on wealth


in the Map of Life, William E.H Lecky, writing about opulence writes

wealth which is expended in multiplying and elaborating real comforts, or even in pleasures which produce enjoyment at all proportionate to their cost, will never excite serious indignation. It is the colossal waste of the means of human happiness in the most selfish and most vulgar forms of social advertisement and competition that gives a force and almost a justification to anarchial passions which menace the whole future of our civilization. It is such things that stimulate class hatreds and deepen class divisions, and if the law of opinion does not interfere to check them, they will one day bring down upon the society that encourages them a signal and well merited retribution.

and while reading it, I thought about those who get rich in this country by embezzling public funds and then displaying their ill gotten wealth in opulence and splashing it everywhere to be seen that someday we will say no and do what others have done in similar circumstances.

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About makagutu

As Onyango Makagutu I am Kenyan, as far as I am a man, I am a citizen of the world

26 thoughts on “on wealth

  1. renudepride says:

    Welcome back from your sabbatical, my Kenyan brother! I trust all is well with you. Coincidence? I had similar thoughts just this past weekend along these same lines, especially regarding the ostentatious behavior of certain offspring of this country’s political disaster, Donald Duck. How long can those who live without tolerate such nonsense. I think they should well read the life of the Bourbons before they meet a similar fate. Naked hugs!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Wow, the economics of ignorance by Lecky…
    So opulence displayed doesn’t ignite envy, it’s only the reachlessness of happiness which causes it?!
    A psychiatrist (yeah, I know 😜) asked me the other week if I am happy. After some prolonged silence, I felt asking if a more positive bank account balance would qualify as happiness?
    She seemed confused, so I said, since the balance is rather the opposite, no, I’m not happy 🤓
    What a sycophantic bunch of pseudophilosophers…
    Take care Mak 👍

    Like

    • makagutu says:

      In defense of Lecky, when Lycurgus was faced with the same problem in Greece, he instituted far reaching reforms that included public eating houses, requirement that only useful things such as pots were produced and the public display of riches became pointless.
      With a positive bank balance, one can buy an ounce of happiness :-P. Without it, well, unhappiness can be purchased in tons.
      Keep well good friend.

      Liked by 1 person

      • basenjibrian says:

        Ugh.

        All I can imagine is how gray everything would be if the law only permitted certain “useful things”. I thought we were opposed to theocracies here…this idea sounds like something from Handmaiden’s Tale or Puritan Massachusetts.

        Usefulness is not always an objective thing but very subjective. I just think of the gray, faceless concrete towers which began falling apart upon construction in the Soviet Block.

        Plus, too often, usefulness is defined as “things which allow our ruling elites to kill and conquer other people”. Is a Tiger Tank a “Useful” thing? Under a Glorious People’s Republic I bet it would be so defined.

        This kind of stuff IS pretty cool, though!

        http://architectureofdoom.tumblr.com/

        “Public Eating Houses” sound great. As long as the bureaucrats don’t limit the Soylent Green to flavorless but perfectly portioned healthy food gruel.
        I am a bureaucrat, and I am not sure I would want to give my fellow men in gray such authority.

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        • makagutu says:

          Again you ask very difficult questions.
          When you talk of buildings falling in the Soviet Union, I am reminded of some world War 2 housing done by Corbu that were brought down for being uninhabitable.
          And yes, defining what’s useful can be tricky.
          We remain opposed to theocratic regimes and exploitative systems that keep 1% rich and the rest living in deplorable conditions.

          Like

  3. Chiedo says:

    Considering the quote, what merited retribution? If one becomes rich, out of own sweat, in a capitalistic setup–he may as well spend his wealth as he wishes. He only, I believe, attracts retribution if he uses his position to stifle the growth of others.

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    • Rich, out of own sweat?
      My good friend, even my sweat is owned by someone else…
      Rich by sweat?
      Oh, you mean I sweat, someone else gets rich.
      Some years ago, the brazen neocon who became finance minister in a central EU country, told an audience at a prestigiously stupid university, that the secret to become rich is to be able to legally evade your first million and its taxes, as this is how he did it. Results: standing ovation, no questions, no investigations, just the steady sweat of his juggling team of accountants.
      Yep, it’s as simple as it sounds…

      Liked by 2 people

    • basenjibrian says:

      Do any of the bank fraudsters, casino gamblers, and grandma defrauders “sweat”? I think the only they sweat about is being drug before the courts, and as they own, at least in the United States, all the politicians and prosecutors they generally don’t have much to worry about. As another serious fraud, the Peace Prize President, Mr. Hope N’ Change, opined while thinking of his very own oh so comfortable retirement, “we have to look to the future”. Unless one snuck across the border in desperation to avoid an American-funded drug gang war, then it is all about “Paperen, Bieten. You do not look “heartlandishly hued,” so yoyu must be one of those illegals”.

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    • makagutu says:

      It’s not the acquisition of wealth that he rails against. And while people can spend their money as they so wish, he contends that a display of such wealth amidst poverty is not a sign of prudence and can be cause for conflict.

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      • basenjibrian says:

        No doubt. The American capitalist class has solved tis dilemma rather neatly. Forty years of propaganda and they have convinced the poor that they are temporarily embarrassed millionaires and that the rich deserve to earn 750 times the incomes of their employees. Because they are that special.

        Plus, the rich just hire a portion of the poor to police their fellow minions. Even if the private security and police don’t earn good money, the fun of beating down others makes up for that,.

        Liked by 1 person

        • makagutu says:

          The police class shock me. In this country most of them, if not all, are poorly paid, live in poor housing but will be out with batons and teargas the moment anyone questions the legitimacy of govt or pickets over some rights abuse. They must come from the very idiot class of society!

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  4. What the world needs more of is a welfare system like we have here in the States, one which panders unfettered to the rich. Really, what’s wrong with billionaires flaunting their wealth in the faces of the poor and working class while never having to pay taxes? Can you think of a better system? Money talks. It’s deified. Worshiped, and those who acquire it, especially those born into it, are considered gods to be envied. It’s not the wealthy who should be shunned because they pay no taxes and feed off the labor and taxes of others; it’s the poor for being lazy and the working classes for being too stupid to have become rich. Like John Wayne once said to Henry Fonda, “Fuck the poor and middle classes, Henry. They suck cause they ain’t rich. Now, hand me some of that pizza, will ya’.”

    Liked by 4 people

  5. atheistsmeow says:

    No thanks. I’ll keep stretching the pension as far as possible & be satisfied with what I have.

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  6. Prophetic words on both accounts.

    Like

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