WEALTH AND ECONOMICS; Community versus Country Club
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Yesterday I had an amazing day and spent nothing!!
I’ve played tennis forever, on a variety of courts from public to private, in metro city areas to elite private clubs. I confess, I hate the atmosphere at most of the courts; snooty, exclusive, might I even say a bit racist, classist, and sexist. (There I said it!)
Yesterday was different!
El Carino and I picked up our rackets and drove 3/4 of a mile to our neighborhood recreation center. The courts were populated with good solid players of multiethnic backgrounds. In fact, I think we may have been the only Caucasians on the court (although El Carino is usually mistaken for an Hispanic 🙂 ). The other players greeted us warmly as we walked on to the one remaining open court. After hitting for about 45 minutes, 4 guys came by and were waiting for an available court. One of the players was covered in tattoos and all were from Asian, Hispanic, or other multicultural backgrounds. They waited patiently on the side of the courts.
In my experience; in the more “Caucasian” areas, the players rarely said hello, gave a smile, or welcomed you on to the court. More times than not, if you weren’t a top notch player, or dressed “appropriately” you were given a disparaging stare.
After a few minutes, the two teens on the next court asked if El Carino and I would like to play doubles, so that the 4 new guys had an open court on which to play! Of course, we said “Sure” and had an amazing amount of fun competing with these two teenage boys. It didn’t hurt that we won!
El Carino and I have never seen anything like the warmth and inclusiveness of this community recreation center. The consideration of these young boys in asking us to play in order to give the other guys a court was unprecedented in my experience. Upon leaving, the 4 guys for whom we had given up our court asked us “Who won?” After we told them we did, they joked and said that it was clearly due to my playing!!!
John Kenneth Galbraith’s Take on Gross National Product
“The Gross National product does not measure the quality of life. But it tells us about the trend of the production of goods and services. We should use it for what it tells us so long as we know what it doesn’t tell us,” Almost Everyone’s Guide to Economics by Galbraith and Salinger.
Although the worth and importance of an economy is measured by its growth in the GNP, the measure of the wealth of a society goes far beyond that of the GNP. Furthermore, the GNP is a poor measure of a society’s productivity.
What the GNP does not measure?
• Unpaid work of household CEO’s
• Quality of life items such as the arts and park
• Good public transportation
• Intangible, immeasurable quality of life
A great and growing GNP does not ensure a sanguine society. Many attributes of a successful society go way beyond this economic calculation. Galbraith, one of the greatest economists of the last century champions the idea that a society’s importance is more than the dollars and cents of its GNP.
The Takeaway; Wealth in Life is More than Money
If you play tennis at a country club, it is assumed that you are wealthier than if you play at a community recreation center. This may or may not be so. Do those at the country club have higher net worth and life satisfaction than those players at the local park, or do they have more debt, overhead, and flashy toys? The answers are not always clear cut.
My best day was spent playing tennis at the recreation center with El Carino and some teenagers from the neighborhood. The cost was free. And the richness of the experience was certainly not included in the Gross National Product. Galbraith and I believe there is more to successful societies than that which can be measured by economic metrics.
Get a notebook and label it: “(your name) Personal Finance” and keep it by the computer. Use it to record all of your personal finance goals, thoughts, activities, and plans.
Take an inventory and decide what things and activities provide you with the most life satisfaction. Make time in your schedule for them. You may be surprised to find that many of the things that offer true wealth are free.
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What makes you feel wealthy?
image credit; J.J. Henry