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Guest Post: A New Way Of Defining Wealth

Tyler Durden's picture


Submitted by Charles Hugh-Smith of OfTwoMinds blog,

What if our commoditized, financialized definition of wealth reflects a staggering poverty of culture, spirit, wisdom, practicality and common sense?

The conventional definition of wealth is solely financial: ownership of universally valued money and assets. The assumption is that money can buy anything the owner desires: power, access, land, shelter, energy, transport and if not love, then a facsimile of caring.

The flaw in this reductionist definition is obvious: not everything of value can be purchased at any price--for example, health, once lost, cannot be purchased for $1 million, $10 million or even $100 million. A facsimile of friendship can be purchased (i.e. companions willing to trade fake friendliness for money), but true friendship cannot be bought at any price: its very nature renders friendship a non-commodity.

This explains the abundance of wealthy people who are miserable, lonely and phony to the core. Only commoditized goods and services can be bought with money or assets.

Given the limits of the conventional model of wealth, the question naturally arises: what if we defined wealth more by what cannot be bought rather than by what can be bought? Another way of making the distinction is to ask: what has been commoditized/globalized such that any person with money anywhere on the planet can buy it? What cannot be commoditized because it is intrinsically inaccessible to commodification?

We can start our inquiry with a series of questions:

1. What would be the impact on an individual's health if modern medicine/pharmaceuticals were no longer available? Put another way: how dependent is one's "good health" on commoditized interventions? How independent is an individual's health/vitality from commoditized medicine?

Health that is sufficiently vibrant that it has no need for commoditized medicine cannot be bought, and therefore it is a form of intrinsic (non-commodity) wealth.

2. Can a shipwrecked individual swim two miles through open ocean from a doomed ship/yacht to safety? Money has no value if there is no help that can be bought; the individual's only wealth in this situation (assuming they know how to swim) is their core physical strength and endurance--forms of wealth that cannot be substituted with money.

3. If Cicero was correct and "The man who has a garden and a library has everything," then let's ask not how extensive one's library might be in terms of the number of volumes, but ask how many of the books (or ebooks) have been read, absorbed and enjoyed by the owner?

In other words, it's not the ownership of a library which creates non-commoditized wealth but the joy, knowledge and pleasure derived from the reading of the books which defines wealth.

4. The same analysis can also be applied to a garden/orchard: what if we ask not how large the garden/orchard is in terms of square meters, but how expansive is the owner's participation in the care of the garden/orchard, how much pleasure is created by the toil and harvest, and how much of the bounty is shared with others?

5. How many friendships does an individual have that began in high school or earlier and are still vibrant? How many friends does one have who can be entrusted with the deepest personal crises? How many friends' homes are open to you, rain or shine?

What if we defined the person with no true friends as impoverished, regardless of their ownership of assets and cash? Many people seem to have professional acquaintances they call "friends" to mask their bottomless poverty of real friends and friendships.

6. What if wealth were measured in personal integrity, i.e. honesty, trustworthiness, compassion and the ability to remain accountable even as things fall apart?

This of course just a start: we could continue our redefinition of wealth to include kindness, empathy, the skills needed to organize volunteer community work parties, and so on.

As we explore what actually cannot be bought or commoditized, it raises this question: what if our commoditized, financialized definition of wealth reflects a staggering poverty of culture, spirit, wisdom, practicality and common sense?


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Fri, 01/03/2014 - 19:46 | 4298197 chumbawamba
chumbawamba's picture

What if?


I am Chumbawamba.

Fri, 01/03/2014 - 19:49 | 4298216 lotsoffun
lotsoffun's picture

chumba - correct.  as aleister crowley pointed out - 'throw 'if' to the dogs of reason'. 


Fri, 01/03/2014 - 19:55 | 4298224 Rainman
Rainman's picture

No wonder I have a man crush on Chumbawamba

Fri, 01/03/2014 - 20:08 | 4298254 AG BCN
AG BCN's picture

Question Mark analysis?, Charles, do move on Chap. It's 2014 ! (exclamation)  

Fri, 01/03/2014 - 20:22 | 4298297 CH1
CH1's picture

I've had MANY rich friends, and most were less happy than the construction guy next door. Often a lot less happy.

Fri, 01/03/2014 - 20:33 | 4298328 A Lunatic
A Lunatic's picture

I had a distant relative who was once listed on the Forbes 500 who was so unhappy that when he died he left his fortune to strangers rather than burden his family with sudden wealth........

Fri, 01/03/2014 - 21:35 | 4298500 PT
PT's picture

CH1:  ... and yet none of them chose to ditch their jobs and become construction guys.

I'm willing to bet that it is not the money that makes them unhappy, it is something to do with obtaining that money.

Fri, 01/03/2014 - 22:54 | 4298668 Tijuana Donkey Show
Tijuana Donkey Show's picture

"When you have nothing, you have nothing to lose" - Janis Jopilin

Fri, 01/03/2014 - 22:59 | 4298682 CH1
CH1's picture

It goes like this: The rich man is like the poor man, only moreso.

Once they're rich, their problems, like their virtues, find expression. And, they have a whole new set of predators, from relatives to politicians, homing in on them.

Having money is a different skill than working, or even running a company.

All combined, these guys - and even moreso their kids - develop big problems.

Sat, 01/04/2014 - 01:04 | 4298981 IPA
IPA's picture

Probably get junked, but are there any statistics that show rich people are unhappy? Or do the non rich just want the rich to be unhappy in their minds to ease then selves? Ugly girl wants to tell herself that the pretty girl is unhappy, but is it really true? Even generally speaking? 

To each their own

Sun, 01/05/2014 - 10:55 | 4301132 PT
PT's picture


The phrase is, "sour grapes".  But I really like the way you worded it. 

And for anyone out there who hasn't had a nejukashun: 

(I feel a bit embarrassed putting that link up, but then sometimes people surprise me.) 

Sat, 01/04/2014 - 00:18 | 4298870 Trucker Glock
Trucker Glock's picture

"I've had MANY rich friends, and most were less happy than the construction guy next door. Often a lot less happy."

The construction guys I've known were high and drunk 6 to 8 hours of every day.  More on weekends.  Might explain the "happiness."



Fri, 01/03/2014 - 20:11 | 4298258 Newsboy
Newsboy's picture

I'm sorry Charles. The respondants say that you have broken the rule against personal introspection, and offer their heartfelt superficial sniping to cheer you up.

Fri, 01/03/2014 - 20:59 | 4298402 PT
PT's picture

The cynic in me worried that he might be paving a new way to fiddle the inflation numbers.  "People are poorer but they are happier!  They love having 3 part time jobs and the challenge of getting to those jobs on time and finding enough money for food ..."

CHS:  All sweet thoughts, feel free to create some kind of index of "spiritual wealth" or "cultural wealth" to reflect these things but how about we recognize "material wealth" has a real place in society and measure it like this:  "The number of hours that the poorest of the poor need to work, per week, in order to provide for their overheads." ???
Hell, we might even have a couple of definitions of wealth.  We might have surfie dood wealth:   All he wants to do is surf.  As long as he can feed himself and buy the occasional surfboard and board shorts, he's happy.  He even sleeps on the beach.  The less hours per week that he works, the richer he is.  Does this guy really need to work more than a few hours per week?  Or a couple of weeks per year?
Then we can have "minimum participating consumer" wealth.  They want to own a house and a car, clothe their kids, have a big TV etc.  Again, out of the poorest workers, how many hours per week do they have to work in order to have this?  Less hours = richer.  You either use the extra hours for leisure or you work more and buy more crap.  But it is your choice. 

Like someone else once said, "Wealth is the number of days you can do whatever-the-hell-you-like until the money runs out." 

Fri, 01/03/2014 - 23:06 | 4298694 Imminent Crucible
Imminent Crucible's picture

Wealth is being able to do whatever you like until the money runs out?  I think it can get deeper than that, and worse.

I used to say "Wealth is having the time to do the things you love to do."  But I worked too much to have time for them.

Now, I can't even remember what it was I loved to do.  I just keep doing things because someone has to do them, but I no longer care about any of them.  I really don't like living in America any more. There's something toxic about this place.

For me, wealth would be to have the years back, and make different choices this time.

Sat, 01/04/2014 - 00:56 | 4298960 Newsboy
Newsboy's picture

Salute, Imminent Crucible.

You may have earned some loyalty along the way.

Sun, 01/05/2014 - 10:53 | 4301142 PT
PT's picture

I worry that even if I did get the years back, I still wouldn't be able to make things right.  Half way through my life, grateful for what I have, but still feel positively clueless.

Re: "I can't even remember what it was I loved to do."  Yep, I know the feeling.  I still remember my big goals, but some days I just know that I've lost the plot where it counts. 

Sat, 01/04/2014 - 05:56 | 4299303 StychoKiller
StychoKiller's picture

If "poor" is a state of mind, that implies that "wealthy" is also!

Sun, 01/05/2014 - 01:16 | 4301143 PT
PT's picture

I couldn't possibly be this poor purely due to my lack of talent, effort, enthusiasm or skill.  Some kind of brain damage has to be involved somewhere!!!

Sat, 01/04/2014 - 01:05 | 4298977 TheMerryPrankster
TheMerryPrankster's picture

i get knocked down...


but i get up again

Fri, 01/03/2014 - 19:45 | 4298202 Mr Pink
Mr Pink's picture

IDK when I was rich I had tons of I just have my dog, and even she growled at me today

Fri, 01/03/2014 - 20:38 | 4298334 A Lunatic
A Lunatic's picture

I had lots of friends when I was an alcoholic too. I'll take my dog over most of them any day............

Fri, 01/03/2014 - 22:59 | 4298673 Tijuana Donkey Show
Tijuana Donkey Show's picture

Did you have friends, or hanger-ons? My good friends have been with me rich or poor, and I know who they are. I wager you live in Cali.

Fri, 01/03/2014 - 19:46 | 4298203 FieldingMellish
FieldingMellish's picture

Dude! iHOP.... pancakes.... unlimited.... no time for philosophy.

Fri, 01/03/2014 - 20:04 | 4298244 BurningFuld
BurningFuld's picture

This is IHOP's play on pot legalization in Colorado.

Fri, 01/03/2014 - 20:27 | 4298305 shovelhead
shovelhead's picture

Bong and a blintz?

Fri, 01/03/2014 - 20:31 | 4298313 FieldingMellish
FieldingMellish's picture

Tight pantz.

Fri, 01/03/2014 - 21:13 | 4298436 BurningFuld
BurningFuld's picture

Wait!  Wrong thread. One thread below. This is the happy to be rich thread.

Fri, 01/03/2014 - 19:48 | 4298204 I am Jobe
I am Jobe's picture

6. What if wealth were measured in personal integrity, i.e. honesty, trustworthiness, compassion and the ability to remain accountable even as things fall apart?

Fri, 01/03/2014 - 21:44 | 4298521 PT
PT's picture

What if "wealth" is the ability to happily endure torture and starvation while watching the same happen to your loved ones?  Oh wait, maybe I'm thinking of "freedom" ...

Fri, 01/03/2014 - 19:46 | 4298206 lotsoffun
lotsoffun's picture

3. If Cicero was correct and "The man who has a garden and a library has everything," then let's ask not how extensive one's library might be in terms of the number of volumes, but ask how many of the books (or ebooks) have been read, absorbed and enjoyed by the owner?

In other words, it's not the ownership of a library which creates non-commoditized wealth but the joy, knowledge and pleasure derived from the reading of the books which defines wealth.


library today implies lending for some of us.  so further on that - how many of the books have been read and enjoyed by the owner - and by others, presumably ones that would be friends, family and community members?  one of the most wonderful aspects of a book is that it can be shared many times.


Fri, 01/03/2014 - 22:58 | 4298681 Tijuana Donkey Show
Tijuana Donkey Show's picture

In Cicero's time, having any books was a blessing. A man who can read and reflect, and can contemplate a garden and the passing of time is blessed. What is absorbed is up to the soul of the man/woman.

Sat, 01/04/2014 - 00:26 | 4298889 Trucker Glock
Trucker Glock's picture

In Cicero's time, only the wealthy had libriaries and gardens.  I'd like to know the percentage of Cicero's fellow countryman that owned at least one book.

Sat, 01/04/2014 - 01:03 | 4298967 TheMerryPrankster
TheMerryPrankster's picture

actually most peopl were farmers, so many had a garden. most were also illiterate so a book was useless to a man who cannot read.

A library is a garden of the mind, and a garden is a library of the soul.

find solace in nature.

Its not to late to turn off the Tv, throw it away and live the rest of your life in reality, to actually notice the world around you and to try to change it to be the best it can be.

planting a garden is a first step, to watching the changing of life all around you.

Sun, 01/05/2014 - 01:23 | 4301155 PT
PT's picture

I'd be more interested in a garden if it could grow, amongst other things, 64-bit processors, 1200cc 12000rpm motorbike engines and aeroplane parts.  Hmmm, maybe I shoulda studied Genetic Engineering ...

... well the tyres originate from a rubber tree.  That's a start ... 

Fri, 01/03/2014 - 19:49 | 4298210 Hongcha
Hongcha's picture

On one scale Mr. Smith has here presented a concept refreshing and unknown; but he has moved out of his economic/philosophical commentary and into province or dialogue where this essay is little more than a clever  kindergarten primer.

Fri, 01/03/2014 - 19:47 | 4298211 jimmytorpedo
jimmytorpedo's picture

1. Check

2. Check

3. Check

4. Check

5. Check

6. Check


HEY, I'M RICH!! (???)

7. Herd of cattle who like a good ear scratch

8. Hot wife

YAY! I'm still rich

Fri, 01/03/2014 - 20:01 | 4298231 DaveyJones
DaveyJones's picture

what if you have a hot wife that likes a good ear scratch?

Fri, 01/03/2014 - 20:23 | 4298301 zipit
zipit's picture

"Lord, I want to thank you for my smokin' hot wife":

Fri, 01/03/2014 - 21:48 | 4298529 Demonoid
Demonoid's picture

Boogity Boogity Boogity Amen!

I like it! It has the potential to become really annoying!

Fri, 01/03/2014 - 20:28 | 4298310 jimmytorpedo
jimmytorpedo's picture

Oh, she likes a good scratch.

Never tried the ears though.

Will try tonight and report back.

Fri, 01/03/2014 - 19:47 | 4298212 I am Jobe
I am Jobe's picture

Go to school, get a slut marry her divorce , get a another slut, life goes on , Amerikan Life Bitchezz. End of story. O , don't forget child support and bitching during Thanksgiving and Christmas about who gets to have the kids and who pentrated who. Now that is priceless Amerikan Life. 

Fri, 01/03/2014 - 20:02 | 4298245 NOTaREALmerican
NOTaREALmerican's picture

Re:  Now that is priceless Amerikan Life. 

Not JUST Amerikan life.    

Sat, 01/04/2014 - 01:27 | 4299026 Mongoose
Mongoose's picture

Damn, I must have missed the memo! I've been married 30 years to the same woman. (And yeah, there's bumps along the way, but we hung in there.)

Now you're sayin' I been doing it all wrong. Crap I start reading more memo's...

Back to killin snakes

Fri, 01/03/2014 - 19:57 | 4298222 OwnSilverPlayMusic
OwnSilverPlayMusic's picture

Why the hell do you think I drink?

Fri, 01/03/2014 - 20:00 | 4298229 Flakmeister
Flakmeister's picture

Is this some kind of gimme rhetorical question???

Seriously, no shit...

Example: was in Midtown NYC on New Years Day and for shits and giggles walked into Saks to see how the other half lives, they had sable throw in the Fur Boutique  for $150,000....

Fri, 01/03/2014 - 23:12 | 4298703 Borrow Owl
Borrow Owl's picture

Holy shit.

Dead animal skin saturated with a cocktail of toxic chemicals for a hundred fifty grand?

P.T. Barnum was a fucking genius.


Fri, 01/03/2014 - 20:01 | 4298234 no life
no life's picture

This is a very opportune time for you poor people out there to start thinking about this real hard... and thanks for all this miserable cash!

Fri, 01/03/2014 - 20:01 | 4298237 AG BCN
AG BCN's picture

Whilst we are pretty much on the same page, stop ending these rants with a question mark (?)

If you are going to say something then say it, you are starting to sound like every other tit

with a soundbite. I iike your style but get some balls and come out with something concrtete if you are going to 

write anything at all. 

Fri, 01/03/2014 - 20:03 | 4298238 0b1knob
0b1knob's picture

People who have contempt for wealth are generally people who have no money.  Its a lot easier to be poor if you think it somehow makes you superior to others.

Thank good for the little bit of money I have been able to make save and invest during my life.   Because I would be literally dead right now without it.              

Fri, 01/03/2014 - 20:09 | 4298257 NOTaREALmerican
NOTaREALmerican's picture

Re:  People who have contempt for wealth are generally people who have no money

Not so sure about that....

I would rephrase that to be:  People who have contempt for wealth are generally people who have less money than they think they need (or might need) relative to the richer people they know about.

I know some people who have little but don't have contempt for anybody and I know some people who are quite well off but hate "the rich".   And some (many?) poor people worship "the rich" as long as they are told stories about their greatness.

Fri, 01/03/2014 - 21:00 | 4298396 Race Car Driver
Race Car Driver's picture

“… What about the main thing in life, all its riddles? If you want, I'll spell it out for you right now. Do not pursue what is illusionary -property and position: all that is gained at the expense of your nerves decade after decade, and is confiscated in one fell night. Live with a steady superiority over life -don't be afraid of misfortune, and do not yearn for happiness; it is, after all, all the same: the bitter doesn't last forever, and the sweet never fills the cup to overflowing. It is enough if you don't freeze in the cold and if thirst and hunger don't claw at your insides. If your back isn't broken, if your feet can walk, if both arms can bend, if both eyes can see, if both ears hear, then whom should you envy? And why? Our envy of others devours us most of all. Rub your eyes and purify your heart -and prize above all else in the world those who love you and who wish you well. Do not hurt them or scold them, and never part from any of them in anger; after all, you simply do not know: it may be your last act before your arrest, and that will be how you are imprinted on their memory.”

  - Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago: 1918-1956


Fri, 01/03/2014 - 20:13 | 4298263 Binko
Binko's picture

I've never known a wealthy person who seemed even remotely happy. Basically they just gain the power to indulge their every craving and whim. It also empowers their family members to indulge every craving and whim and this leads to endless conflict.

On the other hand there is nothing superior about being poor. True poverty really sucks especially when kids are involved. But most poor people I know spend tons of money somehow on cigs, booze, lotto, weed etc. Seems like they are poor in good sense more than money.

There's a middle way that can lead to contentment but few people, rich or poor, have the insight to grasp it.

Fri, 01/03/2014 - 21:17 | 4298443 SWRichmond
SWRichmond's picture

I have this strange but persistent idea that Phil Robertson's recent clash with A&E was deliberate, and I think he did it because of what Hollywood was doing to his family.  Perhaps I am projecting motive.

Fri, 01/03/2014 - 22:10 | 4298581 Absinthe Minded
Absinthe Minded's picture

It's all about living within your means. My Dad never made big money ($15 per hr. max retired in 1990) and Mom stayed at home yet by saving and staying within their means they put 2 of 4 children through college and put braces on the other two and paid off their house. We were the happiest family growing up of any I know. All of us kids ended up doing well with good marriages and kids. We are very lucky, keep your needs realistic and it makes it easier to be happy.

Fri, 01/03/2014 - 22:12 | 4298587 Blano
Blano's picture

I can't speak to his heart, but I have a multi-millionaire single uncle who divides his time between Michigan and Thailand, and he seems like quite the happy camper.

Sat, 01/04/2014 - 00:42 | 4298924 Trucker Glock
Trucker Glock's picture

"People who have contempt for wealth are generally people who have no money."

Some people don't have contempt for wealth, but have contempt for certain wealthy people.  How they acquired the wealth is what I focus on.

And some claim to have contempt for wealth, yet are wealthy themselves.  They are generally Communist elite (Pelosi, etc.)



Fri, 01/03/2014 - 20:03 | 4298241 NOTaREALmerican
NOTaREALmerican's picture

What if value is simply a measure of Bling envy and is a natural brain process in most people?

In which case,  the established values of "commoditized goods and services" is just a measure of social envy.

Sat, 01/04/2014 - 00:23 | 4298884 Tsukato
Tsukato's picture

I think you just hit the nail on the head! Envy is for peasants.

Fri, 01/03/2014 - 20:04 | 4298243 DaveyJones
DaveyJones's picture

is the new way of defining wealth the old way of defining poverty or same way of defining the middle class 

Fri, 01/03/2014 - 20:03 | 4298248 Binko
Binko's picture

Excellent topic that brings up issues rarely considered in this modern world.

I used to work IT for big corporation. On call 24 hours a day. Long commute. Major stress levels. Made good money and had good benefits. Could buy a lot of crap and do what I wanted during my limited free time. But wasn't really all that healthy or happy.

3 years ago factory shut down and work moved out of state. Since then been working part time or not at all, living cheaply, working in garden, taking care of my health, cooking food. Can just get by on wife's pension and remaining severance pay. Happiest 3 years of my life.

Fri, 01/03/2014 - 21:08 | 4298294 DaveyJones
DaveyJones's picture

"during my limited free time"

I know it sounds stupid, and being a lawyer, I'm a master at that art, but I always wonder if the primitive guys didn't have it better.

 I know there was no modern medicine or cell phones or tv

but then again there was no modern medicine or cell phones or tv.

Outside the city lights, the stars put on a pretty good show. In 3D.

and you don't need glasses   

I really can't wait to get the hell out of the "big city"

Been looking at ten acres southwest Oregon

moderate weather, still plenty of water

I was worried that I would be far from a big city

now I'm not


Fri, 01/03/2014 - 21:09 | 4298422 PT
PT's picture

Are you going to buy that ten acres or just take it?

Fri, 01/03/2014 - 22:14 | 4298593 DaveyJones
DaveyJones's picture

that depends on whether or not I'm the government

Sun, 01/05/2014 - 01:02 | 4301129 PT
PT's picture

Point being, it takes money to buy those acres (although I gotta admit some country property is cheap.  Then you just gotta know what to do with it ... )

Fri, 01/03/2014 - 20:08 | 4298252 Musashi Miyamoto
Musashi Miyamoto's picture

Difference between pleasure and contentment. Drugs give pleasure contentment comes from engaging your passion.

Everyone has a passion something that they were born to do. Through life's conditioning we pretend to forget it. Then decades later as we count our millions something seems wrong. We can't quite put our finger on it but we know its there. Like a word on the tip of our tongue. We must discover the Raison D'eTre. We must live in perfect harmony with our purpose. It is who we truly are.

A musician without a score is half a man. An artist without a pallet is as miserable as existence can be. Everyone has something they could do for the rest of their life and be content. This is the way one should live.

Fri, 01/03/2014 - 20:18 | 4298275 BurningFuld
BurningFuld's picture

Precisely why I do drugs and engage in my passions daily.

Fri, 01/03/2014 - 20:33 | 4298319 Musashi Miyamoto
Musashi Miyamoto's picture

best of both worlds

Fri, 01/03/2014 - 20:52 | 4298379 Skateboarder
Skateboarder's picture

Get high and play guitar yo.

Fri, 01/03/2014 - 21:07 | 4298415 Musashi Miyamoto
Musashi Miyamoto's picture

I am currently rediscovering classical music. Playing Moonlight Sonata In C Sharp Minor on a grand piano is now officially on my bucket list.

My heart will always have a special place left open for the Bass Drop.

Fri, 01/03/2014 - 23:48 | 4298798 FredFlintstone
FredFlintstone's picture

Moonlight Sonata is awesome, mysterious and haunting. Just pulled it up and now enjoying it.

Fri, 01/03/2014 - 21:20 | 4298424 Race Car Driver
Race Car Driver's picture

A Camper Van fan?


Good Guys & Bad Guys

Well there are good guys and there are bad guys
And there are crooks and criminals
There are doctors and there are lawyers
And there are folks like you and me

So let's get high while the radio's on
Just relax and sing a song
Drive your car up on the lawn
Let me play your guitar

Well, this here verse is for the people in russia
Though it is a long long ways away
They couldn't hear this song in russia
But couldn't understand the words anyway

So let's get high while the radio's on
Just relax and sing a song
Drive your car up on the lawn
Let me play your guitar

So just be glad you live in america
Just relax and be yourself
'cause if you didn't live here in america
You'd probably live somewhere else

So let's get high while the radio's on
Just relax and sing a song
Drive your car up on the lawn
Let me play your guitar

- Camper Van Beethoven

Fri, 01/03/2014 - 20:11 | 4298266 BuddyEffed
BuddyEffed's picture

From the band The Who, some lyrics to "How Many Friends"

How many friends have I really got?
You can count 'em on one hand
How many friends have I really got?
How many friends have I really got?
That love me, that want me, that'll take me as I am?

Fri, 01/03/2014 - 21:00 | 4298397 yrbmegr
yrbmegr's picture

I have one.  Only.

Fri, 01/03/2014 - 20:30 | 4298306 Cabreado
Cabreado's picture

Mr. Smith,

With due respect, I don't think you're breaking any new ground here, and it is quite certain that these questions have been asked for eons.

What disturbs me is the even modern-day pundit appearing to want to leapfrog over crime, corruption and control, and pretend (once again) that altruism can exist in a vacuum.

You are much smarter than that.

Fri, 01/03/2014 - 20:28 | 4298312 deerhunter
deerhunter's picture

I once had a multi millionaire pro athelete ask for my professional opinion in my field. He was laid back and meek to listen. I was impressed. I have worked with and for rich and not wealthy people and there are happy and miserable on both ends of the spectrum. Mom used to say it is ok to have no money just darn inconvenient!!

Fri, 01/03/2014 - 20:36 | 4298330 yrbmegr
yrbmegr's picture

Anbody can buy shit.  What do you have that cannot be bought?

Sat, 01/04/2014 - 00:48 | 4298931 TheMerryPrankster
TheMerryPrankster's picture

Time and never enough for myself.

Fri, 01/03/2014 - 20:35 | 4298335 Walt D.
Walt D.'s picture

The only real poverty in America is intellectual poverty, the product of a failed public school system - he who can teaches; he who can not tells teachers how and what to teach.

Just about everyone in the US are in the 1% of wealth when considered globally. Even if you are considered to be living in poverty in the US, you still have a cell-phone, cable TV, a used car and can afford to eat at McDonalds.

You don't get to be poor until you suffer from malnutrition. Obesity is much more of a problem in the US. Type II diabetes is very rare in poor countries. It is an epidemic in the US.

Fri, 01/03/2014 - 20:44 | 4298350 A Lunatic
A Lunatic's picture

I have had at times what many men would consider a lot of money and I have once been literally destitute and homeless. I was much more content (at the time) when I was homeless. Life was simpler, my worries were very few, and there was nowhere to go but up. That said, my preference is to strike a balance between the two..........

Fri, 01/03/2014 - 21:02 | 4298410 ncdirtdigger
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As a former homeless person, I question your statement 'my worries were very few'. When I lived on the street, I worried about the weather, I worried about my next meal, I worried about getting raped when I slept (hell, I worried about getting raped when I was awake), I worried about damn near everything. Not that it did any good.

Fri, 01/03/2014 - 21:28 | 4298488 A Lunatic
A Lunatic's picture

I would suppose there are different reactions to adversity depending upon the conditions. I was not homeless in NYC, otherwise I would most likely have shared many of your concerns. I should have stated that the shit which previously occupied my thoughts and time were no longer of importance. Coming to the end of yourself and having no answers or ability to better your circumstance can be terrifying, however, I am a better man as a result of my experience and realize just how easy it is to lose it all.....

Fri, 01/03/2014 - 21:36 | 4298503 Musashi Miyamoto
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Likewise. Tonight I am sleeping on public transit. I have liquid assets stashed but spending money will not get me closer to what i want at this moment.

Right now i am working on my chess rating. I've been up to 1620 before but my goal is to hit 1800 by June. I don't need to sleep in a bed to learn e4 c5 opening variations.

I've been on and off the streets since i was a kid and I've gotten used to it by now. Life lately has been really quiet. It depends what city you live in. Every town has different policies that make it more or less bearable. Some places cops will book you for sleeping on a park bench. some places have lots of services.

I've never felt threatened by the streets.

If you live in a bad city or if you don't have the street smarts to get around things can be pretty rough but i found the worst part of homelessness psychological. They say that broken people end up on the streets but i've found that people on the streets end up broken. you got to have discipline. Its real easy to get hooked and when you pick up a habit things can get real nasty.

Fri, 01/03/2014 - 22:10 | 4298566 hedgeless_horseman
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I came home after a long trail run this evening to beat my kid in chess (by covering my rook at F8 with my bishops from A3 and H3) while listening to my smoking-hot wife play the piano, after eating her chicken noodle soup that was made from chickens we raised and vegetables we grew. 

True story.

I am rich!

Fri, 01/03/2014 - 22:45 | 4298642 Musashi Miyamoto
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It certainly sounds like things are good for you. I'm sure that chicken soup tastes divine.

Sat, 01/04/2014 - 14:03 | 4299932 DaveyJones
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do you range rotate the chickens to fetilize the land?

Fri, 01/03/2014 - 21:02 | 4298404 ncdirtdigger
ncdirtdigger's picture

I measure wealth by a lack of debt.

Fri, 01/03/2014 - 21:08 | 4298433 Serenity Now
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What if we stop trying to redefine everything in order to make ourselves feel better?

What if we define wealth as wealth?

What if we define health as health?

What if we define happiness as happiness?

What if we stop trying to change things that don't need changing?

What if we deal in truth instead of fantasies?

What if we admit that some people have more than others and that it's okay?


Fri, 01/03/2014 - 22:44 | 4298641 jack stephan
jack stephan's picture

Happiness is a warm gun, and hitting the target, preferably repeatedly and wherever possible with timing.

As many here well know.

Fri, 01/03/2014 - 23:00 | 4298686 are we there yet
are we there yet's picture

Long term societal wealth is the quality of the genetic material that makes up its citizens. For 50 years we have been breeding a preference for welfare parasites. Look at the labratory that surrounds you. If you are reading this, what is your future with this trend?

Sat, 01/04/2014 - 00:19 | 4298875 TheMerryPrankster
TheMerryPrankster's picture

its not really a question, just remove the "What If", at the beginning.

What if our commoditized, financialized definition of wealth reflects a staggering poverty of culture, spirit, wisdom, practicality and common sense?

should be

Our commoditized, financialized definition of wealth reflects a staggering poverty of culture, spirit, wisdom, practicality and common sense.

just look around you (anywhere but on television) 25% unemployment, 20% on food stamps, 25% of children living in poverty,lower wages for the majority while capital and wealth accrue to the 1%. The robber barons are back and this time they control the government, so don't count on a political solution this time.

There will be no Teddy Rosevelt to break the trusts, the octopus has become a medusa and every tenacle broken becomes yet another medusa entangling us in its death grip.

Either the beast will starve itself or the exploited will realize they must fight or die. Those are the only two logical conclusions to this ballet of death by the rich and powerful. When you have nothing to lose, you will do anything you want to.

Sat, 01/04/2014 - 01:09 | 4298985 TradingTroll
TradingTroll's picture

Even billionaires would go broke just testing their food for radiation, not to mention chemicals and for GMO food.


For example, Fukushima released 250+ radioactive isotopes.


Some tests, like for Cesium , cost $100. Others, like for Strontium, cost almost $2000


So take a billionaire's lunch. 3 ingredients would be too much like a pauper's lunch, choose 5. Lets say each is tested for 250 isotopes at $100 a pop (conservative, to be frank). It would cost $125,000 to testlunch to make sure its not radioactive.


There are 365 days a year, 3 meals a day is 1095 meals. It would cost over $275 million for a billionaire to test their own food.


Yet no billionaires complain. This by itself is proof that the rich are spiritually bankrupt. Any reasonable person can immediately see that only multi-billionaires would even be able to afford to test their food. That is a very small rgoup of people on this planet.


Yet there are many billionaires who could be eating food that would be lower than the quality an African bushman has pre-Fukushima, pre-weapons testing, pre-nuke waste dumping.

All that is left to motivate the would-be billlionaire is the illusion of wealth. Actual wealth will be more and more elusive as we notice certain seafood is too toxic and other GMO food becomes dangerous, maybe the cabbage spliced with scorpion poison makes your stomach bleed and so on.

Delusion and greed are illnesses in todays world.

Sat, 01/04/2014 - 02:47 | 4299189 Mongoose
Mongoose's picture

Hang on a sec, Charles.

How 'bout we forget wealth and call what you are talking about what it really is? The term wealth is always going to be associated with money or monetary value of material wealth. Trying to redefine it means the term still means a lot to you or people in general. Let's go back a few years. Let's call it "Having your shit together". You can be wealthy, middle class, or poor and still "have your shit together".

Back to killin' snakes. And, gettin' my shit together...

Sat, 01/04/2014 - 10:00 | 4299523 realWhiteNight123129
realWhiteNight123129's picture

debt = financial asset of somebody.

This is way too much debt to GDP (circulation of goods and services, present goods, commodities) = There are way too many financial assets in relation to GDP.


So the guys in financial assets are in for a sorry surprise which will make the ratio come back to sustainable level.


Sat, 01/04/2014 - 10:51 | 4299588 Savvy
Savvy's picture

Heard a radio program, did a study on "Can Money Buy Happiness" and the study found that yes it can. By giving money away.

Mon, 01/06/2014 - 02:25 | 4303695 Cashcollateral
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Maybe money can't buy happiness, but poverty can't buy anything.

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