An Amateur’s Economics by Ed Byrne

An Amateur’s Economics

I’ve never quite mastered money as
it modernized in the course of time.
At first I lived with little as
I studied for degrees and got
along all right with scholarships
until I got a paying job.

With money in a bank I learned
to pay my bills with checks.
Then credit cards appeared and I
embraced this upbeat way to pay,
acquiring things for which I payed
at the end of every month.

In time, alas, I ceased to be
the only user of my cards.
From afar a thief would intrude upon
my “private space” and use my card
to cover costs of his/her needs.
At first I had to replace a card

just once a year or so. But now
it takes about a month for some
invader to put a buy on my
charge card and render it defunct.
You ask what will I do when cards
become too insecure to use?

I’ll go back to using minted bills
and printed checks to get along.
But as I thus simplify I can’t
forget the time when one Lisbon thief
removed my wallet on a bus
and a second did it to me on a tram.

My passport and my credit cards
were in the first wallet stolen. I
reported this loss to the cops; and they
in time returned it to me sans cash.
The second theft was achieved by a man
who leaned on crutches next to me.

In Lisbon, you see, many expats had
been forced to return from Goa and
had no regular employment, so
they had mastered the art of theft, thereby
to restore some balance to shares of wealth.

Such efforts to minimize inequities
do help me understand somewhat
how global wealth extremes inspire
the greatest losers to seek gains
by any means. And so they may
harm others who aren’t their greatest foes.

Edmund F. Byrne


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