Is it possible that the czars of finance are out of touch?
Money is a funny thing, and my feelings about it are getting increasingly complicated.
My feelings are largely shaped by The New York Times, which I study every morning along with my local newspaper. I make allowances for the fact that it has a liberal cant, but the range of subjects it covers is unmatched and so is the quality of writing and research. Plus it has many photographs—wonderful photographs that venture into the field of art.
My subscription is expensive, so I need money for that. Printed newspapers are struggling, and I feel a little anxious about this one going out of business, as though its disappearance or relegation to the computer screen would result in a major drain of the country’s intellectual lifeblood. Truth to tell, I kind of wish the Times were required reading. Maybe we could institute that and call the subscription a tax. There is real potential in this new concept.
Anyway, my ambivalence about money often comes up on seeing the evidence of the means by which the Times stays in business. I refer to enormously expensive ads that address the very wealthy.
Women’s purses and men’s watches are clearly a major status symbol. A recent ad by Chanel offered a handbag at $5,300. My uneasy response is that any woman who can spend that much money on a purse should be doing something more important with it.
On the same page, Tourneau was promoting an 18-carat yellow gold man’s wrist watch for $63,100. Just imagine. In this economy, you could buy a good house for that somewhere. At the same time that I’m kind of appalled, I’m also glad that ads catering to the wealthy are keeping the newspaper afloat.
But what if everyone were seeing these ads? How would they respond? Especially since the Times does not stint in covering grim economic news.
It recently reported that central banks in Europe and China as well as the Federal Reserve are aggressively pursuing policies to encourage people to borrow and spend and take greater risks in their investments. How can this work? Isn’t borrowing how we all got into this fine kettle of smelly fish? Is it possible that the czars of finance are out of touch?
Of course we all know we should be shopping to get things going again, but you need money to shop. Unfortunately, the wealthy have a lot of shopping money tied up in the maximally safe investments managed by investment advisors. All those guys are also wearing very fancy watches.
And how much shopping can the super-wealthy do to take up the slack? I mean, how many groceries, computers, cars, dresses, pairs of pants, watches, books, etc., does any multi-millionaire family need? It would wear them out to shop as much as scores of people would if a million dollars were dispersed among them.
On the other hand, the wealthy family could keep the money, in a manner of speaking, by shopping, shopping, shopping, and giving the purchases away to people who really need them. That would generate revenue for businesses, and they would start hiring. The economy would rev up, and everybody would become excited and hopeful again.
As for the wealthy, they would not only have fun shopping, they would also avoid having their money taxed heavily to create a safety net for those who don’t have enough. And no, there couldn’t be a tax deduction for shopping. This would need to stay simple.
I’m happy that I have thought of this idea. It could be a really good thing. And it might counter another one currently germinating about the money of the top 1%, namely, “You don’t know what to do with it. Maybe we should take it away from you.”
I believe that is what you call revolution.