Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Money, Politics & Business

While we teach our children to respect money and be frugal, what do the grown-ups do?

Grown-ups become ostentatious in their spending as they grab whatever that comes along, feeling justified that they can do whatever they want with their money regardless of others. In the lonely world of theirs, they feel that they need for money to be happy; and, if they do not need the money, they justified it by saying that making money is their way of life which defines the very essence of their existence.

But why do we teach our children to respect money and be frugal. Frugality is not stinginess. Frugality is about not wasting your resources, now throwing about whatever seems to you to be in abundance at the moment. Frugality is about the consciousness of the importance of money in the way we live. Money has an economic role and it must stay that way. To have sufficient money so that we do not have to worry about money matters is the point; to have plenty of money and let money define us is stupidity. We should rise above money issues and focus on the real stuffs of life.

In the economy, money has a role to play and the regulation of money and the task of making sure that money does not misbehave is the job of the central bank. There is a certain failure in this job by central banks around the world. The destruction of money started with the de-regulation of money on the assumption that money will take care of itself. Money is now a drug that has gotten out of control.

In the real world, politicians and businessmen have colluded to share the same mistress called money. Polticians are in power to stay in power and will say and do anything to remain so, even after their expiry dates. Businessmen in power will say and do anything to stay in economic power, but the market will bring them out after their expiry dates even if they refuse to step down. We have our own experience when politicians think they can do economics and run the economy like a political system until their plans fall asunder when the market decides not to play that game anymore - then the politicians blame the market players. It is as if the banker of a card game says that he controls the cards and everybody must play to lose so that the banker can win. Such arrogance comes from tenure, so there must be an enforced expiry date for top politicians - the shorter it should be further up the political power structure.

There is also a need to divorce politicians from money because both are power tools and to have one person or a group of persons controlling all the levels of power is a danger for both the economic and political systems.

Politicians have controlled the economy by nationalising all economic opportunities which they will then dispense at their own discretion. This is why there is so much concern in this country over the issue of tenders, licensing and quotas. We have to build systems of operations for the economy that can be decentralised so that the man and woman in the street can have access to basic economic opportunities by dealing with their local officials, rather than having the big politicians making deals with or becoming big businesses themselves and then retailing their deals down to the ground. The politico-economic system the defines the distribution of wealth nationwide.

The economic system becomes inefficient and not competitive when those with the best business acumen do not have the chance to play direct while the incompetents block the view for everyone. This is why many people have opted not to play this game and have gone on to different playing fields.

The world economic failure is the result of money taking a centre stage in the political and economic game. The obsession with money has everybody mesmised into a standstill. "Now that we have money, what do we do?" There is a poverty of ideas and innovation. The reason the world economy is standing still because banks and businesses do not know what to invest in anymore. The current technology has gone to the level that it has failed to serve mankind anymore (is this why we are all edging towards self-destruction?) If so, then a slower GDP growth is the answer rather than stimulus packages to save the world. Slow down, relax and be happy.

Even in a money-using world where money is everywhere and in everything, the trick is really to think out of the money and into the real world where money becomes a slave and not a master. In this money-not-important world, the reality for happiness is family relationships (and not the office), friendship with people we have met (and not fighting with rivals), our sense of how we are going to actualise ourselves (and not waiting for a bigger position), and quietly preparing ourselves for our own demise (and not trying to monuments to remind others of us).

All the reality in the world can be reduced to just a few simple thoughts in our own minds. We only have to make sure those are our own thoughts, and not something we have memorised and not properly understood. We have to synchronise our thoughts with our hearts. You will find that you can live without money in your mind.

1 comment:

de minimis said...


Once again, you have put your finger on a classic issue. With great power comes great temptation. Without a real and effective check and balance, those with power becomes avaricious. In their common avarice, politicians and their business cronies cook up deals and schemes that have a safety net ... the wonderful device called "bail-out". It would appear that this is as common in the U.S. as it is in Third World countries.