It’s just money to burn, right?

The Times (South Africa) - - The Things You Need To Know Today - By TOM EA­TON

● “Bad news,” you tell your beloved as you slump at the kitchen ta­ble af­ter a long day at the of­fice. “I’ve done the sums and we’re not go­ing to have enough money to get through next year.”

Beloved is alarmed: “Where did it all go?”

“I’ve been star­ing at the bank state­ments and all I can think is that it was that time I drew a quar­ter of our life sav­ings and pushed it through a pa­per-shred­der.

“But don’t worry,” you say, “our new in­vest­ment is still fine.”

“What new in­vest­ment?”

“Oh, it’s a hot new start-up run by my mate Stinky. He says burn­ing money is the next big thing and he’s get­ting in right on the ground floor.”

“Oh God …”

“I know, it’s bril­liant. He says ev­ery­one is burn­ing money th­ese days, but no­body has the time to do it well. So what he does is, he takes your money and he burns it for you — and you have to pay him only a 10% ser­vice fee.”

Beloved be­gins to sob. “What are we go­ing to do?”

“Well,” you say, “you’re prob­a­bly go­ing to have to eat less and get a sec­ond job. I’m still go­ing to eat the same amount. In fact, prob­a­bly more. But I’ll work the same hours.”

Ab­surd, right? Ex­cept that’s what hap­pened this week when the state’s ac­coun­tants told us they were fac­ing a R13-bil­lion tax rev­enue short­fall for the first quar­ter.

Still, I feel for SARS. I mean, where could they find an ex­tra R13-bil­lion?

Yes, the state spends al­most a bil­lion a year on lawyers to fix its screw-ups, R300-mil­lion of which is for han­dling po­lice-re­lated crimes — but you can’t ex­pect the po­lice not to shoot peo­ple, right?

And yes, it spent R2.6-bil­lion on trains that didn’t work so that the Gup­tas could get their cut, but trains and blessers are com­pli­cated things, OK?

And yes, it’s about to give an­other R10-bil­lon to SAA, but show me one sin­gle na­tional car­rier that makes a profit. Ex­cept Qantas. And Bri­tish Air­ways. And Malaysian. And Ethiopian. Shut up.

And yes, even if you ig­nore the re­ported R10-bil­lion a year that goes to state cap­tors, there’s the com­mon or gar­den R25-bil­lion lost to “waste­ful and ir­reg­u­lar spend­ing”; but that John­nie Blue isn’t go­ing to pay for it­self, you know.

“So dry your eyes, Beloved. Shh. I love you. We’re such a great team. Now, get out there and earn my liv­ing.”

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