An Innocent Millionaire

Vizinczey, Stephen

Atlantic Monthly Press, 1983

p. 187

John and Shirley Vallentine are plotting to steal Mark’s treasure. Shirley argues herself into the idea that Mark doesn’t really need this treasure: “It isn’t as if he needed emeralds for food and sheets, … He’s young and healthy, he can work. He’s quite good-looking too—I’m sure there are girls who would be glad to look after him. He’d never lack for necessities…If it’s money he wants, he can make scads of money endorsing diving equipment. . . Thieves are judges and philosophers: they summon the victim to the bar of their conscience and find that he doesn’t really need what they want to steal from him. They, too, believe in the Marxist imperative, ‘to each according to his needs.’ What could be fairer and more philosophical? Or more convincing? People tend to perceive others as having more than they need and see themselves as lacking a great many things so that to each according to his needs translates psychologically into less to others and more to us. It is simply a matter of natural justice.”