The Value of Money

by Nic Olson

‘They don’t understand the value of money,’ the ex-casino worker told us in French about children. ‘Ils ne travaillent pas, alors ils ne le comprennent pas,’ and she clicked through statistics of how many Quebecers gambled last year, from a single lotto ticket to a horse race of mortgaging a home. Because they are statistically the same.

Because dropping money on sea-doos and interior paint makes more sense than investing it in ‘sure win’ games of chance. The government runs the casinos and all forms of legal gambling, and at the same time they fund programs to assist people in their addiction to legal gambling. Similar to a store selling both the HPV virus in a capsule, and offering a five-year treatment plan to rid of the genital sores.

The value of money. Today, one loonie buys 1.04115 US dollars. This means nothing to me, but might mean something to a friend who orders American merchandise for cheaper than Canadian merchandise. One loonie buys two vegetarian samosas at the Sri Lankan grocery next to my house. This means nothing to you, but might mean something to a friend who lives in India and buys two samosas for ten rupees, equivalent to 21.6 Canadian cents. But I mean not to speak of the exchange rate and all of its flaws.

When the presenter said, ‘La valeur de l’argent,’ I instantly and unintentionally did what I hate doing: answering the lottery question. You know the one: ‘What would you do if you won the SuperMax Plus this weekend?’ I’m sure I have addressed this phrase in the past, but the conversations that ensue, entirely based on blind, greedy hope, make me cringe. But, I thought about it nonetheless. This time my answer, in my head, was that I wouldn’t do anything different than what I’m doing now. I would live in a shitty apartment, sleep on the ground, eat only foods that look like gruel (porridge, dal, sewage, cream of gruel soup, gruel from concentrate), watch playoffs at a crackhole bar, finish my French course, and go on a modest bus trip to visit California this summer. I would stay on the same route. Nothing would instantly change.

I propose a new rhetoric, or at least one similar with a different sense. If you win the lottery and you don’t feel that it is necessary to immediately go purchase something (besides a case of beer), or you don’t feel that it is necessary to immediately go to another country, or to quit the job that you are doing, or to forget about the school you are going to, then you are on the right path. My most dreaded question has evolved into a way to reevaluate priorities and values. Thank you, Gambling Conference. If millions of dollars will instantly change your present life and your plans for the future, then, like a child who is addicted to gambling, or someone profitting in the government’s genital wart program,
you need to learn the value of money.