The typical trust fund baby is well-known to all of us: a life devoted to spending down the family’s capital on themselves, not working, having difficulty maintaining relationships, living empty lives.
We are talking, in a roundabout way that has taken us back to first principles, about the human maturation process and how it interacts with the fear of affluent parents that money will ruin their children.
We are talking about the complex process through which infants and children are transformed from little beasts into responsible adults. More particularly, we are talking about how that process often goes wrong and never goes perfectly.
No, not that talk.
Talking to kids about sex is a walk in the park compared to talking to kids about their family’s money. The worst that can happen with the-birds-and-the-bees conversation is massive parental mortification. The worst that can happen with the money talk, however, is… Well, let’s look into that.
Would I say there will never, ever be another financial crisis? I hope that it will not be in our lifetimes and I don’t believe it will be. Janet Yellen
I’m less interested in the return on my money than in the return of my money. – Mark Twain
The world is in the throes of a Bull Market in everything. – The Economist
C. P. Snow titled his last book, written shortly before he died, A Coat of Varnish. What he meant, as he put it, was that “Civilization is hideously fragile.” Civilization, that is to say, is like a thin coat of varnish spread on top of human savagery. The varnish looks terrific, but scratch it and what you find underneath is much uglier.
Since human beings settled into communities – that is, since most of us stopped being hunter-gatherers – a primary goal of mankind has been to improve how we are governed. We wanted governments that were more representative, more fair, more efficient, governments that could improve our economic circumstances and defend themselves (and us) from outside influence or destruction. We wanted governments that would constrain the worst of our instincts while giving free reign to what is good and creative in us.
Between the wars most of the European governments – Britain and, to a lesser extent, France, being exceptions – lived lives that were, to paraphrase Hobbes, weak, unstable, and short.