of orgasm.

Me, I kind of make my assessments of other people's integrity based on knowing them for a while, either online or off, and money doesn't much enter into it.

I don't give a crap if you believe I believe what I say I believe. What in god's name makes you think I would? And what makes you think I would find it necessary to pay you to believe me?

See, I've had the experience of being at one point poor and at another point rich, so you can take my word for it... money beyond what you need to live on doesn't mean squat except insofar as it affects the quality of the toys you can buy. I like toys. I'm not a toy-prude. But your ability to buy quality toys doesn't have anything to do with how I assess your personal integrity.

If you have all the money in the world, I guess establishing your integrity is just a matter of dipping into petty cash. Money isn't just speech as the Supreme Court says; money is sincere speech.

Jesus. What a cheesy culture of human degradation I live in.


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I don't understand what the clown (assuming that I'm thinking of the same clown that you are) is going to get out of the transaction if his target refuses to pony up five bucks. Does he get to then claim some sort of moral victory? Ha, ha, I can safely ignore you now because you won't take the risk of having to pay me if I turn out to be right? I suppose that things are generally more serious when Money Is Involved, but, hell, we're talking about opinions on the internet, not the Donald Trump prenuptials. One of the things that I really like about the internet and its various fora is that opinions are free (as in speech *and* beer). The guy living in public housing is taken every bit as seriously as the guy with a different color Porsche for each day of the week.

Yes, I'm certain you are thinking of the same clown I am. (I don't mean to be exclusive of others, but the forum in question isn't open to the internet so people who don't know who we are talking about would have to adopt The General Case anyway.)

Speaking generally, and maybe a little specifically, I think it's an act of aggression -- basically a statement that you are obviously a fraud, or a gas-bag, or a Simpering Liberal who's lack of integrity has to be taken for granted. However... "For today only, we have a special price on Personal Integrity which we can let you have at greatly reduced prices! Easy terms, too!"

I really think the whole phenomenon is a special case that proves the general case about this culture's attitude toward money. It isn't just lettuce; it's a weapon, it's an act of aggression, it's status in the He-Man wars, it's a cheapening of whatever integrity you might delude yourself into thinking you have.

And I think the shtick is really meant as an accusation of hypocrisy -- one that the one offering the bet doesn't have the nuts to make to your face because, well, there is no proof of hypocrisy on offer.

I also think, in the case of the particular, he's used money and toys in the past as symbols of His Authoritative Voice. He's really kind of a character. A sad character, fairly transparent in his insecurities, but a character nonetheless.

I think that the cry of "put your money where your mouth is" also has something to do with the conservative relationship with money.

The virtuous succeed and therefore having money is a sign of being virtuous. Since virtuousness can then be expressed in monetary terms, backing up your words with your money is more than just risking some cash that represents your labor and capital. You are willing to risk your own virtuousness. What could be more sincere?

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