Million Dollar Dream

MARCH 01, 1957

I dreamed I had a million dollars and need never work again.

I thought of all the things I could now do because I had a
million bucks. I would have the fanciest food money could buy.
I would buy a fine house. Only the sportiest and most expensive
automobile would suit me from now on. Clothing? Only the richest
and finest would ever cover me again. Oh, I was in clover
all right. My fondest wishes had come true.

 In my dream I dressed and, being hungry, went to breakfast.
There wasn’t any. My wife was in tears. The food she had ordered
the day before hadn’t been delivered. Not even a bottle of milk
or the morning newspaper greeted me when I opened the door.
I tried to telephone the grocery but the line was dead. I said,
"Oh, well, I’ll take a walk and bring back something for breakfast."

 The street was deserted. Not a bus, street car, or cab was in
sight. I walked on and on. Nothing in sight. Thinking something
had happened only to my neighborhood, I went to another.

Not even a train was moving. Then people began to appear on the street — first, only a few, then many, then hundreds.

I joined them and began asking questions: "What has happened? Where can I buy food?" Then I got the jolt. Somebody said, "Don’t you know? Everybody has a million dollars and nobody has to work anymore."

 At first I was stunned. I thought that somehow a mistake,

a ghastly mistake had been made — but there was no mistake.

It was really true. Everybody had a million dollars and thought that work was over for him.

Then it dawned on me as never before that all of us are dependent upon all of the rest of us; that to a small extent at least my labor had a place, a part, in the total welfare of mankind. With an angry shout I tossed to the winds even the thought of a million dollars.

Then I woke up. My dream was over. The sun was shining, the birds singing, my wife rattling the breakfast things.

I looked out the window and saw a world of people moving about their tasks, each contributing a little to my life and living, just as I contribute to theirs. I called to my wife, "Hurry up with that breakfast, sweetheart, I want to get to work."

EDITOR’S NOTE: This fable, reproduced by permission of The Employers’ Association of Chicago, illustrates that money is not wealth. Nor has it ex­change value except as the owners and producers of goods and services find that it facilitates their trading with one another.

A society of nothing but consumers is indeed a dream that no amount of money can bring to realization. Anyone who attempts to issue money with no provision for its redemption in goods or services is due the same rude awakening that is in store for every dreamer of something for nothing.


March 1957


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December 2014

Unfortunately, educating people about phenomena that are counterintuitive, not-so-easy to remember, and suggest our individual lack of human control (for starters) can seem like an uphill battle in the war of ideas. So we sally forth into a kind of wilderness, an economic fairyland. We are myth busters in a world where people crave myths more than reality. Why do they so readily embrace untruth? Primarily because the immediate costs of doing so are so low and the psychic benefits are so high.
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