L in the Southeast

L in the Southeast
Atlanta, Georgia, United States
November 04
Retired PR Director
I am a retired Public Relations professional who now writes purely for fun and catharsis. I covered most of my memoir-type pieces in the first three years here. Lately I have dabbled in politics, current affairs, pop culture and movie reviews. Life is my muse.


L in the Southeast's Links

FEBRUARY 6, 2013 2:35PM

Why I Don't Hate, Resent or Envy the Rich

Rate: 28 Flag


Rich man with money


There seems to be an active and vocal group of people on the political left who have a lot of negative feelings about wealthy Americans.  Every time I read a comment on a blog post that asserts some version of “Screw the rich. They are selfish, pampered, clueless elitists who don’t give a damn about me,” I wonder why I am almost always put off by the sentiment.

It’s certainly not because of my own life of privilege and abundant resources. I was born with many or most of the strikes against a baby one can have in this country.  Female. Working class family of factory workers, postal carriers, bus drivers and secretaries. Mixed race but perceived as “colored.”  Child in the midst of raging alcoholism. 

As a little girl one of my most favorite treats was to take a drive with my grandfather at the wheel and ogle the stately mansions lined up along the northern shores of Lake Michigan, near Chicago.  I would strain to see into the windows as we drove by, trying to understand what kind of people could live in such lavish digs.  I would ask just about every time we took the drive, but the answer never changed.

“Those are rich white people, Punkin.”

“Where do the rich colored people live?”  I only asked that once, though.  The laughter that ensued after the first time made me understand it was a silly question to have asked.

I had only recently discovered that I was somehow different than my friend Harrianne, who lived across the street.  She was the one who told me I was colored and she was white.  And although she actually appeared to me to be rather pink, which is a color too, I ran home and asked what she was talking about.

That was about the only difference there was between our two families.  Our houses were almost identical side-by-side duplexes and the furnishings inside were very similar.  The kitchen smells were different though.  Harrianne was Polish and my Czech great-grandmother, who did all the cooking on weekdays, didn’t like Polish cuisine.  I went to a private Catholic school, while Harrianne went to a private Lutheran school. 

At the dinner table, when my grandfather was coherent enough to have a discussion about the daily news, he often used words like plutocrat and Mrs. Gotrocks.   His disdainful tone was used when he talked about his bosses at work or some other person in authority.  My grandmother talked a lot about Mrs. Astor, especially when I behaved in a demanding kind of way.

I, for whatever reason, didn’t learn to resent the wealth of The Others.  I dreamed about becoming one of them, but at the same time I chose professional aspirations that equated, in my own mind, to helping people.  I knew from early on that those professions – teacher, nurse, social worker, etc. – were not the kinds of jobs that lead to what I perceived to be wealth.

And what about that? Perception.

In my neighborhood, rich was being able to get a new car every three years and to own your own home.  As absurd as it was looking back on it, a lot of my friends thought my family was rich because my sister and I always wore nice clothes.  Little did they know how much my mother mismanaged her modest earnings to make that so.

Being rich does not mean you have lots of money.  We are rich with love.  We are rich with faith and good morals.  We are rich with the tools we need to survive, like the ability to read and write.  Besides, being rich creates problems of its own.  Rich men are always worrying about counting their money or having somebody steal their money.  We don’t have to worry about any of that!”  That Grandpa had it all figured out.

We each join our families as an accident of birth.  Some are born into wealthy families, some into very poor families. and others fall somewhere in between.  None of us got a vote.  What we all do is learn to function within the family the accident of birth gives us.

So, no, I don’t begrudge anybody their big houses, fleets of cars, airplanes and yachts.  Those things are nice, but after becoming an adult I have learned just how much work owning all that stuff requires.  Rich families have just as many personal problems as poor families.  Their children still lose their ways sometimes. Their husbands and wives still argue and fight, have extramarital affairs, suffer mental illnesses and botch the child raising.  And yes, they have money problems, too; just not at the same level as the rest of us. 

It is not the individual wealthy person who creates our country’s social problems.  It is the merging of wealthy people into corporations and conglomerates and monopolies. When they collectively lose their focus about the well-being of their workers as they pursue ever-increasing profits, that’s where the problems lie.

I don’t get all bent out of shape because Ann Romney can indulge in her expensive thoroughbred hobby.  It’s her money.  I don’t really care how much she spends on a tee-shirt or a pair of shoes.  But I do care about what her husband does in his businesses to disregard the needs of the people on whose backs he created the ability to pay for his wife’s indulgences.  I do care if the desire to enrich stockholders takes precedence over paying workers a livable wage. 

It makes no sense to me to be jealous of someone who has more money and possessions than I have.  Now that I have been reduced to a kind of subsistence existence, owning nothing but my clothes, furniture and automobile, there are many times I think the rich should be jealous of me.  I have abandoned dreams of acquisition.  I have learned to appreciate the multitudinous sources of joy and well-being that surround me daily and cost nothing. 

My own hard work in the very corporations that recently took this country for a wild economic ride  paid off with a small monthly pension and pretty good health insurance.  My basic needs are meetable. 

Some might accuse me of the Sweet Lemons idiom (the opposite of Sour Grapes.) The truth is, though, I have never been happier.  When I was far better off financially, I was driven, stressed out, and exhausted from trying to maintain that status. 

Sadly, all things are relative.  There are too many people reading this post who are struggling daily just to put food on the table.  If I use my Grandpa’s line of reasoning, I am rich and therefore have no reason to hate, resent or envy anyone.

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Exactly Lezlie. I am so glad I don't own a house anymore. It's a feeling of freedom to not let your possessions own you.
Hi, tril. I inadvertently left off the last couple of paragraphs when I first posted this. You were kind not to point out my meaningless ending. :D
I'm so glad.

So we can be friends, right?

Rich is a state of mind. Isn't it interesting how many lottery winners blew through a fortune? Great piece, L.
When the things you own, own you.

I'm debt free and in good shape financially but I've had to reinvented a few times. I'm happy with this latest version and the open road ahead is calling my name.
I pretty much marvel every day at the things that I have. So in that sense there's no resentment of wealth.

But this, "But I do care about what her husband does in his businesses to disregard the needs of the people on whose backs he created the ability to pay for his wife’s indulgences. I do care if the desire to enrich stockholders takes precedence over paying workers a livable wage." I think that's where much of the resentment expressed by the political left comes from. I think that's a lot different than jealousy.
It's usually unclear who is meant when people criticize "the rich." Most "rich" people are old people who have worked all their lives and fall within the definition of "rich" because they've accumulated weath gradually. Hard to envy what they have because of what they had to go through to get it.
You are such a wise, dear person. The only rich I resent are the selfish ones who hate the rest of us. Otherwise, I'd just like to not have to worry about enough money to live on and be debt free. That's rich to me.
I strive to maintain a similar attitude. Some days I suceed!! Great post Lezlie!
Joisey: Yep!

Bernadine: That IS very interesting and something that speaks to the value of having to work for your fortune.

Asia: I see you “get it” too. Isn’t it liberating?

Jeanette: No disagreement there. However, I do know people who are just plain jealous because they do not or cannot have the things wealthy people have.

Con: I think we do sling that term “the rich” around without much understanding of whom we mean.
Zuma: Thank you! I’d like not to have you worry about having enough to live on debt free, too. I wish that for everyone.

desert_rat: Hi! Haven’t seen you in a while. Thanks.
There only one thing worse that rich capitalists and poor socialists in my book, and that's rich socialists and poor capitalists. Fuckin' traitors!
I can't *disagree* enough with so much of this blog post.

It swallows lock, stock & barrel the (classical) liberal ideology of live & let live--in the context of an economic system that is patently against true freedom. Capitalism is inherently exploitative and accumulatory, and it is by nature expansive. People like Ann Romney themselves, as individuals, might not be hated for the fact that they were born into wealth--but it strikes me as foolish not to stab at the heart of the matter, by failing to ask how the wealthy 'earned' their money to begin with.

Some specific points:

* 'So, no, I don’t begrudge anybody their big houses, fleets of cars, airplanes and yachts. Those things are nice, but after becoming an adult I have learned just how much work owning all that stuff requires. Rich families have just as many personal problems as poor families.'

-- All of this strikes me as soft-headed, and in the event misses the point. That anyone *can* reach such fabulous displays of wealth points to a systemic failing in society. It's the wrong way of seeing things to ask if I should envy the rich, and falls into moralising clap-trap. And what's this about the poor and the rich having the same number of problems? *Even* if that were so, what about the qualitative differences in those problems? Is that why the rich live longer, healthier lives; get divorced less; etc?

* 'It is not the individual wealthy person who creates our country’s social problems. It is the merging of wealthy people into corporations and conglomerates and monopolies. When they collectively lose their focus about the well-being of their workers as they pursue ever-increasing profits, that’s where the problems lie.'

-- What are we even talking about here? First off, yes; the excessive accumulation of wealth by individuals *IS* socially corrosive. There's plenty of research to suggest that inequalities themselves are a problem for middle and low earners, and eventually--as the cost of a decaying social order mounts--to the rich themselves. Second off, companies were formed *precisely* to make people rich with as little risk to the persons investing in the company as possible. Finally, the 'well-being of their workers' is NOT the primary function of any capitalist, any company owner, any rich person; profit itself is the fundamental driving force. How can ANYONE on here think otherwise? This isn't some bizarre Communist concept--even defenders of capitalism gleefully accept this is the case. Suggesting anything else is deluded.

* 'It’s her money.'

-- NO, NO, NO. It is not *her* money. Money itself is a social construct; it is a function of the social order, and at present a function of government fiat. These social outcomes are not justified or legitimate in any objective sense. At the end of that historical accumulation of wealth, someone else's labour was its *real* source. That our laws, and even our received morality (implicit in this blog) takes this as given demonstrates the power of ideology--disguised as so much moralising, hippy, soothing words.

Finally, I'd like to argue, if not for envy, then at least for anger. If we can't even muster anything like a studious rejection of a system that at root subjugates the vast majority of mankind for the pleasure & happiness of a few, then we're all pretty fucked in the end.
Ben Sen: I'm not quite sure how to take your comment, but I appreciate you stopping by.

Rene: This soft-headed, delusional blog writer thanks you for sharing your point of view.
I agree that demonzing the rich does not accomplish anything. Lenin used that tactic to destroy Russia ("Loot the looters") and the fact is most people have no more scruples than the rich do, it's just not as obvious.

But I also agree with Rene that it's an outrage to turn a blind eye to the suffering of the poor just because one is getting by oneself. There's nothing noble in poverty. There's nothing noble in not being able to feed, clothe or get medical treatment for your children, or be unable to pay legal fees, vet fees, or a host of other maladies that can strike at any time. That's a false morality.

Point is except for our silly rules we could all be living well and not at the expense of one another. Saying "I got mine so the system is fine" is to perpetuate the suffering of the poor and, ultimately, will collapse us as a society.
I have no personal issue with wealth whatsoever. It is the inbreeding of the corporations and the government that bothers me. While that is not what you are talking about, I think attention to the tax structure and loopholes would be really helpful in addressing the underlying resentments.
Lezlie! so good to see you here ~ I'm just enjoying everyone's posts again. Looks like you've managed to do your wonderfully good job of nerve touching, which, to me, is the mark of some thoughtful writing.

I think ol' Ben was actually attempting to be jokey!

I don't mind problems, but wouldn't mind swapping out concerns over food, shelter, healthcare, and some assurance of a little security in my older years for some higher class worries. I think when we find ourselves concerned we might end up under a bridge, fear takes away our joy de vivre (and tarnishes my je ne sais quoi!)

Loooove the new banner ~ how original!
I have known some really nice wealthy people. When I was a teenager our family knew some people who were in clothing sales in Atlanta. We got to "shop" the samples. You would recognize the neighborhood they lived in . One of them gave me orchids from her greenhouse for my wedding.
As a nurse I met a family that owned a lot of RV campgrounds. After a injury that had the father stuck in the hospital with us on July 4, his wife and daughters cooked fried chicken, deviled eggs and much more and fed the staff.

I can think of a lot of other local wealthy people in the few places that I have lived who thought they were pretty special and deserved extra attention.

By the way Lezlie, my great-grandmother was an invalid I guess in the 30's in Atlanta. Her daughters who cared for her would take her to ride in Atlanta's nicest neighborhoods. They would drive up to houses and if someone came out they would explain they were looking for a relative they thought worked there. Grandma got to look around and see the house and grounds. It might be dangerous today.
Cheshyre: We are on the same page. It IS an outrage for anyone who tells himself “I’ve got mine, so the hell with them.” And I totally agree with your last paragraph.

Seer: You are so sweet. Thank you!

Emily: Your point is well-taken. I am very worried about the degree to which the government and corporations are bed buddies.

toritto: Yeah, I’m afraid we have become a little long in the tooth to be influential in the fight. But we can still think and write.

Gabby Abby: I would be a happy person if I could figure out a way for every American to live without worrying about basic needs. I understand your last paragraph completely.

Trudge164: Hi!
LSD: LOL. No, I wouldn't recommend trying your great-grandma's tactics today. Good to see you. Atlanta has many decent monied people.
Hi Lezlie. I think it’s not so much envy of the rich as resentment of, compared say to the 50s or 60s, the unfair advantage they have gained through the system and the way in which many of them happily rig the system to their growing and continuing benefit.

It’s not as though I’d really like to own show horses or have a mansion and several apartments to live in. I live comfortably enough and enjoy the company of my rich, poor and middle class friends. But when some of the richer folks shell out for lobbyists to weaken labor laws, to tilt the tax system in their favor, to fund astro-turf organizations who supply disinformation on issues like global warming, and who work to undermine all manner of business regulation, I’d say there’s plenty of grounds for resentment and animosity.

Of course not all rich folks behave like this. Knowing that someone is in the 1% or 5% doesn’t make me instantly despise them and in that sense I’m with you. But much of your own and others’ political efforts aim to overcome the causes and effects of the growing divide between rich and poor. It’s understandable that some would react with resentment, if not envy.
a lot of my friends thought my family was rich because my sister and I always wore nice clothes That was me, sort of, though I defined rich more as new clothes than nice clothes and I didn't care because I was usually eagerly awaiting some hand-me-down from my sister and praying it would come to me so it fit during the correct season. And at about age 12 it became parents buying your clothes for you - that seemed pretty rich.

But René Christian Moya's comment resonated strongly with my own reaction. It's not about resenting people individually or envying them, it's about an unjust social & economic system. In the long term that is a self-destructive system, I believe.

Recognizing that, even more, stating it, is too often and increasingly dismissed as resenting and envying the rich. It's not and to portray it primarily as that plays into the aims of those who would maintain and even increase the gross disparity that is so rapidly spreading across the whole world.

(I also think that expressing any part of it as "they care about me" is a distraction from the real issues - I oh so do not care if some random Romney cares about me. I certainly don't care about any of them so why should they?)

And, even for you, L, this was beautifully written.
Abra: But when some of the richer folks shell out for lobbyists to weaken labor laws, to tilt the tax system in their favor, to fund astro-turf organizations who supply disinformation on issues like global warming, and who work to undermine all manner of business regulation, I’d say there’s plenty of grounds for resentment and animosity. I totally agree with all of this. I resent them for what they do, not for what they have. And you are so right, most of my political efforts aim to overcome the causes and effects of the growing divide. Maybe it’s because of a lifetime as a minority, but I am very careful not to classify individuals based on the groups to which they belong.

nerd cred: I guess I should have hit that point a lot harder in this piece. I am right with you when it comes to the growing disparity. But I attribute that to the system itself, rather to random individuals who happen to have a lot of money. Maybe it’s a distinction without a difference, but I feel it.

Seer: Yes, the aristocracy versus the nouveau riche. Miles apart in social responsibility.
Sorry to come so late. I thought I'd commented earlier but I must not have hit the post button.

There's a distinction to be made between being rich and being rich irresponsibly. Like many others, I don't resent wealth, but I do resent efforts to protect and increase wealth at the expense of those who are not wealthy. That, given the increasing disparities we're looking at, is not acceptable.

I'm not going to get into the philosophical definition of being wealthy because that's not what this is about, it's about concentration of actual resources. There's a difference between being wealthy and being satisfied. What is enough is a different question that what is wealthy.

There is also the further question of entitlement. On another blog, Lezlie and I have been involved in a discussion about who acts like they feel entitled to what, only that discussion concerned poor minority populations. If anything, I see more of the sense of entitlement that some accuse the poor of having when it comes to government programs in many of the rich, like Mitt Romney, who appear to think that their wealth is their due. That assumption is simply repulsive.
Oh, if you double posted this, I probably did comment, just not here. I like the post, by the way.
Kosh: Yes, I always double-post, which I know creates a little confusion from time to time. However, despite some overlap, the readership on each site is slightly different, as you know. I'm glad you like this one. It is something that has bothered me for a while now. Based on some of the comments, I could have done a better job of making the distinction.
You can no more stereotype all wealthy people than you can poor people. Excellent post and terrific observations, Lezlie.
I envy their never needing to worry about money--which can take way too much time away from being able to enjoy the simpler things.
I like your Grandpa's reasoning. And the ways you seem much like him. How lucky you were to have such solid guidance.
Obama has a nice personality and so do an awful lot of rich people. I agree. So do a lot of people on open salon have nice personalities.

Maybe the ever-widening gulf between rich and poor, the disappearance of the middle class deserves to be regarded beyond personality measure of the upper class and the governing individuals of this country. (Does a seeming personality of "good will" really have the will to be good. Or appear good but bottom line act or not act and let injustice to fellow humans happen?)

Bribing for advantage by rich donors has meant the ruling class elite has captured our government and our government has become their government and now works for the upper class, not for the middle (fast disappearing) or lower classes. And when corporate profit uber people motives (a corporation's legal personality is one of a psychopath) come into play pushed by upper class cronyism to profit, human rights and benefits are tossed. The needs of the other classes are not a serious priority. Social Darwinism prevails.

And maybe America's collective character compared to its collective personality or, more to the point, collective ego (right now full of exceptionalism) deserves to be examined considering the nightmare wars and domestic struggles perpetrated by OUR country and our governance.

I read somewhere that too many of us have consumer identities not citizen ones a lot thanks to the seduction of the commercial boob tube. We don't feel a sense of responsibility -- the ability to respond -- to things going on, flagrant injustices. We have a naivete or a cynicism, but not much call to conscience these days. We seem to be in a spiritual dark.

We need to get to tough love integrity and respect for justice and empathy in this world whether on a website, in a Congress, in an administration, internationally imo. To commitment to save our rights and return a just government as much as possible. Real honor and integrity and altruism. All for "peace, planet and people."

Complacency is our enemy. Serenity within awareness is fine and a transcendent state to reach for and enjoy. Anger when it is justified is not a bad thing if it rallies people to wakefulness and proaction. Complacency and denial and minimization and over-identification and over-trust with those who are getting over on us keeps us on a dangerous slippery slope as citizens.

my two and half cents.

best, libby
This was such a balanced post, with such a fair, reasonable view. Most of all, I'm so happy you're happy with your life now. And I agree with you: it seems the more you own, the more responsibility and stress you have.
I loved this piece. Some rules for a happy life are so simple, and so hard to believe. Look in your own bowl. Hate begets hate. Money won't get you though the eye of a needle. Those various religious/spiritual tenets that are often lost, yet are keys to a contented life.

We live in a culture where glittery must-have thingies are dangled before us every moment, and we are told to want them. In the meantime, just outside my window is a tree with a chickdee sitting it, calling for me to look at him. Chickadee or Prada boots? For me, a no brainer, and I am happy without money for Prada boots and a headful of chickadee. I wonder if the lady with the fancy uncomfortable feet can say the same.
Living on the edge, cutting my prescription pills in half to make them last longer, wearing my sweaters backwards so the holes don't show, avoiding puddles with my winter boots because they leak, cutting TV and films out completely because most of the stuff is stupid anyway, eating macaroni or rice because fresh vegetables are just a nuisance to prepare and are too damned expensive anyway, my old gloves with the holes are mostly OK in borderline temperatures and I can keep my hands in my pockets when the temperature really drops. Hell, figuring this stuff out keeps me on my mental toes and postpones Alzheimer's. Nobody is interested at hiring me anyway at the age of 87. I should be grateful to be alive and when I get my final cancer the best thing to do is get my feet wet and shove a wire into an electric socket with my wet bare hands. Idiotic to be rich and go through all that final suffering. We poor are clever. Poverty has its benefits. God bless the rich and powerful.
In the first place, this should be an EP. Secondly, it is not the rich I resent but the attitude expressed in Romney's 47 per cent speech that the rest of us are dead weight. A friend once said of the son of a wealthy entrepreneur in our business: he was born on third base and thinks he hit a triple. R
Jan Sand - really? You're 87? You want to go live with my mother who's 89? Can you clean? She has a big ole house & is very comfortable (thanks to her & my Dad's long time union membership) and she could really use someone to keep her mind active, give her a reason to cook & do some cleaning - she's never been a cleaner. She adores men & probably has enough clothes in that house that you'd never have to buy any the rest of your life so along with saving on rent you'd be ok. She really, really hates rich people, too!
(Sorry, L, that was too good to let pass by.)
I always learn something reading your work.
It appears to me we are in synch with our thinking here on this, so what you taught me was a great phrase to use to describe surviving these times : "sweet lemons".
Margaret: Thank you!

jlsathre: I’m thinking you meant to say you don’t envy their worry. I sure don’t.

Sally: My grandfather was a very wise man, even when he was drunk, which was most of the time until he finally won the battle about 15 years before his death.

Barbara: Thanks!

Libby: Your two-cents worth is thoughtful and well-stated. I agree that complacency is anathema to the future of our country. I think, though, we need to keep our focus across the board and not get fixated on only one issue. Each issue does not stand alone; all issues are interconnected. I think of it as similar to that wooden puzzle game that requires the play to pull out one log without bringing the entire structure tumbling down.

Alysa: Thank you. I’m glad you are learning that lesson in your early years so you won’t waste a lot of your life pursuing things that don’t really matter.

greenie: As a country, I think we have lost our way big time. Why anyone thinks it is reasonable to spend $1,000 on a pair of boots is beyond me, but I will always fight for the right of any one of us to do so. I’ll take the chickadee.

Jan: Why do I get the feeling that you would be doing those things even if you were rich (which you might be, for all I know?) If you don’t think nerd cred’s mom is your cup of tea, mine is 88 and lives alone in Illinois. If nothing else, she will shorten your suffering by talking you to death!

Gerald: Thanks for the endorsement! I also resent that Romney attitude, which is not because he has a lot of money, but because he is an idiot.

nerd cred: S’okay. I put in a plug for my mom, 88, too. :D
alsoknownas: That’s nice to hear. To clarify the Sweet Lemons concept, it occurs when someone insists everything is great, when in reality they don’t. We don’t see this nearly as often as we see sour grapes: "It's fine. I didn't want to work for that stupid company anyway."
Lezlie, you wrote:

I agree that complacency is anathema to the future of our country. I think, though, we need to keep our focus across the board and not get fixated on only one issue. Each issue does not stand alone; all issues are interconnected. I think of it as similar to that wooden puzzle game that requires the play to pull out one log without bringing the entire structure tumbling down.

You made some good points here.

Complacency is an anvil around the neck of progress…but some people, like Libby to whom your response was directed, think that anything less than constant negativity, moan, groaning, and demanding that “the impossible” be done…and “the very difficult” be done now—is complacency.

It isn’t!

I’ve seen the word “complacency” tossed about by the terminally disgruntled as though their interpretation of complacency must dictate what determines good citizenship in this country. As regards that, I say, “One does not have to indulge in the pathetic histrionics and character assassination they do in order to be pro-active. In fact, often being pro-active the way we are is more productive than they are using their methods. Their theatrics and drama…and their sky-is-falling indulgences more often lead to negative, rather than positive, consequences for the overall good.

At this moment, the right is allowing their extremists on the far right to lead the entire right in a kind of slow, painful suicide. I say: Let ‘em do it…we will be a better country with them debilitated…or at least lessened appreciably in strength to pursue the conservative agenda.

Unfortunately, the far left is doing the same thing to the progressive agenda…and I call on the mainstream left to stop them in their tracks. The far left, particularly as exemplified on OS, is a greater danger to progressivism than the right at this point. In a political context, self-inflicted damage is almost always more severe than damage done from across the aisle.

Keep up the good work, L…keep fighting the good fight. And continue to do it in the calm, reasonable manner you show in this post. It’s worth it.
Frank: Thanks for stopping by today. I appreciate your encouragement. I think it's worth it, too.
Not that I don't appreciate women of experience, but a nicely rounded behind still hooks my glance, even at 87. And I'm lousy at housework, spending time at painting and small sculptures and poetry. (anything worthwhile over fifty feet tall is a hard fit into my one room apartment). Luckily, I can do a painting on the discarded side of a cardboard box with ketchup, shoe polish and cocoa so painting materils are free and discarded tin cans are a great supply for sheet metal. Painting small rocks is also rather inexpensive and worthy of my time and experience. Of course, nobody buys my output so its gigo all the way.
Life here in Helsinki beats anything the USA has to offer and the air is cleaner, the people less likely to shoot or mug anyone and even the cops are polite. It's a great place to come to die and since nobody can avoid that, why goof around anywhere else?
This is an eloquent post, L, replete with thoughtful, energized comment, but I'd rather be in Tahiti.
Lezlie, great post. I'll just add my nickle--or several-- here. I grew up in the poorest family in a middle class and nouveus rich town. I never envied or even thought much about that. What was really rich was the love from my dad; my mom did not have that ability.

I went to college on scholarsip supplemented by being a teaching assistant and other jobs. Ditto for my master and ph.d--but I was not ambitious in the usual sense.

Then after 2 years of working as a psychologist in Boston, I could take the clients I liked to see privately. I had a lot of contacts by then and filled three of my friends' private practice. After however many years, I decided that I preferred to teach and so I did. But even as most (this in the 70's) were making good money from being a shrink, I often did not cash the checks or from the poor, did not accept pay. At this juncture in my thirties I thought nothing about money except to buy books and eat out twice a week.

And then, as I have eluded here, at aged 40 my dad died and though we were so close I had no real knowledge that in his last 12 years on earth he made good money. Which at his funeral fell to me and my sister, a shock. So now I was rich. Not 1% rich but rich enough. I then did more work than ever before in my life, started a great school, then became a journalist.

That this did not last isn't my point. My point is that only from that time did I realize it is still okay on the left to diss the rich. It was a little bit like hearing an anti-semetic remark and staying silent. There are mean rich greedy people and most of them are not inheriteds. When in 08 I lost most of my cash/etc. my first reaction was releif. And that is more than enough to affirm you in what is really rich: Love.
Jan Sand wrote: Life here in Helsinki beats anything the USA has to offer…

I am sure Helsinki is a fine place, but I doubt it beats “anything the USA has to offer.” That is a gratuitous statement on Jan’s part…prompted by his obvious visceral hatred for America.

There are, I will acknowledge, lots of people who think that “where they are” is an essential component of being happy and content.

I use to be the person who organized Christmas parties at a Realty office where I worked. There were some people who simply were unable to enjoy themselves at a party unless it was set up at a swank restaurant or catering place…while others, myself included, were able to have a ball in a cellar Bar. Enjoying oneself, in my opinion, is a function of self…and I consider Jan’s comment to be one of his endless digs at America because of a personal problem he had with the country’s safety net system.

That is his right. I just wanted to be sure everyone saw the other side of the story, so to speak.