Spare Change

Dear J-

what values do you inherit? It feels to me sometimes like all I know is to be as cheap as possible while trying to maintain some quality, which may explain the obsessive reading of consumer reviews and usage testing, trying to figure out if that thing I saw is truly a bargain or not. Sometimes it is. Usually it’s just junk. When I go to visit my parents, though, I can’t help but look at the price tags on the stuff they had bought years ago and think about whether or not it was a good deal. Yes? No? Indifference? It’s sort of the house-searching problem all over again: once you’ve gotten it, don’t keep looking unless you plan on getting multiple copies of it, and why would you want to anyway? Brilliance.

There’s a lot of things you could spend money on but that doesn’t mean there’s a lot of things you need. It’s turning out that I am enjoying travel but that doesn’t mean I should keep traveling as much as they’ll allow: there’s lots of people without kids to be sent as well. Responsibilities. Obligations. What you choose to do is up to you but I’d remember that there is no unlimited pool of resources, even time, allotted to any of us. The other question is what lasting fame you want attached to your name, even if it’s as simple as what you have in store for you when your heirs are sorting through all your belongings. There’s something to think about this early in the morning: heirs and legacies.

I wonder if Carnegie’s peers saw him as the ruthless businessman or a philanthropic genius in his time, and what this might bode for Bill Gates’s legacy in the future. If any individual would have the right to challenge the old industrial tycoons it would be folks like these tech guys, Ellison and Gates and Groves and Page. Eventually they’ll understand that there’s no future involved in spending money on yourself, regardless of where real estate prices are going or what luxuries exist out there. Yet what would be a good rule of thumb for giving, a tithe or some other fractional sort of decimation of income? Often what I have to give is money, not time, but couldn’t I spare some more?



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