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serious money
global economic meltdown
productive life
rainy day
Serious Academics Cannot Make Serious Money
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Serious Academics Cannot Make Serious Money

He never really bothered too much about making money for most of his life. To be quite honest, he never realized how difficult it would be for a serious academic to make serious money. And to top it all, the legacy left to him by his father was hijacked by those who were supposed to look after his affairs when he was far away in another country.

Nevertheless, he started his productive life as a research chemist, and later, with a partner who knew more about making money than he, they set up a chemical factory. The profits enabled him to comfortably put his two daughters through school and university without them having to moonlight like most serious students.

They rewarded him with being top scoring students who remained at their respective universities first as post graduate students and eventually as lecturers. And he was happy to keep supporting them as they graduated from school and entered university and needed more in the way of finances, cell phones, cars and their own flats.

Since he was now an industrial chemist he could afford to give them all of that – encouraging them to do their very best – which they did in a big way. And since they received everything they needed, they too couldn’t be bothered about making serious money. After all, it was fun to be the ever so clever budding academics.

The company did so well that he and his partner could afford to put aside money for a rainy day. Those were happy days.

Then, almost imperceptibly at first, the financial world began to change: a monster started spreading its tentacles out all over the world, sparing no country. Alarming reports were published in the newspapers: Beware! A ‘global economic meltdown’ is encroaching upon the world.

Most people pooh-poohed the reports, but they were wrong. Economic bubbles burst in economic sector after economic sector – even the too big to fail institutions had to be bailed out by the central banks.

The rainy day had arrived with a muddy splash.

Gradually they had to make withdrawals from their rainy day funds until nothing was left. He and his partner downgraded their executive style cars. Then they cut their salaries by half. By the time they couldn’t draw salaries any more and were forced to cut staff salaries, he knew the writing was on the wall.

Although the company was founded on his chemical expertise, he realized the company would be able to survive for longer if he bailed out – he could still advise them from afar. So he returned to the country of his birth and moved in with his sister and her husband, whose children, by now, had all left home.

His own two daughters were financially independent by now and wonderfully supportive of their father in his hour of need. But then, as the global economic meltdown proceeded apace, squeezing the life out of over-invested institutions like universities, first his youngest daughter lost her job and then his oldest.

Those were anxious days.

Since he was not averse to writing, he put pen to paper again – with gusto we might add – but soon discovered that it would take a long time for a budding writer to find a publisher. Forced by his nagging, guilt-ridden sister, he applied for positions in the local newspapers but was over qualified and much too old by now.

Meanwhile the situation in his sister’s house deteriorated to the point where he was grateful to move into their dilapidated garden shack. His daughters stayed on at their universities at less than half their previous pay, doing the jobs, like marking exam papers, that were beneath the dignity of the tenured staff.

What an unlikely situation, he mused: He and his two daughters, three highly qualified academics in diverse disciplines – chemistry, physics and psychology – were almost destitute. The global economic meltdown had taught them a hard but much needed lesson: never disparage making serious money!

Christmas was approaching. He was desperate to make money, any money, as long as it was honest money. He racked his brain for possibilities: What was it that some clever Dick Roman writer way back in BC said about making honest money? Fortunately he still had his laptop and an Internet connection. He Googled ‘make money’.

No luck at first. Then he typed into the Google browser: ‘Who coined the phrase: make honest money’? What do you know! It was old Horace, the renowned Roman lyrical poet who lived during the time of Caesar Augustus. He’s exact words were: ‘If possible honestly, if not, somehow, make money’!

Okay – he’s prepared to go along with ‘somehow’ so long as it’s honest. Nevertheless, that was more than two thousand years ago! How might the wisdom of Horace be applied to today’s world – is it at all relevant to today’s world? On the plus side, our disillusioned academic did have access to the Internet and he had a place to stay – grotty but peaceful.

There was something else to be thankful for: his daughters were far away and unaware of his predicament.

So then, if only it was possible to work from home, he thought – grotty garden shack or not. As his own thoughts kept mingling with the words of Horace, he absent-mindedly typed into the Google browser: ‘make money from home’. Google sat brooding for a short while . . . and returned a list of suggestions.

Now, where did he hear those terms before – affiliate revenue and article marketing, top of the Google list – definitely not from Horace! Whatever the origin of those terms, Google, and least of all the ghost of Horace, wouldn’t ever forgive him if he didn’t follow up on the Google suggestions.

Should he ask his two ever so clever daughters about those terms? Nah! Just now they might think he’s got financial worries.

Better to go it alone if he wanted to research those terms in peace.

And he never looked back.

Street Talk

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