Wednesday, 14 January 2009
all that stuff
I don't have a pic of Rooi Els, but the middle of Table Bay is a good place to scream your freedom to the world.
Today I have asked Pete Carruthers of the business support site Pete's Weekly to be my guest and give us his take on what's really important in 2009.
Here's what he has to say:
By now you will have noticed that the entire world financial system is geared towards making you spend more. That's not you in the generic sense - I mean you, personally .
The world economic system is built on the two of us continuing to buy stuff. (That's just you and me.) So what happens when we stop? I am glad you asked, because I've decided to take a break, and that means the entire economic crisis is your fault!
It's not enough that we spend what we earn. Growth means we have to spend a bit more than we earn. And the system will do whatever it can to help you do just that.
But what happens when you lose your job? Or you can't import anymore because the Rand has gone a little too far south? Or your Rand income drops to just enough Pounds to buy three coffees at your local Caffe Nero? (That's the UK equivalent of Mugg & Bean, without the service or the bottomless mug.)
These are slimming times, but I thought I might add a few more words to the subject. This time about the stuff we accumulate when times are good. (The leather jackets, the cars, the doodads, the - as the Brits say - Tatt!)
We become very attached to our stuff. And we get rather anxious when somebody threatens to take it away. (That's how they force us to work harder to pay their bills.)
This past week I received an email from somebody who was legally deprived of all his stuff. (As opposed to that less legal, but much more common method that happens in the car park while you're at the Mugg and Bean, or just sipping a coffee at the Waterfront.)
He felt liberated. Nobody could threaten him any more (at least not effectively) because there was nothing left to take. It reminded me of how I felt back in '93.
They can't throw you in jail. They can't take the kids. In fact, after that first cleansing experience, they can't do much at all. It is rather liberating when you realise that it's over.
They can't even stop you heading out to Rooi Els, walking out over the rocks, until that very last ledge, behind the ridge, where all you can see is the sea. (And nobody on shore can see you ripping your clothes off and screaming your frustrations away before taking out a beer and getting a sun tan.)
That water has been crashing onto the waves since forever, and will continue to do so long after both of us are gone. It's very balancing to know how insignificant that debt is in the galactic scheme of things. Now, what was that problem again?
If you're a purist no doubt you'll point out that they can garnishee your salary. (That's when the bank applies to your employer to have a portion of your salary redirected in their direction.) That's sure an issue as long as you have a salary. So don't have one! (One of the many joys of self employment is the structural flexibility.)
The problem, boys and girls, is that when we play the game by their rules, they always win. Time to stop, and play Aussie rules.
At the ripe old age of 50 I realise just one thing. It's not the stuff that's important. Nor is it the income flow. It's the people. It's the woman of my dreams and my children. They matter. The rest is nice to have, but not essential. But the people? They're the reason I exist.