Insulated By Wealth from the Cares of the Day

Joseph Ferdinand Keppler [Public domain]

From Thomas Pynchon’s Against the Day:

“I know this fellow back in New Jersey,” said Scarsdale Vibe, “who collects railroads. Not just rolling stock, mind, but stations, sheds, rails, yards, personnel, the whole shebang.”

“Expensive hobby,” marveled the Professor. “Are there such people?”

“You have to have some idea of the idle money out here. It can’t all be endowments to the church of one’s choice, mansions and yachts and dog-runs paved with gold or what have you, can it. No, at some point that’s all over with, has to be left behind … and still here’s this huge mountain of wealth unspent, piling up higher every day, and dear oh dear, whatever’s a business man to do with it, you see.”

“Hell, send it to me,” Ray Ipsow put in. “Or even to somebody who really needs it, for there’s sure enough of those.”

“That’s not the way it works,” said Scarsdale Vibe.

“So we always hear the plutocracy complaining.”

“Out of a belief, surely fathomable, that merely to need a sum is not to deserve it.”

“Except that in these times, ‘need’ arises directly from the criminal acts of the rich, so it ‘deserves’ whatever amount of money will atone for it. Fathomable enough for you?”

“You are a socialist, sir.”

“As anyone not insulated by wealth from the cares of the day is obliged to be. Sir.”


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