Rousseau On Luxury: 10 Thoughts

"For luxury either comes of riches or makes them necessary; it corrupts at once rich and poor, the rich by possession and the poor by covetousness; it sells the country to softness and vanity, and takes away from the State all its citizens, to make them slaves one to another, and one and all to public opinion."
--Jean-Jacques Rousseau, from The Social Contract

If I had to distill some useful rules and courses of action from this famous quote from Rousseau, here’s what I’d come up with:

1) If you have money, do not flaunt it. Ever.

2) Do not status compete. You only make life that much harder for everyone else.

3) We live in a world of constructed preferences and Diderot Effects, which means having more money often makes you need still more money.

4) Luxury products also typically oblige you to learn copious amounts of phony, ersatz knowledge, wasting your time and cognitive bandwidth.

5) Thus if you don't have money now, but one day would actually like to have some, avoid luxury and all the costs that go with it.

6) To avoid "softness and vanity" don't spend money as a default solution to solve problems. Instead, learn how to solve the problem without spending money or buying a product.

7) Friends who care or make note of what you drive, how you live or "who" you wear are not your friends. We all know this intellectually, but...

8) Ignore the rich. And aggressively ignore "the rich" as an entity presented to us by BS vendors in the media.

9) Instead, learn how they got rich in order to learn possible courses of action that you might pursue to improve your family's financial situation.

10) Note also: "the rich" presented to us in the entertainment media are usually hilariously far from rich.

BONUS) Teach people to save and to invest. Do not encourage them to spend or signal.

Readers, what thoughts would you add here?

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