Tuesday 24 September 2013

Filthy lucre

Who'd have thought that Radiohead would be
advanced thinkers in the field of economics?
You may notice the Paypal button over to the right of the blog now.
In fact if you haven't noticed it, NOTICE IT NOW!
I would like to think I am not hung up on money, I certainly don't want to be as rich as Rupert Murdoch, but, as you know well, I don't want to be spending the rest of my life listening with frantic intent to the sounds of my car, praying that no new rattle or thunk emerges to disturb the equanimity of my days.
Paul Barrie on Media Watch did say though that "we should be prepared to pay for good journalism", and so, I have at least put the link there so anyone can donate if they feel like it.
NB: Whether my gibberings can be described as good is another question, but I can categorically say that I am a better journalist than anyone at The Telegraph.
So what have Radiohead got to do with this?
Well I, like many, was impressed when Radiohead, maddened no doubt by the lengths record companies were going to try to protect the music they had payed so much for, put their latest album up on the web and asked people to pay what they thought it was worth.
I cannot find any source to tell me what, if anything, people paid for it, but I hope it was fair.
Which reminds me of another little piece of economic mastery that the all governments across the world would do well to contemplate.
My friend Antony the super engineer was telling me that an engineer he knew did a study on Sydney's train system.
It was discovered that it would be cheaper for the taxpayer if all train rides were free.
The amount of money spent on turnstiles, ticketing, and inspectors to see that you have bought your ticket, is so massive that it completely eclipses the mere costs of making the trains move.
On the topic, probably the most famous quote to do with money is, "money is the root of all evil".
However, as I learned on a gardening course of all places, the full quote is: "The love of money is the root of all evil."  
Another odd character to find espousing valid
economic theory - Michael Palin in Fierce Creatures.
Which I think you would agree is a different matter entirely.
Being hung up on how much money you have is a recipe for unhappiness.
And as Michael Palin's character in Fierce Creatures said to the boss, a caricature of Rupert Murdoch, "how much is enough?"
And likewise it is something I have always wondered, how much is enough?
When I was working in the corporate world of Sydney, I used to hang around with a lot of rich people.
Some of them thought nothing of spending $500  on a Friday night for drinks, pokies, dinner and cabs back and forth across Sydney. 
One of them came into the bar one Friday and announced he had just exchanged contracts for a one-bedroom unit in Bondi costing $900,000.
I was earning six figures myself and boy, is that world a long way away.
I don't want to write anything trite about "but was I really happy?", (I can assure you that at ten pm on a Friday night with ten beers under the belt and a load of glamourous women in the bar, I was certainly episodically happy), but it was the period when I first began to contemplate the idea that once you began to earn money, at what point do you stop?
Well there is no answer to this, but an often quoted breakpoint is when you've paid off the mortgage. 
However, you can't stop there because you've got to keep earning money for ongoing maintenance and repair, then there are the rates, then insurance, then your kids have to go to college, then you crash your car and need another one.
And so it goes seemingly eternally.
So how much is enough is a question in the realms of 'if a tree falls in the forest', but I will give you a few examples.
A guy I played soccer with at Uni was a classic figure of well-to-do north shore.
Private school then Economics/Law at Sydney Uni.
On graduating he then went to work for the MacQuarie Bank, the so-called "millionaires factory", and after some years there he quit and went white water rafting for the rest of his life.
I don't know if he became a millionaire, though I strongly suspect he did, but to his credit he said, "this is enough", and went out and paddled a lot of trout streams.
I might add Keith was telling me that he went to the Snowies in summer one year for a white water session but found that the drought had lowered the river levels to the point where even a kayak scraped the rocks, so they set their kayaks up next to the road and paddled against the stop watch to at least get some fitness training.
It provided tourists driving past with some wacky photos at least.
Another example was a Canadian friend, Dean, whom I worked with at Greenpeace in Vancouver.
Dean had worked with a merchant bank for some years, earning in the realms of $250,000, but eventually he didn't say, "how much is enough?", but "I've had enough".
He woke up one morning and realised he couldn't give the tiniest shit about the movements of money and so quit.
Dean was telling me that he had taped the word 'ignore' over 'hold' on his phone, showing the first cracks in his ability to deal with customers.
While he was looking around for something to do he began working with Greenpeace and used his mighty sales and administration skills to earn Greenpeace a lot of money.
And it has to be said, he did become happier.
He worked four days a week, attracted the attention of all the women in the office and rode his push bike vast distances (to California once) in the company of his German friend Tomas.
And so to myself, as ever.
When my father retired from Charles Sturt Uni he attended some retiree seminars and one thing he was strongly advised not to do was move.
The idea of retiring and then moving to the coast, or somewhere nicer, is often fatal as you get there and don't know anyone.
Understanding the sense of this I 'retired' at age 39 and moved to the place I had always wanted to live, Byron Bay.
Now when my knees are too creaky for me to weed and my wrist no longer closes the secateurs with needed force, I am in the right place for my retirement.
Do I have enough money? No, but I am as happy as anyone with my childhood can be.
If you have any further interest in economics and the cycles of cash, then I recommend this book, Eat the Rich, by P.J.O'Rourke.

In it he travels the world to try to discover why some countries are rich and some poor.
For instance, Tanzania has more mineral wealth than Canada, yet lies in the bottom fifty of the world's countries by wealth.
Albania fell to the absolute bottom thanks to government condoned pyramid schemes, and with the breakdown of internal economics and then the rule of law, the military began selling their weapons to buy food, ultimately leading to the First Bank of Albania being robbed using a tank.
Economics it has been famously said is at best a pseudo-science.
It has lots of jargon and plenty of equations, but predictive outcomes, none.
To expand on that.
A chemist can tell you if you add these two chemicals, in these two amounts, at these conditions, this reaction will occur.
Thus if you park your car near the ocean every day for six months, oxidation of the ferrous metals, or rusting will occur.
Economists can take the same economic system, with the same inputs of labour and capital, and get a different outcome each time.
As someone once put it best, "economists can't tell you what will happen tomorrow, but can tell you why you why they were wrong yesterday".
So to close with, in my opinion, the best fable I ever heard about the pursuit of the money.
A man lived on the coast of Portugal and fished each day to feed his family.
One day an agent from a major bank in Lisbon was touring the area and got talking with the fisherman.
The fisherman was saying that the downside to his life was that some days he caught nothing and his family went hungry.
Other days the ocean was too rough and he couldn't go out at all, and likewise hunger was the order of the day. 
So the bank agent says, "well if my bank loans you some money, you could buy a bigger boat and a freezing plant, then you could catch a lot in one go, freeze a load, then sell the rest to pay off the loan."
To which the fisherman says, "What then?"
So the agent says, "well if it goes well, you could then buy a second boat and employ another fisherman to work it, then you would make even more money."
Again the fisherman replies, "and then?"
"Well", responds the agent, "if it goes really well, you can have a fleet of fishing boats, and you don't have to go out at all, just stay in the office and administer your fleet."
The fisherman nods and says, "and then what?"
And the agent replies, "Well then when you've made enough, you can retire and just go fishing."
Says it all really.


1 comment:

  1. How I Got My Loan From A Genuine And Reliable Loan Company

    I am Mrs.Irene Query i was in need of a loan of $150,000 and was scammed by those fraudulent lenders and a friend introduce me to Dr Purva Pius,and he lend me the loan without any stress,you can contact him at (urgentloan22@gmail.com) Approvals within 2-4 Hours

    1. Name Of Applicant in Full:……..
    2. Telephone Numbers:……….
    3. Address and Location:…….
    4. Amount in request………..
    5. Repayment Period:………..
    6. Purpose Of Loan………….
    7. country…………………
    8. phone…………………..
    9. occupation………………
    11.Monthly Income…………..

    Email Kindly Contact: urgentloan22@gmail.com