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21 Chapter I

IF I WERE TWENTY-ONE I WOULD “DO THE NEXT THING”

The first duty of a human being in this world is to take himself off other people’s backs. I would go to work at something for which my fellow men would be willing to pay. I would not wait for an Ideal Job. The only ideal job I ever heard of was the one some other fellow had.

It is quite important to find the best thing to do. It is much more important to find something to do. If I were a young artist, I would paint soap advertisements, if that were all opportunity offered, until I got ahead enough to indulge in the painting of madonnas and landscapes. If I were a young musician, I would rather play in a street band than not at all. If I were a young writer, I would do hack work, if necessary, until I became able to write the Great American Novel.

I would go to work. Nothing in all this world I have found is so good as work.

I believe in the wage system as the best and most practical means of coördinating human effort. What spoils it is the large indigestible lumps of unearned money that, because of laws that originated in special privilege, are injected into the body politic, by inheritance and other legal artificialities.

If I were twenty-one I would resolve to take no dollar for which I had not contributed something in the world’s work. If a philanthropist gave me a million dollars I would decline it. If a rich father or uncle left me a fortune, I would hand it over to the city treasury. All great wealth units come, directly or indirectly, from the people and should go to them. All inheritance should be limited to, say, $100,000. If Government would do that there would be no trouble with the wage system.

If I were twenty-one I would keep clean of endowed money. The happiest people I have known have been those whose bread and butter depended upon their daily exertion.


21If I were Twenty-One I would adjust myself


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