We live in a world of unearned income. We live in a time of unearned capital. Welcome to the age of Mass Rentiers.
What is “inheritance”? Broadly speaking, itis any good received from the previous generation. If we do not focus only on money and property, we must recognize that at present, humanity enjoys many inherited immaterial goods that are even more important than money: knowledge, art, nation states, civil liberties.
“We are dwarfs standing on the shoulder of giants”. That was a solid truth in the Middle Ages, a period of humility and trust in authorities.
Is this not much more true today? Now that we have accumulated so many goods thanks to past generations?
There are free countries we did not fight for. Civil liberties that we have not fought for to obtain. Scientific knowledge we have not helped to increase by an inch, but which guarantees us a technological comfort our ancestors would associate with sheer magic.
The first world, the industrialized part of the globe, is definitely a world of “inheritance” in every aspect. “Unearned income” sounds slightly immoral but since most of our income is now unearned, we must deal with that and we must explore every aspect of our “inheritance” to realize what we really are: Mass Rentiers.