Thursday, August 02, 2007

Lemon: Of Cave Dwellers & Bankers

A little while ago I had an interesting chat with an artist friend of mine about the state of the world. I find as often as not we who wear ties and they who wear black clothing can get along fine in discussions, providing we understand that our glasses are often different colours.
In this case we were in a trendy bar surrounded by bright young enormously wealthy kids (say under 30) wearing
TD Securities name badges (as if being stuck in black suits on a hot patio isn't irritating enough).
I revealed what I knew about these kids. First off, they come in two forms. One form is a first generation kid from away (typically China and India) who pressed their academic performance to levels beyond the interest of poor white multi-generational Canadians. The second form are the often befuddled sons of other bankers. Banking bred in the bone as the legacy of having a father securities trader. Nepotism is huge in banking as it is in law and medicine.
The second thing I revealed is that these kids make immense amounts of money. I had a hoop friend (from India) who got a BMW as a signing bonus. Starting out they make hundreds of k a year and once they're settled in, seven figures.
And, boy, are they treated well. Their escapes are not in the Caledon Hills, they're in places like Pebble Beach.
For what?? Doing a little math, running some financial models, and passing around pieces of paper.
I compared these scions to artists and got an admission from my friend that those of the paint smeared dungarees know what they're getting into (and not) when they choose their vocation. They don't do it for the money.
The discussion progressed into how much turmoil there is in the world, at least partly because of money and what can be done with it. I mentioned how McLuhan had prospected that the Global Village would be a terrible thing as technologically advanced economically dominant cultures began spreading into relatively primitive societies. And how there would be a push back from cultural traditionalists in those poorer states.
She brought forward the point that agrarian, simple societies are sustainable in perpetuity.
I thought for a sec and responded that I don't think that these "primitive" societies are sustainable at all. Because my belief is that mankind (especially young male members of mankind) thirst for change. That left alone to think for a while, they would dream up a way of making water come to them, of having light inside a tent when it's dark outside, of finding a way to meet girls outside the village.
And the end result is what we have now - the most safe, peaceful, well-fed, educated and housed global population in history.
But this 'progress' has not come without cost. I've read that cave dwellers only hunted and gathered about 20 hours a week compared to the forty or sixty that these bankers work.
I wonder though, what did they do with their spare time when they didn't have golf to spend it on?

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