Occasionally when the Handsome Sidekick and I are out walking together during our precious child-free time, we talk about what we would do, should we ever become Very Rich. Perhaps a reason for these kinds of conversations is that we are Not Very Rich, and until I can write my bestseller, that is quite possibly going to be the case for a long time. But talking costs nothing, so we talk.
This came up in conversation with my dad earlier today, as well, because someone from our state won a $50 million lotto jackpot, and we were remarking on how much money that was, and how hard it would be to spend such a lot of money. Indeed, we said, ‘it’s more than you would ever need.’
When the Handsome Sidekick talk about having a lot of money, we always come around to the same ideas: find an area where there is a need, and look at how we could fill it. We discuss businesses we could potentially set up, where it wouldn’t be necessary to constantly turn a massive profit, because we would already have an income separate from the business, and the profits could instead be funnelled straight back into the company to ensure its stability and success. Having enough money would allow us to give to charities we care about. On a personal level, it would mean that we could make more ethical choices with regards to clothing, or toys. It would open up a realm of opportunities, but also bring with it more complexities. Still, what is always at the forefront of our discussions is that we are lucky, because despite the struggles we might have with bills–doesn’t everyone?!–we still have ‘enough.’
When it comes to money, though, having ‘enough’ seems so hard to quantify. We have enough to eat, but it would always be lovely if I had to budget a little less carefully. We have enough money to pay the power bill, but I still pause and hold my breath every time I see that particular kind of envelope in the letterbox. We have enough clothes, but I would love to have a few more pairs of socks and underwear so I wouldn’t have to dry them in front of the fire on an evening.
‘Enough’ is relative. Most of the time, we grudgingly admit we have enough, all the while wishing we had more. It’s easy not to satisfied with our lot, after all! Still, when it comes down to needs and wants, most of us can satisfy the basics with a little left over for the occasional luxury, and that is perhaps how it should be. Too much of a good thing means it loses its value.
And this is why I am so flabbergasted at the amounts of money which get thrown about in politics. It’s not as if Australian politics is immune to this. But I believe the 2016 presidential race in the United States is taking it to a whole new level. At time of posting, there are now twenty-one candidates. TWENTY-ONE. Let’s leave aside the fact that that huge number, in itself, is utterly ridiculous, and focus on the money, because that is what I cannot get over. Running for office in the United States has become less about policies, and more about money, to the point that it seems necessary to raise thousands of dollars a day. In their first quarter, Hillary Clinton’s campaign has raised $45 million. Doesn’t that seem like a huge amount of money? And what, exactly, is it all for?
I realise that advertising is expensive, as is the whole political circus which surrounds a candidacy: there’s buses and fuel and hotels, and people need to be paid for all the jobs they do. And they need to rent space to organise the campaigns… all of this costs money. However, it’s not just about how much it costs. The amount of money a candidate raises is also a measure of success, in a country with more millionaires than anywhere else. Too much, it seems, is not enough.
And yet, it’s a country where the disparity between rich and poor is staggering, and indeed, the US has one of the biggest gaps between rich and poor in the world, with just short of 75% of the wealth being earnt by the top 10%. (Here is the data, but the article link is a little easier to read!)
It’s not that I begrudge people money when they’ve worked hard. But given what I’m always reading about the lack of funding for so many areas, from schools to roads, and the massive problems the US government seems to regularly have, when trying to agree on whether or not they should shut the place down, and whose fault is the massive debt, I’m appalled at the kinds of money being spent on this campaign. Wasted, on attack ads and travel costs and conventions. Should everyone who wants to run, have the chance? Sure. I certainly don’t care if they feel the desire, and they have the time to put into it. But please, can we start considering the crazy, crazy amounts of cash being thrown about for this campaign, when there’s over a year until the election? And in that time, all that money could be spent in so many better ways, to actually benefit the people whom these candidates claim they want to represent.