Quote of the week

Severian sees the problem in a post-scarcity world:

Time was, everybody was fairly “conservative,” as even the richest and most privileged Westerners experienced “tough shit” moments daily. Carriage crashes, polio, no climate control, no running water … unless you actually were the Queen of England, every day you saw some easy, obvious thing that would make your life better, and it was juuuuuuust out of reach … hell, even if you were the Queen — catch Victoria with a toothache, and she’ll make you Viceroy of India for some over-the-counter aspirin.

But now, a level of material comfort that would be literal heaven to 99.9% of the world’s population for 99.99% of human history — and for a great many people even now — is taken for granted. Our “poor” people are fat and have flat screen TVs. I doubt there are more than 1 in 1,000,000 Americans who have ever experienced actual hunger — that is, I need food and have only a very remote possibility of getting any. So why shouldn’t everyone get everything he wants, the second he wants it? It’s no faaaaaair if I don’t!

I’m not suggesting we turn the clock back to the Middle Ages — that’s a liberal preoccupation — but I am suggesting that perhaps the greatest gift you can give your children is enrolling them in Little League. Something, anything, that teaches them that no matter how strongly you feeeeel about it, some people are better at some things than others, and sometimes the ball takes a funny hop.

I’d question that hunger “statistic,” but I think it’s pretty obvious that we have the wealthiest poor people in recorded history.


  1. McG »

    14 August 2016 · 5:37 pm

    I think everyone with disposable income and an inclination to spend it on unneccessary things should identify a self-indulgent category (or two) of purchases they won’t pay for out of the normal flow of funds or debt, but by setting up a slowly increasing mad money account that may take months to afford whatever item you covet. In my case it’s generally phones and firearms.

    The same account also funds my pocket money, which adds a nice degree of difficulty.

  2. fillyjonk »

    14 August 2016 · 8:08 pm

    I’ve lived (briefly) with no climate control and with no running water. Because of logistical issues or where I was living more than finances. Regardless, it makes you grateful to have them. My mom lived without running water until she was a young teen and her parents didn’t have a phone until she was nearly 20. Hearing her stories also help me to be grateful. (Also her stories about “working for 37 1/2 cents an hour plus tips” as a waitress in the late 50s).

    I’ve said before that as an ordinary, middle-class woman, I have access to comforts as a matter of daily life in 21st century America that kings and queens of even 150 years ago could only dream about.

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