As many of you know, those who have read my books and stories and so forth, I have spent most of my life in abject poverty. I don’t think I knew I was in pvoerty most of the time, because I had no needs I could not meet, save that of blending into those around me – which was offset by the fact that a skulking sickly-looking shadow-hugger was in many way a common thing. I lived a very small life. lives, to be exact. I have raised and spent fortunes several times, all to achieve aims, like coming from England to the New World.
As such, I have a rather specific idea of what wealth and prosperity mean, or should mean, to the world at large.
Humans establish value on everything. We began using money because its value was constant. While one man could look you in the face and say your pig was worth one cartload of hay, another could look at it and say it wasn’t worth a fig. Setting a price for a good, so ten pennies, was a way to ensure that the customer could come to you. Looking for a pig? Go to the pig seller, and see what he has? Only have ten pennies? There’s a pig for you, and so forth.
Having more shiny objects that mean something to the world does not make you better. It means you are good at something (often times good at making money). You do not have more value because you have more valuables. And skills with smaller, more obscure markets are still skills, likely far more complicated. A sewer maintenance worker is absolutely critical for the health and wellbeing of society, and yet, their job makes little more than minimum wage. If humanity was smart, they’d prioritize all the wealth and value to the skills critical for health. Somehow a man good only at lying, cheating, stealing, and dealing, with two billion to his name is somehow more worthy than a man in a tunnel making sure that filthy water stays away from clean. This is ridiculous.
It is a fault of human psychology. Having more does not mean you are worth more. It means you have more. You have the capability to stop at any given moment and look around. Money buys liesure. It buys introspection. It purchases freedom. It earns you the luxury of being able to learn. But because you have so much, the human mind fails yet again, and more often than not puts all that capital into being a prejudiced, money-grubbing bastard with an inflated self image.
The scale of awareness shifts and the value of things stretches and warps. Suddenly you feel perfectly happy to toss away four hundred thousand dollars on a fifth car, when with that tiny bit of castoff revenue, you could purchase a moment of peace and education for hundreds of worthy students, thus making the world a better place. You prioritize your own pleasure above the well-being of a world. And then you justify it.
But the metric is wrong. You act as if you 400k sports car is nothing to sneeze at, because, perhaps for you it isn’t. You don’t understand why people might be upset. If they want nice things, they can earn them, except that never in their lives will most people be able to achieve those things. Wealth in one lifetime is rare and without the money to have the time to develop and idea or educate one’s self, there is no path.
I’ve said it before and i will again, Society exists to align private interest to public. That is the purpose of governance. To make sure that private farmer A knows that he cannot go and shoot private farmer B because he doesn’t like the man and wants his belongings. Private aligned with public interest. Money is a resource, and hoarding a resource has public consequences. Gold fever strikes and your brains melt into sparkling goo.
You cannot stop yourselves from twisting everything, and then Empires fall as they always have. Every single one, the same way – ambition or private interest becoming misaligned from public interest. This is then corrected by the public, and everything begins anew.
Resources are a social contract. Because of your skills or those of your family, society granted you a resource for which, you are the steward. It is your duty and obligation to treat that wealth as if it is something you oversee for the good of all, not something you earned and you should keep. What you’ve earned is a rank. What you’ve earned is a a kind of foundation.
If you have money but berate the poor, do nothing for those unlike you, hide away in your castles and tweet with impunity, then you are not fulfilling your duty.
This most recent fortune of mine is by no means my largest, but it does allow me to have the kind of leisure it takes to run my experiment. It grants me the privilege to experience things and learn, and then to share that learning with others. it affords me the opportunity to help others. That is the duty.
If a person cannot accept that and thrive within that boundary, then that person is not well, does not have their interests in line with those of society. Why society tolerates them…I’ve no idea.