26: A Retrospective

I turned 27 yesterday.
It was terrible. I have eleven months to become successful and die a hero to other morbid little artists.
In the meantime I have written a few terrible papers I will start sharing.
Here is the first.
The title is a joke about a terrible article I had to read in class:

Is $10,000 Really Worth It?

What insight do hypotheticals offer to the morality of those we pose them to? Is a greater understanding of human nature what we are looking for when we construct hypotheticals? I believe the intent of a question like “What would you do?” is as much to have the receiver question themselves as it is to gather information. As human beings we understand that our moral compass is largely set by the circumstances in which we were raised, and these inherent differences add intrigue to conversation. The answer to what I would do if an ATM mistakenly discharged $10,000 into my care is in part a coming of age story.
Of course, I would immediately give it back.
As a younger person I might have been tempted to keep what many would look at as “free money.” I am certainly saddled with debts and grew up in a condition most would describe as “underprivileged.” When I was a child I was given heavily discounted school lunches. My father was the sole provider for our household of four but my mother was thrifty and I seldom felt as poor as I was. As a teenager I began to resent my humble upbringing and in my early twenties I would have been delighted by the idea of a quick fix. Ten thousand dollars would have vanished into lavish clothes, make-up and foods- fleeting desires and quickly consumed perishable goods. It would have been a waste. As I have grown older I feel it would make more sense to invest the money but I desire the opportunity to invest my own earnings. Almost as an homage to my parents, who sacrificed to maintain a certain standard of living for myself and my sister, I want to continue clawing my way up in socioeconomic status. I would prefer that any financial relief be as a result of my will rather than happy accident.
I also understand, having recently taken a course on Economics, that my happy accident does not come at the cost of a large nameless corporation. If I were to take the $10,000 I am sure someone would lose their job. It is possible someone would lose their job anyway but I would not want to increase the likelihood. That $10,000 is not the bank profit. It is reserve deposits. It is more likely to be the money of my fellow struggling lower-middle class and, though it is insured by the FDIC, someone would have to face the consequences of this error. I don’t know how the FDIC would replace its reserves once it covered the money I kept so I would assume I had stolen a little bit from every person that uses a bank. I simply couldn’t argue that keeping the money would not harm someone at a lower level than the bank owners and CEOs. Under the logic that I could not keep the money.
I couldn’t accept that there would be no repercussions to myself either. I am a young female minority. I can currently be described by all the demographics that are likely to be railroaded under the best of circumstances. I would not give a corporation that could afford much better lawyers than I could ever dream of the opportunity to use those lawyers against me.

As a person I am a collection of experiences and imparted knowledge. I have learned that nothing is free. I don’t believe this is the right answer for everyone but it is the best expression of myself.


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