The relationship between money and power is so ambiguous that this still remains controversial. Some cynics believe that the golden rule is “Those who have the gold make the rules”. It can be interpreted that the main point is “Those who have money have power”.
From my point of view, money can make power in some ways, however, there are some kinds of power that just only full – of – money pocket can never attaint. Based on my knowledge of power bases, the following are some explanation to the limitation of money in term of creating power. As time goes by, human beings have been looking for the intrinsic values of money. It is obvious that money has been playing an important role in our daily life.
Everyone has their own perception about the true meaning of the term “money” and build up their own ways of using money. Some consider money as a necessary and inevitable tool on their way to success. However, some perceive that money is the most powerful thing in the world, the final goal in their long life, and they dedicate all their life to earning the amount of money that is attributed to satisfy their deep ambition. Power refers to our capacity of influencing others’ behavior and makes them act in accordance with our wishes.
Power is considered as a function of dependency. A person can have power over you only if he or she controls something you desire. Experts have been doing heart-searching on the nature of power, and it has been indicated that power can be divided into two types: Formal Power and Personal Power. Formal power can come from the abilities to coerce or reward or it can come from formal authority.
We have three types of formal power: coercive, reward and legitimate power. In term of personal power, this kind of power comes from an individual’s unique characteristics, including two bases: expertise and the respect and admiration of others.
As far as I’m concerned, money is likely to create a type of power: the formal one. But to say that we can use money to get personal power, it is too good to be true. The following are the one-by-one analyses of the relation of money and power bases. All of us have seen some evidences that people who have money can somehow have formal power.
The most remarkable evidence is the power of Financial Oligarchy. The financial oligarchy exercises control over vast amounts of social capital and wealth and over the activities of commercial and industrial corporations, credit and financial institutions, and multinational monopolies.
The control derives from the oligarchy’s own capital and from the monetary resources and savings of various classes and social strata of bourgeois society that have been mobilized through a ramified network of credit and financial institutions.
First, they say that holding money is the best method of raising reward power. People tend to do anything with the expectation that its can lead to some certain positive benefits, both intrinsic and extrinsic ones. Thus, they will comply with the wishes or directives of others who can give them chances to get interests and rewards. One who can distribute rewards that others view as valuable will have power over those others.
In this case, money plays a vital role. Although the term “reward” here can be either financial, such as controlling pay rates, raises, and bonuses… or non-financial including promotion, recognition, good working condition, long-term security…, money can be used as the decisive factor which determines the reward power.
The more wealthy people are, the more rewards those can give and use as a method of controlling over others’ desire. In fact, we can see many cases in which money can create power. The owners of big brand names in the world can hire many excellent employees as long as they pay them enough for their requirement.
With the numerous quantity of money, they can attract more and more talents and have power over them because they can give their employees reversed rewards to make them comply with the companies. Or the cases of prostitutes, they depend on rich man who can give them money as rewards after finishing their duty. The pressure of money on someone’s ambition can be the source of another’s power. Furthermore, it will be more precise if we look at the situation of Korea and United States. US have invested into Korea with a numerous quantity of dollar which has helped Korea’s economy develop at a strong level.
However, to trade off with this investment, Korea must accept some options from US, in which US are allowed to establish some military bases on Korea’s territory, which caused some riots inside Korea. The reward from this investment is exactly very large – the speedy growth of Korea, has been traded off with some potential power that US have on Korea. Second, money in the hands of some people can become power in the case that the base is dependent on fear. Coercive power make people react out of fear of negative results that might occur is they failed to comply.
This kind of power rests on the threat of application of physical sanctions, or the controlling by force of basic physiological or safety needs. Money can be used to compel someone to act following given directions of another’s wishes, threat them with the risk of being purged or suffering the infliction of pain… It can be shown more clearly in the case of usuries. People in emergency circumstances consider usuries as a last resort and accept to be controlled by the creditor. The higher the threat of the impossibility of returning loan, the greater power the creditor has over his debtor.
The fear of negative consequences of breaking agreement makes the debtor to comply. In addition, come back to some years ago, SEA Games 23, in 2006. Pham Van Quyen and Le Quoc Vuong – promised football players of Vietnamese football team was in the list of official players together with the whole team and took part in SEA Games 23 in Philippine.
Before the match between Vietnam and Myanmar, Truong Tan Hai – one of the tycoons in doing the football pools, asked Le Quoc Vuong and Pham Van Quyen if they agreed to keep the score at a given level to satisfy some evil financial targets of Truong Tan Hai. Of course, the rewards for Quyen and Vuong were approximately 40 million VND.
The amount of money that Truong Tan Hai had helped him to have control over Quyen and Vuong, made them act in accordance with his plot and kept them in his long arms, if they didn’t comply, the consequences for them would be so terrible. Third, those who have money can have legitimate power as well.
Based on structure of organizations, legitimate power represents the formal authority to control and use organizational resources. Positions of authorities include both coercive and reward power. So, what people do with money to get legitimate power? They can use money to “buy” positions in organizations and own that kind power somehow. This phenomenon has been one of the most controversial and noticeable issues.
The case of Mr. Ross Perot is an interesting one. He was a super-billionaire who run for election of US President in 1992 and 1996. His got 12% vote for the Businessmen, but it was not enough to reach the White House. He spent a lot of money to ingratiate voters. Although he was not in luck, but we should know that: if a man who earned a standard salary wanted to run for president, he would have almost no chance at all unless he was backed by people with a lot of money. Every four years when the U.S. Presidential election is held, hundreds of millions of dollars are spent. The more money a candidate has, the farther he can get.
Although the richest competitor doesn’t always win, the president is usually a very wealthy man. Another example, the corruption in many countries and the trade of official appear in most parts of the world. In 2010, Vietnamese corruption ranks 124/180 countries, is one of the most corrupt countries around the world. Officials use money to buy positions in organizations and thousands of people who can’t meet the requirement of their jobs still be kept and inherit legitimate power of controlling and using organizational resources.
All of these transactions are held by the appearance and dominance of money. Formal power can be attained by the use of money in some appropriate ways. The fact that money can’t “buy” personal power comes to us as no surprise. Expert power is influence wielded as a result of expertise, special skills or knowledge. Referent power is based on identification with a person who has desirable resources or personal traits. All of these characteristics can’t be raised by money. They depend on your actual abilities and efforts to broaden your mind, gain your knowledge and improve your talent skills.
Money can help you as a tool to spend on your study, but money itself can’t buy anything related to your personal resources. Holding a lot of money does not mean you have charisma and get others’ admiration. The art of living and process of improving your image are the keys for gaining personal power. Depending on money to get personal power is far from true.
Though “gold” can be spent to achieve “rules” that are related to formal bases, it is mostly impossible to “buy” personal power with money. Personal power with expertise and referent bases is the most effective one, it is linked with job satisfaction, organizational commitment, productivity and performance.
Therefore, try your best to achieve this type of power, it will help you to improve and enhance your scale of power without the dominant interference of money. Make full use of money as a medium to your success, but never miss anything that money cannot buy. Boost your inside power and hope for the best.