Thursday, October 13, 2016

ignore arithmetic, and we're in trouble

Mr. Micawber and Us

as our minds develop, if we’re lucky,
we can learn numbers, how they inter-relate,
and how the abstraction of math
illuminates the concrete world in which we live,

Mr. Micawber in Dickens’ David Copperfield
declared the consequence of income and outgo:

 “My other piece of advice, Copperfield,” said Mr. Micawber, “you know. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery.”

yet emotion can trump those truths,
hijack our rationality away into hope, avoidance, denial,

we can avoid the audit of the accountant within
and choose to spend treasure today, even treasure we don’t have,
and not think about the bill that will come due tomorrow,
we might imagine that something
can magically save us from our bad decisions with money,
we then never do the basic arithmetic
that Mr. Micawber counsels us to use,

functionally, we are then infantile,
with impulse control issues,
as if we never grasped basic math
and never opened ourselves to an audit,

what profiteth a man to gain the world
and not be able to pay the bill for the world when it comes due?

by Henry H. Walker
October 2, ‘16

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