Money is a great insulator. It can protect you from anything but death, self-doubt and foolishness. Money or a steady supply of it means you never have to worry about being hungry, cold or homeless. It lets you raise your children to feel secure and to succeed. Money in our modern society is essential to live.
You may have little money – then it may seem like an enemy, a thing that constantly haunts your thoughts. I sometimes think that what the Bible should say is that the lack of money is the root of all evil. It isn’t of course; there are many fine people who live their entire life in poverty and many rich monsters.
Money’s insulating quality can have a pernicious effect, too. It can very successfully disconnect you from reality, or at least the reality most people are forced to live. I’ve met a lot of rich people in my life. As individuals they were a mixed lot, some kind, some funny, some serious, some mean. Generally the rich are much like the poor except they have money.
But having money means they can have better health and while money may not buy happiness (actually it does) it is a lot more comfortable to cry in a Mercedes Benz.
Still it is that disconnection to reality that lets people like Stephen Poloz suggest that unemployed youth should take unpaid work to build their resume. His kids don’t have to eat ramen noodles while interning for free (i.e. slavery) with some exploitative corporation. They may live in his basement but the basement comes equipped with a home entertainment system and all the comforts that most homes lack. His kids probably don’t walk to work or even take the bus.
But the funny thing is Stephen Poloz is probably not aware that his kids are not regular kids. They seem regular to him. Just like the Conservative Parliamentary secretary who crowed about how good income splitting was for families like his – stay at home mom and two kids – apparently oblivious to the fact that with his $184,000 salary his household had a higher income that 94% of all Canadian households. I’ve occasionally had to say to well-meaning people who feel all warm towards conservative polices – of course you feel that way, you’re rich.
I’m rich too. My household income is certainly in the top 20% maybe even the top 15%. But I have been in recent memory poor as well. Poor enough that I didn’t know where the next month’s rent would come from. That’s one of the advantages of working in the arts I guess.
I won’t always be rich but I will never be poor again. I’ve got some money in the bank and a regular reliable stream of it in the future. I’ll be comfortable until I die. Unless I do something (else) foolish.
But I hope I can always remember that other people are not so lucky and that in a rich country like Canada that is just wrong.
But that’s ten minutes.