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Here's an excerpt from this talk by Alan Watts:
"Do you remember the Great Depression? One day everything was going all right. Everybody was pretty wealthy and had plenty to eat. The next day everybody was in poverty. What had happened? Had the fields disappeared; had the dairy vanished into thin air; had the fish of the sea ceased to exist; had human beings lost their energy; their skills and their brains?
No, but on the morning after the Depression a man came to work building a house and the foreman said to him "Sorry chum you can't work today, there ain't no inches." He said "What do you mean there ain't no inches?" "Yeah" he said, "Yeah, we got lumber, we got metal, we even got tape measures." The foreman said "The trouble with you is you don't understand business. There are no inches. We have been using too many of them and there's not enough to go around."
Because what happened in the Great Depression was a slump in money. Human beings are so unbelievably stupid, that they confused money with wealth. They don't realize that money is a measure of wealth, in exactly the same way that meters are a measure of length. They think it is something that is valuable in and of itself. And as a result of that get into unbelievable trouble, in exactly the same way time is nothing but an abstract measure of motion.
And we keep counting time. We have the sensation time is running out, and we bug ourselves with this as we sit and watch the clock. Supposing you are working, are you watching the clock? If you are, what are you waiting for? Time off? Five o'clock, we can go home and have fun? Yeah, fun. What are you going to do when you get home? Have fun? Or are you going to watch TV, which is an electronic reproduction of life which doesn't even smell of anything and eat a TV dinner which is a kind of a warmed over airline nastiness until you just get tired and have to go to sleep. You know, the great society.
This is our problem you see. We are not alive, we are not awake. We are not living in the present."
Note: This speech was slightly edited for clarification..
Alan Watts Talks About Money "Do you remember the Great Depression? One day everything was going all right. Everybody was pretty wealthy and had plenty to eat. The next day everybody was in poverty. What had happened?