The rantings of a beautiful mind

On life, society, and computer technology.

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Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada

I live in the Fortress of Solitude. I drive the Silver Beast. My obsession is justice. I used to be a Windows software developer. I retired in 2000 when my stock options helped me achieve financial security.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Money and Happiness

Where is the point of diminishing returns beyond which more money does little to enrich our lives? How much money should we leave our own children? Should our financial goal be to leave these special people as wealthy as we can, or to benefit the rest of the world? How can we be generously loving and supportive, now and later, without demotivating their own achievements or needlessly diminishing what we can do for others?

Likewise, where is the point of diminishing returns in our consumption of material goods? Although it eluded me, I am sure there is a difference between the racks of eighteen-hundred-dollar Christian Lacroix dresses I saw at Chicago’s Marshall Field the other day and the nearby racks of two-hundred-dollar Bonnie Marx dresses. But is the sixteen-hundred-dollar difference – money enough, UNICEF director James P. Grant tells me, to fund the survival of three ill or malnourished children at five hundred dollars per child – really going to affect the wearer’s well-being? I don’t mean to sound miserly, for I do enjoy the conveniences and pleasures of life in an affluent society. Still, for each of us there is a point of diminishing returns. With our needs comfortably met, more money can now buy things we don’t need and hardly care about, or if unspent becomes blips on a bank computer or numbers on a stock report. Beyond this point of diminishing returns, why hoard more and more wealth and wares? What’s the point?

- The Pursuit of Happiness, by David G. Myers

This got me thinking...

I used to believe that the point was to ensure my own security in later life...amassing enough wealth to safeguard myself against possible calamities, such as catastrophic illness or a colossal lawsuit. But reading David Myers’ book, I now realize where I went wrong.

Financial security against perceived possible catastrophes does ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to make me a happier person! And there are no guarantees in life anyway. A catastrophic illness is just as likely to KILL me as render me impoverished. By focusing so heavily on this financial aspect of life, I am robbing myself of the true pursuit of happiness.

Something else for parents to think about... Leaving behind wealth for your children is NOT the real purpose of parenting. The real purpose is to prepare your kids to face the world so that they can make their own way with confidence and responsibility. This business of dynasties and passing on wealth from one generation to the next is nonsense...