|Actual British boiler in a weeny flat|
The plumber is coming, so I have been tidying up and thinking about my late, great friend Angela who used to talk wryly about "cleaning for the cleaner." Now I am thinking about those lovely little robots that do the vacuuming and how much buying one would disrupt our savings goals.
I think about money quite a lot these days, in part because I enjoy doing simple sums and thinking about how we guessed right in (A) overpaying the mortgage (B) locking in a fixed rate mortgage before even the lowest ones soared above 2%.
The alternatives were, of course, spending more on our "Lifestyle" or shoving the money into the Stockmarket. Until recently, financial independence bloggers often compared the great gains you can make on the Stockmarket versus the relatively low percentage everyone seemed to be paying on their mortgages. They would warn against "opportunity costs" and talk about making 6%-10% on your own money in the markets versus the 1-3% you had to pay on the bank's money.
Naturally, banks don't loan ordinary folk hundreds of thousands of pounds/dollars to put into shares, so in a bull market using the bank's money to finance your home while you make a killing with your own money makes sense. But that sounds all very 2009-2019 to me. Since Spring 2019, we in the UK have had Brexit, the COVID lockdowns, and three prime ministers. The markets are down, the pound is down, inflation is up, and mortgage interest rates are up, too. Oh, and so are gas and electric and rents.
Buying a weeny, well-insulated flat far from the city centre and throwing money at the mortgage as if bailing water out of a sinking boat turned out to be very smart. And this reminds me that even if money cannot buy you happiness, it can buy you a certain peace of mind.
This in turn reminds me of Matthew 26:6 - 34 ("Behold the fowls of the air...") which in turn leads me to wonder what the Lord meant about not worrying about food, drink, clothing and tomorrow. (I shall send a text to a seminary professor friend to ask.) Perhaps He literally meant that we should not feel unhappy about the food, drink, clothing and tomorrow issues but just do what we're called to do (which usually means paid work of some time or keeping house for your salaried spouse) and trust in the Father to make things work out ultimately for the best.
I wonder if schools now teach children and teens about money, the miracles of compound interest, and the joys of capitalism versus the evils of consumerism? When I was an undergraduate at the University of Toronto, it was still fashionable in some circles to be rude about the bourgeoisie and capitalists, but I would guess that a large percentage of the students born in Canada sprang from the bourgeoisie and that their parents owned capital, if only in the form of their houses. (Today the average house price in Toronto is over a million.) Thinking back to the 1990s, it seems to me that the children of immigrants were less likely to be rude about capital, perhaps because they knew how much work it takes to get it.
It strikes me this puts the children of immigrants to Canada at a psychological advantage. They know where money comes from, which means they know where to get it, and how hard their parents had to work to earn money, which fosters gratitude and loyalty to their parents. Second, they might also understand why it would have been even harder (or impossible) for their parents to get the money in their countries of origin, which fosters gratitude and loyalty to their new country.
I'm thinking not so much of immigrant kids of my own generation but of Millennial Revolutions' Kristy Shen and Bryce Leung. Toil do they not and neither do they spin because they took degrees that would land them high paying jobs, saved as much as they humanly could and retired as millionaires in their early thirties. They don't worry about food, drink, and clothing but live within their means, keep an eye on their aging parents, chat with likeminded people from around the world and travel like the unusually energetic Canadian retirees they are.
Their book doesn't mention this, but I am relatively sure Shen and Leung didn't spend their time at university shutting down other people's freedom of speech.
And now about that night at Edinburgh Uni
My keenest readers will know that I was at Edinburgh University on Monday night to report on a lecture by a speaker from the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children. They will also know that this lecture was attended by a hostile group carrying banners and interrupted by a second (but related) group carrying a bullhorn. The blue-haired holder of the bullhorn made a speech which could have been a parody of such speeches, carefully mentioning "people with uteruses" instead of women, and saying that the students who had invited the speaker didn't "deserve a platform."
The odds are the blue-haired woman was American, but there was something about her voice that made me think she might be Canadian. Either way, leading an occupying army into a room to stop a woman from speaking was an atrocious way for someone to behave in a foreign country. I would not have been thrilled had a Scot led the charge, but I might not have been so angry.
I was also angry at the self-righteousness of the occupiers who shouted "Who funds you?" at the SPUC speaker, apparently believing (despite their own American members) that there is something particularly disgraceful in receiving donations from Americans. (In reality, SPUC is mostly funded by British donors, and in Scotland I would guess the majority of them are working-class Catholic Scots.) Their unshakeable belief that--at a university, at Edinburgh University--they were entitled to stop an audience from hearing a speaker they had come to hear--was appalling. I was also angry at the sense of entitlement of these shrimps, especially when they expressed how "f****" angry" they were against Edinburgh University as if it were their own ungrateful child who had let them down.
I was also scared, both for the security of my phone (with which I was recording this disgraceful scene) and for the speaker. When I was in my twenties, pro-abortion demonstrators could be damned violent and in 2012 someone tried to murder people working for the Family Research Council because he didn't like the FRC's stand on gay marriage. (He succeeded in killing the security guard.) I got a young man I know from church to walk me to my bus stop after the fracas, and I ascertained that the pro-life women I thought most at risk were similarly protected on their way home. (To be fair to the Gen Z mob, thoughts of physical violence may never had entered their university-enrolled heads.)
I was so angry that, not only did I not sleep until 2 AM on Tuesday morning, I woke up at 6 AM on Wednesday. I realised then that the only way to exorcise my fury was to return to my "platform." At the meeting I couldn't say anything because I was reporting on the incident, but afterwards--let's just say I made full use of Article 10 of the Human Rights Act 1998.
When I had written this second article, gone to the gym, and returned home to begin my real working day, I reflected that not only do I have a "platform" to express many opinions the occupying activists wouldn't like, I get paid to express them, too. It was a very cheering thought.