Friday, January 05, 2007

Innumeracy (part 2)

A staff member had borrowed to buy a car. Quite common, most of our society does the same.

The car was to be paid off in weekly installments.

The borrower was very pleased to have a car, and could well afford one.
However, here is where the attitude of the borrower differed from what one would expect.

Very little direct connection was drawn between the convenience of possessing a car & the weekly repayments.

The weekly payments were resented, as they used up money which could be better used (for longer drinking sessions, or getting new tattoos, and so on.)

Not making a payment was tried, this prompted considerable ire from the finance company, leading to an increase in the awe with which the finance company was held.

Some time passed & with it came a subsidence of the awe in which the finance company was held.

Eventually came a week when the borrower spent their meagre pay on "more important" things. Meagre yes, for the borrower was apt to not turn up for work. Work is resented, while wages are not.

The connection between "work" & "pay" is starkly demonstrated each time the borrower fails to turn up for work. This has lead to a grasping of the "no work = no wages" principle. A principle which is resented as equally as the "no payments = no car" principle.

Many tricks have been tried to get around the "no work = no pay" conundrum. None of the alternatives to "working" mangage to produce any actual "wages" and the borrower (resentfully) turns up to work most of the time. This is called "character" (or lack of).

There has however been more success with the "no payments = no car" dilemma.

The week when the borrower spent all their pay on "more imporant" stuff, they apprehensively phoned the finance company to explain (due to lingering memories of the ire apt to be exhibted by the finance company when no payment is forthcoming).

When the finance company learned that the borrower had been quite ill, and had large medical bills "this week" it was remarkably understanding, and allowed the payment to be deferred.

Armed with this new knowledge that payment was not necessary, the borrower underwent a change, suddenly seeing things on the bright side, for a time even turning up to work cheerfully and without prompting.

The finance company, suddenly confronted with a barrage of illnesses, family emergencies, unexpected hardships etc on the part of the borrower, was very understanding and agreed to endless deferrments of payment.

The borrower, thrilled at how easily hoodwinked the finance company was proving to be, embarked on spending the newly released funds. Parties were held, electronic luxury goods were purchased, late night booze-ups became more common, etc etc.

In conversation with the borrower, a concerned co-worker discovered that the borrower had no comprehension that all monies borrowed ultimately must be repaid, and that every skipped payment was adding to the interest bill, and adding to the term of the loan.

"But its a two-year loan, next June I'm finished with the payments, & then they can't do anything to me!" was the cheerful response, demonstrating total ignorance of the concept of debt & repayment.

The borrower still quite often goes about spending the amount of the repayment, making sure to phone the finance company to explain the illness/funeral/sick nephew. (Although this only has to be kept up until "next June")

The notion that the finance company hasn't actually been outsmarted is cheerfully treated with mild scorn.

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