Entry: Hooray for Hardship! Sunday, November 09, 2008

Chrysippus, a favorite and very quotable Stoic, once said that poverty teaches by force those lessons that philosophy tries to teach by persuasion. In this I am inclined to agree with him. Recently, the American news media have been much agitated over reductions in consumer spending, for example, and the decline in conspicuous consumption - nakedly expressed as such even by that media - has been widely lamented. Now there are great fears about declining sales of, for example, automobiles.

Now, I am not so ignorant of economics as not to recognize the ill effects of an abrupt decline in the velocity of money. But the Stoic in me can't help but ask: Since when is it a bad thing for people not to act like morons? Any child knows that people who direct their lives toward the acquisition of things are as good as dead, and any adult knows that overconsumption, and the associated overmanufacture of crap, is the main engine driving the rapid die-off of the few surviving non-human species of Earth. Perhaps a Great Depression would be a good thing, if it would knock a few heads sharply enough to grant them some sense. Certainly, it is hard to miss the relative importance of people and life, of beauty and virtue, on the one hand, and of candy and toys, flash and bling on the other, when you have no choice but to find your satisfaction in the things that endure.

So, here's my vote for a crippling national economic crisis. No car sales at all sounds even better than fewer. I guess I should have voted for McCain after all!

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J f Z
November 10, 2008   04:30 AM PST
That little kid's smile says, "Yeah. I set the fire. So what?" It creeps me out a little bit.

November 10, 2008   03:08 AM PST
I would tend to agree, if only the lesson were being taught to those who would benefit most from it.

Being as I am, a dirty and scrouging ex-student, I am used to a life of living off ramen noodles and dodging train ticket inspectors by creative use of pretending to be asleep/being foreign/running. The only change the economic crisis has made to this lifestyle is that now, instead of working 8 hours a day and having to put up with the above, I can now sleep in instead.

Meanwhile, executives at the Royal Bank of Scotland, recently bailed out by the British government, put on a 300,000 party, including free champagne and paid day's off for the executives in question (which is probably just as well, since it stopped them from running the world economy even further into the ground).

In short, the people who really need to be taught will only truly learn when we hang them from lamp posts, or whatever revolutionary fad is being used against enemies of the People that week.

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