Monday, July 21, 2008

Today or Tomorrow....

In this Weekend's Wall Street Journal, personal finance columnist Jeff Opdyke has a column on a tug of war between him and his mother about the structure of the will. The battle is over whether she should have access to her mother's (Jeff's grandmother's) inheritance in a trust or as a lump sum.

It boils down to how you look at the world, Jeff's mother is worried about living well in the today, and horrors, accidentally dying before spending all her money. While Jeff, playing the parental role here is worried about making sure his mother has enough to live reasonably over the long haul. What struck me about this column was if you replace inheritance with natural resources it sounds so much like the debate we have today over energy and the environment.

Both describe the optimism that we'll figure out something if we need it. What really struck me was this sense that if you don't spend it all you have somehow failed. The failure is maybe that we look at our lives as finite, instead of part of a continuum. I don't have children, but I always thought once you had children you stopped acting like a child and worried whether there would be enough for your kids when you were gone. But perhaps through marketing, we've emphasized the here and now as the only, and maybe our goal is to spend it all, use it all in our lifetime. Is there another way to explain the indifference that we lead our lives when it comes to the environment?

If we don't believe we have an obligation to tomorrow, no wonder why we act like there isn't one.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home