Sarah Sheard's Thoughts and Theories

Saturday, October 28, 2006

It's all real money

Does it ever seem that if YOU pay for something, it's expensive, but if someone else pays for it, it isn't so expensive? For example, a lot of people will go to an expensive hotel that their work pays for, but would select a cheaper hotel for their own vacation. A lot of people would re-use any old pen they find around the house rather than buy a new pen, but would pass up a pen they found in a conference room and instead get a new one from the stationery cabinet.

If you have to resurface your driveway, $2000 is a *lot* of money, and you'll put it off year after year, while you know it's better for the town to pay a lot now for a road improvement rather than wait through another winter.

Some people think $40 thrown into the collection basket at church is a huge amount of money, but don't think twice about paying $100 for their family for dinner. Or won't tip a maid in a hotel room since she's only doing her job and they could think of something better to do with that $5 bill.

Well, my new theory is: it's ALL real money. Nothing about it belonging to a church, or a town, or a company, makes it not real money. It came from somewhere, someone who might have bought a new sweatshirt with it, and when it's spent, it's gone.

If the company pays $3000 for you to spend three days across the country in a conference, that's $3000 that could have been spent on a special bonus for someone, or to reduce the overhead rate so that the company could win more bids. It's not to say that sending you to the conference is the wrong thing to do, but if it was your money, would you have spent it that way?

If the town has to pay for road resurfacing, it's money that came out of real people's pockets in the form of taxes. We need to resurface roads, but sometimes people decide to spend the money because it's there in the budget, when we wouldn't necessarily spend the money on our own driveway just because we had $2000 in the bank.

Your clergyman (or woman) has to pay bills just like you do. Chances are if you put $40 or $100 in the collection plate, it will actually mean more to the religious institution than it does to you (unless you belong to a church that is extremely good at collecting money, perhaps one that requires tithing). Many clergy have to buy shoes for their children just like you and I do. Many churches and temples have road paving that needs to be done, and their large lots require more than our $2000 for their driveway. Someone has to pay for the their driveway to be repaved, and it's the same $20 in your pocket or in theirs, that pays the same asphalt company.

And religious organizations need to have money beyond salaries and expenses to pay for charitable works, too.

In the end, pens aren't any cheaper in the stationery cabinet than they are when you buy one; in fact, you probably pay less since businesses generally don't get to buy on sale. They buy at full price from a stationery supplier whom they know is going to be responsive.

Think about it: when a government building is being built with marble and a spacious hallway, where did that money come from? Would you have used it better if it was your money and your building? Would you have built for posterity like we expect governments to do?

Really, the bottom line is: It's ALL real money.

See opposing post to come: If you budget for it, it's ok to spend it.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Pet peeve: Grammatical mistakes

1) It’s does not mean belonging to it. You have to spell that apostrophe. It’s is always only a contraction. If you don’t mean “it is” or “it has” (It’s been a bad day, for example), then leave out the apostrophe. (note, you do use the apostrophe for belonging to anyone except “it”. Susie’s, the house’s, Nebraska’s. Only It gets dissed by not getting an apostrophe.)

2) S. In English, plurals take an s, not an apostrophe and s. Do not write Corn Dog’s 99 cents. The plural is Corn Dogs. Do not write apostrophe’s. The word is apostrophes.

Some grammarians think abbreviations and numbers should have an apostrophe like the 1990’s but I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the 1990s, and it gives people no excuse for the Corn Dog’s fiasco. (Single letters such as don't forget your p's and q's do take an apostrophe most of the time.)

3) Effect and affect. Both are both a noun and a verb, and mean different things. But the ones that mean basically the same thing are the noun effect and the verb affect:

The policy affected many people. Its effects are still being studied.

(the other use of effect, as a verb, means to make happen. The other use of affect, as a noun, means facial expressions. The last is the rarest use, mostly in psychology. Antidepressant drugs effected the desired change in her affect. But if these confuse you, don’t use them. Better to say, Antidepressant drugs caused the desired changes in her appearance and mood if it will keep you clear on the policy affecting people and causing effects to ripple outward.)

4) Your and you’re. You are being lazy if you use your when you mean you are. Your means belonging to you. You’re is the contraction of you are. And don’t you ever write “ur” for either of them when you’re doing anything other than text messaging!

5) Loose and lose. Trust me, you don't want "loose". Loose is what the dog gets. It's not what you do to your keys. You lose your keys. (Technically you can loose the evil demons, but please, we have enough evil demons loose without adding more. Stick to the one "o" in a verb. Use two o's only for the adjective.)

A most excellent book is Eats, Shoots and Leaves by Lynne Truss. This is the only grammar book that ever has made, or probably ever will make, the bestseller list.