Sunday, February 15, 2009

Looking at things the right way

Reading the Sunday papers, in an excellent article on various women’s comments on the current crisis and whether it was fuelled mainly by male gung ho testosterone driven attitudes (very probably in my view), I was struck by a comment made by Emma Howard Boyd:

I have spent a lot of time thinking about how you value things socially and environmentally. If you value things purely from a financial perspective then you possibly end up with the wrong type of metrics. Look at some of the happiness data. How do you measure people's general welfare? Looking at purely monetary data is not the right way to do it.

I have long thought this. Our world today often seems to be driven purely by money, and that is the standard by which we are all judged. But I know that many people find this distasteful, quite rightly.

I can remember, during the recent heady years of property investment, I was invited to go to a property evening event in London (I had better not say which one it was!). The speakers and their soundbite talks were all quite blatently driven by greed. This was epitomised for me by one of the speakers making some sort of offer, saying those returning a completed form first would receive an offer or inventive and a young man jumping up and running, running down the room so he could get his form in first. They were certainly were not interested in what I had to say about landlords responsibilities (no money to be made there!). Although some of the people there were quite nice, I found whole ethos of the event repellent, and it quite turned me off the whole property investment thing, and attending any other such events. I remember I took great pleasure in advising a young Australian there (I think he was a driver for one of the delegates) on his problems with his landlord.

The valuation thing can perhaps be illustarted by our new wood stove (which I wrote about here). From a purely financial point of view, it has not perhaps been a huge success. We have had to buy rather a lot of wood and it has been a bit more than we expected. However from all other viewpoints it has been brilliant. Our living room is warm and friendly, and we love looking after and caring for our fire. I often just sit and watch the flames, which I am sure must be great therepy. We buy all our wood locally from sustainable sources, and are thus helping to save the planet. By what standard should it be judged?

Perhaps we should try to live our lives more by non financial values. Had more bankers done that in the past, we would not be where we are now.

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