Does everyone understand this expression – about being pennies wise & pounds foolish? Referring to the human tendency to be terribly, terribly good at saving pennies here & there on this & that, while simultaneously pissing away vast sums of money elsewhere?
I seem to see this “pennies wise, pounds foolish” phenomenon everywhere I look these days. Maybe I’m particularly attuned to it because of my upbringing. Of course, we people of Scottish descent (I am Scottish on both my mother’s & father’s sides) are known for our, shall we say, frugality. (Some would call it tightness, or cheapness, of course…). My father brought new meaning to the term. He’d buy a whole case of something our family didn’t necessarily even like (e.g., cans of creamed corn) because “It was on sale!” We were all taught to be hyper-vigilant about the waste of heat & electricity (because it cost him money) – while Dad was also meanwhile pissing away tens of thousands of dollars on bad investments in his eternal quest to “strike it rich.” (He was already very comfortably off indeed, but then, I think my Dad was a bit of a poster boy for the Aesop fable about the dog & the pork chop…)
The upshot of all this for me is that I grew up to be a very frugal person. Good at living more with less. Works for me!!
When I look around me, I see this weird pennies wise, pounds foolish tendency in so many of us, I’ve come to suspect it must be universal.
I have friends who spend rather large sums of money on home renovations &/or new vehicle purchases &/or vacations – yet who seem terribly concerned to see me buy coffee or the occasional meal out when I am in the city (they hint that I’m being needlessly “extravagant”). Or to hear that I cheerfully hand out loonies & twoonies (Canadian $1 & $2 coins) to people on the street who are begging.I never know quite how to point out politely that, although I do not have really large sums of money for renovations & vacations, I do enjoy my coffee & occasional meals out. (I also enjoy giving money to people on the street who are so clearly much, much less financially well off than I. & I don’t give a darn what they spend it on, either. Seneca said, “We should give as we would receive, cheerfully, quickly, and without hesitation; for there is no grace in a benefit that sticks to the fingers.”)
I wouldn’t even write about this phenomenon except that I’m noticing it writ very large among the bigshots who run the show & call the shots on our still-beautiful-if-terribly-damaged-&-depleted planet.
They always claim to not have enough money (from our tax $$$, mind you!) to fund educational programs properly – or social programs of any kind – yet there is always somehow magically enough money for utterly appalling expense account abuses on the part of politicians & bureaucrats & hired consultants, & of course too, always plenty for “security” at meetings like the G20 that took place in Toronto this past June (close to $1 billion, last I heard reported!?!?!?).
And then there’s the nuclear industry. Ai yi yi!!
I wish someone would add up the vast & exorbitant sums of money spent by our federal & provincial (Canadian) governments on all the nuclear-related expenditures. Eek! Scary!!
$$$ to AECL (Atomic Energy of Canada, Ltd.)
$$$ to the NWMO (Nuclear Waste Management Office) **[great related quote down below...]
$$$ to the CNSC (Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission – which, of course, is not about safety at all…)
$$$ for a clean-up in Port Hope, Ontario (although of course there is really no problem there…)
Same for the clean-up of “historic” wastes at the Chalk River Labs (but again, no problem…. Millions to clean up the non-existent problems… Yeah, right…)
Oh, & the reactor refurbishment at Bruce Power (BP, eh)? $2 billion over budget, as we speak. (Hmmm. The expression "throwing good money after bad" kind of springs to mind...)
And…well, by now you are getting my drift, hmmm?
If the movement for green energy received even a paltry fraction of what these …people…(not the word that really first comes to mind; trying to be polite here) spend on their pet nuclear industry, just think how much further ahead we’d be with a whole vast array & assortment of renewable, sustainable energy projects…
And how much LESS nuclear waste that will still be dangerous to all living things 100,000 years from now (even longer, in some cases, I am sorry to report. Depleted uranium(1) has a half-life of 4.5 billion years. Yup… I am not making this up.)
Here’s the other thing about all this that I find really aggravating.
Your “average” 6-year old would see through & cut through all this … bullshit … in about 5 minutes flat.
Why is it the rest of us – who are supposedly “grown up” – & "educated" – & “smart” – are so DIM about this????
Will we ever learn to stop being pennies wise & pounds foolish??
(Rhetorical question, I reckon, hmmmm?)
P.S. As I draft this little rant, I’m sitting among rocks at the side of a very pretty river on a lovely day in early November. I spend considerable amounts of time & energy involved in organizing & activism around environmental issues – but too, I am ever mindful of this stunning, abundant, beautiful planet I do this work on & for. I am thankful daily for its great beauty & abundance – & for the great abundance in my personal life.
I’m reminded of what Marianne Williamson said at the NSP conference in Washington, D.C. this past June. She advised us to work on our issues – yes – but she said although we need to look at the various problems we all work on, we shouldn’t stare at them. In other words, we mustn’t let it all make us crazy. And then too, I am reminded of the Dalai Lama, who has said, “The best meditation is critical thinking – followed by action.” We are not let off the hook, by any means! But too, we must always remember why it is we do the work we do… And to be grateful…
(1) Depleted uranium. Not sure what to say about it. Perhaps just this: if you want to know more, look it up. Read about it. And weep…
** Great relevant quotation regarding nuclear waste: “28 years after passage of the Nuclear Waste Policy Act, 35 years after the repository search began, 53 years into commercial nuclear power, and 68 years after Fermi first split the atom during the Manhattan Project, the U.S. still has no safe, sound, permanent storage plan for high-level nuclear wastes.”Kevin Kemps from Beyond Nuclear Tons of other great nuke-related quotes here