I was reading the Declaration of Independents, a really fun read, and they mentioned the autobiography of Benjamin Franklin. I had not read it, but thought maybe I should be familar with it, so I went to the computer and learned that it was available as a free download for Kindle. Sixty second later I had my own copy of Franklin's autobiography, for free, and I reflected on how GDP was not increased, even though my own satisfaction was well increased.
The book is engaging. Here's a great and very relevant passage:
There are croakers in every country, always boding its ruin. Such a one then lived in Philadelphia; a person of note, an elderly man, with a wise look and a very grave manner of speaking; his name was Samuel Mickle. This gentleman, a stranger to me, stopt one day at my door, and asked me if I was the young man who had lately opened a new printing-house. Being answered in the affirmative, he said he was sorry for me, because it was an expensive undertaking, and the expense would be lost; for Philadelphia was a sinking place, the people already half-bankrupts, or near being so; all appearances to the contrary, such as new buildings and the rise of rents, being to his certain knowledge fallacious; for they were, in fact, among the things that would soon ruin us. And he gave me such a detail of misfortunes now existing, or that were soon to exist, that he left me half melancholy.
Had I known him before I engaged in this business, probably I never should have done it. This man continued to live in this decaying place, and to declaim in the same strain, refusing for many years to buy a house there, because all was going to destruction; and at last I had the pleasure of seeing him give five times as much for one as he might have bought it for when he first began his croaking.
Mr. Mickle's descendants continue to be as pessimisic as he. And people of Franklin's energy, honesty and intellect continue to be as successfu.