Thursday, August 13, 2015

No refund for you even if you don't understand what I am saying!

We live in magical times.  When we want something, all we need to do is go to a store and hand them colorful paper and walk away with that product.  Or, we slide a plastic and that product is all ours.  Better yet, we look at a magical screen while sitting comfortably on our beds, choose what we want, type in something, and a few hours to few days later, that arrives on our front steps from god-knows-where, .  It is one crazy world, if you were to stop and think about it.

What a contrast to the world that I have experienced in my own life, back when I was a child, which seems like it was only yesterday.  I can still picture in my mind visiting with the grandmother.  Early in the morning the "thayir" (yogurt) woman comes knocking.  I offer to help out.  Grandmother doesn't give me money to pay for it, but gives me rice to hand over to the thayir-woman.

Of course, we now refer to that as a barter system.  But, I can't help thinking that the thayir-woman didn't see any reason to receive in exchange a piece of paper--currency.  She preferred something that was tangible, something that was going to be immediately useful.

We have come a long way since those thayir-woman days.

Currency is all over the news now.  Over in Europe, the Greece-Euro dra(ch)ma continues.  Keep going east, and there is all that news and commentary over China's devaluation of its currency.

Paul Krugman had linked to this analysis, which I thought might make my life better.  I read the following:
There is, however, a more fundamental reason for the devaluation. China has been violating the impossible trinity. This notion says a country can only do on a sustained basis two of three potentially desired objectives: maintain a fixed exchange rate, exercise discretionary monetary policy, and allow free capital flows. If a country tries all three objectives then economic imbalances will build and eventually give way to some kind of painful adjustment.
It made me think it might be time for me to get that lobotomy that I have been putting off!

I was reminded of a play that we read back in high school.  It was called "The Refund."  The setup in this farce is a chance encounter that two old high schoolmates have decades after graduation.  The protagonist, Wasserkopf, says:
Here I was walking along the street, fired from my last job, and wondering how I could get hold of some cash, because I was quite broke. I met Leaderer. I said, ‘How goes it, Leaderer?’ ‘Fine!’ he says. ‘I’ve got to hurry to the broker’s to collect the money I made speculating in foreign exchange.’ ‘What’s foreign exchange?’ I said. He says ‘I haven’t got the time to tell you now, but, according to the paper, Hungarian money is down seventy points, and I’ve made the difference. Don’t you understand?’ Well, I didn’t understand. I said, ‘How do you make money if money goes down?’ and he says, ‘Wasserkopf, if you don’t know that, you don’t know a damn thing. Go to the school and get your tuition fees back.’ Then he hurried away and left me standing there, and I said to myself, ‘Why shouldn’t I do that?’ He’s right, now that I’ve thought it over. 
Of course, the principal and teachers make sure he does not get a refund, by explaining that his bizarre answers are all correct.  Reading all that news and commentary, I too feel like I want a refund of all my school fees.  I can't seem to understand any damn thing anymore.  It is not only with the currency, for that matter.  The fact that nobody can explain why The Donald is setting the terms of political debate means that we all deserve a free prefrontal lobotomy! ;)

I suppose everyday life will only get more and complicated as we move into the future.  The days of the thayir-woman and the easy to understand barter, are over.  Maybe we rush around because we don't want to stop and think about all these.  If we paused, we might sign up for a lobotomy!  Oh well, I have some grocery shopping to do and maybe I will buy yogurt too. ;)


Ramesh said...

I will bash you on the ear for quoting Paul Krugman :):)

Hey - just because you don;t care about economics does not mean that it is a cause for lobotomy. If you can read all those books you are reading, instead of a refund, your teachers should be demanding some additional fees.

I however wholeheartedly agree that the situation regarding "The Donald" is definite cause for a lobotomy :) And I would add that it should be the complete variety rather than merely prefrontal !

Sriram Khé said...

So, I should not provide you with the link to Krugman's column in today's NY Times? hehehe ;)

That comment about teachers has plenty of truth buried in the humor. You and I benefited from teachers who were vastly underpaid for the phenomenal job they did.

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