Sunday, November 20, 2005

Discourses IV. 4

Remember that it is not only a craving for wealth and power that
you servile and subservient to others, but also a desire for solitude and leisure, travel and leisure. It is the value you assign to an external, whatever it is, that makes you subservient to another.

Don’t doubt for a moment the tremedous cost of procuring ex inopia a life of solitude and leisure, wherein you are fully master of your own time. Don’t doubt for a moment the egregious costs of comfortable travel and higher education. But suppose I have been fortunate in my parents and have inherited wealth. The secluded estate in the Tetons is mine for the asking. The private jet awaits my pleasure at the Jackson Hole airport. Whomever I wish as a teacher I can afford to hire. To whom am I subservient for these things, to whom must I sell myself to obtain them (Discourses I.2) ? You who have not been fortunate in your patrimony must surrender 50-60 hours every week to a job you do not esteem but must servilely protect. You are fortunate to claim an hour or two a day for leisure studies, and solitude is for you a black swan.
To be sure, my wealth must defended, but I have men for this too. My wealth has secured for me the solitude and leisure and in general the capacity to live as I choose. Your poverty has denied you these things. But wealth, you say, is not a good and poverty not an evil?

"It is your appropriate use of your wealth, your good choices, not the wealth itself that has given you a good life. Without the wise choices, your wealth would have been an invitation to vice of all sorts and early tragedy."

No, philosopher, actually it was both the wealth and my ability to use it wisely. Without the wealth the ability to use money well would have useless, and I would have been consigned to same servile unhappy life as someone who never had a savings account in his life. The money and the ability to use it were both necessary.


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