I was looking at my bank statement this morning and, unusually for me, I noticed that there was more money in there than I expected.
It is amazing how cheap doing nothing is.
I have been “careful” on doctor’s instructions over the last few months and the financial consequences are there on the statement in black rather than the old fashioned red.
OK, I am not rich but I am not destitute either. This made me think about how much money I would really have if that mythical fairy godmother waved her wand for me.
I am not sure that I would have any more than I do have now….well maybe a bit more, let’s be honest.
However I really wouldn’t want all those millions and billions that our friends the bankers seem to get so excited about.
It might be a lack of imagination on my behalf or maybe just a consequence of my inability at mathematics but I just cannot see why these people devote their whole lives to the gathering of wealth.
In Wagner’s opera Siegfried, the Giant who has won the Rhinegold hoard and with it all that worldly power, decides to turn himself into a dragon so that he can sit on his money and defend it from anyone who comes looking for it.
I do wonder all these rich businessmen are doing just the same thing.
OK, they can buy expensive carpets and lamp shades and stuff but they don’t seem to be leading interesting lives.
So, as I think this, another financial scandal hits the press.
Now we have the story of Allen Stanford who seems to have played loose with $50 billion.
If you ring his office today, you will hear his recorded message: “This office is temporarily closed. Have a nice day.”
He was the man who brought big money into that apparently most gentlemanly of English sports, cricket. He sponsored a cricket tournament in his own sports stadium in Antigua where each winning player received a prize of £1 million. The England and Wales Cricket Board thought it was all worth it. Worth losing their reputation, like many an innocent young thing, to a man with loads of money.
So the dream is over: for those English cricketers who haven’t found their millions in the Indian league, for those investors who will now presumably end up with nothing and for the rest of us who, naively until recently, thought that successful businessmen were honest.
It is only a short time since America was shocked by the Bernard Madoff scanda and now the FBI are on Mr. Stanford’s trail.
Is he in his Antiguan mansion? His American home? On his luxury yacht? Or, maybe on his private jet?
When you have billions of dollars, you can go almost anywhere. Do almost anything.
That is the dream – one that, if only we act collectively, could be ended for ever.
Look at those heads and former heads of the banks who were rolled out for their PR induced public apologies last week. They may not have broken any law but they gave ample demonstration of how personal greed can have international repercussions and, of course, dire consequences for the poor.
That they were not breaking any laws is an indictment of our legal system.
Can we not decide, collectively, that no one needs those vast amounts of money that have been banded about in recent months?
Who really needs $50 million? What can you spend it on? Those yachts, multiple residences and private jets.
Aristotle Onassis, the late and very rich Greek shipping magnate, used to have chefs produce gourmet meals every day in all of his homes and yachts just in case he happened to drop in.
In the end greed in money just produces greed in everything. Greed and waste. Greed, waste and the celebration of trivia.
None of us need those trappings of wealth. There should be a ceiling above which no income should rise.
People argue that these gross earnings and bonuses are necessary because it is the only way to attract talent into industry. The kind of talent, I assume, that has brought the world’s economy to its knees because a few idolised captains of industry were free to do what they liked in a frenzy of self-aggrandisement.
I can see the appeal of that cherished American dream….that all men are born equal and that all men can go straight to the top.
It is a noble ideal,if not realised in practise. It is definitely more noble than the British aristocratic led social system.
But it has become a dream of greed.
We only need one house – not everyone has even that – we need nutritious daily meals – there are still babies dying of starvation – and we need public investment in our nations’ infrastructure and universal health would be handy.
We are told that all these things will come about as long as we support the dream of personal wealth. As long as we let these people pile up their wealth to such a height that even they cannot count it any more.
Well, what are they doing for us? The odd cricket match or art exhibition perhaps but what else?
Once it used to be seen as fun to drive your car when you were incapably drunk. Now it looks like murder with intent.
Societies can change. We could wake up one day and realize that the kind of country that encourages gross wealth in the few is not a civilized country. That dreams of vast quantities of money and the trappings of wealth, are not only immoral but criminal.
I was going to write about the Brits today – if you don’t live in certain part of Britain, sorry, I’ll explain. The Brits are our major annual music awards.
It was just too boring to take up my or your time today.
Duffy won three awards, gawd!, Kings of Leon got one for the only album of their’s I didn’t like and Coldplay didn’t get an award for their only album that I did like. Enough said. It was very very dull.
I was happy for Elbow though who got their award for best British album. I just wish my copy hadn’t got ruined when my tent got flooded in Cornwall last summer.
Oh, and by the way, on the subject of excessive wealth, do rock stars and footballers earn too much money and do the Queen and all those presidents need to live in palaces?
Do our role models have to be rich? Do we really have to admire them for their lavish, tasteless and often trivial displays of money power?
I suppose Duffy will be buying her palace next…..and her yacht and private jet. Rich people seem to loose their imaginations…in the end I think they must get very bored.