I have tried to write this post many times. I'm not sure I have it right even now, but I have to start somewhere.
In 1974 I thought this song was the coolest song ever. That bass line, the words you could actually hear and learn yourself, the guitar riffs... Now I find it chilling in its meanings. In 1974 I had only the beginnings of an understanding of money. I didn't care to collect any more of it than I needed and really couldn't see why everyone had to have Adidas-labelled stuff. It seemed to me they were paying Adidas extra just so they could carry around an advert.
Later, I was seduced by easy credit and ended up skint. I still didn't understand money, and I had a PhD by that stage. Okay, it wasn't in anything even vaguely money-related but even so. You'd think someone calling themselves 'doctor' would be smart enough to read the small print. Don't you believe it. That 419 Email scam is still going for a reason - otherwise intelligent people are still falling for it.
Now? Well, now money is a transition, a means to an end. I don't want a Lear jet or a yacht or a football team so I don't ever need to earn enough for those things. I like good malt whiskies and tobacco, which are still expensive but nowhere near the price of a Bentley or a ticket to Cancun in business class. I earn as much as I need to cover bills and pay for the stuff I want and then I stop.
Why? Because I am beginning to understand money, and one thing I understand very clearly is that if I get into the 40% tax bracket, from then on I am handing over more than half my earnings to the State. Including NI, it's more than half and that's before I get started on cigarette and booze duty and VAT. In all, it's much more than half. I will not work that hard. I will not work and then hand over more than half of what my work earns to some snide git who has done nothing to earn it, and who will spend it on 'No Smoking' signs and legislation that is designed to make my life miserable. These people will make up lies that drones will believe, and they will send those drones to torment me. It is bad enough that I'm paying for that already. I will not work harder and pay them more.
This year I have reached my stop point already. I might well take on more work between now and April but there will be no more bills sent out in this tax year unless there is sufficient work expenditure to bring the tax liability back into the safe zone. You know, the day might come when I send out bills on April 6th and then stop working for the rest of that year.
Pink Floyd's song is a comment on the world's obsession with money. I have no such obsession. If I won the lottery, what car would I buy? Answer - none. If I won the lottery I wouldn't need to go anywhere. Would I mingle with the rich and famous? No. I don't like most of them and I haven't even met them. Parties are not my thing, neither are night clubs, especially now that they all come with people who count your units and calories for you and then have an attack of the vapours if they find out you're a smoker. I'd go for a pint with Shaun Ryder but I'd do that now, if the chance arose. Well, maybe in summer. We'd both have to sit outside, remember.
So what would I do if I won millions? I honestly wouldn't know what to do with it. The only thing I've ever come up with is to place it in accounts that earn just enough interest to keep me just under the 40% tax rate, and run microbiological experiments for free. Pay off the mortgage. What else? Um... no idea.
If I bought a great big house I'd pay massive amounts of council tax. I'd be a target for burglars who would assume I'd have lots of valuables in there (I'd probably have lots of empty space and one of those radio controlled monster trucks Tesco are currently selling half-price). I would spend an hour every night checking everything was locked and jump at every creak and crack. I would not have staff because of the crazy laws around employment. No, I'd still live in this little semi-detached. The only difference would be that I would have ample leisure time to annoy the neighbours. Oh, and I'd be drunk pretty much all the time. I'd have that £40 bottle of Lagavulin on the day I banked the cheque.
I am reminded of that Bonzo Dog Doodah band song, the title of which escapes me but I'll rummage in the CD box later, which included the verse -
Mrs. Betty Tench was playing the trombone when she heard a knock at the door.
On opening it, instead of the turbaned ruffian she expected
She found a very nice young man.
"Mrs Tench, you've won the car contest,
would you like a Triumph Spitfire or twenty thousand in cash?" He smiled.
Mrs. Tench took the money.
"What will you do with it all, not that it's any of my business?" he giggled.
"I think I'll become an alcoholic," said Betty.
They'd be in prison for singing it now.
(Update - thanks to Snowdon in the comments for the title. It's Rhinocratic Oaths, and I have not accurately remembered the words.)
I don't play the lottery because I don't believe I will ever win and because, deep down, I don't really want to. Money is not the stuff of life. I found that out when I had none at all. There are people who pay massive amounts of money for clothes that advertise the clothes maker. Why? All it says is 'I am a rich idiot who pays companies to let me advertise for them'. Clothes from supermarkets are just as warm. Clothes from charity shops are often better because they were made in times when clothes were built to last. I can get a plain white shirt for three pounds in a supermarket. After a few washes it goes grey. So I buy another one and drop that one in the clothes collection bins at the recycling. I know, from experience, that if you are cold and homeless you are not going to care if the shirt is a little grey or has paint all over it. As long as it's intact and warm.
There are those out there thinking 'Dammit man, what about pride and dignity? You can't expect people to wear things you wouldn't wear yourself'. To which I have two answers. First, I have worn worse. Second, the modern versions of pride and dignity are ridiculous concepts designed only to part you from your money.
Pride and dignity, in their true sense, have no connection with money at all. None. I survived many months with nothing and I am intensely proud of that. I have just banked a cheque for over ten grand and it stirs no pride at all. I worked for it. It was a simple exchange of skills for cash. It's just what I do, what everyone does. I don't actually want the ten grand. What I want is a house, gas, electricity, food, whisky, tobacco... but no company can pay me in those things. They are supplied by different companies. So money is the transitory thing that lets me trade my skills to one company and buy in the skills of others.
Money, in itself, is nothing. It's a bit of paper that says 'I did this much work' which I can then trade for someone else's equivalent work. Well, that's how it should be.
There was a time when I had a roof in exchange for my fixing skills. There was once a Mini with chickens living in it. I offered to get it roadworthy in exchange for being able to sleep in a real bed. I did it, too. Tough little cars, Minis. However, the boyfriend of the woman in question was away a lot and objected to me living in his house. I can understand that. Nothing untoward ever happened but I left without objection anyway. I had traded, without the intervention of money, a roof and a bed for my abilities. For a time. Unfortunately it didn't take long to fix that car.
If it had been a modern one I could have taken months. Then again, if it had been a modern one I wouldn't have been able to fix it.
This sort of thing terrifies government and scares socialists even more than fiftieth hand smoke. If there is no exchange of money, there is nothing to tax. If I went into Top Shop and swapped a bottle of Gut Cure Stuff for a shirt, what's the tax rate on that? If Sir Phil Green paid his utility bills in BHS underwear, where's the tax? The staff of the utility company needs clothes, Sir Phil has clothes and needs electricity, I feel a deal coming on here. Money, at that level, is irrelevant.
Phil Green does not owe us money. He didn't borrow any, he earned it. There is a difference in the real world that socialism cannot see. if I loan you money, you owe me that amount of money. If you earn money yourself with no intervention from me, you owe me nothing. Can you see it yet, Socialist nonWorkers? Perhaps it's nuWorkers now. If real workers earn money, nuWorkers are entitled to it. The word 'parasitism' is worth looking up in this instance.
Money is not only 'not everything'. Money isn't anything. It's bits of paper and now, it's bits in a computer. The old stuff could at least be burned for warmth but the new stuff is utterly worthless.
Money has become far more than it should be. I can fix your squits for money but I could just as well do it for a pie. I can tell you a tale of scariness for money but I could just as well do it in exchange for a bed for the night. Bards did exactly that, in the old days. They did have one advantage in that the story wasn't Emailed to the next village before they arrived but the principle is there.
We don't really need money. We could trade skills without it. The only people who benefit from money are those who want a lot of it.
There is more to this subject. Much more.
For now, I have to stop and try to re-marshall my thoughts. Money is an irrelevance that has become a global obsession and it's a real swine to think about.
I'll come back to it when my head stops hurting.