The Man Who Quit Money

Monday, June 11, 2012

Mark Sundeen tells about Daniel Suelo, who in 2000 left his life savings—all thirty dollars of it—in a phone booth and has lived without money ever since. In The Man Who Quit Money Sundeen gives an account of how he learned to live, sanely and happily, without earning, receiving, or spending a single cent.


Mark Sundeen

Comments [13]

John A.

desdemona, there are tons of homeless out in the west to find. No NY winters there.

Jun. 11 2012 01:33 PM

Hugh, you wrote: "We might think that Suelo is living as people did thousands of years ago, but would this be a reasonable reading of how he's living? As the guest says, he is dependent on what others leave behind...."

You're absolutely correct. Our modern economic system replacing the less efficient barter system with a medium of exchange (which, by the way, actually still is "barter") is what has taken hundreds of millions of people out of poverty these last two centuries. It's what has allowed us to develop extraordinary technologies—such as the internet which you and I are now expressing our opinions on. If everyone chose Daniel's lifestyle, how long do you think civilization would last? It's because so much wealth has been created that people like Daniel can "afford" to revert back to a much more primitive lifestyle. This is not a condemnation of him (I myself have a pretty simple materialistic lifestyle; I only buy what I need, not what I want.)—just a reminder that it is our modern economic market system that has given us an exponentially better standard of living that most people in first world and developing worlds have today in comparison with even royalty from a few hundred years ago.

Jun. 11 2012 01:30 PM
john from office

I met this guy on the 6 train, the life is not fun nor uplifting.

The Unibomber was of the same tree.

Jun. 11 2012 01:28 PM

What an interesting contrast between Samuel Zemurray and Daniel Suelo.... Have to wonder how the two would interact.... Something suggests to me that they might have a surprising amount in common.

Jun. 11 2012 01:28 PM

What a snooze. You could make the case that this guy was deeply damaged by his fundamentalist upbringing and is so conflicted and guilt-ridden over his homosexuality that he has adopted a life of permanent penance.

Jun. 11 2012 01:27 PM
BradH from UWS

This man sounds so uninteresting
I am switching to QXR until this segment is over.
Good luck with the book, Bub.

Jun. 11 2012 01:24 PM
John A.

Say something that reflects a result from Daniel's Spiritual quest.
Perhaps a revelation that would make his parents proud.

Jun. 11 2012 01:24 PM

We might think that Suelo is living as people did thousands of years ago, but would this be a reasonable reading of how he's living? As the guest says, he is dependent on what others leave behind....

Jun. 11 2012 01:22 PM
desdemona finch from Brooklyn

Are you sure this guy exists? I'd be more convinced if you interviewed him and he wrote the book. But it wouldn't be the first time someone cooked up a book.

Jun. 11 2012 01:21 PM
Leah from NYC

I appreciate your guest's mentioning Heidemarie Schwermer but wonder why she is given such short shrift? Is hers not as "sexy" (in p.r. terms) a story? Obviously your guest wrote what he wrote about the subject he chose. But I think that if there is only one other person that he knows of living money-free, she deserves a bit more mention, even in this segment.

I'm reminded of the fact that the first person to survive a trip over Niagara Falls was a middle-aged woman who was never lauded, perhaps because she was simply not "attractive" (broadly speaking) to the general public. Not the right person to hold their awe?

Jun. 11 2012 01:20 PM

Moving indeed! just to be clear, I have come across many people like this in my travels out west!

Many people -- from what I met, mostly Europeans, actually, are living in American caves as well, raising goats, fishing, foraging, etc.

Jun. 11 2012 01:19 PM
Belinda from White Plains

Very moving and, I suppose, inspiring. I want companionship and a home

Jun. 11 2012 01:17 PM

Years ago I hitched around Oregon and California for several years -- started with $$, food, backpack, etc. -- via my fellow travelers from around the world, at the time, the goal became to do all this with no $$, food, backpack.

Great experience, very cleansing. Until winter came!

Jun. 11 2012 01:11 PM

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