Potiphar12's Blog
An Octogenarian in the modern world


It has bothered me for years that Gordon Brown (last UK Prime Minister), who was supposed to be so clever with money, got us into such a mess. How did he do it? Yes, I know, by borrowing and spending vast amounts of money and getting precious little for it. But why did he get it so wrong? Maybe it is to do with that weasel word INVEST and misunderstanding what it means. I see investment as a spending decision taken in order to meet a definite, quantifiable objective. I think back through the years to spending a tiny sum on  a duplicating machine. I knew exactly what the machine was capable of doing. I knew I had the skill to make it work. I knew the capability it would give me. Do you have the same knowledge if you invest in PEOPLE or SOCIETY? It is surely a much more dodgy business. You may well be unclear about what you want people to do, and if you don’t know that then you can’t know what skills they must have or acquire. And you never know how well any people you hire are going to perform. Humans are not predictable, like machines. Clearly a comparison with investing in plant is inadequate and unrealistic, but surely it would help if politicians tried to be a bit more rigourous about what was wanted and how to get it? Here’s a story about successful investment.

King Edward III realised that England had plenty of sheep and good quality wool from them, but was spending a great deal of money exporting the stuff to Flanders and buying back woven cloth. So he persuaded weavers from Flanders to come and live here and exercise their skill on the spot. He settled them in Cranbrook (where I live) and the area became prosperous. His investment paid off, and the area still has examples of the fine houses the weavers built for themselves. Perhaps our current thinking about INVESTMENT could benefit from King Edwards attitude. Here is Cranbrook – but not Cloth Hall!


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