money,we barely know ye!

peasant wedding, bruegel the elder, c. 1569


the subject of money fascinates me.

ive been on a payroll since ripe age of 14 as a church organist; combined with the experience of growing up in an immigrant entrepreneurial household, i was quite aware that there are so many different ways to earn and spend it, that it can make or break a person, even change them somewhat permanently.

when i started to work after finishing school, that year, first time in my life, i gained real concept of what a 'thousand' dollars feel like.  dad coolly replied that it's because i am billing in units of tens and hundreds, that as a business owner (albeit mompop scale), that he, who deals with thousands on monthly scale on both in and outgoings, would have different feel for units of thousands.

this all made sense.  i remember being in high school, getting paid in hundreds, spending anything on four-digits seemed such a big occasion.  in fact, my first 'big' purchase was well in university, the very fist trans-atlantic flight ticket that costed me 1200 CAD.  at this point, i hardly pay that much for europe-bound fares now (learning about budget airlines, alternative routes, etc) but i remember it being 'over' my then-credit limit of 1,000 dollars.

and now, i have a self-imposed policy that whatever i earn, a half of it must go to savings during working months, as for summer, i am not able to work legally in europe; this puts me in a weird position where there are definite fat and lean periods during the year- however, spending time as funded graduate students did get me ready for this particular rhythm.

i often wonder what it would be like to have regular salary, like minnow does.  among my colleagues, many of us being freelancers, we envy that situation greatly (along with retirement saving scheme, health insurance and job security).  though, it does make me wonder what other people in post-boom generations think- there are many forced early retirement and fire-notices.  lack of jobs with security.  to save in name of 'human resource,' employees being a simple equation part of the generated economic outputs, i feel that the traditional model of full-time work with 'specialization' (including office tasks) are now gone.

thinking in thusand dollars units and in 'month' units, i wonder how others feel about their economical situations- optimistic? pessimistic? nihilistic?

i also learned that there are prices of things- even if one does not pay for it directly, ex. the human cost of consumer electronics in china, which allows wealthier global citizens to procure their goods at heavily discounted price, as young workers slowly die of industrial poisoning with no recoverable future.  And how desire for money can change a person.  how we say 'money is not important in happiness,' while most of would suffer (or already suffer) from terrible anxiety due to shortage of money.

and currently i personally think there is too much of back-lash against money. that money does not buy happiness. that one should not care about money if one is a true artist/philosopher/whatever.  well, karl marx wrote the communist manifesto because he didnt really feel like getting  a regular job- just saying.  i think this misplaced 'hatred' for money is detrimental to individuals, especially the young peeps like me (well, comparatively young ahaha), who may dismiss the importance of saving and having long term goals, how to deal with loans (especially people now tend to take student loans without real consideration for post-secondary education, i feel...)-

so many of this age group groan about the weight of the debt and that the world isnt fair. i agree that the world is not fair, however, i do think the lack of understanding and financial responsibilities is a serious issue- many young kids i know do not actually have weekly, monthly and yearly budget/financial goals and that does scare me. we may become the generation of debt.

i am hoping that i can get back to writing series of blogs on this subject, just to see where things are- my favorite economics writers' works (michale sandel, joseph stiglitz, ha-joon chang, thomas piketty and the likes)  has given me plenty things to think about- and as life is expensive, i am reminded of how lucky i am , to have the time and mental space to consider such issues...

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