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Dear Kristof

October 25, 2012

A response to a friend’s championing of a recent article by Nicolas Kristof.

Dear Landlord*
Please don’t put a price on my soul.
I’m not about to argue,
I’m not about to lose control.

Each of us at times
We might work too hard
Too heavy, too fast and too much.
But anyone can fill his life up with things
And you see that he just cannot touch.” ~Mr.Dylan, of course.

*A landlord is the owner of the factory, the house, and the land upon which we all pay rent or mortgage, and to whom all profits from Keynesian demand-side spending goes. In the 1930s, when very few households had refrigerators or cars or any of the consumer products that we have today, government stimulus of consumer demand for necessities made perfect sense.

This policy has worked spectacularly well in peacetime and in wartime to stimulate the capitalist economies and has produced an environment filled with the excess of the things we enjoy, and a few of the things that everyone needs. It has filled our lives up with things, and we are completely out of touch, even, or especially, with ourselves.

Perhaps we should envision an economy not driven by insatiable demand by consumers but one sustained by human satisfaction.

It is of course the American mindset not to be satisfied with anything. Our entire culture is based on dissatisfaction. So we are presented with a set of false alternatives; ‘more of the stuff we are dissatisfied with’ (Keynsianism) or ‘less of what you deserve’ (austerity).

I will not cheerlead for Keynsianism, nor acquiesce to the further robbery of the poor.

If you are offered a set of choices by this culture, all of them are probably poison.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. October 29, 2012 12:37 am

    I can’t tell you how happy it makes me to see you back in the saddle, and your elegent post, crisp and empathic at the same time as usual, is right on the money, to use an offensive metaphor. Put another way, I know exactly what you mean. I have been trying, for some time, not to be enticed/influenced by what our culture dangles day and night in our faces, and it is hard work, especially with a family whom I want to make its own decisions, whom I don’t want to influence too strongly (o! negative hubris!). “Stepping out” (impossible yet also possible) means far more than I had anticipated. I am stepping out of the network, the systems, which make me what I am. The culture is in me as habits I did not know I even had, and as addictions, fears, phobias, reflexes, etc. It is so incredibly pervasive. So thank you, Stephen, for this ominously/propitiously timed piece. It feels like a delivered epiphany, if that makes any sense.

  2. Debra permalink
    November 3, 2012 6:56 am

    Nice to see you writing again, as Eco says…
    I arrive here through him.
    Over here on the Old Continent, further.. right even than Albion, it looks like unsatisfaction has been the name of the game for a long time…
    There is a quote out of “The Merchant of Venice” where one of the Solario/Solanio twins asks who gets up from a banquet with the same hunger he had when he sat down ?
    The bird in the bush is shinier than the bird in the hand, isn’t it ?
    I think that we have a very hard time understanding that when we take the scissors to the cloth, we are cutting the underside at the same time we cut the topside.
    If we digested this, maybe we would slow down a little bit and take the time to enjoy life ?
    If we had fewer.. HAND MADE things, maybe we would be able to take more time to enjoy them, and lots of things would change ?

  3. March 30, 2013 11:10 am

    I have read some good stuff here. Definitely worth bookmarking for revisiting. I wonder how much effort you put to make such a excellent informative site.

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