martedì, novembre 11, 2008

The test of our progress is not whether we add to the abundance of those who have much. It is whether we provide enough to those who have little

Work is much more interesting these past two months, I have to say, as the economy tanks. Even in the good times, and 2007 counted as a good time for the markets I cover, it was always dancing on the edge of catastrophe, in part thanks to the corruption of some of the players, in part because of capital flight to Asia and the Americas as regulation here got stronger - anyways, it was always in trouble, and now it's melting down, and the people I'm interviewing are aware it's melting down. Some of them are distressed, and one can't help but be sympathetic, though I'm not as soon as I hang up, really - I feel sorry for the thousands of employees under them. By the time anybody is authorized to speak with me they make obscene pay packets, and anybody pulling in such pay packets over even five years should be pretty much set for life now.

Their employees, not so much. I mean, they are mostly Europeans who I speak to, and those labour types who aren't Mediterranean or British have the sort of excellent conditions that will see them get a healthy severance package, some retraining and decent pogey. Things could be worse for a lot of people, but I suppose when you're feeling these things it's not necessarily relative, and you're not thinking about all the poor cunts in China who are losing their jobs without a safety net. People are distressed.

They've just promoted me so now would be a funny time for them to sack me. I suppose if I was thinking sensibly, what I should be worrying about is how tiny a raise they're going to give me next year after working my promotion into the budget. But - and I can't believe I'm writing this - thank god I live in Belgium; they have to give me a healthy percentage legally just to keep up with the inflation index - it's the law here. So that's not really what I'm thinking about. I'm not thinking about a whole hell of a lot, actually. My equilibrium is just a bit disturbed because my mum is pre-emptively worrying about the economic fates of all us childers, and confided that worry in me last night after I'd spent the day researching how the markets I cover are crashing (answer: messily).

And now I feel that I can't worry. Because these things are relative. The F-word and I have so much to be thankful for compared to most people our age: I have no debt, and he only has Australian student debt, which amounts to much the same thing; we both have substantial and safe savings; and, for now, the money is still rolling in. At work I see things getting pretty bad - worse in some places than others, but pretty bad all over. But we're going to make it and I have a horrible feeling many other people won't. So how can I worry? I can't. The global economy has unveiled itself as a huge set of masticating jaws grinding us all up, and what complaints can I make when billions of people are in front of us in the queue to docilely march into them?

Ah, shit. Where's the change I can believe in? We all have to try something else.

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