Tuesday, October 26, 2010

George Bernard Shaw: Smart Angry Poor Kid

George Bernard Shaw is a go to quotation machine for college kids. He was a king of sound bites before the mass media age. I've quoted him here on this blog. I loved his witty remarkes so much that when in Dublin for 2 days, I trekked up to his boyhood home for the audio tour. It is a waste of time, and I suggest going elsewhere for your time in Dublin. He grew up in a modest household in a row house. He had great talent, but his politics were weird with the socialism, hatred of wealth (despite being wealthy) and eugenics all mixed in together. I admire his dislike of formal schooling, his dedication to autodidacticism and his creativity.

He had one quote that always struck me as odd, "Gambling promises the poor what property performs for the rich, something for nothing." Seeing his childhood home and knowing his early life surroundings and backstory, one can see how GBS would have no clue about ownership of property. He was a child and young man in Victorian Ireland/England, and not part of the rapidly growing middle class. Not all land is for exploitation. Not all property is ill got. He perceived it that way. There is usually, when not 100% debt financed, savings (delayed consumption) used to purchase property. Someone has sacrificed some money to purchase land or property. Property itself can be used many ways, and a landlord takes a risk by leasing it out to others for use. There is always a risk taken by any investment in property. It is interesting GBS did not notice the massive expansion of wealth in Victorian England, dragging millions above the poverty line. GBS did not get that. He was still in the feudal mindset, as if property was bequeathed to the gentry to exploit along with ruining the lives of the dirty poor.

"You see things, and you say why? But I dream things that never were, and I say why not?" - GBS

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