Thursday, April 21, 2005

Investing in the future, or something similar . . .

When you save, you park some of your unneeded money somewhere -- bank, bond, stock, mattress -- in hopes that when you want to turn that money into something needed, like food or rent, it will be there. If you put the money into a bank you are thought to be prudent. If you put the money into the stock market you are thought to be a genius when the market rises, and an unfortunate victim when the market falls, as it inevitably but unpredictably does.

When you put your money into any financial institution, bank or corporation, wonder of wonders, they don't actually keep it for you. The institution either spends it frivolously or loans it to some moron who can dress well enough to impress a lending officer. The institution frequently makes some money in spite of itself and sometimes distributes some of the money to you in the form of dividends or interest -- always first assuring that its officers get big bonuses at year end. You, of course, would frequently not approve of how your money gets spent. And when you invest, you are betting that both the money and the institution you put it into will be there when you need it to be, despite observing one institution after another bite the big one over your lifetime. It requires a great deal of blind, unreasoning faith to make this bet. I think this faith used to be called patriotism.

Nowadays, we have a new economic system. It seems mere handsful of shamelessly exploited foreigners can manufacture all the products that are actually needed, and a very great deal more besides. So in response we've turned ourselves into developers and marketers of unneeded goods and services -- just kinda to keep our hand in. Many of us basically get paid for peddling something unnecessary, but if it doesn't sell, we don't eat, so we keep at it anyway. Many more of us, not wishing to peddle garbage, have become what is called -- with a straight face, mind you -- knowledge workers. We collect data and reassemble bits and pieces of it into new and exciting configurations so as to support the making of predominately inconsequential decisions, which in turn mostly have to do with how to sell more shoddy goods and unneeded services. Finally, if we are good at peddling garbage or mining data we get to supervise others in the same sad trades, whether or not we are good at supervising.

But each and every worthless trinket that gets manufactured, bought and soon thereafter pitched into a landfill ( a whole 'nother issue ) contributes, even if only slightly, to keeping some poor desperate drone alive and secure in the knowledge that somehow he matters.

That drone may be you or it may be me. So spend while you can and don't be stingy. It all counts.

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