We have a fixation on money. Now we call it by a fancy word: financialization. But the problem that fiscal fixation creates was captured centuries ago in an ancient myth, the myth of King Midas. As the story goes, Midas wanted gold—lots and lots of gold. He never had enough, and wanted everything he touched to turn to gold. And he got his wish—only to find out that the touch came with its own curse, its own pathology. First it made all his food inedible metal, and then it turned his daughter into a lifeless statue.

Like Midas, we are driven and controlled by the need for money. In this money-centered world, dialogues with government and foundation officials, with investors, businesses, and nonprofits, with communities and families are relentlessly framed in monetary terms: cost-benefit, return on investment, risk assessment, deficit reduction, opportunity costs,...

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