Donald MacInnes: My theory of relativity, as applied to billionaires and beggars
In The Red
Donald MacInnes writes Tales from the Water Cooler, which can be found every Saturday on page 2 of i. And, although a financial near-imbecile, he writes a weekly column in The Independent’s Money section, also on Saturdays. He writes regularly on a broad range of subjects in i’s Freeview section and occasionally fills in on Simon Kelner’s daily column when emotionally up to it. @DonaldAMacInnes
Saturday 10 March 2012
You may, after three months of this folderol, have already twigged, but I am a fan of relativity. Away with you, limiting absolutes! You see, I like the fact that something is only the best, worst, longest or saddest, relative to the person regarding it. I may be able to play guitar to such a level that non-guitar players (and by this I mean "girls at parties") are impressed (and by this I mean "get off with me"), but put me next to a virtuoso and I look like a frog with a banjo (and by this I mean, "frog with a banjo").
I might be able to string words together effectively enough to get my face in the paper, but put ITR next to a poem by WB Yeats, right,and my words become mere crayon on a nursery wall. Mercifully for everyone's ego, there is always someone better. In my case, they are legion. Wayne Rooney – he's better at his job than I am at mine. Similarly Professor Brian Cox. And Harry Hill is WAY funnier than me. But then, I'm 400 times funnier than David Attenborough. Relativity, see?
Similarly, there's always someone earning more than you. Unless you're Carlos Slim. And while I may not be a trillionaire, I have more money than most people on Earth. And I don't have that much. Indeed, I've never had much. But I've often wished that I did, so I could buy things... like a grand piano for my Islington townhouse (I have neither). Or a season ticket to Arsenal. Or a 1968 Ford Mustang. Or... actually, that's where the list hits a speed bump of my... what... lack of covetousness? Am I a product of my Presbyterian upbringing? Should I crave more stuff? Then again, I'm hardly a monk. I have things: some of them useless. And, without being flippant, someone who has just a few coins to last him for a week probably sets his sights a deal lower than I do.
Recent news of a mystery German donor dispensing envelopes full of euros to beggars was cheering. Twenty grand would change any unfortunate's life, alleviating some, if of course not all, of his problems. It would certainly give him options, where he had few. But 20 large to a billionaire is small potatoes. He would only be as happy as the beggar if you gave him a fifth island to add to his collection of four, thus completing the set.
It's all relative. And, as I mentioned, I am a fan. Well, relatively. I mayhate absolutes, but I absolutely must finish now, as I've run out of sp...
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