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Sound advice for new American graduates, from P.J. O’Rourke

1. Go out and make a bunch of money!

Here we are living in the world’s most prosperous country, surrounded by all the comforts, conveniences and security that money can provide. Yet no American political, intellectual or cultural leader ever says to young people, “Go out and make a bunch of money." Instead, they tell you that money can’t buy happiness. Maybe, but money can rent it.

There’s nothing the matter with honest moneymaking. Wealth is not a pizza, where if I have too many slices you have to eat the Domino’s box. In a free society, with the rule of law and property rights, no one loses when someone else gets rich.

2. Don’t be an idealist!

Don’t chain yourself to a redwood tree. Instead, be a corporate lawyer and make $500,000 a year. No matter how much you cheat the IRS, you’ll still end up paying $100,000 in property, sales and excise taxes. That’s $100,000 to schools, sewers, roads, firefighters and police. You’ll be doing good for society. Does chaining yourself to a redwood tree do society $100,000 worth of good?

Read the rest.

If i have to add a comment, it would be
To the first point, yes, i agree most wealth creating activities are non-zero-sum, but some resources are zero-sum at least in the short-run. natural resources (and some other things eg power) are zero-sum, the more someone use oil/copper/water the less there is for others to use it until supply is adjusted or new technologies are implemented.

Second, i would say be an idealist if you want, but be pragmatic and realistic in your approaches, and please avoid the pit fall of moral hazards.

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