Friday, May 14, 2010

Yiddish proverbs - money

Money is on many people’s minds at the moment. I know it is on my mind. We watch the financial crisis unfolding on TV or the internet like a slow motion train wreck. Sovereign debt crisis. Quantitive easing. Credit default swaps. Fiat currency collapse. Inflation-deflation. Moral hazard. Record gold prices.
It was much simpler in the old days (when I was a kid): you worked for money, then you spent it. Sometimes you even saved it to spend later. I agree with Paul Volcker: the last good innovation from the financial industry was the automatic teller machine. I also agree with Teddy Roosevelt:

Americanism means the virtues of courage, honour, justice, truth, sincerity, and hardihood - the virtues that made America. The things that will destroy America are prosperity-at-any-price ... the love of soft living and the get-rich-quick theory of life.

The one good thing coming out of this whole international financial quagmire is that the collective consciousness is being raised about money and morals and the responsible government necessary to achieve financial health.

You can’t expect a viable economy if the only object of government policy is to be re-elected every four years. Sir Arnold Weinstock

We need to go back to basics. When you are exhausted you still have the strength to be simple.

Here are some Yiddish proverbs passed down the generations. They were valid back then, they are valid today but nobody thinks of them.

Golden dreams make men wake hungry.
Interest on debts grows without rain.
Money buys everything but good sense.
If you have nothing to lose, you can try anything.
Once poor, never rich.
Money doesn't grow on trees.
Money is round, so it rolls away.
If I dealt in candles, the sun wouldn't set; if I dealt in shrouds, people would stop dying.
Charge nothing and you'll get a lot of customers.
Every seller praises his wares.
Life is the cheapest bargain - you get it for nothing.
What you save is, later, like something found.
A penny saved is a penny earned.
A penny is sometimes better spent than spared.
A penny is a lot of money - if you haven't got a penny.
The heaviest thing in the world is an empty pocket.
He that cannot pay, let him pray.
A heavy purse makes a light heart.
A golden key will open every lock.
It costs money to sin.              
A trade makes you a king, but robs you of your leisure.
Gold's father is dirt, yet it regards itself as noble.
Golden dishes will never turn black.
Better an ounce of luck than a pound of gold.
When luck joins in the game, cleverness scores double.
A rich man who is stingy is the worst pauper.
A rich man's foolish sayings pass for wise ones.
With money in your pocket, you are wise and you are handsome and you sing well too.
If the rich could hire someone to die for them, the poor would make a wonderful living.
The truly rich are those who enjoy what they have.
Happy poverty overcomes everything.
He who comes for the inheritance is often made to pay for the funeral.
When the father gives to his son, both laugh; when the son gives to his father, both cry.

Image from Wikipedia: silver shekel minted in Jerusalem in the First Jewish Revolt against Rome in 68 C.E.

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Discover The Tale of Genji, the 11th Century classic of Japan (click image)

Discover The Tale of Genji, the 11th Century classic of Japan (click image)
Kiyomizudera Temple has a large veranda looking out over Kyoto and beyond