Saturday, February 1, 2003

On Making Money

On Making Money
By Narendra Luther

Money has been called the root of all evil. But it is forgotten that the lack of it is the whole blooming tree. It is the most important thing in life. You have to have enough of it not to need it. Those who have it decry it; those who lack it moan for it.

There are various ways of making money, and none can advise you better than one who has not succeeded in making it can.

Conventional wisdom lays down one of the three ways: Beg, Borrow, or Steal. The seemingly easiest way to make money is to beg. There is a mistaken notion that beggars ply their trade only by standing and stretching their hand. The only honest beggars are those who do not make any pretensions about their intentions. They are masters of psychology. They wait at intersections and approach you when you are prevented by the red light to proceed further. They make you feel guilty and many can’t escape from that trap. Some beggars accost you when you have just emerged yourself from your secret begging from a place of worship. That is when one beggar stands face to face with another. It is difficult to go past the horde of beggars when they proclaim loudly that what you begged from the deity will be granted if you grant them their small prayer. It will be jeopardized if you don’t play god to them. The other place where they wait in ambush for you is when you emerge from a restaurant after a lavish meal. Whether you have been a guest or a host, the outstretched hand from a rag -covered body stirs your conscience. You calculate guiltily what small fraction of the amount spent inside by you the miserable beggar is asking for. A coin thrown into the lap of the waif will make you feel light.

Stealing is not free from risks. But there are various ways of stealing that need not make you fall foul of the law. An excess claim on a journey, inflating the conveyance charges or adding a non-existent guest to the list of prospects entertained -- all go into the making of the art of thievery.

Borrowing is quite common. A good number of standard reasons exist for making borrowing look entirely justified. A sudden need for travel to attend a family funeral, a tragic mishap to a beloved kin, a sudden illness which necessitates hospitalization. Anything which induces the milk of human kindness flow in the heart of the borrwee. Borrowers generally drop their benefactors from their list lest they should start pestering them for the repayment of an insignificant amount. They prefer dealing with people with short memory in money matters. Unfortunately, an average memory is sharpest in that respect.

Bribe is another easy way of making money. But for that it is necessary that you should have acquired some placement. Any position is good enough for taking bribes. But one has to take care that one is not caught in the act. Punishment is not for taking bribe, but for having been caught at doing that. So, a good measure of intelligence is necessary for taking bribes safely. Also, one should not be too greedy. Otherwise, one may go the way of the Chairman of the Public Service Commission of a certain State.

Making investments in stocks and bonds is another way of making money. That is what the sellers of stock will tell you believing that you will skip the small print which gives the statutory caution. That makes it somewhat exciting, like smoking which warns you that it is dangerous to health. So is racing, mountaineering, and even swimming. But they are not as dangerous as sleeping on a bedstead. More people in recorded history world-wide have died in their beds than anywhere else. Yet we persist -- sometime taking someone else also to our bed and thus expanding the scope of the danger involved. However, investments have to be made cautiously, that is putting as little of your money as possible. In this field, one has to know when to pull out. But there is no right time; only right luck. And that is not in your hands.

Lately, sports also have become good business. Time was when sportsmen played for the heck of it. Playing was more important than winning. Now you play to win – not the game but money. That is easy. Al that you have to do is to be a good player, but to play poorly. There are enough people to pay you for playing below par. That is specially so in cricket. Others sports are also learning from it. One reason cricket has overtaken – even killed all other sports is that there is more money in this for not playing well. But here too you have to take precautions. One is not to talk on cell phones. Technology betrays as much as it helps.

Another easy way is to marry a rich widow. That is the only case in which second hand goods sell at first hand prices. For women, the equivalent opportunity lies in becoming a mistress of a rich business man. It requires an instinct every woman is born with. Let a man chase you till you catch him. But then comes the tedious problem of keeping your quarry in your own net.

So far no one has discovered a sure-fire method of making money without getting sold to it. Money does not guarantee happiness, but every thing, which can possibly give happiness is bought by money – including charity and philanthropy. So, there is no escape from money. As for myself, I don’t much care for money if I can be rich without it. For, I agree with Sophia Tucker: ‘I have been rich, and I have been poor. Rich is better.’

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