Essay In Idleness Summary

One of the commonest things to do with savings is to lend them to some government.

In view of the fact that the bulk of the expenditure of most civilized governments consists in payments for past wars and preparation for future wars, the man who lends his money to a government is in the same position as the bad men in Shakespeare who hire murderers.

But, I shall be told, the case is quite different when savings are invested in industrial enterprises.

When such enterprises succeed and produce something useful this may be conceded.

Work is of two kinds: first, altering the position of matter at or near the earth’s surface relatively to other such matter; second, telling other people to do so.

The first kind is unpleasant and ill paid; the second is pleasant and highly paid.I hope that after reading the following pages the leaders of the Y. If this argument were valid, it would only be necessary for us all to be idle in order that we should all have our mouths full of bread.What people who say such things forget is that what a man earns he usually spends, and in spending he gives employment.Every one knows the story of the traveler in Naples who saw twelve beggars lying in the sun (it was before the days of Mussolini), and offered a lira to the laziest of them. will start a campaign to induce good young men to do nothing. Before advancing my own arguments for laziness, I must dispose of one which I cannot accept.Eleven of them jumped up to claim it, so he gave it to the twelfth. But in countries which do not enjoy Mediterranean sunshine idleness is more difficult, and a great public propaganda will be required to inaugurate it. Whenever a person who already has enough to live on proposes to engage in some everyday kind of job, such as school-teaching or typing, he or she is told that such conduct takes the bread out of other people’s mouths, and is, therefore, wicked.The skill required for this kind of work is not knowledge of the subjects as to which advice is given, but knowledge of the art of persuasive speaking and writing, of advertising.Throughout Europe, though not in America, there is a third class of men, more respected than either of the classes of workers.The man who invests his savings in a concern that goes bankrupt is, therefore, injuring others as well as himself.If he spent his money, say, in giving parties for his friends, they (we may hope) would get pleasure, and so would all those on whom he spent money, such as the butcher, the baker, and the bootlegger.The second kind is capable of indefinite extension: there are not only those who give orders but those who give advice as to what orders should be given.Usually two opposite kinds of advice are given simultaneously by two different bodies of men; this is called politics.


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