You and I are Unspeakably Wealthy.
Every once in a while, I think about the incomprehensible material wealth of modern society. The way you and I live. That’s vague and lofty, so let me be more specific.
I had a bowl of beef stew for lunch. I sat reading articles longer than I intended so the bowl dried kind of brown and hard. I put it in the sink, turned on the hot water, let it flow and overflow, and then then grabbed the dishbrush to scrub away the crust. Simple.
But that quart or or two of hot water had to first come to me clean through delivered pipes, and then be heated, and sit in a tank, just waiting for me to turn a knob. Any impoverished waif could do it. But, how miraculous is that process?
Billionaire John D. Rockefeller would have had to expend far greater resources to get a clean-ish bowl placed in the sink. A servant would have had to draw water from the well. There would have to be a kettle boiling, or at least simmering.That would have taken another servant to relay some wood or load some coal to the iron stove. And smoke would filter through the house.
John D might have been the richest man in the world or close, but his life was a campout compared to ours. Would you rather be a billionaire in the early 20th century or a commoner today?