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The Wealth of Nations

Posted by Dirck on 19 June, 2013

A few months ago I undertook to read Adam Smith’s oft-mentioned treatise, just to get a grip on this apparent foundational document of the modern model of restrained economics.  I’m not going to go into my discoveries in depth here, apart to mention that he has some surprisingly bolshie notions– as examples, the government should be hip-deep in infrastructure, and merchants should be kept well away from the levers of the economy because what’s good for them is bad for everyone else.  Ain’t that a caution?

My current contemplation merely reminded me of that and prompted me to lift the title.  My walk had me pondering the notion of wealth, and my own relationship to it.  Am I wealthy?

Those who take from Smith only the chant “Let market forces sort it out!” would say I’m not, since I don’t have any particular heap of capital at my command.  I am similarly not “rich in pens” in that vein, since I could get… oh, with a willing auction crowd, possibly as much as three months’ pay out of the whole collection, and my rate of pay is far from lordly (from a North American viewpoint; by the reckoning of many nations, I’m rollin’ in clover).  However, if one takes a more expansive view of the notion of wealth, one will find that viewpoint as mistaken as thinking Adam Smith was axiomatically against interference with a free market.

I’m generally healthy, and thanks to (hopefully persistent) socialized medical care and some evidently vigourous genes, I’m apt to remain so.  I have had an extremity of luck in terms of family, nuclear and extended, and have no want in the areas of love and emotional support.  I’ve mentioned before the quality of the friendships I’ve stumbled into.  A recent discussion of the supernatural on the Fountain Pen Network has indicated to me that I’m in a fortunate philosophical position, straddling as it does (and without undue discomfort) a willing acceptance of science and its methods to one side and notion of Mystery on the other, which whisperings that there’s more to the whole affair than physics will ever quite describe; thus life is kept ever interesting.  I am indeed rich in pens not because they’re worth a lot of money, but because they (usually, when not resisting repair) give me little portions of joy every time I turn to use them.  I feel free to pepper my informal writing with parenthetical nonsense (even to the point of overdoing it), as I suffer under no editor but my own conscience.  I dress in a manner that pleases me pretty much every day.

The answer, then, to “Am I wealthy?” is a hesitant “yup,” as wealth is just another word for freedom, and there are few constraints upon me.   I wouldn’t mind having a garage-volume of high-denomination bills, because that particular aspect of wealth would help grease some of the more obnoxious skids of modern life; I have enough to at least keep those skids from digging into my hull.  The rest of it makes life tolerable, skids notwithstanding.  I’d like both, but if made to chose, I’ll take what I’ve got.

Isn’t it amazing what a little fine weather can do for one’s outlook?

Today’s pen (which, on reflection, was free): Franklin-Christoph 27 Collegia
Today’s ink: Pelikan 4001 violet

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