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Post 60

Wednesday, December 1, 2004 - 6:20pmSanction this postReply
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And with that,

<smooches> and my regards to all,
                          v
                          *
Jeanine Ring   )O(
stand forth!




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Post 61

Wednesday, December 1, 2004 - 7:13pmSanction this postReply
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Jeanine wrote:  "I think Objectivists- blinded by the fury of a culture war against evil postmodernists and headbanging caterwaulers- write off a great deal of serious contemporary art without taking the trouble to understand it and with scornful dismissals of a few abstract pieces (note: I'm not a particular admirer of Kadinsky or Wallace Stevens).  Some Objectivists go so far as to profess aesthetic admiration for pro-Objectivist or pro-"reason" art regardless of quality, which was in Soviet Russia called socialist realism.  Oops, I meant "capitalist."  The principle's the same.

You might find this discussion of my personal web Salon interesting,
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Salon_Total_Freedom/message/32

quote: "I wonder, if I were to post links in Objectivist forums to the works of postmodern artists Mark Tansey and Gerhard Richter, would faithful Objectivists stop heaping praise on mediocre Objectivist artists so as not to denigrate true genius? Or would I merely discover the unwritten rule that Objectivist banality trumps postmodern magnificence?"" 


Jeanine,

 

Your tossing trash and praise with equal amounts of flippancy.

One of the things I admire about Objectivist thought is the idea that if one states an opinion they should give their reasons for that opinion. If you think that Richter and Tansey are geniuses, cool, back it up. If you think that unnamed blinded ignorant Objectivist thinkers and artists are mediocre and banal name names, site examples, and give reasons for those insults. But that takes work doesn't it? And I am not sure whether or not you dismiss that sort of work as something puritanically evil.

 

But a thought did cross my mind: what is the motive the for your childish insults on a forum made up of several professional thinkers and artists? Is it a need to be put in your place?

 

Newberry

(Edited by Newberry on 12/01, 7:24pm)

(Edited by Newberry on 12/01, 7:26pm)




Post 62

Wednesday, December 1, 2004 - 8:27pmSanction this postReply
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Andre wrote: "It would certainly be interesting to hear the viewpoint of a successful Objectivist artist here, Michael Newberry."

Andre, That is a very complimentary request!  At a glance I did see that others had made several astute points ...let me mull on it and see if I have something to add.






Post 63

Wednesday, December 1, 2004 - 8:50pmSanction this postReply
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Let's just take a look at this little argument. Andre says that wealth is a sign of luck or immorality.


Does he? From the post which started it all:


For the most part, wealth today is a product of which country a man is born in and how much money and power his parents have.


[emphasis mine]

Wealth today. Not wealth qua wealth. Not wealth in a true moral society. Wealth in our present society—our present, mixed-economy, altruist society. As far as I have seen—and I have been watching this thread quite closely—it is wealth today that Andre and Jeanine have both been consistently been critiquing—not wealth qua wealth.

Now, I'll grant that Andre's original post is vague enough that it could be interpreted in the way that you seem to be interpreting it. But, I believe that he and Jeanine have posted enough follow-ups on this thread make their positions clear. And trying to continue claiming that he or Jeanine is attacking wealth qua wealth—especially given Jeanine's repeated posts praising the ideal of capitalism and denouncing the elements of socialism in the present economy—is hardly condusive to productive discussion.



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Post 64

Wednesday, December 1, 2004 - 9:11pmSanction this postReply
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Nature, shall I take it that you also agree that wealth today is a product of luck or immorality?  So when you see someone making lots of money, you assume he's immoral?

This argument is not over whether it's philosophically possible to be wealthy in a utopian society.  It's about whether Andre is right that you can only make money by pandering to the lowest common denominator.  That is, in today's world, making money is impossible or so difficult to do morally that you can discard it as exceptional.

What we have is one side claiming that making money can't be done these days except through luck or immorality.  And the other side saying not only is it possible, but it happens a ton of the time.

Claiming you can't make money in America today is laughable.  It so completely contradicts the evidence that it can only be a rationalization.




Post 65

Wednesday, December 1, 2004 - 9:44pmSanction this postReply
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What we have is one side claiming that making money can't be done these days except through luck or immorality.  And the other side saying not only is it possible, but it happens a ton of the time.
That is not true.  I have never claimed money cannot be made except through luck or immorality.  If I have, cite me.  And no, the fact that have I attacked, genuinely horrified, your clear position that rich people today are generally more virtuous than poor people, does not imply that I think wealth is evil, or even less the good.  I think wealth is good and do think that the actual creation of wealth- which is not at all the same as having a position in the American wealthier classes- requires virtues.  I've clearly said I admire real Hank Reardens and Dagny Taggarts, and that they exist today.  I just don't think they are the dominant type that define today's corporate culture.

What I have said, repeatedly, is simply that an individual's wealth in our society has no particular aggregate  relation to virtue.  There are virtuous poor, middle, and wealthy people.  There are vicious poor, middle, and wealthy people.  Sometimes virtue finds a place to get rewarded; sometimes it does not, sometimes virtue is punished- particularly when color and creativity offends the culture of today's business.

I have said this often, including in various forms in all of these posts:

http://solohq.com/Forum/Quotes/0454_2.shtml#55
http://solohq.com/Forum/Quotes/0454_2.shtml#54
http://solohq.com/Forum/Quotes/0454_2.shtml#53
http://solohq.com/Forum/Quotes/0454.shtml#14

Frankly, I have been so explicit about my views, that I have trouble concluding otherwise than that your repeated misrepresentation of them constitutes intellectual dishonesty.  Maybe you just aren't reading my posts carefully because you don't like their length.  If so, please just don't read them, but don't attack me for positions you assume I hold without reading carefully.  If you are reading me carefully, then please stop condemning me for opinions I have explicitly denied in print, or stop pretending to be interested in the truth.

I frankly feel kind of ill putting titles here.

just: stand forth.




Post 66

Wednesday, December 1, 2004 - 10:26pmSanction this postReply
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Andre said "For the most part, wealth today is a product of which country a man is born in and how much money and power his parents have. As for the rest, it's mostly a product of his capacity and willingness to cater to the bad tastes and low class of the massman -- and to pander to the lowest common denominator."

I take this to mean you can get money through luck or through immorality.  I don't think that's a stretch.  Nobody has disagreed with my interpretation so far.  And it clearly says "for the most part".

And Jeanine followed it with:
If Andre is talking about 'wealth' in the sense of economic success on the micro level, I largely agree with him. 
Of course...how could I think that you could possibly agree with Andre.  What could have given me that impression?  Leaping to his defense, saying that he's right, adding your own reasons for agreeing with him...I must have imagined it all.

Speaking of intellectually dishonest, you continue with your ridiculous assertion that I think all rich people are moral, or that poor people can't be virtuous, which is nothing but a distraction.  I haven't and wouldn't make such a claim.  Not that you've defined virtuous at all.  Maybe your hedonistic virtues are so impractical, you can't expect to make money while practicing them.  Maybe that's why you think virtues don't lead to a more successful life.

And although you haven't said yes or no to my post 57, I will assume by your last remarks that you no longer are willing to argue along those lines.  Good. 




Post 67

Wednesday, December 1, 2004 - 10:48pmSanction this postReply
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Nature, shall I take it that you also agree that wealth today is a product of luck or immorality? So when you see someone making lots of money, you assume he's immoral?


If you wish to draw conclusions about my stance on the basis of whose words I attempt to clarify, you are of course free to do so.

But I had thought that, like Jeanine, I had posted enough here to make it fairly clear that I see the outlook that our culture rewards mediocrity and punishes virtue (or even that it punishes virtue as often as rewards it) as overly pessimistic. But looking back, maybe I haven't been explicit enough on where I stand. So, since I seem to have jumped in here, let me clarify:

I do not believe that wealth (in essence, or in the form it presently takes) is primarily a product of luck or immorality. I believe that in most ways, our present society makes possible a closer correspondence between wealth and merit than any preceding it in history. But I do not believe that the correspondence is perfect. I do not believe that the fact of an individual's poverty is sufficient in and of itself to justify the conclusion that this individual is of no value—a moral judgement of that sort requires a greater knowledge of the individual in question than that provided by his social status. I believe that something in our society is causing a majority of individuals to spend their lives in mediocre (but well-paying) jobs they hate, rather than try to become entrepreneurs or creators. And I believe that Jeanine is correct that the tendency of many free-market thinkers to respect those who have wealth as virtuous until proven otherwise—while marginalizing artists and philosophers as parasites until proven otherwise—is preventing the economic right from gaining the support of the artistic elements of our culture.

That being said, I am not trying to explicitly support anyone here. I think that Andre's original post is far too bleak an estimate of the situation for me to agree with—and after looking back at this and other threads, I'm not sure that he's made himself as clear as I suggested in my previous post; I'm not really sure now what he actually believes. And Jeanine for the most part is arguing her side admirably enough that there is little for me to add. All I'm trying to say is that the discussion on this thread needs to be confined to what people have actually said.



Post 68

Thursday, December 2, 2004 - 5:59amSanction this postReply
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Joe has cut the whole verbose discussion down to its most basic point. Andre said exactly what Joe says he said. The question is do you all agree that Andre is right. I don't. Nice and simple :-)


Ethan




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Post 69

Thursday, December 2, 2004 - 7:27amSanction this postReply
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It's remarkable how rich and fruitful this discussion has become! I'm going to have to post my merciless, provocative rejoiners to Rand more often. ;-)

Naturally Ayn Rand captured part of the truth with her out-of-context quote above. I tried to mischieviously go to the farthest portion of the other side. But I tried to do this without actually leaving the realm of factuality -- which would be intellectually cheating. The full and real truth requires a wise, subtle, nuanced, philosophical approach which is generally antithetical to traditional Randianism but which actually is the truth, and which does result in a decent understanding and acceptance of both aspects.

I know only too well conservative, cult-type Objectivists have immense trouble with this, so I was basically just tweaking their blatant limitations in this regard. (Limitations of which they're almost entirely unaware, and with few prospects too.) This bit of rhetorical trouble-making seems legit to me because it challenges people, forces them to think more clearly, and exposes a few intellectual deficiencies. So long as I don't fundamentally leave the realm of truth, this act of provocation seems legit to me (correct me is I'm wrong).

When leftists condemn corporate culture, Madison Avenue, Middle America, the bourgeois, the blandization of America, the Wal-Martization of the planet, dead-eyed suburbanites, etc. they have a huge point. But the dismal, weak, lame, uptight, inbred, sissified, feckless, rather-pathetic world of today's Objectivism evidently doesn't have Clue One what they're talking about. And again, these Objectivists have virtually no prospects of ever acquiring one. Such is todays' sad failed world of conservative, timid, limited, uptight, repressed, lame, weak, cultesque Objectivism.

Without wanting to become too much of a propagandist here, basically my message is: Wake up! There's a whole giant world of rationality out there, folks! Lift up your head and open up your eyes! The more you people read the classical Greeks, Romans, Europeans, and Americans the better off you'll be. Those folks were often very rational and truth-seeking indeed. Objectivism is hardly the final answer, last word, or ultimate truth in what I regard as mankind's gradual ascent to final-stage and perfected Western liberalism. That's still to come!




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Post 70

Thursday, December 2, 2004 - 8:09amSanction this postReply
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  Andre says: The full and real truth requires a wise, subtle, nuanced, philosophical approach which is generally antithetical to traditional Randianism but which actually is the truth, and which does result in a decent understanding and acceptance of both aspects.

 

Andre follows up by saying: But the dismal, weak, lame, uptight, inbred, sissified, feckless, rather-pathetic world of today's Objectivism evidently doesn't have Clue One what they're talking about. And again, these Objectivists have virtually no prospects of ever acquiring one. Such is todays' sad failed world of conservative, timid, limited, uptight, repressed, lame, weak, cultesque Objectivism.

 

I would like to thank Andre for his subtle, nuanced and philosophical response.

 

Now folks, many of you will assume that Andre is being rude or sarcastic. Others will attribute to him an intent that is far worse than that, they will say that it is malice that motivates him. Personally, I believe that what motivates him is best summed up with the below quote:

 

Never attribute to malice what can be adequately explained by stupidity. – Nick Diamos

 

 

George

(Edited by George W. Cordero on 12/02, 8:18am)




Post 71

Thursday, December 2, 2004 - 8:18amSanction this postReply
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I couldn't possibly agree more George; Brilliant quote.




Post 72

Thursday, December 2, 2004 - 9:14amSanction this postReply
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Msrs. Dawe and Cordero-

I agree in truth that Msr. Zantonavitch has involved his sense of passion to affect some enervation of intellectual care and precise justice.  But Ayn Rand unfortunately did the same on many occasions, and in neither case this prevents the essential insights involved from containing wisdom.  And in both cases, sometimes anger that lacks charity and precise and be the sign of unbearable pressure afflicting a seeing and sensitive soul which the creation of a passionate, lancing, unapologetic house of the intellect is the best answer to.  Indeed, it can allow for heights unlikely in those for whom benevolence and beatitude in the universe come more easily.

I do think Andre takes too much anger against Rand (greatly) and Objectivist culture (slightly) than each truly deserve.  But I agree with his essential drive, and moreover admire his unforgiving bluntness in intellectual creation; I personally think that bold assertion which creates its own organic sensibility should not be mocked (well, not in real hostility).

And calling Andre stupid is simply uncalled for- dislike him and disagree with him if you wish, but he clearly speaks with intelligence.  And he has cited enough reasons for his opinions)as have I) that calling his ideas stupid suggests an argument from intimidation.

my regards,                   v
                                      *
Pyrophora Cypriana   )O(
promiscuity of the mind leads to promiscuity of the body

P.S.

Andre, I know you've pointed out quite properly that as a non-philosopher, defending others is not my job.  So please forgive me, if while as much as a polytheist concurs with your code of values, I claim that this sort of defense actually precisely is my job.  Tho'* is seems foreign to modernity, the conception of the courtesan as by nature an artist an 'intellectual' is not one unprecedented in this world.  And besides, escorting has been for so long an inescapable border case in the first structures of society and its ontological epiphenomena that the taking of uncomfortable sides and the careful keeping of loyalties in enemy territory has been internalized into the internal practice of the Life.  So please understand, I speak with precedent, and with no wish to challenge the rights of the philosopher's station.  I quite confess that the preaching of the art in the peculiarly defensive mode is a bit of unnatural necessity to me, that I can easily handle, but would prefer not to.  O, but one has better things to do than mess with that the technicalities of law.  But duty calls, and I practice my business well enough to know my fight when I see it.
 
* Thank you for the stylistic inspiration; this courtesan shall adopt it henceforth.




Post 73

Thursday, December 2, 2004 - 9:37amSanction this postReply
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Jeanine,

Andre said " But the dismal, weak, lame, uptight, inbred, sissified, feckless, rather-pathetic world of today's Objectivism evidently doesn't have Clue One what they're talking about. And again, these Objectivists have virtually no prospects of ever acquiring one. Such is todays' sad failed world of conservative, timid, limited, uptight, repressed, lame, weak, cultesque Objectivism."
Calling him stupid is a mild attack compared to this. As an objectivist, I take his attack for what it is; an over-generalized spew of meaningless negativity directed at me and others who likely share my views.
 
 






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Post 74

Thursday, December 2, 2004 - 1:37pmSanction this postReply
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Andre, the best that can be said for your argument is that you know your way around a thesaurus. You’re not actually saying anything substantial between your adjectives.

 

Most Objectivists are fully aware of the intellectual leftist disdain for the “ordinary man.” It’s evident in their beloved post-modern art and philosophy that they have no respect for the mind; it’s evident in their politics that they do respect or trust man’s efficacy. The leftist misanthropy you ascribe to doesn’t take a particularly fine mind to understand. It has been thought about “clearly” … and rejected. A deep-thinking mind finds virtue in the “ordinary,” hard-working, “middle” American in spite of the cultural left’s pretentious and unwarranted elitism.

 

You make a case for the “struggling artist” and “struggling intellectual.” I put it to you that, today, the standards in art and the standards in intellectualism are so low, that it’s only right that the “ordinary man” (and Objectivist) is suspicious of them. The beauty of business is that there still remains an objective standard for success (contemporary “management studies” courses, notwithstanding): profit. As a consequence, while everyone here agrees that wealth does not prove virtue or vice, it’s a fair generalization to say that a person who has created wealth is more likely to have applied himself, identified and integrated reality, set goals, achieved them, dealt with the world honestly, etc. And as wealth creation, in general, requires this, the poor person is less likely to undertake these, and is more likely to sit in his cheap apartment, wring his hands, and wonder why his half-baked ideas, or meaningless daubs, go unappreciated.

 

The original quote was, “Wealth is the product of man's capacity to think.” It really is uncontroversial. And while we can’t say that wealth proves virtue or vice, we can say that if you have obtained wealth, it follows you must have applied some degree of thought, planning, goal-orientation, focus, productivity, identification of opportunities for trade, etc. If you refuse to apply thought and focus, you will not create wealth.




Post 75

Thursday, December 2, 2004 - 4:40pmSanction this postReply
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Hmm.  Glenn, I'm wondering what virtue is to be found in reality-tv watching, anti-hero worshipping, Martha-hating, "ordinary" middle Americans?  

You speak as if this disdain is something only held by the intellectual left, but I have to disagree.  I am equally, if not more, disgusted than they are.  I find virtue in those who bother to think and make an effort, and not in those who feel entitled to a few too many things by default of being American. 

I realize I am making a broad generalization, and perhaps I am being overly cynical, but I am hard-pressed to find true integrity in many places lately.  Of the ordinary Americans who dry clean my clothes, roast my coffee beans, do my business printing, pack my groceries, or deliver my goods, the ones who stand out as exemplary, and with whom I choose to do business, are rare treasures.

My evaluation is neither pretentious nor elitist.  It is merely a fact I have had to accept, and deal with on my own terms.




Post 76

Thursday, December 2, 2004 - 5:21pmSanction this postReply
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Jennifer, I guess my point is that in general, on the whole, your average middle American works hard, deals with people squarely, has dreams and aspirations, has a degree of common sense, deals with reality, is optimistic, listens to reason, etc. Now these are virtues, and I think that in general, on the whole the virtues of “ordinary” people outweigh their vices. Granted, these aren’t exceptional virtues, but your choice isn’t a false alternative between hero-worship and disdain. There’s a whole range in between, including the average, which for me, is a benevolent willingness to trade values.

 

The irony of the left is that they have a very dim view of humanity. If they don’t believe man’s inherently evil, they believe he’s inherently helpless, and their philosophy, their politics and their art reflect this. Objectivists, as I understand it, believe that man has the capacity for greatness and that man, in the abstract, is great. This abstraction should naturally lead to a positive view of people, in the specific, until specific cases prove otherwise. There are some great SOLO articles on this idea here and here.




Post 77

Thursday, December 2, 2004 - 6:27pmSanction this postReply
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Glenn, thank you for clarifying your points.  I am glad you specified that the virtuous qualities of the average American are not necessarily exceptional ones, as that seems to be the place where I get stuck.  I want more than that, and have had to learn not to expect it.  However, it does give me a reason to celebrate when I do encounter the exceptional.

I don't believe that man is inherently helpless, but I do believe he has a tendency to be quite lazy.  :)  That is why, for me, persons of great virtue stand out like a shining beacon.  I have learned that it is best not to think man is inherently "good" or "evil" -- I wait until a specific man proves what he is or isn't, and then make my judgment.  I also try to maintain a generally benevolent point of view, but there are times when in my rule book, patience is not a virtue.  :)

Thank you for pointing me toward those articles, too.  I enjoyed them very much.   




Post 78

Thursday, December 2, 2004 - 8:31pmSanction this postReply
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Jeanine,

You responded with comments to my earlier statement: "Discipline and delayed gratification are essential virtues to financial security."

I should have figured a hedonist would take issue with this quote. :-)

You first say: 
Authenticity, integrity, and an openness to insight and experience are necessary virtues of artistic production.  I have no objection to the virtues Rand lists in Galt's speech, but they focus much on the Lockean-Hobbesian questions of health and wealth, and do less justice to passion and beauty.
OK, but what does this have to do with my post?  You continue:
As for discipline, that depends what you mean.  If you mean rational planning, I agree.  If you mean restraint and repression of emotions, authenticity, or expressivity, I disagree.
You're wrong on both counts....well, partially so, anyway.  Discipline invovles rational planning, but sticking to the rational plan in the face of alluring distractions is what I consider true discipline.

You go on:
As for delayed gratification, it's only logical value can be towards a superior gratification that is not delayed. 
I agree.  The word delayed implies that the event will eventually take place, doesn't it?  I did not say "withheld" or "relinquished" gratification.

Holding "delayed" gratification is of value in itself is exactly as rational as revering "delayed" creation because one can'r produce well without intelligently planning meals and a night's sleep.  The value of delayed gratification for delayed gratification's sake is nonsense, a way for the bourgeois version of altruism to dodge the fact that it's actually gratification- enjoyment, pleasure, happiness- that the Protestant Ethic fears and despises.

What we need is the rational planning of gratification- the intelligent living of a life that is both a continuous, structured pursuit of joy and the shameless congruent indulgence in the pleasures of the moment that are part of the good life.  I have no admiration for mindless grabbing of any pleasure in sight at the cost of a ruined life, but I have not the slightest bit more respect for the mindless postponement of every pleasure in sight, which also leads to the ruin of life.  The bourgeois moralists can hollar all they want to this isn't want they mean- but their actually reflex of hatred to any present enjoyment that admits openly that it is enjoyment (instead of sublimating joy into a moral virtue such as 'achievement') speaks volumes otherwise.  Altruists pretend they aren't against personal happiness too, but the fact they try to kill it on reflex proves their real motives as well.

The 'virtue' of "delayed gratification" means exactly what is says: it is good in itself to put off pleasure.  This is evil, and I do not hesitate from applying that label those Objectivists (the Objectivist Center comes to mind) who dare call their philosophy a program for human happiness and yet support bourgeois culture without selectivity or criticism.
Jeanine, I am talking about material wealth here.  You seem to think I am referring to sex or drug use for some reason.  Delayed gratification from a financial standpoint involves not buying things and spending money unless you can truly can afford to.  A large percentage of people who rack up credit card debt get that way because they just have to have that expensive new stereo, or they just have to go on that extra vacation every year etc.  The same is true with people who can afford to save a couple hundred bucks a month, but instead spend their money on going out to eat more than they should, going out to bars too many times, etc.  The same is true of people who can afford health insurance but spend their money on something less important.  Eventually, a large portion of these people will scream out for more government handouts and we all end up paying for it.

Reality will eventually catch up with you, and it will not be kind to the unprepared.  The financially virtuous will allow some room for entertainment spending, but will always make sure that they are working toward a state of financial independence. They will stand a much better chance of surviving a sudden loss of employment, a catastrophic injury etc.




Post 79

Friday, December 3, 2004 - 5:52amSanction this postReply
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[misplaced post deleted]

(Edited by Jeanine Ring on 12/03, 5:55am)




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