WHOSE MONEY IS IT ANYWAY?
I’ve just been reading an interesting book on the topic of Abundance Thinking. For the uninitiated, this esoteric discipline requires you to see money as a form of energy. All you need do, apparently, is send your positive energy out into the world, and it will return to you in the form of money. I got rather enthusiastic about this concept, but I have to report that, despite having run up and down my road energetically all yesterday, I am no richer (although at the point at which I collapsed wheezing against a wall, a kindly passer-by did throw 10p onto the ground in front of me). I always knew there was something fishy about it: in the introduction, the book’s authors reveal that it was in fact written by two spiritual beings from a higher plane, speaking through them. No doubt their lawyers will have an interesting time sorting out the royalties.
One appealing aspect of the Abundance world view is the concept that money belongs to no one. Money simply passes through your hands (depressingly quickly, in my experience) and on to its next caretaker. At no point is it truly ‘mine’ or ‘yours’. Which brings me to this week’s topic, inspired partly by the ethereal influence of this book, and partly by an email I received from one of my readers pointing out an error I made when being characteristically cavalier with my facts.
In my recent piece about consultants being a ‘waste of money’ (see http://www.ideaswillhappen.com/s4tw/art_of_the_obvious.htm) I stated that the BBC in the early 90s was spending “hundreds of thousands of pounds” on consultancy fees. My correspondent, a disaffected former BBC employee, suggests that the true figure was closer to £24 million per year. What this means, apart from the fact that I must have been the only consultant in the country not working for the Corporation at the time, is that many people are still angry at this waste of ‘public money’.
Backed up by my new abundant friends from the higher reaches of the spiritual plane, I must question the reasoning of the public at large concerning what it regards as ‘its’ money. I remember having a conversation with a workshop participant who was holding forth about the ‘rubbish on TV’. It was the BBC he was upset with: as far as he was concerned ITV could do what it liked as, not being a public service broadcaster, it wasn’t his money they were spending. He clearly hadn’t considered how much of the money he spent on food and other essentials was flowing abundantly into the advertising revenues of the independent channels.
I’m currently working on a project for a large public sector organisation. Doubtless you would be outraged if I told you that the workshop participants were all enjoying brandies and cigars every evening at the taxpayers’ expense (no emails please, they’re not). You might be less bothered by an account of senior managers in an insurance company going on an all-expenses-paid teambuilding weekend in a luxury country house hotel – after all, if they want to wee away the company’s profits, why should you care? The fact that it’s your insurance premiums that are paying the bill seems somehow insignificant – while a Scottish MP using taxpayers’ money to hire a kilt for an official function makes headline news.
Ironically, its shareholders rather than customers who tend to get hot under the collar at private sector largesse – as if it’s their money that’s being hoovered up. But assuming they bought their shares on the open market, their money hasn’t gone anywhere near the company they ‘own’ – it’s been split between the previous owner of the shares and a singularly abundant broker. Similarly, the taxes you claim ownership of have never actually passed through your hands (if you’re on PAYE) – they go direct from your employer to the Inland Revenue.
Abundance Thinking teaches us that money flows more readily if you are emotionally unattached to it. You can see this very clearly in attitudes to corporate spending. Those in the rank and file feel little sense of ownership of their employer’s lucre, and therefore think nothing of trying to spend it. Senior managers tend to feel more connected to the flow of corporate wealth, and so run around curbing the anticipated excesses of their juniors like a frantic parent in a teenage clothing store.
At the end of the day, dealing with money is a question of mindset. This is best illustrated by the old story about two friends walking past the gates of the local factory. One of them happens to find an abandoned wage packet – unopened.
“I don’t believe it!” complains his companion. “You’re always so lucky!”
“Lucky?” says the finder, opening the packet; “Look how much tax I’m paying on it!”
© Phil Lowe, 2004. All rights reserved.