The ERE Wheaton Scale

Simple living, extreme early retirement, being wealthy, ...
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Seppia
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Re: The ERE Wheaton Scale

Post by Seppia »

agreed. My savings rate, Retirement Goal and Vacation column description all fall squarely under level 7 but I consider myself somewhere between level 5 and 6 at best.
I guess, as with anything Jacob, the table has to be read as an instruction manual rather than as a google maps itinerary printout

Qazwer
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Re: The ERE Wheaton Scale

Post by Qazwer »

There are two kinds of people. Splitters and lumpers. I believe the lumpers are correct (NB the logical problem of being me or listening to me) (to preclarify this meant to be funny - pity my friends IRL)

You can define a progression or you can define the path not taken
I will call it the Ego scale
viewtopic.php?p=125843#p125843

I think Ego on the first page showed another path. You have proof this works Jacob and enlightened journals (now multiple). You can reach them through steps, economic first principles (including systems theory with optimization), zen teachings or other philosophy or through lived experience (book smarts vs street smarts)
viewtopic.php?f=24&t=11866

So you have many ways to reach enlightenment or not - at least that is what seems to be at play throughout this forum from a read by an unenlightened one

jacob
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Re: The ERE Wheaton Scale

Post by jacob »

The table is not a map. It's more of a mapquest description of the landscape as one gets closer to the goal. There might be multiple goals.

However, the table is not entirely random either. Given how useful/accurate it is, it does describe one if not the most common approaches. Other tables could be made taking the workman quadrant as a starting point rather than the salaryman.

A roadmap analogy would have one column describing the type/shape of houses as one travels along Route66 from Springfield to downtown Chicago (the destination). This is not the only way to get from Springfield to Chicago, but it is a well-traveled one. Also not everyone wants to end up in downtown Chicago.

Frita
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Re: The ERE Wheaton Scale

Post by Frita »

@Jacob
When I think of the Wheaten Level chart, I imagine as something three-dimensional rather than two-dimensional with shared parts in other three-dimensional structures (as well as other non-attached structures). Perhaps I am off-base with your model?

mathiverse
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Re: The ERE Wheaton Scale

Post by mathiverse »

I recently learned about Gall's law in the context of software systems. It's called a law, but it's really a rule of thumb.
A complex system that works is invariably found to have evolved from a simple system that worked. A complex system designed from scratch never works and cannot be patched up to make it work. You have to start over with a working simple system.
Since the ERE Wheaton levels are supposed to represent increasing levels of complexity, then, based on Gall's Law, we would expect (as jacob has said) it's hard/impossible to skip levels if you're setting up the system yourself.

In contrast, when people are learning a system from their social environment, the system is set up and the people are merely copying it, so I guess Gall's Law doesn't apply here. The analogy in software is when someone buys, for example, Microsoft Office and uses it. They aren't creating a complex system from scratch, but merely adopting the existing system (MS Office).

The difficulty of adapting a complex system in place also explains why the ERE Wheaton scale passes through a stage of simpler living (Efficiency -> Optimization), then to stages with increasing complexity.

Quadalupe
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Re: The ERE Wheaton Scale

Post by Quadalupe »

Does this also imply that one should not overthink things too much? (Heh, fat chance with all the NT's around here :P ). At least I could benefit from just starting with new simple things without thinking too much about all the details.

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Re: The ERE Wheaton Scale

Post by jacob »

Frita wrote:
Fri Mar 05, 2021 11:10 am
@Jacob
When I think of the Wheaten Level chart, I imagine as something three-dimensional rather than two-dimensional with shared parts in other three-dimensional structures (as well as other non-attached structures). Perhaps I am off-base with your model?
It can be almost any dimension but it is definitely more than just the one it has been "collapsed" to. The problem with the current table is that it presumes that everybody starts at the same place. This is a good approximation because most adults are employees (W-2 or 1099 class in the US) with little understanding of even basic personal finance. However, it also assumes that everybody is going towards the same destination. I put myself near the top because this is my table/an ERE table.

However, there are surely different starting points as well as different destinations.

When it is one-dimensional one is saying that everybody at the same level are the same. This is obviously not correct. As seen above people struggle to properly peg themselves at a given level ("I'm a 3 for this and a 5 on vacations ..") That's not just a simple misunderstanding but also because at any one time one probably occupies an overlap between different levels e.g. 4/5 or 10% 3, 60% 5, and 30% 5 as one's system expand to encompass and integrate more and more stocks and flows.

If people are no the same at the same level, then we're missing some additional aspects. Kinda like have electric charge can't tell you whether you're dealing with an electron or an anti-proton---you need mass too. Expanding a dimension would make the table increasingly more accurate. It would also make it much bigger "exponentially" faster.

For an analogy, compare e.g. personality typing like MBTI with its 16 classes to an adult development model like Kegan with its 5 classes. What the ERE table is like is what a human maturity model would be for the most common temperament e.g. SJs between ages 25 and 65, say.

AxelHeyst
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Re: The ERE Wheaton Scale

Post by AxelHeyst »

Quadalupe wrote:
Wed Mar 10, 2021 10:45 am
Does this also imply that one should not overthink things too much?
I've been thinking about this too! Specifically, the relationship between Actions and Mindset. I was trying to figure out how to "Do" WL7 - i.e. what actions are WL7? Wrong question, duh - no actions are or are not WL7, WL7 is about your mindset, how you think about and design the relationships between all of your actions, namely, web-like with tensegrity and all that. That's also what's implied by chop wood, carry water.

I did a ~NoBuy February, and I felt my brain changing. I think how my mindset mostly changed is I was more intuitively aware of branching non-fiscal consequences of actions and decisions, WL6 stuff. It felt like simply by doing nobuy, my brain leveled up without much actual effort, in a way that no amount of reading the yields and flows threads is going to produce (for me).

That made me think one could imagine a prescription for leveling up. You could imagine the Rx being general, or customized to an individual's personality and current WL. The Rx could look like: 1. Do a nobuy [period of time]. 2. Cancel all your bs entertainment subscriptions and read books instead. 3. Go carfree. 4. etc.

In so far as an individual comfortable Trusting the Process, to some extent, if they simply Do the Work, the actions combined with some minimum dose of theory (reading the book, reading anticonsumerist zines, whatever) will result in rapid Mindset changes.

Western Red Cedar
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Re: The ERE Wheaton Scale

Post by Western Red Cedar »

AxelHeyst wrote:
Fri Mar 19, 2021 6:28 pm
I've been thinking about this too! Specifically, the relationship between Actions and Mindset.
I noticed in your journal you focused on action as a "vote" for the type of person you want to be/become. This reminded me of terminology behind developing habits (James Clear? Maybe Cal Newport?). I think a potential strategy is to focus on habits that make you more resilient to make WL progress.

The relationship between action and mindset is really important IMO.

For example - I've done container gardening in other apartments, but avoided it in my current situation due to very limited light. After getting into Rob Greenfield through this forum last year, I was inspired to put a window box of herbs in the only window that gets good light in my apartment. His basic message was, even if you don't have space and live in an apartment, get started by growing something in your windowsill. A nudge to change the mindset by taking action.

I've now had multiple herbs for more than a year. A good reminder that I can easily grow fresh food and don't need to wait until I have my own plot of land. I'll probably grow some other low-light stuff on my patio this spring.

Even though it's not a lot of food, it is a small connection to a natural process, and a good reminder every time I get some fresh basil or parsley about how good fresh herbs taste.

AxelHeyst
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Re: The ERE Wheaton Scale

Post by AxelHeyst »

Anything clever you see me write, chances are good I ripped it off from Jacob, James Clear, Cal Newport, Scott Young, John Boyd, JMG, or David Allen.

You made me think of this quote, which I had to dig for:
Orison Swett Marden wrote:Most of our obstacles would melt away if, instead of cowering before them, we should make up our minds to walk boldly through them.
Which is the Victorian version of Just Do It, I suppose.

Also:
My buddy Noah wrote:Have you tried trying?


It's disturbing how many failures turn out to be a lack of actually, like, trying at all. A lot of effort gets expended "thinking" about doing something, which is mostly just a cognitive process of generating excuses for why we "can't". That effort is exhausting and makes people think they actually tried, when in fact all they did was whine about how hard/impossible something was going to be.

Quadalupe
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Re: The ERE Wheaton Scale

Post by Quadalupe »

AxelHeyst wrote:
Fri Mar 19, 2021 7:49 pm
Anything clever you see me write, chances are good I ripped it off from Jacob, James Clear, Cal Newport, Scott Young, John Boyd, JMG, or David Allen.
No worries, shoulders of giants etc! Accruing, combining and synthesizing is a useful skill in its own right (shoutout to jacobs 6C framework)

And RE action vs mindset: in my understanding, a mindset is one's strategy internalized. You start with some kind of constructed external strategy but after casting enough votes/actions, your default action generation program (i.e. mindset) is replaced by the externally created strategy. This could also be why jacob et al can't explain easily why they do certain things. Their strategy has simply become internalized.

This is also why the tactic of 'count to five and just start' is so simple yet effective!

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Re: The ERE Wheaton Scale

Post by jacob »

An expanded version of the ERE Wheaton scale is somewhat overdue. I've been thinking quite a bit about this since it was first devised ~5 years ago. The Wheaton table was considered to be a communication tool, but it turns out to be quite aligned with "adult ego development models". I've therefore leaned on such models to flesh out the previous "post-ERE" level in order to peek a bit ahead of my own journey. This correspondence should also make it easier to identify human candidates and books. However, it would be best if it remained a communication tool and not the "road all must travel". After all, it could be wrong.

Recall the Wheaton rules that anything/anyone 1 level ahead is inspirational, 2 levels is too extreme, 1 behind should try harder, and 2+ levels behind are simply ruining the world. In judging the description of the levels, it thus makes sense to verify whether this fog-of-complexity/curse-of-knowledge actually holds.

The previous level 8 has been expanded to stages 8 through 10. This time I've used the Hegelian dialectic more deliberately. Each of the newer stages seek to resolve an issue encountered at the previous level. This resolution is eventually shown to have its own limits and thus need resolution at the next stage again, and so on. In reality, a person would likely occupy a narrow range with maybe 50% in stage N, and 25% in stages N-1 and N+1 respectively. The "variation" is thus expected to be <+/-1 level. Development is essentially a work-in-progress bootstrapping operation.

As always, I realize that such a table/model of not for everyone. Not really interested in repeating the debates about how "hew-mons" are more complex than this or reading the boxes literally and claiming to be a little bit of all 10 stages at once. If you don't like my table, feel free to make your own table or none at all :-P

In general, each new stage is expected to encompass everything from the previous stage, also known as the "no jumping rule". This should be respected more in spirit than in law though. You don't need to be a secret millionaire to reach stage 9. On the other hand, starting a community garden with the hope of becoming self-sufficient while filming it for youtube ain't gonna magically elevate one to sage-level... need to see if the implementation is robust and durable both from a practical but also from a psychological perspective.

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Fish
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Re: The ERE Wheaton Scale

Post by Fish »

The update is really interesting, though the new levels are still rather abstract to me. I’m having a hard time deciding whether there are new insights or if it is merely a more precise expansion of the old level 8.

When looking at the table I notice two paradigms: personal finance (1-5) and lifestyle design (6-10). The objective of PF is to accumulate FU capital to unlock the LD game.

This entire table presumes efficiency as the goal. It is especially evident in 6-10 where the financial aspects are geared towards economic independence and transcending the financial system. Although I have yet to reach the LD stages, I imagine that actualization is the true goal and that finance need not be a part of it.

The sharply diminishing marginal utility of $$ at 6+ makes me think that the continued financial progression only makes sense for those who conquered PF through extreme frugality. Then again, a focus on efficiency is necessary to make a single table coherent. It works well enough for the audience in this forum. Without that focus it would make more sense to define separate PF and LD tables. A more apt title for this table is “The Wheaton levels of frugality.”

P.S.: Please add a savings rate for level 6. I suggest 66%+. Also, level 5 should be 50%+ to emphasize that there is more to levels 6-10 than high savings rate.

Scott 2
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Re: The ERE Wheaton Scale

Post by Scott 2 »

Given the FIRE audience tends to be successful white collar professionals, have you considered directly addressing the high earner trap?

It's pretty easy for that group to hit a 50-75% savings rate (levels 5-7), while exhibiting level 2-3 behavior. They can even tag the 3% SWR (hitting level 6 again) while remaining at level 2-3 behaviors.

I believe the numerical metrics are the least important aspect, but it is very easy to anchor on them as proof of success.

BookLoverL
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Re: The ERE Wheaton Scale

Post by BookLoverL »

A very interesting expansion to the table. I admit I am finding the new top levels hard to understand, which I suppose is to be expected given that I rate my own level of functioning somewhere around 5.5 to 6. (Though my savings rate has been nerfed by my unusually low income, so I only actually have around 1.5 to 2 years worth of expenses saved. But if I were earning even regular full time minimum wage I would be saving 50%, and more if I were earning higher.)

It's interesting to see that the vacation column has been redesigned and now includes more options at each level, though of course these were always unspoken options in the previous format.

I think I can get an idea of what is meant by level 8, but 9 feels very vague to me, and I don't presently understand level 10 at all.

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Re: The ERE Wheaton Scale

Post by jacob »

Fish wrote:
Fri Mar 26, 2021 8:10 pm
When looking at the table I notice two paradigms: personal finance (1-5) and lifestyle design (6-10). The objective of PF is to accumulate FU capital to unlock the LD game.

This entire table presumes efficiency as the goal. It is especially evident in 6-10 where the financial aspects are geared towards economic independence and transcending the financial system. Although I have yet to reach the LD stages, I imagine that actualization is the true goal and that finance need not be a part of it.
That's entirely not how I intended/see the roadmap. As described in the 10+ posts around this one viewtopic.php?p=239947#p239947 ... the table is more of a description of a commonly traveled route. Efficiency is just one perspective (stage) along the way.

In the framework of transcending (good framework!) it goes from starting with being controlled by money because it is the scarcest resource for almost everybody. As one starts leaving Plato's Cave, one becomes better at manipulating/handling the solely-known money resource (1-5) and eventually discovers "other resources" (The "Deliberate Consumer" as described in The Stoa Talk https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SPvftqB-WXk ). These resources rise in relative importance and the importance and focus on money fades. This happens around (5-6). [This is also where the "behold my enormous comparative advantage"-tech bros get stuck. "Why should I pick up a screw driver when my giant hammer can easily drive this screw in by sheer force?"]

At 7-8 the stocks and flows of all these resources are put into and consolidated in systems. For someone spending $15k the total market value of these stocks and flow systems might tally $60k, but the actual monetary part of these flows is 4x lower. This is why the ERE HQ looks like our very middle class (60k median house hold income) neighbors on "THE SURFACE".

Now, I'd grant that someone operating under the same stock/flow/system paradigm could tally $100k in annual spending but this would imply they're running an operation with an equivalent "level 1-3" spend of $400k in consumer-world ... and I just don't know what that looks like because I've never seen it. In short, I've never met/seen someone spending over 30k in dollars who also had an integrated understanding of household systems and beyond-money resources. (I mean in the "truly knows" (kennen) sense, not just "knows about" (wissen) sense).

Moving onwards from WL7 to the new WS8, money is now "on tap" which means it fades into the background. It's there when you need it. You realize that your limits for self-actualizing in terms of "access, control, and optionality" are not what you can afford but what you bring to the table. Without those, you're stuck with "touristy"-entertainment like traveling, buying vehicles, "seeing" stuff, and paying for "experience-days".

However WS8 or the new WL8 is somewhat navel-gazing. You're just using your WL7 systems to "entertain" yourself. Basically, who you would be if money was not a problem. Someone who wins the lottery gets an instant chance at this. However, because they usually have zero skills, they'll be back at their old job soon enough. Having a very high-income (100k+) also affords such a lottery ticket resulting in the same story. After a couple of years of realizing the limits of personal skills---insofar the idea does not occur to develop them---it's back to the ole' career. OTOH, if you arrived at WL8 on the long way rather than the short cut, you might find yourself stuck "puttering around in your systems" after a while. There may (or may not) be a need to expand them which becomes possible once the other capital levels are high enough to gain access, control, and optionality to enter other spheres beyond the consistence of your beautiful systems. This sends you to WL9.

In some sense, this WL9 is the career equivalent of someone "who has made it" and who can largely write their own ticket. Except here they have options on all shelves of "being human" and not just within their career ("being a career specialist"). IOW, they can become anyone they want w/o being limited by money or personal skills. This is the "live player", who is no longer self-restrained by the need to be consistent with the systems they've designed. WL9 recreation also seeks to go beyond the self-indulgence that was the recreation of WL1-8---this is basically just opening up an entire new dimension to "play".

I'd say, I'm presently somewhere between 8 and 9, probably closer to 8 but definitely inspired by 9.

As always the last stage 10 is meant as a catch-all for everything beyond. So it's more like 10+. The hippie-talk descriptions are legit enough but represents more of a (my) guess at what a reality-based focus/orientation would be like. Many human development models venture into solving the dualism (body vs soul) problem here, but I see dualism of more of a special-interest (spiritual) problem than the general goal of transcendence... IOW it's a side-road dead-end. I might be wrong. I prefer to keep the descriptions directional (likely accurate) but vague (imprecise).
Scott 2 wrote:
Fri Mar 26, 2021 8:35 pm
Given the FIRE audience tends to be successful white collar professionals, have you considered directly addressing the high earner trap?
No. Also being as that trap happens a few levels behind me, I can feel its existence is beginning to irritate me :mrgreen: The "curse of knowledge" is having an effect as well. I am for the most part getting increasingly ready to leave all this FIRE movement stuff behind for others to deal with. As far as I can tell, in the past few years it's been taken over by WL3 fatFIRE bros and WL4 baristaFIRE types. These are not "my kind of people"---the communications gap is too large. Specifically, I suspect it's easier to teach finance/consumerism to people who are interested in post-finance/post-consumerism than teach post-finance/post-consumerism to people who are interested in finance/consumerism. (Kinda like how Wall Street realized it was easier to teach options-theory to physicists than it was to teach advanced math and programming to MBAs.)

Add: I didn't mean to be haughty. My point is that it's perfectly normal to be "stuck" or perhaps more accurately not see or realize the point of further development for long periods of time or even for the rest of one's life. For example, I sat around 7.5-8 for the better part of a decade and only recently grokked the possibility of breaking out. Certainly someone can reach WL5-6 and not feel any need or drive to break out---living out the rest of their natural life that way. In terms of the "2020 FIRE movement", I don't think I'm your huckleberry. For the most part, "FIRE" has just become the latest "cool" providing all the terminology but practically none of the spirit of the OG FIRE once it was discovered by the traditional high-income wannabe (multi-)millionaire consumer demographic that describes WL3. Also see https://meaningness.com/geeks-mops-sociopaths I don't think it can be "rescued" or "fixed". It just is. Live and let live.

I do agree that the savings rate column can be misleading. It IS technically anchored in the income/spending column. However, I also realized that the median household is now 70k which is much higher than the 48k it was when the first table was made. I started updating the numbers but then I realized that the reference points (GRS, MMM, YMOYL, ERE) are still targeting/living their old non-inflated spending numbers.

What to do ... the problem is if I remove both sets of numbers, the reality-based quantitative grounding falls away and the Forer effect becomes much stronger. I'm undecided.

As it is, the identifier would be the last three columns. Since the recreation column was generalized, it's become more useful in that regard. The numbers columns would then be used for verification.

J_
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Re: The ERE Wheaton Scale

Post by J_ »

jacob wrote:
Sat Mar 27, 2021 8:25 am

What to do ... the problem is if I remove both sets of numbers, the reality-based quantitative grounding falls away and the Forer effect becomes much stronger. I'm undecided.
Keep the numbers please, as this scale is already rather "highbrow" among other things due to the necessity to understand/know what those acronyms stand for.
I searched for the Forer effect and that is also a "danger" to misunderstand this scale.

I consider myself to be in the luxurious position to live somewhere on level 8/9. (Of course I am a victim of the Forer effect too ;) )

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Re: The ERE Wheaton Scale

Post by jacob »

Too late. I just updated the numbers and dropped the acronyms. Also added the '+'s and a disclaimer.
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daylen
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Re: The ERE Wheaton Scale

Post by daylen »

A conversation between Seven, Eight, and Nine:

Seven: Look at this system I just built! It produces meh and uses meh from this other system but could also go without meh and still produce meh.
Eight: What about the dissipation of meh?
Seven: Will I figured that meh was just some friction in the system. Not sure yet how to reduce meh, yet.
Eight: You could always construct this additional meh system that uses the dissipated meh and outputs meh that could be used in your original system. This new meh system would also work with your pre-existing systems like so..
Seven: Wow, that actually makes sense. What would you do?
Eight: Oh, I wouldn't bother with system A, B, and C, I have systems G and H for that.
Nine: This wasn't possible until now, but I have a proposal. I have been engaged with systems X, Y, and Z recently. It appears that X could output meh to A and B, C could output meh to Z, Z could either output meh to G or H, H could output meh to X or B, and the second and third order effects across all other nodes in each of our networks would be positive.
Seven: That seems like a lot to take on.. but I am too curious to say no.
Eight: That is absurd! You would be opening up loops instead of closing them!
Nine: Depends on where you draw your boundary of agency. You see, even in the case that we were to dissociate from each other, Seven would still retain A, B, and C, you (i.e. Eight) would retain G and H, and I would retain X, Y, and Z. In the events of R, S, or T, loss of G or H would send a shock wave though your network requiring a lengthy recovery-time for some of your more peripheral nodes. These outcomes can be hedged against by opening up H to us and thus receiving output from Z in the case of R, S, or T. So, the question I have for you is why not attempt to utilize Seven and myself as live players in your network?

The Old Man
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Re: The ERE Wheaton Scale

Post by The Old Man »

Interesting table. Some questions perhaps.

WL-5 Focus: “Pareto optimized expenses for maximum life enjoyment.” Is this another way of saying Minimalism?

WL-6 to 10: I have a hard time understanding the focus descriptions. Perhaps some examples would be helpful.

Queen of England: Where would she fall on the table? I would say WL-8 would be most appropriate. NW is irrelevant and pounds are on tap as needed limited only by her ability to convince the British people that they need to support the monarchy. Perhaps all nobility and the upper class fall into this category? - their most important capital being social capital.

Medieval Europe: Manors were largely self-supporting with trade and money being used only to acquire the goods they could not make themselves. Would this be an example of WL-7?

Native Americans: Pre-contact they traded with other tribes and money did exist in the form of wampum. Post-contact credit arrangements were also implemented to support the fur trade. They were severely limited, however, because many of the things they wanted they could not make themselves (i.e. guns, powder, blankets, steel products, etc.). Pre-contact I would say WL-9 – dollars are irrelevant. Post-contact I would say WL-8 - NW irrelevant but money on tap as needed only limited by their skills in acquiring furs.

Adam Smith “Wealth of Nations”: Would this be an example of WL-6? His goal was to argue that a nation’s “wealth” was its goods and services and not its gold and silver reserves – “understand yields especially in contexts other than money”. He was arguing to move from WL-5 (Mercantilism) to WL-6.

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