Money Shouldn't Be A Mental Model
A clever way to understand a culture, I think, is to examine its commonly used phrases. In America, we have a remarkable amount of phrases about money. Here are a few examples:
"Money can't buy happiness."
"Penny wise and pound foolish."
"Money doesn't grow on trees."
"You can't put a price on ______."
I don't think the most interesting observation here is that Americans care about money. It's that we think in terms of money. Put another way, when evaluating a complex situation, the first (and sometimes the only) thing we consider is it's price in dollars. In America, money isn't just a tool we use to buy things, it's a mental model that's hard coded into our brain from birth.
I think this is problematic because as individual humans we care about stuff, for reasons beyond their economic value. We care about how things make us feel and whether they adhere to our moral code, for example. Corporations have the luxury of thinking about the world exclusively through an economic lens because they don't have flesh, bones, and feelings.
People are more complex, which is why we ought to think of things in broader terms than just their price.
What's challenging is that there are many more frameworks which help us simply understand and evaluate economic value. I'm working on mental models to evaluate things not in terms of money, and if you have any thoughts on the topic I'd love to hear them.