“Camp, I just read that article in the Coast Reporter that points out that 30% of local renters spend over 50% of their income on rent, putting them at risk of homelessness,“ I said as soon as I sat down at our corner table on the glassed in veranda, loosing no time in airing what’s been bothering me.
“Yes, I read it,” Campbell or Camp to us patrons at ‘Gramma’s’ said, “and just as many people are one payday away from being broke.”
“We are the lucky ones Camp,” I said, “we have money to drink, eat and buy stuff. I’ve been thinking that money has a lot to do of how we look at the world, each other and the future.”
“You’re right there,” Camp said. “Money, or the lack thereof, is what rules our existence. Money has been called many things from the curse of mankind to its saviour. Some are born into it, most of us work hard for it; millions of people never have any, no matter how hard they work.”
“I know, but being born rich doesn’t guarantee personal success in life but on the other hand nobody sympathizes with a depressed millionaire.”
“The majority of the planet’s 7 billion homo sapiens are born into poverty and into a life of drudgery, toil and subsistence. Common clichés like: Money isn’t everything or Money can’t buy you love is not the kind of wisdom that serves the poor dirt farmer in Uttar Pradesh or South Sudan. We also know that money breeds snobbery and self-aggrandizement to the point where some meatheads equal being rich with being favoured by God himself,” Camp stated unequivocally, downing half his pint in one go. He was either very thirsty or agitated. Probably both.
“Money can buy almost anything except Immortality, Youth or Truelove,” I said, taking a long drought from my mug as well. This warm weather makes for a healthy thirst.
“Except from exactly those three – the holy trinity you might say – the most money is made,” Camp insisted. “The cosmetics and fashion industry cater to everlasting youth, religions extol and guarantee eternal after-life and love is for sale in the guise of sex, drugs and happiness, promised by a myriad of potions, books and dating sites.”
“But where does money really come from.,” I asked, knowing Camp would have an answer.
Camp sat back in his chair and rubbed the side of his nose, a telltale sign that he is about to step on his soap box. “A government or a bank prints a quantity of money and then they hire and pay a group of people to dig a hole. When the hole is deep enough, they hire another group to fill it in, while the first group digs a new hole. Now two groups have money and income with which they can buy things, which prompts others to make stuff and add value to various commodities as well as create services like clothing, transportation and yes, even pubs. Commerce and industry is now in full swing,” Camp lectured with one professorial finger pointing in the air while balancing a half a pint with the other hand.
“Personally I like having enough money so I don’t have to worry about it.,” I quipped.
“How much is that?” Camp said. “I don’t desire millions because that amount of money implies responsibilities. I would have to invest, divest and probably hire people like lawyers, advisers and servants to manage the millions. It gives me a headache just thinking about the implications of being filthy rich.”
“Well, I have a working wife whom I fully support with cooking, shopping, washing and cleaning. The kind of responsibility I can handle and according to Clare is the perfect division of labour, which cannot be expressed in simple monetary terms. You’re priceless, she told me the other day. I’m not sure if she referred to my invaluable domestic services or my lack of ambition.”
“Likely both,” Camp said.
“There was a time when I thought I could make some money for nothing, you know, invest in the big casino called the stock market. I got this tip standing in line at the grocery store. ‘Opportunities like that come once or twice a lifetime,’ I argued with Clare who was adamantly shaking her head. “Let me quote you a guy in the know love, she said. Warren Buffet famously said: ‘When everybody else gets in the stock market, it’s time to get out.”
“What does that tequila head from Margarita Ville know about the stock market?” I retorted. No need to explain why Clare’s mouth wouldn’t close for lack of air. I was confusing Warren and Jimmy.
“Even if you behave like the perfect idiot, I can’t help it, I still love you,” she said. Which makes me the luckiest – not the richest – man in the universe.”
Camp chuckled and said: “All the money that passes through my life, I never see any of it. It disappears down the rabbit hole of bills and debts and just leaves enough left over for a couple of pints every now and then.”
“Let the government buy the next round,” I offered. “I just got my tax rebate.”
“You two talking high finance?” Vicky said. She has ears that can hear the sound of an empty glass being set down from a mile away. “I advise investing into a refill which will earn you instant benefits.”
We couldn’t argue with that.