Opinion from a Libertarian ViewPoint

A New Age of Hardship?

Posted by M. C. on April 4, 2022

Could we be returning to an age of hardship? Real material hardship, I mean, not the kind of hardship that people delight to imagine themselves suffering from in order to give significance to their otherwise humdrum lives. For years, my financial adviser has been telling me that my old age is secure, but I never really believed him. The value of assets can melt away like snow in sunshine, and in certain cases assets can even become liabilities. War, inflation, economic depression, confiscatory taxes: There is no such thing as economic security.

Never has the contrast between the scale of world events and my own little personal concerns been so great. While millions flee bombardment, and the world economy faces implosion, with all the hardship that such an implosion will inevitably bring in its wake, I do my exercises, twice a day for twenty minutes, to avoid the muscular stiffness and joint pains that a certain minor illness from which I have begun to suffer would otherwise cause. Furthermore, I anxiously taste the fish soup that I have just made to test whether it has enough salt (God forbid it should have too much, that would be an irrecoverable disaster). My life is composed of such pettinesses. 

Of course, it wouldn’t help anyone very much if I desisted from my daily round. The bombardments and the fleeing would go on regardless. I learned, or taught myself, this lesson in personal insignificance early in my life when I was a horrible little child. I was told that I should eat up the food on my plate because there were hungry children in Africa. How, I asked, would it help them if I ate up? The potato left on my plate divided between the hungry children, even if it could be delivered to them, which seemed to be doubtful, would assuage their hunger not at all. 

I realized only decades later that I was told to eat up not to help the children in Africa, but because I should not take the food on my plate for granted. It is difficult for people who have never known shortage to imagine it. But this was not explained to me at the time, and so I was pleased with my own smart reply. 

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