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June 02, 2005

Paris Hilton and Company Are Secretly Unhappy...

Don Herzog dredges up the argument that we should feel sorry for Paris Hilton and company--that they have been harmed by lower marginal tax rates for the rich and would be harmed by permanent estate-tax repeal:

Left2Right: blast from the past (two): Don Herzog: May 20, 2005: It's one of my favorite pamphlets, but alas, it isn't reprinted any more. After the author published it, he handed it off to the Association for Preserving Liberty and Property against Republicans and Levellers — yup, they don't name political groups like they used to — and they circulated it widely.... This delicious pamphlet hasn't even been publicly available online. But I have boldly taken matters in hand and now it is. The pamphlet is William Paley's Reasons for Contentment, Addressed to the Labouring Part of the British Public, first published in 1792.... Anyway, you should read Paley's deathless pamphlet. All nine pages of it....

His pamphlet insists so vehemently on the superiority of poverty that it becomes entirely mysterious why the rich don't try to find some poor suckers to take their wealth off their hands. Or for that matter why they don't just burn it outright.... Providence has ensured that most people can be happy without wealth. Workers are busy, so they have no time for the "irksome and tormenting" thoughts that afflict the wealthy in their leisure. "Frugality itself is a pleasure." The poor provide more easily for their children:

All the provision which a poor man's child requires is contained in two words, "industry and innocence." With these qualities, tho' without a shilling to set him forwards, he goes into the world prepared to become an useful, virtuous, and happy man.

The poor even get more pleasure from food and drink.

The rich who addict themselves to indulgence lose their relish. Their desires are dead. Their sensibilities are worn and tired. Hence they lead a languid, satiated existence. Hardly any thing can amuse, or rouse, or gratify them. Whereas the poor man, if something extraordinary fall in his way, comes to the repast with appetite; is pleased and refreshed; derives from his usual course of moderation and temperance a quickness of perception and delight, which the unrestrained voluptuary knows nothing of.

Posted by DeLong at June 2, 2005 12:07 PM