The other day, Celina (my boyfriend's ten year old daughter), and Eric and I were talking together. She was sharing with us about the house she last lived in with her mom. Celina missed the old house, and knew that the rest of her family did too. "We were happier there", she said, "but we had to move because of that money thing. I don't get it". Her dad then tried to explain the difference in price between the houses they rent, and the necessity of moving out of the expensive place because of changes in the economy and their income. Celina was hanging on to her memories.
"Don't they want us to be content?"
Eric replied, "No, they want to make more money."
Isn't it the truth? Why does human society make things so complicated? I imagine a world in which people did care whether or not others (especially families) were content.
I just finished reading a book (called "Life is So Good") about the life of a Southern man (George Dawson) who lived for the entire 20th century. He didn't learn to read until he was 98 years old, as he had been forced by circumstance to work from age 12 to support his family. In his later years, while writing the book, he reviewed history (now being able to read it) with the young white man (Richard Glaubman) who helped him to write the memoir. In this passage I want to quote, they were discussing the Great Depression of the 1930's and the raised rate of suicides during that time.
I still didn't get it. I asked Richard, "Why did they have to kill themselves?"
Richard said "They didn't have to, it's just what some people did when they lost all their money".
"So they was rich to start with?" I asked.
"Some of them were very wealthy on paper, but when their stock value fell they couldn't pay their debts."
"Wealthy on paper, huh. Yeah, back in those days, when you could get em, I would always take a silver dollar over a paper dollar even though they was heavier to carry."
Richard said, "Well, I don't know how to explain it. Their paper wasn't even paper dollars. It was just pieces of paper that represented money. Their huge capital losses were really about losing money they never had."
I just looked at him.
"The more I think about it, I'm not sure I understand it so well my self."
I couldn't help myself from saying, "Tell me again how many years of schooling you've had."
Richard threw up his hands, "I never even took Economics 101".
"Well, I never did neither, but I wouldn't go killing myself about losing some money that I never had in the first place".
Richard asked me what I remembered of the '30's. I was there in the thirties alright, but I didn't know too much about a depression. Times was tough, but that's just how it was.