Money, money

Sometimes the less said on local sports the better, and this week has been a fine example. The Wizards, of course, could turn things around with a win tonight, though I’d call it about 10% of the work they’ll have to do to get a win in the series with a potential Game Seven looming Monday night in Boston.

We turn instead to the writing of Mr. George Will, who, like Wednesday’s subject (Mr. Halberstam), stops writing about baseball occasionally to comment on public affairs. Will’s column printed in last Sunday’s Post (seen here!) describes an argument I’ve been making for years. (Usually while trying to explain free-market capitalism to six-year-olds.)

You’re better off today than the richest man alive a hundred years ago.

Fantastic as the premise goes, honesty and 30 seconds of conscious thought will show the statement to be true. Never mind the Internet, modern labor-saving devices, and easy access to medication… just think of indoor plumbing and electricity if you want to compare your life to those of your ancestors, even the rich ones.

Will relies heavily on the work of George Mason University economist Don Boudreaux, who uses as his example the world’s first billionaire (by most accounts), John D. Rockefeller. Rockefeller’s life in 1916—when he increased the ranks of the world’s billionaire club from zero to one—would make the average person today recoil in horror. No e-mail, no cell phone, no Snapchat. And if you wanted Thai curry for lunch you’d better plan it about a month in advance. And book a steamship passage to Bangkok.

Would you trade lives with John D. Rockefeller? Louis XIV? Augustus Caesar? Mansa Musa? (Look him up.) Of course not.

Never mind the money… I don’t think we’d last 10 minutes without our smartphones.

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About moc

My name is Mike O'Connell. I am 34 years old and live in Northern Virginia. I am a teacher, a musician, and an enthusiast of all things American.

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