This is all it takes to get to Disneyland Paris by public transportation, from the center of Paris. Five euros.
The price of five baguettes, the local bread around here, enough to shelter a family from hunger for another day or two.
The price of 3 liters of gas at the current market price, or that of a regional train ticket, enough to go check on your grandpa. Enough to rush a neighbor to emergency on a dark winter night.
That’s a fair enough amount you could donate to charity, and get back 3.3 euros in tax credit if you happen to live in France.
A rose to your better half will set you back five euros, a well spent amount in my humble opinion, for it is through the small gestures and signs of love that relationships last.
Dear friend, on your way to Disneyland, remember that happiness is easy to spread, and that happy people are contagious. So do enjoy your day as much as you can. It will refuel you enough to make the world a little happier, and this is worth at least the five euros you would have spent to get there.
And still, beyond that, make sure to keep five euros worth of warmth on you. Five euros of compassion. Who knows, they might come in handy.
They may save someone’s life. They may make someone’s day.
So I wake up on lottery day, with a weird idea wandering in my sleepy mind, as if speaking to me.
“Say you win the lottery today, would you give it all up, all the 154,000,000.00 euros, for no reason whatsoever?”
“OK, how about giving it up for a cause? What would it be?”
Children. Without a doubt.
Children are the most precious resource in this universe. They are the only hope this world has, and yet, they are so vulnerable and need so much attention and love, both of which are scarce, both of which are fading away.
So many children are suffering out there, so many children dying alone, hungry, miserable, out in the cold. Children do not have what it takes to fight back. They have their parents of course, but parents can only do so much when they have not eaten in days, when they have lost their job, their roof, their dignity. All they can do is love their children even more, hug them closer in the cold street they now call home, until the reaper comes for one or the other, and that’s about it.
Children are resilient, much more than you’d think. But resilience only comes in handy if the sole enemy they were facing was adversity. Children face more aggressive foes than adversity. They face preying scum who care little about them as poor little human beings, and more about the buck they can make on their backs. They will enslave them, sell them as cheap labor, or body parts, or both, or simply use them as shoot’em up material. It hurts reading this I guess. It sure hurt me writing it.
“So, back to our lottery. Would you give up your winnings for the sake of children?”
Yes! Most of it at least.
“Most of it?”
Yeah, you know, I might keep a little for the mortgage, and a little for retirement, and I would use a portion to set up a foundation to cater for the children in need. And then…
And then it dawned on me. I will never run out of good reasons to keep a stack of money aside, and the children can always have what is left. Which is nothing. And then I understood that this idea wandering in my mind was actually a call. A wake-up call.
The wake-up call
What it says is that easy money rots you inside out. That you will not have enough wisdom and detachment to keep your head cool and your ethics intact. That every penny you keep to yourself would end up burning your soul, because as long as there are people looking for solace out there, as long as there are children sleeping in the streets, every penny you keep from the lottery winning would be a curse to you and your loved ones.
So no, I will not have it in me to give it away, but I am grateful I have enough brains to realize this much about myself.
I know this idea might sound outright crazy to many if not most, and I sure know there is nothing wrong or unethical in winning lottery and enjoying it. It was a very personal wake-up call, tailor-made to that little brain of mine, and it made me take a very personal decision, which, of course, might or might not be right for everyone, but it sure feels right to me.
Ever since that day, I vowed to never buy lottery tickets again. I do not want to have to silence that little voice in my head, and I know I will have to if I ever win, even if the odds are extremely small.
A little prayer
Whenever I get tempted, I think of the children. And I say a little prayer. I ask God to grant me enough wisdom to stand by my choices, enough kindness to keep sharing with those in need, enough charity to keep a place in my heart for the children in need, enough gratitude for being alive, having a roof above my head and food on the table, and enough love to raise my children the way He would want me to.
And enough foolishness and liberty to still give up the lottery price should I ever stumble and buy a winning ticket, against all odds.
And still, dear reader, if you happen to be holding to a lottery ticket right now, I hope it is the winning one. And I wish you all the wisdom and love in the world, regardless.
Brothers. Sisters. Fellow souls in this valley of tears we call Writing. I read to you from an apocryphal gospel according to the self-proclaimed prophets of the Ancient and Accepted Rite of Writing.
Thou shalt dump daily excrements on the flock of readers for they are not worth the time you could be spending to produce quality articles. Quantity is enough. Follow the quick buck.
According to these false prophets, writers are in essence business hunters who must produce as many low quality articles as humanly possible, as fast as possible, hunting for more reading time and more dollars.
Now here’s the truth, according to the gospel of your inner guts, because yes, you already know what I am about to tell you.
You don’t write because you have something to say. Everyone has something to say, anyone can dump excrements. It takes more than that to write stories which can speak, which can sing.
Writing stems from an incurable itch, an unquenchable thirst, a void impossible to fill. You write because the itch is unbearable, the thirst is too potent. Because the void is too terrifying to contemplate.
As for the readers, well, they read for the same reasons compelling you to write: to quench the thirst, to fill the void. If your writing does not quench thirst, it is worthless at best, or rather smelly vomit more often than not.
The false prophets dumping worthless stuff on the masses and measuring success by the buck can only amount to what they write. They are not writers. They are dumpsters. They only know how to dump off the shelf fertilizer.
Mind you, dear reader, dumping can indeed generate quick bucks.
It might not sound like much, but this is how money is actually created. You’d think it would be printed as paper bills by a central bank or minted into coins. Not anymore, to a large extent. Paper money and coins are indeed “money”, but they make up only a small percentage of the reserves available in the economy. Let me try to break it down to you in a simple example.
I Promise to bay the bearer, etc.
When a bank grants you a loan, it basically credits your bank account with the loan amount, 10 000 dollars for example, and records a liability of the same amount on its balance sheet. You can withdraw this amount in cash or use it to buy a car. Or a piano. Or groceries. It is real money.
Now you might be a dreamer and believe in equilibrium, that in the grand scheme of things, banks use only the cash deposited by people, as loans to debtors. Well not really.
Banks are allowed to lend much more than the liquidity or capital at their disposal. That’s a net creation of money.
Out of thin air.
And don’t bother with the liability side, the minus amount in dollars recorded on the bank balance sheet. It cannot be used to fund anything. It cannot be withdrawn in cash. It is just an accounting entry on a balance sheet account. A reminder of the debt you own the bank. Nothing more. A promise if you will.
The bet at hand
The bet at the heart of the game is that loans will allow debtors to create enough value in due time to pay them back, through their hard work or the rise in value of their property or investments.
This bet kind of works out when the economy is fine, but not so much when banks lend money without decent credit controls, to people they know damn well cannot repay the loans.
It works even less when bankers are convinced that dot com compagnies of the early 2000s or the real estate market of the late 2000s have more value in them than what they are truly worth, and end up massively lending to people who are investing in such assets.
The bet is off in this case, quite obviously, since the debtors cannot create value out of thin air, be it called dot com or sub-primes.
In the end, this is how most of the money circulating in the economy is created. Legally. A number credited on an account, which retains its value as long as the promise behind it trustworthy.
And as we say in France, in a tongue in cheek expression, promises only bind those who believe them.
Some humor coming up, don’t take this seriously. Or maybe just a little bit.
Here I go.
Lose the crypto folks, it will soon be dust. Why? Because
Universal War is upon us
People! Universal War is coming up! You could have seen it coming since the sub-prime crisis in 2008. If that was not a wake-up call, then maybe the COVID Pandemic was? Global warming maybe? And now, the conflict in Ukraine? …
Universal War I tell ya!
A war following which no economy will be left standing. Dollars? Nada! Euros? Nada! Sterling? It was already doomed since the Brexit!
Useless figures on virtual screens at some ex-central bank or defunct crypto exchange. Toilet paper at most.
The post-war currency candidates
So how will we buy bread in the aftermath of Universal War? Not with Crypto, that’s for sure. Ah! I see you coming! Guns you say? You’ve heard some smart ass saying that’s the most liquid currency in the world and you want to sound smart?
Granted, you can use one to get some bread. I doubt however you will be handing an AK-47 Kalashnikov to the baker, just like that, in exchange for a loaf. You will actually be pointing it at the lad and will leave with it and the bread. That’s no payment. That’s theft.
Unless you end up shooting something or someone in the bakery and think that lead is some sort of currency. You would have bought you bread with a bullet, that is if you are careless enough to leave the bullet or its casing behind. Come to think of it further, that is not payment either.
That’s first degree murder.
OK. We’ve established so far that guns are not currency in this new apocalyptic world. What is then? Gold you say? Indeed, gold would still amount to something in these dire times. However, would you be willing to hand the baker a gold coin in exchange for bread?
Hell no! Because “Sorry, no change”!
And you can bet the bloke will have a gun to enforce it.
The new currency
You need some tools. You need a metal grater. A steel file. Only then can you produce the exact amount of gold to pay for your stuff. Gold gratings. Gold dust. Like in the wild west back in the days.
If we take a shortcut, we might even argue that the actual currency will be the file. Gold becomes a proxy, for the real value is in the file itself. It does not even sound like a shortcut come to think of it. To me, it sounds like evidence. It is unescapable.
The new currency will be the steel file. Not gold. And definitely not Crypto.
Folks, let me give you an advice. A head start.
Storm hardware stores and stack up steel files.
You’ll thank me later. If you survive Universal War of course.
Now you might say it does not matter. Why stack up steel files when no one is going to stop you resorting to violence and guns for bread, in the midst of a total collapse of civilization?
In that case, I just hope we are not neighbors. I’ll stick to my steel files, hoping I have enough to grate for my daily bread. Sorry folks, I need to wrap this up. The hardware stores close at 8 around here and I have 7 more to visit.