Ropke: Consonant with Man’s Nature and Dignity

“A most instructive example is the modern attitude toward an institution whose extraordinary development has caused it to become a much-discussed problem. I have in mind installment buying, or consumer credit. In its present form as a mass habit and in its extreme extent, it is certainly a conspicuous expression of an ‘unbourgeois’ way of life. It is significant, however, that this view and the misgivings deriving from it are hardly listened to nowadays, let alone accepted. It is not, as we are often told, mere ‘bourgeois’ prejudice but the lesson of millennial experience and consonant with man’s nature and dignity and with the conditions of a sound society to regard it as an essential part of a reasonable and responsible way of life not to live from hand to mouth, to restrain impatience, self-indulgence, and improvidence alike, to think of the morrow, not to live beyond one’s means, to provide for the vicissitudes of life, to try to balance income and expenditure, and to live one’s life as a consistent and coherent whole extending beyond death to one’s descendants rather than as a series of brief moments of enjoyment followed by the headaches of the morning after. To depart conspicuously from these precepts has always and everywhere been censured by sound societies as shiftless, spendthrift, and disreputable and has carried the odium of living as a parasite, of being incompetent and irresponsible. Even so happy-go-lucky a man as Horace was of one mind on this subject with Dickens’ Mr. Micawber: ‘Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen nineteen and six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery.'”

– Wilhem Röpke, A Humane Economy (p. 100)


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