George Sand's 'The Good Goddess Of Poverty' Poem:
AUDIENCE MEMBER 00:08
Mr. Munger, it is well known that you are an avid and voracious reader. Tony want to ask do you ever reread books that you’ve already read before, and if so, what books do you reread?
CHARLIE MUNGER 00:21
Yeah, I do. Let me give you an example of something that I want to reread that I haven’t reread yet.
The other day I was musing over the current situation. It popped into my head that I had read a poem about 80 years ago by George Sand. George Sand was a female writer but female writer to get ahead in those days you sometimes use men’s names. George Sand wrote a poem and it was an ode to the goddess of poverty.
She said: “Hail to the goddess of poverty, a wonderful goddess of poverty. She tills the fields, she mines the mines”, and so on. If I remember right, toward the ending of the goddess of poverty she said: “You try and banish me, you’ll live to want me back.”
I kind of agreed to this poem and I’d like to see it again.
I don’t know how to punch notes on the internet and get George Sand’s poem to me so if somebody would send me the poem I would very much like it.
But I’m telling you this because it’s an antidote to our politicians who want to tell us they’re going to abolish all poverty. It’s a stupid idea. It’s like saying we’ll all be riches in a modern civilization. It’s status what we want but we need more means.
The tow of reaching for status is that the bottom 90% are always going to contain exactly 90% of the people no matter how hard we work or how much we succeed.
We actually need some tough incentives in a civilization to make it work. In other words, George Sand was right. The goddess of poverty is not all bad. She’s partly good. And of course I like thoughts that I have that are different from anybody else.
I think a billionaire who talks about the glories of the goddess of poverty is making a contribution. But only a bunch of nerds like you will appreciate it.