From Liutprand to Arpad, 28 July 1995


There are times when I put aside other concerns and I dedicate myself to moral philosophy because moral philosophy is important.

We can consider the following ebb and flow. There are three things in life, the life of a human being, which sooner or later converge. They are what we have, what we want, and what we deserve. Therefore, by definition, in this point of view of the ebb and the flow, when these three things converge we can consider it a psychological or a moral equilibrium, if you will.

Now, of these three components, the one that we can most readily measure, the one that is the least stochastic, is what we have. For example we can count our money and we can count our blessings.

A component which is more variable is what we want. We can imagine what we want, and what we can imagine will have a certain relationship to reality. For example, we can imagine reality, that is, we can want what we have; we can imagine a little more than reality, that is we want what we could have; and we can imagine what is far removed from reality, that is we want security and happiness without risk, without paying the real price, without responsibility, and without pain. By the same token, I suppose we can imagine something worse than reality. Therefore, what we want can vary within the spectrum of our imagination. And the potential volatility of what we want will be determined by the dimensions of that spectrum. So, with some difficulty, this variable can be measured, it can be known and in this sense it has something in common with the first component.

The third variable, which is the most difficult to measure, the most difficult to know, is what we deserve. We can judge what we deserve, and what we can judge is based on our interpretation of reality. And our interpretation of reality is rooted in our own experience and serves as a platform for our imagination. And our judgement is the most potentially volatile variable in the human mind, in the bombardment chamber. The ebb and the flow of our experience in relation to what we have, and the ebb and the flow of what we have in relation to our experience determine the contours of our imagination and our judgement. At the same time our imagination and our judgement determine the work we set out for ourselves based on what we have. And we already said that what we have can change. Therefore equilibrium lies in judging that sphere of imagination which lies within the grasp of what we could realistically have based on what we have and on our experience. And in order to really change what we have (therefore what we want, and what we deserve) we have to do real work. Misjudgement will cause imbalances in the relationship between what we have, what we want, and what we deserve. And then we shall be morally confused.

Let us remember these principals when we make fiscal policy.