Monday, December 03, 2018

Poker Money

I have never been in a proper physical fight. Some facing up, and posturing, but never in a full flung war. So I am not sure how I would respond. The closest I have come to battle is Rugby. 

As a 12-year-old tiny pipsqueak, I was fairly fearless and would take on the famously big Mario from Northwood. The bigger they are, the harder they fall. As a 13-year-old, I had moved from the scrum to the wing (sans speed) and was fairly easy to scare. The "13-year-old" eight-foot-guy from Glenwood with his kids cheering from his car, was welcome to run through me. My confidence returned a bit when my growth spurt kicked in, and I moved back to the side of the scrum. I was happy to get involved again.

Battles normally involved "looking someone in the eye" and a hard tackle, unless it was in a pile-up. Once, my team won a penalty because someone bit my nipple (through my jersey!) in front of the ref. Another time, this time at University, my nose was broken with a punch from the Police (not the cleanest Rugby players).

There is nothing abstract about facing up to someone you know can hurt you. For all the bravado, most Gents learn a fair amount about de-escalation because they know how much it hurts the next day.

Actual war, which I have been very lucky to avoid, used to be a similar face-to-face affair. Gradually, as it becomes a tech battle... guns replaced swords, bombs replace bullets, and people end up getting in their car and driving home for dinner after dropping a drone. Abstract.

This is a problem with the world of money as things get bigger. There is a disconnect between reality and financial decision making. We don't see things getting made. We don't see big parts of the world we are connected to.

"Poker Money" is an idea related to the famous song The Gambler - you never count your money, when you're sitting at the table. When playing Poker, you can't think of the chips as real money. It affects your decision. The best players in the world can be beaten by really rich (semi-competent) people who can raise the stakes to a point where the great player cares too much about an individual hand or game.

Even real money becomes Poker Money is a connected world. "The Law of One Price" is that the same thing should cost the same everywhere. This is a "Law" only in principle because it is not true in reality. Transaction costs and barriers mean we have to pay very much dependent on where we are.

This means that the price of a cup of coffee a day in the UK (say £2.50 for 30 days) would currently translate into about R1,300/month in South Africa. The Upper Bound Poverty Line (UBPL) in South Africa was moved from R992 a month (2015) to R1,138 (in 2017). In 2015, it was estimated 55% of South Africans lived below the UBPL. 

As a Soutie, that is crazy to wrap my head around. I am "sitting at the Poker Table", so I can't think of the Pounds I spend in Rands. The Afrikaans saying for doing that would involve "'n klein bietjie kots in my mond".

The challenge is getting the right balance between living life locally, and being in a global world. We are interdependent, but there are many obstacles, costs, barriers and local challenges that mean we aren't looking each other in the eyes. Our realities are detached from each other.

Poker Money is real money. Drones are real fights. The Global World is a Local World.

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