|"Stock Market Fear and Greed," by Paul Zanetti.|
In the realm of investments and savings there are many choices we make today. For most of us middle class folks it is all about saving for the future (insurance), owning a home and hearth, buying the car that is slightly beyond our budget, making sure that our children get a proper education, a healthcare budget, and keeping something aside for the rainy day. In earlier times this kind of a savings plan may have been touted as prudence personified, and banks and other institutions goaded us into believing that good things come to people who reinvest all what they earn with them or through them.
The fact is all these investment methodologies are based on two things only! Fear and Greed! We go through life thinking that we have to have all these things at the minimum to provide well for the family and ourselves. In a world that has become an individual free-for-all with avarice predetermining all our endeavours, our understanding of who we are and what our purpose is has become murkier than ever before. The gulf between ‘battle-for-survival’ for many and ‘battle-for surviving-well’ for the rest of us has widened to such a magnitude that it has robbed us of our feelings like empathy, respect, consideration for others, and the like. We have abjectly surrendered to the machinations of the business world which thrive on exploiting our two biggest weaknesses; to reiterate, fear and greed. We are perpetually running around trying to earn more and more throughout our lifespan in the hope that money is the only palliative we will need against all ills and illnesses (catering to fear). We all agree that we need all or some of these things in some measure but can we not stop when we reach a certain point in our quests in achieving each of these things (denying greed).
In today’s world this kind of consumption orientation is having disastrous consequences for ourselves as well as the planet we live. In a bid to consume more – buy a bigger house, car, or insurance policy – we cast an inverted eye on the ramifications of our actions. Do we need a ‘bigger or better anything’ should be at least thought through. Buying a bigger home could be problematic when you are old; a car as an investment is a losing proposition all the time (high on fuel, maintenance, taxes, and insurance costs, and is a rapidly depreciating asset to boot!); eating out or eating more too often will beget ill health; hoarding multiple properties only gives you sleepless nights (high taxes, tenant issues, maintenance costs, interest on borrowed capital, etc. etc.); saving for your children’s higher education means that you expect them to be invalids who can’t fend for themselves after a certain age!
We know a lot of people are trying to change this but we call such people activists, saints, sadhus, tree-huggers, pretenders, and so on, and sweep them far away from the dustbowl of our guilt. Anybody trying to do something good about almost anything is seen with a cynical and ignorant eye. Waking up to where the world is headed (socially, politically, environmentally, and commercially) is not something to be shunned with a cursory shrug. All these aspects have a great bearing on who we are and where we are heading and should be part of the decision making process for our every action. So the next time you make an investment think through a few things apart from appreciation of the investment (property), ROI (any investment), and diesel vs. petrol (car). Our simple (or simplistic) calculations are not enough for us to understand the ramifications of our actions; the world suffers a lot when we get it wrong, and it is within the realms of our responsibility to at least evaluate all options in greater perspective.