“Old Bill” Suggests—
Because most things material may be bought with money, which as a measure of value is a sort of universal solvent, * there is a tendency to consider all dollars as equal. They are equal, of course, in purchasing power, but in their dull metallic clink represent the fruit of many different activities. And the gains resulting from the various activities of mankind are vastly different, as different in effect as the activities themselves.
The dollar that is gained without effort never seems entirely real. That is why so many stock speculators go broke, for they end by betting carelessly what seems at last to be merely a paper score sheet.
Take an unearned dollar and place it in an old-fashioned pocketbook wrapped with fish line. Place it in a safe deposit box and lose the key. Give it to a trustee or bury it in a safe with a time lock. Yet it will run out like quicksilver, vanish with the morning dew, and be no more retained than winds tied up in the belly of a sail.
Another dollar, representing a whole day of hard work on the farm, may be carried loosely in the pocket of an old pair of pants. But because of the labor it represents, its owner will clutch his pocket half a dozen times a day, and at evening place the folded trousers under his pillow lest the money get away. What makes money stick to people is not what it means to others but what it has meant to them.
ROYAL F. MUNGER.
* Probably the idea is borrowed from Juvenal, “Omnia Romae/Cum pretio.”