Celebrated a belated Thanksgiving holiday yesterday at my in-laws new place even further into the rural Colorado plains than is my Atlantis. Spent over an hour disassembling, diagnosing and repairing a fifteen dollar toilet tank fill valve. Never regretted a moment of it because, perhaps mostly of many reasons, I was determined to figure out why it had stopped working and whether my diagnosis based on observed symptoms was correct. It was.
This explains the "You'd be surprised how good they are at it" quote. As for material success, theft of individual production, comparative prosperity, a few excerpts from the post-meal conversation with, I'll just say, a prospective family member.
He: "I don't agree with the point of view that someone's money is more important than someone's actual life. If 5 people need help to prevent their death and 5 other people have the means to help them, are you okay with not all of those five helping and some of the other five dying?"
Me: "Yes. Are you okay with government forcing those five to help or else go to jail?"
He: No answer.
More to the point of the original post, I also explained this cause for the oft lamented "growing gap between rich and poor" and asked if he'd rather be a king in the middle ages than a middle class citizen today?
Answer: "The king, because he was so much better off than other people of his era."
So despite his knowing that everyone is objectively happier and more prosperous today, he still would choose to live a shorter and more brutish life because it was better than all of the king's contemporaries.
This kind of irrationality is breathtaking. I'm still pondering what sense of life would permit such a selfish yet anti-self preference.
I see many interesting Thanksgivings ahead...
I'll commiserate/share: a niece who is majoring in business posts on FB:
I can't decide what is worse. Negative political ad campaigns or Black Friday commercials that endorse camping out for sales and greed when there are people affected by sandy still without power living in tents and makeshift homes.
Wait- Do the people camping out for Black Friday have power in their tents? Make them share!