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Duration:04:00
Uploaded:2015-07-03
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In which Hank discusses the human condition and attempts to understand monstrous displays of wealth. There was a lot more I wanted to say on this topic but:

1. Four minute time limit and
2. It's really hard to talk about this stuff without getting judgy.

The thing to remember is that, to many people, my house and computer and dog and air conditioner are monstrous displays of wealth. I, personally, have more money than 50% of Americans just by virtue of not having any debt. Albeit on a smaller scale, I make the same irrational purchasing decisions and choose my own very temporary pleasure over the alleviation of real suffering every single day. Part of that is just being required to participate in culture or else be very socially uncomfortable, but it's also just straight up selfishness. I do not know how to counteract this except through force, which is why I believe in taxes, even if I hate paying them :-).

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Voice-over Hank: Good morning, John. So, I went to France last week, where I was presenting at a ridiculously fancy advertising industry convention and I spent most of my week alternating between just being tremendously satisfied at how pleasant everything was and being powerfully disturbed by ostentatious displays of wealth.

A friend of mine had a friend who had a yacht and they were like "You should come and see this yacht" and I was like "Dude, I've seen boats before" and they were like "No, this is not a boat." And so I went and indeed, upon arrival on the boat I immediately wanted to see the engine room and the water treatment and desalination systems, the yacht was very cool, and very pretty. It has a crew of 12 people who live and work on the yacht and there's a 24 hour diner and it costs $250,000 to fill up the gas tank of the yacht.

Not voice-over Hank: It seems like a nice place to have a party.

Voice-over Hank: So as far as "Thoughts from places" places go, the South of France is a place that is very easy to have some thoughts from.

Not voice-over Hank: Dog!

Voice-over Hank: One of the main goals of advertising is to create need where no need exists, and I had a hard time not thinking about that as I wandered around and was constantly besieged by an AT&T AdWorks campaign that excitedly implied the unquestionable benefit of more.

In a place that rich people spend lots of money to go to so they can spend lots of money at fancy shops and restaurants, manufactured discontent is both everywhere and invisible.

Not voice-over Hank: The air conditioner's hitting my toes! You gotta insulate better.

Voice-over Hank: This is a place where people go to realize how much they don't have. Even if you can afford to spend 2,000 euro on a jacket, there's a store around the corner with a 9,000 euro jacket. Even if you can afford a really big boat, there's a bigger boat next door. And particularly at this event, not only is there always something you can't afford, but there's always a better party with cooler people that you're not invited to.

I was surprised not that I was a little upset by all of this, but why I was a little upset. It wasn't just because of the tremendous difference that this wealth could make in the lives of people who are suffering, but also because the monstrous displays of wealth I saw seemed to come from sad places, like, mostly from personal insecurity. People want other people to know that they are important and that they matter and that they're powerful and cool.

John, we're headed into a world of such tremendous productivity that there is hope in me that someday we will have so many resources that everyone will be able to minimize their suffering, but when I see that new world taking shape in places like Cannes and Saint-Tropez, I worry that no one will ever be satisfied with what they have, and so wealth will never stop concentrating and we won't be able to turn our surpluses to truly global goals like ridding ourselves of poverty and war and the global insecurity caused by climate change.

Of course, at the same time all around I saw families who loved each other and were enjoying the beauty and wonder of this absolutely gorgeous and historically fascinating place. It reminds me that many of the smartest people in the world aren't famous. They're people who are smart enough to realize that real happiness doesn't come from being the biggest fish with the most people tripping over themselves to be like them. It comes from being personally secure in yourself and your life and your values and your future.

That has something to do with money, but definitely not everything. It also has to do with being comfortable with the life and with the identity that you've created for yourself and doing things you love with people you love.

Not voice-over Hank: Hey Katherine.

Katherine: What?

Hank: Mediterranean. Mediterra-knee-out.

Katherine: Wow.

Hank: Mediterra-knee-in. Mediterra-knee-out.

Katherine: (laughs) Congratulations.

Voice-over Hank: John, I'll see you on Tuesday.

(from Snapchat) Hank: What are you most afraid of? In the whole world?
Hannah: looking like Tal Shiar. Also the infinite.

Hank: How are you doing, baby?
Katherine: (sick voice) I had a great time in France.
Hank: Oh, it's so sad.

Meekakitty: Les poissons, les poissons. Hehehe hahaha, just kidding it's a cappuccino, which is Italian and not French.

Woman: Too much France.
Hank: Too much France.
Hannah: Aw, man!

Hannah: This is not how you Snapchat, Hank. You know sometimes it's OK to just take a picture, hi guys. (laughs)
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