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Milton Friedman on Living Within Our Means

Parsimony is not Economy

This evening I was scanning old newspapers from some source materials regarding the great Halifax explosion of 1917 when I found this article in the Grand Rapids Tribune from the same year:

It is a curious and mortifying condition of the prevailing “economy” that many people abundantly able to buy what they want use the situation as an
excuse for going without. What does this profit them? It merely makes them richer at a time when the talk is of being poorer, says the Hartford

Food is one thing and clothes and other articles that shoppers buy are in a distinctly other class.

When Smith cut down the sugar, there is more sugar for Jones, and the supply of sugar Is limited. But when Mrs. Smith goes without a cloak for which she can easily pay and which she expected to buy this season, she is not helping Mrs. Jones to get it; she Is simply misering along in her own way, and to her small ability driving poor people out of work and discouraging merchants whose capital is invested. This isn’t economy, it is parsimony.

If everybody should quit making purchases, what would become of manufacturers or dealers and of the larger number of workers? It Is a good time to keep a level head. Many who watch the tendency of business say frankly that people of limited means are less saving than those who can well afford to get what they want.

Back from Vacation…

And I think I picked up a bit of a flu or cold bug on the plane, so I’m feeling a little sluggish on my first day back.

That, and hearing the news of the death of a friend has put me in a more contemplative, less industrious mood.

On the plus side, David and I returned home safe, no luggage was lost and no gadgets were broken. We had a great two week visit with family, and fantastic warm weather while we were there. Now, I’m glad to be home, and I’m looking forward to a little more normality, and a lot more peace and quiet.