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Quote of the Day

Our quote of the day comes from John Stuart Mill:

“I know not why it should be a matter of congratulation that persons who are already richer than any one needs to be, should have doubled their means of consuming things which give little or no pleasure except as a representative of wealth; or that numbers of individuals should pass over, every year, from the middle classes to a richer class, or from the class of the occupied rich to that of the unoccupied. It is only in the backward countries of the world that increased production is still an important object; in those most advanced, what is economically needed is a better distribution. . . .” —Mill, Principles of Political Economy, p114 of the Penguin Classics edition

Pretty ordinary stuff, except that this appeared in the freaking 19th century.

There’s a lesson there: Material goods (past a certain point) don’t make us happy, but it’s more than a hundred years since we passed the point that many of us had enough, and we–as individuals and as a society–somehow can’t stop looking for happiness in yet more stuff.

Or maybe the lesson is: There have always been scolds telling us we can’t have the stuff we want. I’m looking at you, Buddha.


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