Money, the labour market, and how you function

WEDNESDAY, 30 JUNE 2004

If I had money this past decade, or if I had money more often, and in greater quantities … if I could have been in a position during the last decade of my life where a steady income would have been unnecessary, it would have radically influenced my process of self-discovery and self-definition.

One possibility: If my family were wealthy, and my parents made it clear early on in my teenage years that I will receive a substantial sum of money every year, starting from my eighteenth birthday, just because I am so lucky to have been born as their son, I would probably have focused much less of my attention starting from my late teens on obtaining a position in the labour market within the next five to seven years. I’m not saying I would necessarily have been an unproductive oxygen thief, but if I did not need to prepare my person for the labour market or the business world, I would not have been the person now typing these words.

Another possibility: If I, as the son of working middle class parents, won a massive fortune in a lottery at the age of eighteen, with a guaranteed monthly dividend paid into my bank account until the end of my physical existence, my subsequent process of self-definition would also not, among other things, have included the annoyance of having to appear in a satisfactory fashion to the labour market in order to provide in my own daily needs.

A third possibility would be if I had designed a product in my late twenties that would have earned me millions in royalties since then. In such a case, the character that would have crawled out at the other end of the process tunnel would have been one who – because of initial experiences in my adult life – would have known how it feels to modify personal appearances for the purpose of generating an income, and who would also know how it feels to not have to do this anymore.

Simple conclusion: If you have access to sufficient funds to make it unnecessary to have to earn an income to keep yourself alive, you do not function in the same way as people who have to toil every day to ensure there’s enough food on the table, and a roof over their heads. And since you have less need to function in a way that is to a large extent prescribed or highly recommended, you have more room to discover other possibilities for your personal development and to define your person in other ways.

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