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Excerpt – You Can Buy A House For That

William Blake The Miser and Plutus

Excerpt – You Can buy a house for That

“My parents grew up during the Great Depression—a severe worldwide economic depression, 1929-1939 starting on Black Tuesday (October 29th, 1929), a major stock market crash in the United States. There were widespread shortages of everything. Wasting anything became a mortal sin because people often did not know where their next meal was coming from. In 1929, my dad was 7 years old, and my mom was 3. So, they spent their entire youth during this period of great severity. It affects you in ways difficult for those of us not having experienced it to truly understand…

“Your generation is too lazy to fix things. You just want to throw everything away and waste money, have things handed to you on a silver platter. You will never get ahead that way.” I had clearly accidentally pressed play on lecture tape number 28. Looking back, I wonder if he really meant that we were too willing to throw him away, that perhaps he was feeling useless because of his recent visual disability, devastating his surgical career and his ego.

I explained that it was not a matter of laziness or not. The pen simply did not come apart. It had nothing to do with a lack of will, motivation, skill, aptitude, or training. It simply did not work that way. He stared in disbelief at my diagnosis. Who could possibly come up with such a monstrous notion of disposable pens? It made no sense to him. It did not compute…”

Apparently, being unsatisfied with being classified as lazy, incompetent, and a liar, I decided to regale my father with a bit of mathematical logic. My salary was $15 per hour. Trying to fix the pen took an hour of futzing—40 minutes of him trying to fix it, 10 minutes of him swearing, 30 seconds of my diagnosing the situation, and 9.5 minutes of him berating me. Add to that the round-trip time to the store to get a replacement cartridge, if one existed (which it didn’t), and the cost of the replacement process would be $30, versus the 20 cents to simply buy replacement pens to have around when a disposable pen ran out of ink. I looked up, proud of my unassailable logic. I won. Clearly, I won. I should take a bow. He should applaud…”

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