Capital Talk: The money scale

  • Madhusheel Arora, Hindustan Times
  • Updated: Sep 13, 2015 09:32 IST

Somehow, whenever I have to spend some money, at the back of my mind, there is always the thought, am I spending it right? This, I presume is what most of you also go through.

A typical conversation inside me at such occasions is `3,500 for a restaurant meal? Am I nuts? In `3,500, I could have bought two crisp new formal shirts at 50% off? Or my maid earns this much from me for the entire month! (Shock tremors are all too noisy inside my head at this point).

My wife and the precious little one meanwhile, remain oblivious to the gigantic inner conflict within me and are busy delicately enjoying each and every portion of the leisurely and expensive anniversary dinner.

“You know darling, this meal will cost us as much as what we paid for the entire set of books for daughter’s nursery standard. This is pure consumption expenditure, as classified in economics,” I said in a pompous tone, trying to bamboozle my better half with jargon.
The wife, of course, remained unfazed and responded with unrestrained fervour.

“As far as I know, a rupee is a rupee. What is consumption for us could actually be a capital-building tool for the restaurant. People like us, by eating out, are helping the hospitality industry beat the slump and stay in business. As it is, we seldom splurge on a meal.”

I refused to take the bait and initiate an argument and kept munching silently on the snack fancily named ‘Bullets’ served as part of the dinner buffet.

Still, my mind was churning as violently as ever and silently reviewing the concepts of economics drilled into it. This is what went on as my ‘loving’ family took a restroom break, while I pondered.

Money, I thought, is a magical creation that really does make the world go round. An instrument of faith, power and the greatest organising tool-kit ever invented.

After all, almost everything around us has to come to a scale in terms of money, irrespective of currency.

The scale, however, is far from perfect protested another voice within me. Certain things continue to be rank higher up on the scale, even as they serve no verifiable purpose, entertainment for instance. Most members of our society pay up to Rs 500 for a movie without a grimace, even though they would be struggling to pay their household bills. Why?

The answer to this is that just because the scale exists does not mean it would be impartial. The scale of money, as it is, is tilted towards those who have it already, like a rich businessperson in need of time can buy a jet, save himself/herself time and make that time-saving earn much more than the cost of the plane.

As he and his company earn more, they pay more taxes to the government and presumably help us all by improving the infrastructure over time, leading to a more productive economy by more efficient use of resources.

Coming back to the restaurant meal that started the ruminations for this piece, my family had another poser for me? May we order a cold coffee (not covered by the buffet?). My response? Remains classified.

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