Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Paul Carr (who?) Write About His Fight Against Alcoholism in the Wall Street Journal and Spending His Savings from Not Buying Booze on a $1,000 Pen

He Also Declines to Make Apologies – a Mitt Romney Type of Guy

The weekend edition of the Wall Street Journal is usually a joy to read, with the lifestyle and review sections providing all sorts of interesting reading.  But this is the Wall Street Journal, and even when they have a nice article on how an alcoholic was able to battle that terrible affliction, they still know who their audience is.

Paul Carr is a British born author who has documented his journey through life in several books.  His most recent book details how he has successfully, so far, won the battle against alcohol, and the Journal has a very nice extended article by him in which he describes his methods.

The good part, the really good part of the story is that Mr. Carr emphatically states that what worked for him is not necessarily what will work for everyone, or even anyone else.

I don't have any magical secrets, and I don't want your hundred dollars. In fact, I actively discourage you from taking this as gospel. If you decide to quit drinking, you should do it on your own terms and for your own reasons. 

And Mr. Carr goes to considerable lengths to describe why he did not to the AA route, which is fine, that route is not for everyone.  But here is Mr. Carr describing something else he did not do.

Step Six: Stop Apologizing 

In AA, they're very clear on what to do about friends you have wronged. Except where it would be harmful (for them), you should contact everyone you've upset, apologize, and do some unspecified thing to make it up to them. But this struck me as self-indulgent.

In the weeks and months that follow your decision to quit, your friends will likely be hugely supportive, but the blunt truth is they'll expect you to fall off the wagon sooner or later. Any apology you make during that time will lack impact. "Fine," they'll think, "but if you're really sorry, you'll stay sober." And so that's what you must do. If you're really sorry for how you've behaved, and genuinely grateful that your friends are still around, then the best amends you can make is to stay on the wagon. Anything else is just words.

Okay, that is reasonable even if others disagree, but then there is this.

To mark six months dry, I bought myself a Montblanc Meisterstück fountain pen for a shade under $1,000. I'd never have spent that much on a pen while drinking, because of my habit of leaving expensive items in bars and cabs. As such, it's the perfect pocket-size reminder of how much I've changed.

Wow, Mr. Carr doesn’t want to do something like trying to make amends to the people he has harmed, because that would be ‘self indulgent’ and he goes out and buys a $1,000 fountain pen because, we guess, that is not self indulgent!  Note to Mr. Carr: buying a Montblanc pen is the very essence of self indulgence.  It is what is listed in the dictionary under ‘self indulgence’.

Unlike almost every other reader of the WSJ, The Dismal Political Economist had no idea that you could even buy a fountain pen for $1,000.00 or what a Montblanc Meisterstuck is.  But he does know that alcoholism is an insidious disease that affects not only the sufferer but all of those around him or her.  And an alcoholic does substantial damage to his or her friends and family.

So the decent thing to do, even if one does not make apologies, is that if one has a spare $1,000 lying around they might buy some nice gifts for the people that have suffered from Mr. Carr’s prior self indulgence, which is at least part of what alcoholism is.  Yes, conceivably that might be a better idea and than spending $1,000 for a pen.  See Mr. Carr, you can get a nice BIC for about $1.00, and then you would have $999.00 to either spend on others to try to make amends, or at least join a self-help group for people whose callous indifference to the suffering they cause others allows them to spend $1,000 on a pen.

But then, if Mr. Carr was the type of person to do that he would not be given space to spew in the Wall Street Journal, would he. 


  1. You took this out of context. Typical blogger. You forgot all of the other stuff he wrote about pertaining to the pen.

  2. Because of this comment I went back and looked at the entire WSJ article. There was nothing else in there about the pen that was not presented here.

    Now it may be that there is more in his book, I did not read the book and based the post here solely on the article in the WSJ as should be evident. But in re-reading the article I would stand by my statements, I see nothing noble in buying oneself a $1,000 pen to celebrate sobriety. I do so a lot of self-indulgence.