The time value of marriage
February 1, 2015 § 17 Comments
Man is terrified of himself, because of the awesome fact that his free choices have consequences. Every concrete choice has consequences: every concrete choice results in the world being one way rather than another. But man, especially modern man, does not want to take ownership of the consequences of his own irrevocable choices.
I’ve compared usury to slavery, but it also has similarities to divorce and ‘remarriage’. Like usury, divorce and ‘remarriage’ attempts to reconstruct reality as if we had not made the choices we actually did make. Insisting that borrowers pay for ‘opportunity cost’ is similar to insisting that Bob’s family and society pay for the fact that Bob married Ginger instead of Mary Ann.
Now, that isn’t to say that there is no utility in thinking abstractly about what it would have been like for Bob to marry Mary Ann rather than Ginger. But those abstract thoughts don’t translate into an entitlement for Bob to actually sleep with Mary Ann; to recover his “opportunity cost” from the real world as it actually is as a result of his actual choices.
If Bob really did have a better opportunity, he should have taken it. That he did not is something that he and he alone owns as a matter of justice. Other people may – to the extent they can – help Bob recover from his mistakes as a matter of charity. But their help is not something that he is entitled to in justice, which can be quantified into an interest rate or specific measure of property that specific people owe to Bob.
When I talk about the fact that things like opportunity cost cannot be ontologically real property, many folks do not understand what I am saying. Often some – usually folks with less real world experience than myself – assume that I am just ignorant about money and have never thought about these things.
But these folks are simply failing to get the point. That Bob could have married Mary Ann rather than Ginger is true enough and might even be helpful in some abstract academic theory of the time value of marriage. But that does not translate into the kind of entitlement in justice that those who support divorce and ‘remarriage’ propose.
It isn’t that I am ignorant of the ‘existence’ in a certain sense of ‘opportunity cost’ and other regrets, and of the utility of those concepts in some kinds of theorizing. It is just that, like the number four and many other abstract things, regrets are not capable of being property or of giving rise to an economic entitlement resembling property. If you actually did have a better opportunity and regret the choice you made, you should have actually taken that opportunity and made that different choice; and the fact that you did not is on you and you alone. Making other people pay for your regrets is intrinsically unjust.