Ten Money Questions for John Aravosis
John Aravosis is an online activist and posts daily at AMERICAblog where he covers the politics of the Bush Administration and the radical right. John is a proud, gay American and he believes that a great nation deserves to hear the truth. I asked John to get personal about money and the cost of causes that are important to him.
1. You publish the AMERICAblog and launched StopDrLaura.com in 2000. As a political activist, what does money mean to you?
LOL That’s funny. It’s hard to have something mean something if you don’t have it. Seriously, when friends and I launched StopDrLaura.com we did it for free. We took several months off of our freelance consulting work (i.e., stopped making money) in order to go after the good doctor. Same thing with AMERICAblog initially (we now have ads), and every other gay advocacy campaign I’ve run.
Sure, that was my choice, so I’m not complaining. But, at the very least, money frees you to do those campaigns – meaning, the more money you have in the bank, the longer you can work for free. Also, there’s no escaping the fact that money may not be able to buy you love, but it can buy you influence. And I don’t mean bribery, I mean you can buy ads, you can buy assistants to help you run a campaign, and more.
2. What is your most significant memory about money?
Paying my law school student loans for 15 years. I think it jaded me for life. I feel like Scarlett O’Hara, though she wasn’t a lawyer and I didn’t go hungry.
3. What is your worst habit around finances?
Not paying enough attention to them. I should have a budget, should balance my checkbook, check my bank account. I don’t. I need to marry an accountant (and am taking applications).
4. You once bought General Wesley Clark’s cell phone records for about a $100 to prove that anyone’s privacy could be violated. As we head into election season, what would you buy right now to make a political statement?
Six US senators. It’s all we need to take back the Senate.
5. Do you have a partner? If so, do you see eye-to-eye on money? If not, what role did money play in past relationships?
Nope, single. Money didn’t play much of a role. I’ve dated guys who were in Washington, mostly, and who were making around the same amount of money as me.
6. Do your online campaigns ever impact corporate interests? Given a choice, would you rather piss off corporate America or a politician?
LOL You’re kidding, right? Most of my online campaigns have been against corporate interests: Microsoft; Ford; Paramount; and AOL to name a few. As for who I’d rather piss off, it’s really six of one, half a dozen of the other. The folks I like pissing off are the folks who are doing the most damage to the cause I care about.
7. I’ve read that you speak five languages. Can you say “almighty dollar” in all five? Is there some place you would rather live than the good ole USA?
Hmmm…. apparently we’ve had different priorities when speaking foreign languages. Fortunately the word “dollar” is the same in most of the languages (and in Greek, you add “ia” to the end of dollar, so it’s pretty easy too). I don’t know about “rather live,” though I have to admit I was much prouder of my country six years ago than I am today. But I do love Paris, and Rome, well and traveling in general. But yeah, I could stomach living in Paris or Rome for a while. So long as I had a wi-fi connection and Vonage.
8. Which is more important: how much you make or how you spend it?
Hmmm… I care about both, but at the same time haven’t spent enough time in my life focusing on either (see Question 3 above). Obviously, it doesn’t make how much you make if you don’t pay attention to how you spend it. But I guess I’d say the latter, only because money is not a goal in and of itself, for me at least, money let’s me have nice things, be those things activism or really crispy croissants.
9. What did your siblings teach you about money?
Ha! Not much. Don’t get me wrong, I love them, but it’s not like we sit around the table at Thanksgiving and discuss pork futures. My parents, however, were born right before, or right during, the Depression, and I think both of them are a bit careful with their finances – meaning, they don’t waste money. So I think some of that has filtered down to me. For example, I don’t go clothes shopping nearly enough (damn you, mom).
10. Does money buy happiness?
Sometimes. It sure as hell makes me happy when I get to travel to New York or go abroad. And you know what, you can’t do that without money. I think liberals are sometimes down on money to an extreme, and that isn’t right. Yes, bad people sometimes have money. And yes, money can sometimes turn you into a bad person. But so can success, yet that doesn’t make success a bad thing.
The point is that it’s how you react to the circumstances around you. I don’t think money is an end in and of itself. I also don’t think an unhappy person will end up happy simply because they make more money. But there are things in life that make me happy – my 27 inch TV (no it’s not a flat screen, bought it ten years ago, damn you mom), living in France, eating at a great restaurant. Money helps me do those things. Hopefully my accountant-future-husband will agree.
More about John Aravosis
John Aravosis is an openly-gay DC politico. He runs the popular left-wing political blog AMERICAblog. On the side, and sometimes on the blog, John has a penchant for launching online advocacy campaigns when people tick him off. Some of his more well-known campaigns include StopDrLaura.com, DearMary.com, outing White House hooker Jeff Gannon, and taking on Microsoft and Ford Motor Company when they began to adopt anti-gay policies.
Before becoming a full-time blogger, John was an Internet advocacy consultant, and before that he worked on the Hill, for the World Bank, and for the Children’s Defense Fund. He hails from Chicago, and still considers it home even though he came to DC 21 years ago for law school and graduate school and somehow got trapped. By the way, that would be Bill Clinton’s hand on his shoulder in the picture (not kidding, seriously).
Read other Queercents interviews in the Ten Money Questions archive.