Archives for posts with tag: wealth

I came across two stories on the Web this week that gave me pause for thought.

The first story talks about a six year old Indian boy whose family was so poor he had to resort to suckling the milk from a stray dog to stave away starvation.

According to UNICEF, fifty per cent of children under the age of three are malnourished in rural areas of Jharkhand

The second article talked about a fight amongst neighbours in the Hamptons, one of the wealthiest areas of America. A billionaire megalomaniac called Ira Rennert has annoyed his neighbours by flying his huge helicopter over their houses. A millionaire neighbour has described his behaviour like “throwing their garbage on the other side of the tracks for us poor folks to live with.”

File:Ira Rennert house.jpg

Rennert’s 100,000 sq ft house on the Hamptons

Little boys drink milk from stray dogs, while millionaires fight over who has the biggest toys.

This is the world we live in.

This is the type of world the wealthiest among us wish to preserve in perpetuity.

It’s just sickening.

Over the last few weeks I have been reflecting on the dramatic end to the Irish boom years. The papers and radio programs can talk about little else these days. It seemed to me that we Irish lost control of ourselves, embarking on a no-holds barred journey of utter hedonism and a devil-may-care financial splurge of epic proportions.

And yes, there were excesses. I remember once meeting the wife of a builder in Co. Clare, who told me that she changed houses every 2 years. At the time, they were both living in a 4,000 square-foot pad, and they would probably build a bigger one as soon as she got bored with it.

In a more general vein, there was the epic investment in foreign properties and towering office blocks; the multiple holidays per year to far flung locations such as Mauritius and the Seychelles; the arms races between neighbours and the ubiquity of stretch limos ferrying debutantes and first holy communicants to their dates with destiny.

But despite all this, the boom years were good years: a chance to forget the day to day struggles and to approach that stage of self actualisation heralded by Maslow. Many people were permitted to set up new businesses in a wide variety of fields, from coffee shops to tree surgery to exotic footwear. The quality of everything – food, clothes, furnishings – jumped dramatically. People were better able to provide for their families and to enjoy meals and outings with their friends. Services were set up to help people to improve the quality of their lives. People could indulge themselves in their hobbies and interests. Many people worked harder than they had ever worked in their lives, fanning the flames of an entrepreneurial ethic within Irish society. For a short few years, the wolf was no longer at the door, and it felt good.

So screw it. Let’s not regret the boom years. Let’s figure out how to get ourselves back to such times as quickly as possible so that we, our families and the less fortunate in society can benefit from a bit more cash in our pockets.

As Spike Milligan once said, “money can’t buy you happiness, but it does bring you a more pleasent form of misery”.

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