Saturday, May 17, 2008

Conflicts of Interest

Two articles on the Times web site today particularly interested me and it wasn't until I was flipping between one and the next that I realized how starkly different, yet interconnected, they are:

The first, "Five Basics for Building a Solid Financial Future," caught my eye because I’ve been thinking that, oh, I don’t know, maybe I should start accumulating grown up things like health insurance and a retirement plan once I’m back. The columnist writes:

Few employers want us around for 40 years, so our income is likely to have ups and downs and disappear altogether for brief periods between jobs. Saving for retirement is now mostly our responsibility, too. Health insurance, for those of us who have it and manage to keep it, requires increasingly large amounts of money out of our pockets. The list goes on and on ... Given the stakes, it is hard to avoid the persistent low-grade fear that we have made wrong choices or cannot find the right ones, even though they are out there somewhere.
The second, "Chasing Utopia, Family Imagines No Possessions," profiles a successful young family from Austin, TX, who are donating everything they own to live a simpler life off the land in Vermont, a current fantasy of mine. (They are, of course, not going so simplistic that they can’t blog about the experience.) The Times dubs this part of "the voluntary simplicity movement" that started so, so, long ago, in the 1980s:
"The idea in the movement was 'everything you own owns you,' said Dr. Grigsby, who sees roots of the philosophy in the lives of the Puritans. "You have to care for it, store it. It becomes an appendage, I think. If it enhances your life and helps you do the things you want to do, great. If you are burdened by these things and they become the center of what you have to do to live, is that really positive?"
Methinks not.

There's a great appeal in this idea, chiefly because it's such a great excuse for the sorry state of uninsured and quasi-unemployment I'm in right now. So, in the course of reading these two articles, which essentially totaled the time it took to drink one cup of tea, I’ve decided to eff it all and become a socialist, as money is the root of evil. Must be the current Spanish administration rubbing off on me.

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