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Wednesday , June 16 2021

Stinginess kills states, rainy day savings help in dry times

AS a result of leaders being oblivious to the concept of caring for their armies and people, there are countries in this world that choose to hold back on spending for the sake of fortifying their countries. This happens even though such leaders are not spending from their pockets, but from the state funds. It was said long ago that the generous one protects himself from invasion through generosity, and the invaders opt for the stingy one because the latter does not help people in times of distress.

Unfortunately, these invaders get assistance from the people in confronting their leaders. There are two such examples found in Arab history which demonstrate the extent that stinginess dismantles countries. The first happened during the reign of the Umayyad Caliph Marwan bin Muhammad who hoarded wealth instead of spending on the army and people.

The second example is the time when the Mongol ruler Hulago Khan crushed the Abbasids Dynasty due to its stinginess in spending on the army and people. Due to the stinginess of its ruler Al-Mu’tasim Billah, the dynasty was presented to Hulago on a silver platter. For a while, he subduedly fulfilled the demands in of the invaders despite the dynasty’s rule for five centuries, culminating in the stinginess of its rulers to its ultimate demise. Many rulers think that wealth fortifies them due to which they turn away from serving the interest of the people and choose to serve their personal interests.

Perhaps the story of Alexander the Great and his dying wishes can be considered as a good example of the futility of the ruler’s stinginess. On his deathbed, Alexander the Great, whose kingdom extended from the east to the west of the earth, called his generals and said, “I will depart from this world soon. I have three wishes … Please carry them out without fail.” With tears flowing down their cheeks, the generals agreed to abide by their king’s last wishes. He said, “My first wish is that my physicians alone must carry my coffin”.

After a pause, he continued, “Secondly, I desire that when my coffin is being carried to the grave, the path leading to the graveyard must be strewn with gold, silver and precious stones that I have collected in my treasury”. The king felt exhausted after saying this. He took a minute’s rest and then continued, “My third and last wish is that both my hands be left dangling out of my coffin”.

The people who had gathered there wondered at the king’s strange wishes, but no one dared to question the king. Alexander’s favorite general kissed his hand, pressed it to his heart, and said, “O king, we assure you that all

your wishes will be fulfilled. But tell us why do you make such strange wishes?” Alexander took a deep breath and said, “I would like the world to know the three lessons I have just learnt. The lessons are … I want my physicians to carry my coffin so that people would realize that no doctor on this earth can really cure anybody. They are powerless and cannot save a person from the clutches of death. The second wish of strewing gold, silver and other riches on the path to the graveyard is aimed to tell people that not even a fraction of gold will come with me. I spent all my life in greed of power and in pursuit for riches but I cannot take anything with me.

Let people realize that it is a sheer waste of time to chase wealth. About my third wish of having my hands dangling out of the coffin, I want people to know that I came empty handed into this world and I go out of this world empty handed”. All the prestige he had achieved throughout his life did not come in handy during the time of Alexander’s death. Neither his wealth, which went to his heirs, benefited him nor his pride in the victories, cheers and applause.

There is no doubt that the moral of this story is that wealth is a means to bring life into the arteries of the state and revitalize its people but it is not the end goal except for those who assume that ruling is the means for collecting or guarding wealth which is hidden in the coffers even at the expense of their nation, thus paving the way to the demise of their countries. There is a proverb – Save for the rainy days – but there is also another – Spending what is in the pocket attracts more money.

We have seen how leaders of some Gulf countries arose to assist their people in accordance with the principle of “spending what is in the pocket …”. That was what the United States, Britain, Germany, and most of the European Union countries did during the COVID-19 crisis, the negative consequences of which continue to overwhelm people. Through financial aid, these countries took loans to cushion their people from the impact of the economic disruption caused by the pandemic.

They also presented or facilitated other means for absorbing the negative economic and financial impacts. On the other hand, some countries did nothing in this regard. Hence, for how long will you continue to save for the rainy days when almost everything has become drier and barren?

Email: ahmed@aljarallah.com

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