April 05, 2007


Caption: It's hard to say if this couple is happy, but they're probably going to get lucky pretty soon.

You can find lots of topics in this week's Goat Rope but the guiding thread is a story about happiness from the Histories of Herodotus. If this is your first visit, please scroll down to the earlier posts.

The story goes that when the very wealthy King Croesus of Lydia (in modern Turkey) entertained the Athenian sage Solon as guest, he had his servants display his vast wealth and then asked Solon who was the happiest of men.

He was fishing for a compliment, as La Cabra sometimes says (although she's not above doing that herself).

And, like many fishermen, he was disappointed. As discussed in the last two posts, Croesus wasn't a winner or even a runner up on Solon's list. Finally in anger, he said

That's all very well, my Athenian fried; but what of my own happiness? Is it so utterly contemptible that you won't even compare me with mere common folk like those you have mentioned?

Solon replied

My lord, I know God is envious of human prosperity and likes to trouble us; and you question me about the lot of man. Listen then: as the years lengthen out, there is much both to see and to suffer which one would wish otherwise...You can see from that, Croesus, what a chancy thing life is. You are very rich, and you rule a numerous people; but the question you asked me I will not answer, until I know that you have died happily. Great wealth can make a man no happier than moderate means, unless he has the luck to continue in prosperity to the end. Many very rich men have been unfortunate, and many with a modest competence have had good luck...mark this: until he is dead, keep the word "happy" in reserve. Till then, he is not happy but lucky...

Look to the end, no matter what it is you are considering. Often enough God gives a man a glimpse of happiness, and then utterly ruins him.

Croesus sent Solon on his way, convinced that he was a fool. But that wasn't the end of the story, as we'll see tomorrow.

GRATUITOUS ANIMAL FEATURE FILM: Fresh from Goat Rope Studios, here is a brief feature film called Dueling Peacocks. (Fear not, the duel involves voices rather than pistols or sabres.) By the way, this is a talking picture. Just don't turn it up too loud.

TAX PROPAGANDA. Don't tell him I said anything nice about him, but Antipode had a good post about "Tax Freedom Day" in his Mountain State Review blog.

EXPANDING THE MIDDLE CLASS is an idea that resonates with many Americans. According to Shawn Fremstad and Margy Waller of the virtual think tank Inclusion, the best way to do that is to improve low wage jobs.



Antipode said...

Love the video. that was great. how about capito and her vote against the house budget yesterday? she called it the largest tax increase in histroy. she's really hitting the sauce lately, must be hanging with cecil underwood or something

El Cabrero said...

She's pretty consistent, huh? By the way, you're linked now. Did you see the State Journal on our friend?

Antipode said...

In the final analysis, Sobel's book doesn't reach the heights of scholarship - it's just a x-mas list from the us chamber of commerce on how to transfer money upwards and hurt unionization. The book offers no real insight to answering the question of why wv lags behind other state economies - it's main task is to fill the vacuum w/ nonsense. like the blind men and the elephant, nobody has any concrete idea of why wv has such a lack luster economy. be that as it may, there policy prescriptions are nothing new and have been regurgitiated from outfits like ALEC and Heritage/Cato. there's not one piece of new scholarship in the whole book.

the funny part is Sobel thinks the pseudo-scholars who've written chapters in the book are saying something profound. many of the contributors aren't even ph.d's, but ph.d candidates at WVU with little WV historical understanding of the nuances of wv economics.

Jspiker said...

Is that George Bush and Karl Rove in the trees?

El Cabrero said...

No positive i.d. has been made.