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Lesson 16

                 Is Money the Most Important Thing in Life?

                                        Text

                   "The Only Thing People Are Interested
                       in Today Is Earning More Money."

    Once upon a time there lived a beautiful young woman and a handsome young man . They were very poor, but a's they were deeply in love, they wanted to get married. The young people's parents shook their heads. "You can' t get married yet," they said. "Wait till you get a good job with good prospects."So the young. people waited until they found good jobs with good prospects and they were able to get married. They were still poor,of course. They didn't have a house to live in or any furniture, but that didn't matter. The young man had a good job with good prospects, so large arganizations lent him the money he needed to buy a house, some furniture, all the latest electrical appliances and a car. The couple lived happily ever after paying off debts for the rest of their lives. And so.ends another modern romantic fable.


    We live in a materialistic society and are trained from our earliest years to be acquisitive. Our possessions, "mine"and "yours", are clearly labelled from early childhood. When we grow old enough to earn a living, it does not surprise us to discover that success is measured in terms of the money you earn. We spend the whole of our lives keepig up with our neigbbours, the Joneses. If we buy a new television set, Jones is bound to buy a bigger and better one. If we buy a new car, we Can be sure that Jones will go one better and get two new cars: one for his wife and one for himself . The most amusing thing about this game is that the Joneses and all the neighbours who are struggling frantically to keep up with them are spending borrowed money kindly provided, at a suitable rate of interest, of course, by friendly banks, insurance companies, etc.


    It is not only in affluent societies that people are obsessed with the idea of making more money. Consumer goods are desirable everywhere and modern industry deliberately sets out to create new markets. Gone are the days when industrial goods were made to last forever. The wheels of industry must be kept turning. "Built-in obsolescence" provides the means: goods are made to be discarded.Cars get tinnier and tinnier. You no sooner acquire this year's model than you are thinking about its replacement.


    This materialistic outlook has seriously influenced education. Fewer and fewer young people these days acquire knowledge only for its own sake . Every course of studies must lead somewhere: i. e. to a bigger wage packet. The demand for skilled personnel far exceeds the supply and big eompanies compete with each other to recruit students before they have completed their studies. Tempting salaries and "fringe benefits" are offered to them. Recruiting tactics of this kind have led to the "brain drain",the process by which highly skilled people offer their services to the highest bidder. The wealthier nations deprive their poorer neighbours of their most able citizens. While Mammon is worshipped as never before, the rich get richer and the poor, poorer.

 

II . Read
     Read the following passages. Underline the important viewpoints while reading.
          
                         1. Wealth Led to Disaster

    In all American history, there is no story stranger than that of John A. Sutter. We have read about the early history of San Francisco. When the independence of California was declared in 1846, San Francisco was a small town of some 800 inhabitants. Then, in 1848, gold was discovered on land not far away. This land was owned by John A. Sutter.

Immediately, there was a vast movement of people, not only from the United States but from other parts of the world, toward San Francisco and.the gold fields. This was the famous Gold Rush of 1849. San Francisco grew to three times its size in just a few weeks. Within a year it had a population of over 25,000 people. Previously a quiet, pleasant town, San Francisco was changed almost overnight into a rough and crowded city, full of all kinds of adventurers and other strange characters. The same factors that operated to change San Francisce also changed the life of John A. Sutter in an equatly extreme form.


    John A. Sutter was a citizen of Switzerland. He had come, penniless, in the spirit of adventure to the United States. He lived and worked for a time in Pennsylvania and finally settled in California in 1839, when still a young man of thirty-six. He obtained the rights from the Mexican government to a large track of land in the present area of Sacramento, some seventy miles north of San Francisco on the Sacramento River. Here Sutter established his own private colony. This colony he named New Helvetia. Sutter was an intelligent, well-educated man. He built a fort, inside which he established a large trading post.

 He planted great numbers of fruit trees along the banks of the Sacramento River, as well as hundreds of acres of wheat. He became a very rich man by providing most of the ships that .came to the harbour of San Francisco with supplies both for their own use a.nd for export. Sutter had thousands of cattle and horses on his many acres. Five hundred men, mostly Mexica.ns and Indians., worked regulaily for him. He wrote wrote to his wife and three sons, whom he had left in Switzerland, asking them to come and live with him and enjoy his great success.


    Then in 1848, gold was discovered on Sutter's land:-He was building a saw mill, some distance from his fort. Here, in a stream leading from the mill, one of Sutter's workmen found some pieces of gold. At first, Sutter tried to keep the news quiet. He had dreams of becoming even richer than he already was, perhaps the richest man in the whole world. But, within a few weeks, the news about the gold leaked out. Men descended upon Sutter's land from all directions.

Soon they were coming from all over the United States and even from more distant places. These people moved into the area like a great herd of animals. They killed all of Sutter's cattle, stole his farm produce and tools, and tore down his buildings to obtain wood to build homes for themselves. The city of Sacramento sprang up where Sutter's fort stood. On the site of his saw mill grew up the present city of Coloma.


    Far from becoming the richest man in the world, as he had dreamed, Sutter was reduced to poverty. He finally moved away from the area to a distant part of his land. Here his family arrived to live with him. He began to farm and, with his sons, planted more fruit trees and new fields of wheat. Again he was fairly successful. In 1855 Sutter brought a suit in the Californian courts against the l, 700 settlers, who now occupied the lands he had previously owned. He demanded $ 25 million from the state for the roads, canals, and .bridges that he himsel'f had built but which the state had .taken over. He also asked for a percentage of all the gold mined an his property.

 This suit was decided by the Californian courts in Sutter' s favour. Briefly, Sutter was agai.n a rich and important man. His dream of a private empire, with himself as king and ruler, returned. But then the storm broke again. When the judge's decision was made public, 1.0, 000 people, w,ho were now established in the area and thought they might lose their homes, descended upon the court. They burned the courthouse and tried to hang the judge. They destroyed more of Sutter's property. Later, Sutter's home was set on fire and burned to the g.round. Sutter' s oldest son killed himself; his second son was murdered.


    Sutter was never able to recover from these last and final blows. He went back east and, in the courts of Washington, again brought a suit to recover what he claimed had been stolen from him, He spent the last fifteen years of his life in this sad manner. Tirelessly, he went from senator to congressman, from one government office to another. Friends tried to heip him, ahd he received various honpurs in recognition of his early work in C.alifornia. But delay followed delay, hoth in Congress and in the government courts. The "General" as he came to be called, died alone in a small Washington hotel room, a broken and bitter man.


                 2. What Did Qi Gong Do with His Money?

    Everyone knows how important money is in the world today. But what did Qi Gong do with his hard-earned one and a half million yuan?
    Mr Qi Gong, aged 79, is a well-known calligrapher in China. He became famous the hard way. Born in a poor family, he did not have much schooling until his talent attracted the attention of Professor Chen Yuan, the president of Furen University. For years Professor Chen took him under his personal care and taught him'literature and calligraphy. Professor Chen thought highly of Qi Gong and helped him to find jobs of teaching at several institutions.


    Years of hard work made Qi Gong an excellent teacher and outstanding calligrapher and painter.
    In memory of his teacher Professor Chen Yuan, Qi Gong decided in 1991 to set up a foundation to give awards to both teachers and students who excel in their work. Qi Gong worked day after day at his desk and produced more than 100 works of calligraphy, which he sold for 1, 630, 000 yuan. All this money went into the foundation which was namled after his teacher. He did not leave a penny for himself!
     What do you think money means to Qi Gong?



                      3. Pop Stars I,ive Like the Royalty

    Pop stars today enjoy a style of living which was once the prerogative only of Royalty. Wherever they go, people turn out in their thousands to greet them. The crowds go wild trying to catch a brief glimpse of,their smiling, colourfully-dressed idols. The stars are transported in their chauffeur-driven Rolls-Royces, private helicopters or executive aeroplanes. They are surrounded by a permanent entourage of managers, press-agents and bodyguards.

Photographs of them appear regularly in the press and all their comings and goings are reported, for, like Royalty, pop stars are news. If they enjoy many of the privileges of Royalty, they certainly share many of the inconveniences as weil. It is dangerous for them to make unscheduled appearances in public. T hey must be constantly shielded from the adoring crowds which idolise them. Tbey are no longer private individuals, but public property. The financial
rewards they receive for this sacrifice cannot be calculated; for their rates of pay are astronomical.


    And why not? Society has always rewarded its top entertainers lavishly. The great days of Hollywood have become legendary: famous stars enjoyed fame, wealth and adulation on an unprecedented scale. By today's standards, the excesses of Hollywood do not seem quite so spectacular. A single gramophone record nowadays may earn much more in royalties than the films of the past ever did. The competition for the title "Top of the Pops" is fierce, but the rewards are truly colossal.



               4. "Pop Stars Certainly Earn Their Money"

    It is only right that the stars should be paid in this way. Don't the top men in industry earn enormous salaries for the services they perform to their companies and their countries'? Pop stars. earn vast sums in foreign currency-often more than large industrial concerns-and the taxman can only be grateful for their massive annual contributions to the exchequer. So who would begrudge them their rewards?


    It's all very well for people in humdrum jobs to moan about the successes and rewards of others. People who make envious remarks should remember that the most famous stars represent only the tip of the iceberg. For every famous star, there are hundreds of others struggling to earn. a living. A man working in a steady job and looking forward to a pension at the end of it has no right to expect very high rewards.

He has chosen security and peace of mind, so there will always be a limit to what he can earn. But a man who attempts to become a star is taking enormous risks. He knows at the outset that only a handful of competitors ever get to the very top. He knows that years of concentrated effort may be rewarded with complete failure. But he knows, too, that tlte rewards for success are very high.indeed: they are the recompense for the huge risks involved and if he achieves them, he has certainly earned them. That's the essence of private enterprise.



                        5. Decent Beggars in Shanghai

    It was getting dark when the plane landed at Hongqiao Airport in Shanghai. A woman stepped out into a driving rain.
    "Madam, you must be from Beijing," a voice behind her said.
    Taking luggage from the woman' s hand, the man said, "The weather in the south is unpleasant, and it rains all the time. The rainy season is coming." He accompanied her out of the airport.


    The woman thought she was lucky to meet such a warm-hearted. young man. At the bus stop, she thanked him. "It's very. kind of you. I would be drenched through without your help." She said quite a lot to express her gratitude.
    However, to her surprise, the man stood there smiling and showing no intention of leaving. Glancing around, the woman noticed some passengers getting off the same plane with her were tipping the peopte who helped them. She got the hint, took out a five-yuan note and gave it to the man. Saying "Thanks a lot", he went away.


    The young man is just one of the estimated 500 "decent beggars", a name Shanghai residents have given these people. Often times, they will appear in groups in the railway station, airport, hospitals, scenic spots. Most of them are fashionably dressed, behave decently, and speak in a gentle way. They carefully observe their "customers", and from their expression, they try to figure out what their "customers" are thinking about. They will show sympathy for a patient sent to the hospital, with tears in their eyes. Tey will flatter the "customer" until he or she is deeply moved and gives them money in gratitude.


    On May 1, a family went to a park. Just as they entered, a young couple with smiles on their faces came up. The man talked first.
    "Look1 What a pleasant dayl It is very nice for the whole family to spend the holiday in the park," he said.
    The woman added, "We Shanghai people are often kept indoors by the rain. It is too bad for children in particular. On this fine day, it is quite good for your health to walk in the open."


    Then they began to flatter the.children, saying they were so beautiful and would be promising in the future. They predicated that the parents would enjoy a very happy life with wealthy and devoted sons and daughters. They did not stop talking until the mother gave them a 10yuan note. The mother did not feel sorry for giving the money. She said that she had bought good fortune with the money. Some people say it is this psychology that the "decent beggars" cater to in making money.



                              6. Nobel Prizes

    Once a year, at a special ceremony a few dist.inguished people are awarded Nobel Prizes. The founder of these prizes was Alfred Bernhard Nobel (1833-1896), a Swedish scientist.
    Nobel discovered the explosive called dynamite. This was much safer to use than earlier explosives. He made a large fortune from this and other di.scoveries and inventions. However, it saddened him that his explosives were so widely used for warfare.
    Nobel left mosi of his money. to establish five prizes. They are warded for services to physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine, literature, and peace. It is considered a very great honour to win one of these prizes.