Money matters May 26, 2010Posted by Siew in Society.
Robert Kiyosaki is a man whom I knew about, but never really paid much attention to. I remember distinctly the kind of effect that he had on the assitant director of the student’s affiars department in my university, and I remember conversations with him turning quite unpleasant when discussions about student activities turned towards profit and money. That man waxed lyrical about the great Robert and the wisdom that he brought to the world, but I never did appreciate him trying to teach university students how to make money with student activities. But this isn’t about the somewhat distant past. Its about a rather dull lesson in personal finance that I had with a bunch of new colleagues.
I got an invite from a very excitable new friend to join in a boardgame session. I was told that it was a lot like monopoly. To be honest, I was already expecting what was coming, having seen an investment based boardgame being pushed to MMU students some time last year. And I was right. I went there with my housemates to be and within half an hour, they faked an incoming phonecall with their iPhone and left. Without me. Shrug. The bastards.
Anyway, the game itself was simple enough. You go round the board collecting paycheck after paycheck and decide what you want to do with that money. Once in a while share options and realestate option will crop up. You then decide what the economically feasible thing to do is. As a game, I admit, its pretty fun, although the financial planning element of the game is painfully simple. But I was a little weirded out by the way the game came packaged automatically with a flurry of financial advise. The game seems to preach on ‘leveraging’ on the labour of others and using ‘other people’s money’. According to the organizer of the session, Kiyosaki’s aim is to make more people richer. Apparently, the gap between the rich and poor is only going to get larger and you might as well get on the rich side.
I find that kind of thinking to be a bit unnerving. I actually asked the question “Do you realize that if your message reaches enough people in the world, we will ultimately reach an unsustainable economy?” She said she did. Then I asked her if the message is essentially speeding up the widening of the gap which would ultimately lead to political collapse once the gap is wide enough. She shrugged. It felt like I was talking to Bush. You are either with us or against us.
I admit to being somewhat concerned about my financial security, but I have never once asked myself if I could ever continue my lifestyle if I were to be fired tomorrow. I have never given a thought to passive income. I just think it makes for a very lonely world, where people think primarily about taking care of themselves and making sure that they don’t need to rely on other people. This is going to sound philosophical, but I think it erodes the biggest competetive edge that humans have over the rest of the life and that is the social intergration that we have. We no longer complement one another, we compete against one another. And at some point, I think we will find that there is no one competing next to us, and eveyone is fighting for themselves. There is no more team. Just me and you.