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Generic Confusion

When you leave, my blog just fades to grey
Nu ma nu ma iei, nu ma nu ma nu ma iei


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Monday, August 08, 2005

Comfort vs. Power

Zhubin asks an interesting question:

Would you rather:

1) Make $50,000 a year for the rest of your life (a decent but not too comfortable middle-class income) in an American city starting in 2005, and enjoying the standard of living afforded by said income in said time;

OR 2) Be Emperor of the Roman or Persian or Alexandrian Empire (whichever suits your fancy), undisputed ruler of the entire known world, but living, nonetheless, in ancient times and under its general standard of living?

Regarding Number 2, I don't mean you're born and raised in ancient times, with ancient ideas and knowledge. I mean you're transported right now, as you are, back to ancient times to live out your life as Emperor. And you can't take anything with you.The question is essentially whether you would prefer to wield no power but enjoy, to a reasonable extent, the luxuries and conveniences of the modern age
(refrigerators, movies, the Internet), or whether you would prefer to forego them in favor of wielding absolute power over a gigantic civilization, with the chance to change the course of history, but suffering under the lower standard of living and knowing you'll never surf the Web again.


Call me a coward, but I prefer Option 1. After all, the poorest Americans live better than almost anyone in history. I suspect most people inclined to select Option 2 can't fathom just how much of modern society would be dearly missed.

(Via Not That)

1 Comments:

At 2:45 PM, Blogger Dave Justus said...

I'd have to go with option 2, assuming that the general standard of living is the general standard of living of a Roman Emporer, rather than the standard of living of an average Roman citizen.

A lot of the luxeries we have are remarkable because they let average people have expiriences that only extremely wealthy people could have in previous eras.

Undoubtably, we have things now that couldn't be had for any price in previose times, but massive wealth makes up for a lot.

Even things like Refrigerators, Movies, and the Internet had their arguable equals for the despots of previous times. Roman emporers were able to import and keep ice from the Alps for cold drinks. Gladiator games had much of the excitement and action of modern movies and slave girls could replace 90% of the internet :)

 

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