alternative futures: what to do with a ubi (part 4)24 Oct 2017
continued from (part 3)
i have always loved thoreau. even though he embodied a huge amount of privilege for his time (he was the heir to a factory), his way of life fascinated me.
i remember back when i read walden for the first time that i was struck by his thoughts about life and work. he made his money in mostly two ways: by working at and improving the family pencil factory and by surveying land. oh, what a dream it would be to get paid to walk around and tell people what you saw. if jobs like that existed today, i’d be all over them! i think he occasionally sold articles and papers to different publishers, but that accounted for a minority of his income.
i’m not totally sure how his earning potential compared to people around him, but i know he was against earning too much money and so he didn’t. he chose to make just enough money to survive and then spend his time wandering over the land. i envy him so much.
clearly, a lifestyle exactly like that isn’t possible today, but i wonder: what would happen if we capped our income? i have always wanted an income cap, but i think it would genuinely make my parents sad. i mean, they chose to leave home, move to boston, put me and my siblings in “good” schools so that we could get educated and build good lives for ourselves that weren’t like theirs. that took a huge amount of sacrifice.
and yet, here i am, making $120,000 right out of undergrad and wanting so little of it. i’m saving to buy the apartment i’m renting and, even at beacon hill rates, it will only take me about five years to buy it in cash. that’s only possible because even though i make 120k, i live a 30k lifestyle. hell, i lived on 15k during college and even 30k feels like a luxury…
why am i evening buying this apartment? because my parents want to? because my friends are buying homes and land where they can?
but i wonder… what would thoreau do…
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