Mike Beversluis

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Ha! Take that JR

Dynasties: Fortunes and Misfortunes of the World's Great Family Businesses
by David S. Landes

Heir Pressure
A Review by Niall Ferguson

"Happy families are all alike," Tolstoy famously announces in the opening sentence of his great novel; "every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way." David Landes's new book is about eleven families, all of whom would have been comparably -- and boringly -- happy if money were the key to happiness. Fortunately for Landes's readers, the relationship between wealth and contentment is fascinatingly non-linear. You need a certain amount of money to escape from the miseries of want, no doubt; but beyond that point, each additional thousand dollars does not yield a proportionate increase in happiness. Quite the contrary. Great wealth can lead to great unhappiness, sowing discord between parents and children, husbands and wives, siblings. It turns out that every rich family is also unhappy in its own way.

Actually, I never watched Dynasty. It's a little weird how that point between escaping want and being too rich for your own good is so close to what I make. What a coincidence...

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