Some thoughts on living a good life from those who have lived long ones:
Not one person in a thousand said that happiness accrued from working as hard as you can to make money to buy whatever you want. Rather, the near-universal view was summed up by an 83-year-old former athlete who worked for decades as an athletic coach and recruiter: “The most important thing is to be involved in a profession that you absolutely love, and that you look forward to going to work to every day.”
I’m catching up on some readings this morning, to include recent posts by Greg Mankiw at his blog. If you are unfamiliar, and are interested in economics explained in English, not jargon, his is an excellent site.
A recent post highlighted an article by Ken Rogoff, a Professor of Economics and Public Policy at Harvard University, and former chief economist at the IMF, discussing the sustainability of capitalism.
In principle, none of capitalism’s problems is insurmountable, and economists have offered a variety of market-based solutions. A high global price for carbon would induce firms and individuals to internalize the cost of their polluting activities. Tax systems can be designed to provide a greater measure of redistribution of income without necessarily involving crippling distortions, by minimizing non-transparent tax expenditures and keeping marginal rates low. Effective pricing of health care, including the pricing of waiting times, could encourage a better balance between equality and efficiency. Financial systems could be better regulated, with stricter attention to excessive accumulations of debt.
Will capitalism be a victim of its own success in producing massive wealth? For now, as fashionable as the topic of capitalism’s demise might be, the possibility seems remote. Nevertheless, as pollution, financial instability, health problems, and inequality continue to grow, and as political systems remain paralyzed, capitalism’s future might not seem so secure in a few decades as it seems now.
“My aim is not to pass laws, but to repeal them. It is not to inaugurate new programs, but to repeal old ones that do violence to the Constitution, or that have failed their purpose, or that impose on the people an unwarranted financial burden… And if I should later be attacked for neglecting my constituent’s ‘interests,’ I shall reply… that their main interest is liberty, and that in that cause I am doing the best I can.” -Barry Goldwater
“The more of the world I see, the less sense it makes. The more different people I meet, the less I believe in their humanity. The older I get, the less comfortable I am in my own skin. We are a world at war, sometimes quietly, often not. We are the cleverest monsters, and we deserve everything we’ve got coming.
“Everything falls apart. Everyone dies in time. In the great, slow reduction of our lives and history, the things we can believe in shrink into a space smaller than our own bodies. To preserve them, for as long as you might, arm yourself, and be afraid.”
“[T]he mass of mankind has not been born with saddles on their backs, nor a favored few booted and spurred, ready to ride them legitimately, by the grace of god.” -Thomas Jefferson
‘Whoever lives for the sake of combating an enemy has an interest in the enemy’s staying alive.’ –Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche
“[Christianity] tells me to love my enemies. And I don’t do that and I don’t want you doing it for me either. Go love your own enemies. Don’t be loving mine. I’ll get on with the business of destroying, isolating, and combating the enemies of civilization.” -Christopher Hitchens
“There is no man, and no place, without war…The only thing we can do is choose a side, and fight. That is the only choice we get – who we fight for, who we fight against. It is life.” -Gregory David Roberts, Shantaram
“Before man was, war waited for him. The ultimate trade awaiting its ultimate practitioner.” -Cormac McCarthy
“Macbeth’s self-justifications were feeble – and his conscience devoured him. Yes, even Iago was a little lamb too. The imagination and the spiritual strength of Shakespeare’s evildoers stopped short at a dozen corpses. Because they had no ideology.” -Alexander Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago