19 July 2005

Laws of Money

There is an increasing chorus of voices in the forgotten continent, Africa, that grumble in rising tones that foreign aid should be curtailed or even stopped. Seems that the Western and Eastern powers have taken to throwing money at Africa's troubles, willy-nilly, in an effort to either assuage guilt or buy influence. Either way, the money is not solving many problems and is creating quite a few.

A quote from the Spiegel Online article strikes a sensitive chord:

"Basically it is always the same reasons why development aid in Africa tends to disappear down a black hole: incompetent planning of the donor nations, which means that aid is always distributed according to the wrong priorities, as well as a combination of corruption, selfishness, greed and arbitrary use of government power in the recipient countries themselves."

So We have a situation in which a country receives money from an outside source, without much external guidance (nobody likes strings attached to largesse) and that money is basically wasted because the recipients have the moral values and self-discipline of drunken hyenas.

Puerto Rico, anyone?

True, the situations of African nations and Puerto Rico are widely divergent, but it seems that the end result as to the use of monies is quite similar. We have corruption and Our so-called government seems to be redefining arbitrary use of power every day. Case in point: tollbooth rates are going up in September, despite whatever is said in public hearings to be held in August. This sham is responsible government?

More examples abound and only a subnormal thinker would claim that corruption and unfair government are not part of Puerto Rico's reality. Furthermore, only an idiot would claim We are free of greed and selfishness amongst are "leaders." But these are symptoms: the disease is money as entitlement, essentially a rancid "gift".

In the remarkable book The Seven Laws of Money, Michael Phillips dissects the problem in Laws Five and Six:

*** The Fifth Law: You Can Never Really Give Money Away.

*** The Sixth Law: You Can Never Really Receive Money As A Gift.

Phillips points out in The Fifth Law that giving money away, even if intended to be done freely, creates a relationship, for money in all cases is transferred between people. There may be intermediaries, but they are simply the conduits between one person/a group of people and another person/group of people. Despite bombastic and sonorous claims, no one ever gives money to an idea: it has to be given to people. So in any case, but especially if the people are not worthy of your values, either from personal knowledge (you know they are slimy) or lack of knowledge (you don't know them from Adam and Eve) then giving money forces an obligation on the giver to in some way monitor the ultimate use of that money. Abdication or denial of that obligation--of that responsibility--is but the beginning of a downward spiral.

If you doubt the point, think of this: Do you give money to a person who staggers up to you, with glassy eyes, smelling badly and wearing tattered clothes? If you think the money's for drugs, you often say "No." That's an essence of The Fifth Law.

The Sixth Law indicates that receiving money implies a similar obligation, one based on repayment in some form. Money can be lent/borrowed: the repayment is implicit in the term "loan." Money can be invested, with repayment to be determined according to goals and objectives. But money that is intended to be "given away" still creates an obligation--a contract--that requires performance and an accounting of that performance that is satisfactory to the giver. If the end result of the money's use is incompatible with the giver's goals and/or values, the flow of money stops. Thus it isn't freely given.

Smaller example: You give a child money and then ask what they bought with it. If it's something you agree with, you may give them another, maybe larger gift. If they "wasted" it, you think twice about giving them money again.

What happens at the government level, in Africa, Puerto Rico and elsewhere, is that the givers of the money are not really the owners of the money. Therefore, unless publicly embarrassed, they could give a tinker's damn what happens to the money. This insanity (people you've never met are giving your money to people you've never met) needs to stop...but, of course, it won't. It can only be stemmed at the personal or community level, with a decision to stop sucking at the public teat, to stop viewing the government as some sort of cash-spewing trough and taking it upon one's Self to create one's own money flow. The Laws of Money are few, but they are oh-so-strict. And they reward best, with wealth and power, those who follow them closest.

Make your Own Path to money. Live with your Own Power.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

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