Thursday, June 19, 2008

Why does anyone need a "monster truck"?

I don't know. Why does anyone need a ten thousand dollar coin collection, or a large personal library, or a six thousand square foot home on 100 acres when 1,500 sq. ft. and five acres would more than suffice?

I have no interest in owning a monster truck, or a collection of motorcycles, or any number of things. But I know many people who do, and I don't begrudge them for it. I don't understand their obsession with this, that, and the other, but by the same token I'm sure they think my obsessions are a bit odd, if not extravagant themselves.

Auster has an entry up titled "What makes the rich tick?" I think the question really is "What makes the average guy tick?"

Ben W. writes:

Notice that I'm spending more therefore I need more money. The use of money and its need (and growth) accompanies the increased use of resources. If someone argues that I don't need HDTV, I'll say just try watching HDTV for a week and then try going back to standard TV.

And as I said in my comments on Ben's thoughts, while I can't agree with Ben concerning his apparent belief that watching HDTV will necessarily result in one having to own one, I think the main principle still stands. I know a lot of people who are rather obsessive about various hobbies that I personally have no interest in whatsoever. But I don't need to know why Monster Truck enthusiasts, as one example among innumerable ones, have an insatiable desire to own and drive and tinker with them. The most important thing for me is that these interests, whether they're my interests or not, are the kinds of things that motivate them to be productive, and self-sufficient, and so forth and so on.


desmond jones said...

This comment, IMO, sums up the attitude of the wealthy.

"The rich" as Locke calls them, are just like anyone else in that some are, indeed, mentally ill on different levels. However, the fact that they see no difference (and most do not) in people based upon their skin color has to do with utility--i.e., all serfs are serfs, so what difference does it make what color their skin is? Remember, many people (like the family my grandfather in the article married in to) have had servants from all races. My grandfather and his children would be the first to tell you that the best servants they had were Japanese, the most surly--the Irish. When one attains a certain cultural level, and again I stress that Mr. Locke only knows the nouveau riche and not old money, all those below it tend to blur. What I mean to say is, is there really any difference between the trailer park whites and the ghetto blacks? Not really."

David Cannadine, in his tome, Ornamentalism, put forth the class versus race argument in his examination of the British Empire.

"The concept of 'race' today is so intertwined with the idea of 'colour' that it is often difficult to comprehend the Victorian notion of racial difference. For Victorians, race was a description, not so much of colour differences, as of social distinctions,. The English lower classes were, to nineteenth-century eyes, as racially different as were Africans or Asians. A report in the Saturday Review about working class life observed that 'The Bethnal Green poor are a caste apart, a race of whom we know nothing, whose lives are of quite different complexion from ours, persons with whom we have no point of contact.' 'Distinctions and separations, like those of English classes', the Review suggested, 'which always endure, which last from the cradle to the grave, which prevent anything like association or companionship, produce an effect on the lives of the extreme poor, and subject them to isolation, which offer a very fair parallel to the separation of the slaves from the whites.'"

Wealth correlates strongly with adaptive traits. Longevity, morbidity, maternal and infant mortality, education and general quality of life. IMO, it's evolved. As Darwin suggested, competition exists not just at the group level, but at the individual level as well.