Montreal Daily Star, 19 April 1911, page 8
WOMEN AND THEIR WEALTH
In the February Scribner’s there is one of the most interesting and suggestive papers on a phase of the woman problem, which has appeared for a long time. It is entitled “Women and Wealth” and deals with the astounding increase of wealth and woman’s increased capacity for spending. Written especially for the States, where tremendous fortunes are being piled up, it applies also toCanada, where huge fortunes are being made, and where the women are aping very largely the extravagant expenditure of American women. I should very much like to give the article in full, not only for the benefit of the wives of wealthy men, but also for the less wealthy, and even the quite poor, who copy, as far as they possibly can, the mode of life and way of dressing of their richer sisters. Mr Laughlin divides the main portion of his discourse into eight heads. The first of these deals with the basic reason for the enormous expenditure which is characteristic of this continent and this century. Why does Mr So-and-so build a huge house? His present house is sufficiently large and amply comfortable but he must needs a ‘palatial residence’, as the saying is. Why does he do this, or why does his wife, as the wife is generally the one who insists upon such senseless waste? It is to establish a sense of exclusiveness. Such persons possess no other means of differentiating themselves from the herd except by unusual expenditure. They seek to establish a counterfeit superiority on account of their wealth. Next the author takes up that will-‘o’-the-wisp which so many countless women forever pursue- social position. “In this pitiful social climbing,” Mr Laughlin writes, “in this devastating social rivalry, in which certain requirements have the force of tyrannical despotism, and in which character dwindles to unconscious imitation of what is supposed to be ‘the thing’, the quality of many well-to-do women is very plainly deteriorating.” How often is this seen in our daily life! A woman may be a very good, simple soul until her husband acquires wealth and then she often turns into an affected, supercilious thoroughly unpleasant character. The next point touched upon is the lowering of the ethical standard which wealth entails. How many persons struggling to get into society would have the courage to snub a man of known immoral life if he happened to possess a title or unusual social eminence.? This reacts upon the men. “Tell me the ethical standard of the mothers and daughters and I will tell you in the main the ethical standards of the fathers and sons.” Other points in this interesting article will be taken up later. These form sufficient to ponder upon for a time, first the reason for extravagant expenditure, namely to establish a false superiority, secondly, the pitiful social climbing and thirdly, the lowering of the ethical standard.