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.

The rich man is a thief

The above is the conclusion of Basil of Caesarea, who in the fourth century wrote

 “‘Upon whom,’ he (the private proprietor) says, ‘do I inflict any injury in retaining and conserving that which is mine?’ What things, tell me, are yours.  yours? Whence did you bring them into the world? You rich act like a man who, being the first to enter a theatre, would keep all others out, regarding as his own that which was intended for the common use of all. For you appropriate to yourselves the common heritage, simply because you were the first occupants. Whereas, if every man took only what was sufficient for his needs, leaving the rest to those in want, there would be no rich and no poor. Naked you came from the womb; naked you shall return to earth. Whence your present possessions? If you say, ‘from fate,’ you are impious, since you do not recognize the Creator nor render thanks to the Giver; if you answer, ‘from God,’ then tell me why you have received them. Is God so unjust as to distribute the necessaries of life inequitably? Why are you rich and your neighbor poor? Is it not to enable you to receive the reward of benevolence and upright stewardship, while he obtains the crown merited by patience? Yet you fancy that you do no injustice when you gather all things into the fathomless recesses of your greed. Who is the avaricious man? The man who is not satisfied with enough. Are not you, then, avaricious? Are you not a despoiler? For you have made your own that which you have received to distribute. Is he not called a thief who strips a man of his clothes? And he who will not clothe the naked when he can,-is he deserving of a different appellation? The bread that you keep in your possession belongs to the hungry; the cloak in your closet, to the naked; the shoes that you allow to rot, to the barefooted, and your hoarded silver, to the indigent. Hence you have done injustice to as many as you have failed to help.”

Were the church fathers communists[pdf]? John A Ryan doesn’t think so.

Stealing from the poor presents quotes from selected church fathers and comments by readers.

About money

Friends, that is, theists in general and Christians specifically, don’t listen to your church ministers, priests, imams or whoever it is claims to speak to you on behalf of god and speaks on your behalf to god when they tell you, as Paul writes to Timothy in Timothy 6:10

For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.

for they are lying to you, since they say this while passing the collection basket around! You remain paupers while they get rich spending money you have worked your asses hard to get.

Listen, however, to the philosophers when they tell you

Money alone is absolutely good, because it is not only a concrete satisfaction of one need in particular, it is an abstract satisfaction of all.[Arthur Schopenhauer]

And please, please for those of who intent on getting married, if you can don’t marry a man or woman born in poverty. For the philosophers have this advice to give

a woman[man] of fortune being used to handling of money, spends it judiciously; but a woman[man] who gets the command of money for the first time upon her/his marriage, has such a gusto in spending it, that she/he throws it away with great profusion.

And as a word of caution to all that

you be careful to preserve what you have earned or inherited.

And finally to those aspiring parents, if you can, leave your children an inheritance for

to start life with just as much as will make one independent, that is, allow one to live comfortably without having to work is an advantage which cannot be overestimated; for it means exemption and immunity from that chronic disease of penury[..] it is emancipation from that forced labor which is the natural lot of every mortal

and once you start life with such advantage, don’t be a dickhead, but pay your debt to mankind by

achieving what no other could achieve, by producing some work which contributes to the general good, and rebounds to the honor of humanity at large. 

For to fail to do so, with such advantage is to be but

a mere idler and thief of time, a contemptible fellow. He will not even be happy, because, in his case, exemption from need delivers him up to the other extreme of human suffering, boredom, which is such martyrdom to him, that he would have been better off if poverty had given him something to do.

That brothers and sisters is my advice to you this beautiful Monday morning!