Recall true meaning as jingle tills chime
With the Rugby World Cup and the election behind us, it is time to look ahead to our usual period of frenetic advertising in preparation for Christmas.
I’m not sure which I like less, the over-hyped and long-lasting preparations for the World Cup or the high-decibel incentives to buy large and pay later, much later.
I suspect it is the latter for the simple reason that we get it every year and every year it becomes more insistent and strident, almost as though my attempts to buy something suitable for close relatives and friends to mark the festive season will rescue our country’s economy.
With the amount I can afford to spend this is not likely but the big stores try hard, that’s certain.
As I have mentioned before, I find it difficult to cope with the notion that continued spending by the rank and file of New Zealanders is going to do anything but make our personal financial situations more precarious.
We are constantly receiving mixed messages: ‘‘ Spend, or the economy of our country will fail’’ and ‘‘Save, or we all go down the gurgler’’.
Which do we believe? What remains a mystery to me is the expectation that our economy must continue to grow, infinitely it seems. But how can a finite system grow infinitely? It can’t.
Somewhere along the line common sense must come into the equation, surely. Another question I keep on asking is: how can political people talk of the country being in ‘‘surplus’’ by 2014 and yet admit they will still have to ‘‘start retiring debt’’ after that date?
To my simple mind, if you still have debt, you can’t actually, at the same time, be in surplus. This is something I will never understand.
The economy itself is a mystery, too. Our politicians insist that we have to borrow millions a week to keep our country running.
But, let’s face it – much of these millions is on paper only. It’s a bit like internet banking. You log into the bank’s website, press a few keys on your keyboard and, hey presto.
You have paid a bill or transferred funds from one account to another. But how can I be sure that the ‘‘ money’’ is where it appears to be?
The only cash we seem to handle these days is when we get it from the ATM machine or ask the checkout person for some cash on an eftpos transaction. This is possibly the reason why elderly people sometimes have no faith in electronics when it comes to the exchange of money for goods. And who would blame them?
The question that comes to mind is: just how ethical can economics be? Surely the financial system the world over is geared to making the rich richer and poor poorer.
Of course, it is not a crime to be wealthy, just as it is not a virtue to be poor.
The recently-initiated Occupy movement here and in other countries seems to be crying out for more equity between the haves and the have-nots. I am strongly inclined to agree with their principles, if not with the way they are proclaiming their message.
This gap between rich and poor is starkly illustrated by the season which we celebrate this month. Whether you believe in it or not, Christmas Day is all about a child who was born in a manger because ‘‘there was no room for them at the inn’’.
It is all about respect for every person, no matter his/her origin, colour or creed.
It is all about sharing what we have, be it ever so little, with others to bring them a measure of happiness. May your festive season be peace-filled. And may you not spend too much of your hard-earned cash on riches that will not last.