OPINION: Money buys you opportunity, which poor Brits are now finding out
- Credit: Ruth Davies
Money can’t buy happiness. That’s what I used to tell my kids. The party line. It can buy you ease though and, with ease comes a kind of happiness as I’ll show.
When I travel by train for work, clients often pay my expenses; so I park at the station. It’s expensive and I can’t justify it normally, but hey, it makes life that bit easier, thus happier, to step straight from train to car, rather than walking further.
On those days when I seamlessly transfer, I tend not to think that I could have struggled with a more difficult journey. Why would I? The ease has been bought so that I don’t have to consider it. I’m not even sure I used to think much of it before though. Not until I started questioning the statement that money can’t buy happiness. I just got on with it, trudged through the city with bags and buggies. I knew I couldn’t afford anything else and that… was that.
Repeating the mantra to my kids recently, as the pot wasn’t full enough for the thing they so desired, I thought gosh, actually, is it even true? If you have money, you have the chance to make everything possible. Opportunity up for sale!
Couples with fertility issues are able to afford however many rounds of treatment they need to get the result. It doesn’t mean they’ll get it, but they never have to stop trying. Possibility always there. With money comes holidays, family time, mouths never to be hungry. At the least, every frippery. In the most, ill heath and finally death even made easier by having money. So when they say money can’t buy happiness, it seems a privilege of the rich to be able to say it.
Recently I bumped into someone I knew years ago. Someone I wasn’t very keen on then, and I felt irritated now. He’d been wayward, not a nice chap at all, and his pathway hadn’t been set for great things. Indeed, had he come from a family with nothing, I feel sure his end would have been prison, or worse.
Lucky boy though, coming from a family dynasty of old money, nothing was too expensive to be cleared up. His murky past to be erased by a healthy bank balance and now, he’s ensconced in his lovely life with a handsomely paid vanity role in the family firm. Like nothing before had happened. Nice life if you can get it.
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Life isn’t fair though. Another party line we’re told to live with, but which irks me. Without money to buy us open doors, we have to claw at them, haul our way through. And just because life isn’t fair and that’s a fact, it doesn’t mean it shouldn’t make us angry or stop us trying to make it fairer.
I’m a socialist. I fundamentally believe in treating people fairly, so the rich can’t just buy a leg up. I want every child to have the same right to education, food, safety and warmth, regardless of income.
I believe in being good, being kind and when a friend said to me recently he believes all the things a religious life encourages, but wants it without the religion, I suggested he join the Labour Party. A joke, but, true. The values of a socialist are about living fairly and helping people, just as all good religions of any denomination encourage.
These aren’t values we see from our current government.
My children, who thankfully are a generation growing up with an interest in politics, have seen law breaking, lying and corruption.
All of it wafted under the expensively decorated Downing Street carpet with an old boys network of wealth, buying the privilege of making scandal disappear. How long will it take, I wonder at last week's news, for people to forget Rishi Sunak’s family potentially benefitting from Russian business dealings while he did nothing to help ordinary people?
He’s remonstrated, of course, that his wife Akshata Murthy’s family business, her stake worth £500 million, is nothing to do with him. Yet he has a duty to make us aware of any interests which may be a conflict of interest. Including interests of his spouse, partner and family. It’s part of the ministerial code.
Do as I say, not as I do.
So maybe money doesn’t make you conventionally happy but it certainly buys ease and it gives an opportunity to be happy in another way.
Rishi Sunak has done nothing for the less well-off and feathered the nests of his millionaire pals, and we’ve learnt that money can make you happy in one way – I’m sure he will be very happy floating in his new swimming pool this summer.
Happy to ignore the suffering of other people who can’t afford to put petrol in their car anymore, much less park it conveniently.
Ruth Davies has a parenting blog at www.rocknrollerbaby.co.uk