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Byron Shire
April 13, 2021

Mandy Nolan’s Soapbox: Money changes everything

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Mandy Nolan’s Soapbox: Money changes everything

Yesterday I was participating on a panel and the bloke beside me was asked why he did what he did and he said ‘to make money’. It made me feel angry.

It was weird, because I don’t usually get angry, but it really annoyed me. He was a nice bloke, and it was an honest answer, but it felt wrong. To be fair, it’s the answer that most successful people would give. In fact I don’t think anyone except me was disturbed by the admission that his motivation was making money because it’s the answer we’ve all been conditioned to give.

We’ve all been told that making money is good. In fact the more money you make, the gooder it gets. We like people with money. We want to be them. They have respect and power. Even if they’re pricks.

Homeless people don’t get away with being pricks. If you’re homeless and you want to engender some kindness from others you have to be really really nice. It must be exhausting, because I reckon if I were homeless I’d be pretty fricking cranky. But, nobody likes an angry homeless person. It’s the downside of having low status.

You don’t see homeless people sitting on panels being asked, ‘How did you get here?’ Although it probably would be a really interesting conversation, and I guess the answer might be, ‘I couldn’t make money’.

We are always impressed by people who get rich. I remember someone asking one of my kids what they wanted to be when they grew up and they said ‘rich’. Like it was an occupation. Something you could go to TAFE for. I wonder if Richard Branson has a Cert 3 in Rich blue-tacked to the leather interior of his private jet?

As kids we played Monopoly, the ultimate game for seeding ruthless corporate greed in children. The only way to win in Monopoly is to be an arsehole. You might start off with a heart full of compassion with one or two houses but once you become a property developer you’re only too happy to bankrupt a family member.

I never won at Monopoly. I never bought Mayfair. I never owned a hotel. I had to scrape together the $60 for Old Kent Road. If people landed, I let them stay. I’ve always been a believer in Squatters’ Rights.

I’ve seen good people turn bad playing Monopoly. Perhaps it’s time we introduced some ethical challenges to diminish the ‘greed trumps all’ mindset of that evil boardgame. Maybe instead of buying a hotel you need to invest in solar panels. Create a gridsharing energy economy. Start a community garden. Reforest Mayfair as a carbon offset. Stop buying train stations and create publicly owned transport. That’s the future.

But change is at the expense of current profits. Money: It’s the reason most people go to work. You wouldn’t get up at 5am and drive into the darkness just for the hell of it. Imagine waking up at 5am to go instigate change. If we are really interested in the ‘future’ money is supposed to buy, then we’ve got to make sure there actually is one. If our planet’s predicament were an Indiana Jones movie, we’re at that point where Harrison Ford is in the cave and it’s filling up with water, and the cave door is coming down and he only has seconds to roll under to escape. The tension is unbearable. There’s nothing in it. There are those of us yelling ‘roll out, roll out’. But he’s just standing there, the stupid dickhead, not doing anything. Probably making money. Pretty soon the opportunity will be gone and he’ll die a hideous death because of his indecision.

That’s us. In the movie Indiana Jones always gets out. But this is not a movie, and sadly our future is more complex than one man rolling out of a cave filling with water. We need to change. It seems some people, particularly business or government, would rather die in a cave full of water than change the way they operate. Making changes for the long term means we will lose money in the short term.

White Australians have never been very good long-term thinkers. Have a look at our roads. The Pacific Highway is testament to what I’d call ‘future denial’. I mean, who needs a dual carriageway to Sydney?

It seems our governments only ever think in terms of their next election. A three-year vision doesn’t qualify as future planning.

So have we reached peak money? Is it time to kill the thrill of making money and replace it with something else?

Could creating change be more rewarding than creating capital? I guess you can’t eat change. But you can’t eat money either. And if we don’t change, we’re rooted. There won’t be any money. Anyway, I’m off to earn some money. I’ll change tomorrow.

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  1. When our kids were little, we played our own version of Monopoly rules where anytime anyone got into financial stress, we would open the bank and each take another $500 or more. Led to hyperinflation, and we would sneer at winning second prize in a beauty contest, and of course no one won (or lst) so the game never really ended.

    It was perfect.

  2. You nail it every time you choose a weekly subject Mandy. Bless you! You give us lots to think about whilst we’re ‘livin’ the dream’ here in beautiful Byron area. But you’re damned right – it’s overdue that we make drastic changes. To be shamed byDavid Attenborough this week about our neglect of the once beautiful Barrier Reef should be enough to kick us into action, but sadly not. What will it take for us to realise how close WE are to extinction. Only time will tell.

  3. Have you ever tried coming into a game of monopoly when all the other players have already been playing for a few hours? You cannot win. That’s capitalism in a nutshell.

  4. Why always dystopia? I’m broke and a hundred times better off than a took took driver, and he’s a hundred times better off than anyone in Syria.

  5. So our wages should be more equal but as Orwell pointed out equality is always relative. The major proponents of this putitive equality all earn well. Hanson Young has earned her pension, as had Milne, and di Natali is almost there. I don’t hear of them volunteering their time, they just carp about the big end of town.

  6. How about that. Robot, the Took Took Driver gets
    his lawless pay for diddling people for his boss &
    he probably is better off than many a Syrian. As
    far as Dystonia’s body spasms suffered by 1% in
    the world is concerned it’s all a bit of a muddle…
    Playing games is well & good just as long as the
    games are not deliberately harming humans or
    animal or the world itself & Orwell probably would
    chuck his hat in the ring if he could now see the
    cock-ups we’ve let our rulers get away with. I’m
    not going to sing ‘happy days are here again’
    for any harm bludging billionaire-to-be.

  7. How is anyone supposed to go forward without technology, which means mining, 2 trillion a year investment in renewable according to the Motley Fool for 20 years, just to offset the increased demand and projected population growth. It don’t come from lamington drives. And becak drivers make deals with restaurants and such to eke out a living. Billionaires invest. A lot of it is trickle down for us but without it my handy don’t exist, nor yours. I would suggest we go back to books. THE Net is compromised.
    As for the horse party, nay.

  8. No-one is suggesting we go front & centre without
    technology, that’s nuts. Now, the developed
    countries are more than managing it. Aussie has
    no need to lie down in a slag-heap to support its
    investors – all it need do is change its investments
    since there are many out there & many more to
    come. It is not sensible to bet on a worn-out
    horse when there’s a paddock stocked with what
    is already renewable. [NB: iron ore won’t last].
    Let’s get cracking & up off our backsides & stop
    yowling ‘poor me’ because there’s plenty to keep
    us busy & reasonably paid. We need a forward
    looking government that’s trustworthy & not
    stuck in the 19th century.


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