Extravagant lifestyle, a recipe for disaster | Daily News

Extravagant lifestyle, a recipe for disaster

Office workers should be encouraged to use public transport instead of their private vehicles.
Office workers should be encouraged to use public transport instead of their private vehicles.

Living within one’s means is the surest way to an individual’s as well as a country’s progress although loans are necessary to invest in productive ventures by an individual, business enterprise or a country as manifest in the present Sri Lankan context, the country being burdened with a heavy load of debt.

It would be appropriate to draw a parallel, mutatis mutandis, to the economic condition in pre-revolutionary France to that in Sri Lanka today though it has to be mentioned at the very outset that the concept of revolution is outdated today; the actors are entirely different and hardly match in sincerity their French counterparts and more because any fascistic tendency has to be stamped out root and branch.

Sir J.A.R. Marriott in his work ‘The Evolution of Modern Europe 1453-1939’ says: “Born in 1638, Louis XIV came to the throne in 1643; he was declared to be of age in 1651: his personal rule began with the death of Mazarin in 1661; only his own death brought it to an end in 1715.

Richelieu and Louis XIV had completed the edifice of absolutism in France. The Crown had absorbed all the powers of the State, legislative and administrative. The States General was suppressed altogether; the Parliaments deprived of all power of remonstrance.

“Absolutism can be justified only by efficiency. Under Louis XV the monarchy ceased to be efficient. Of its failure to retain the pre-eminence of France among the nations, enough has been said. It was hopelessly inefficient also at home. During the Regency of Orleans (1715-23) there was a temporary reaction against the system of Louis XIV, but the period is chiefly remarkable for the efforts of John Law, a Scottish financier, to redeem France from the bankrupt condition to which it had been reduced by the extravagance of Louis XIV. Law was hardly judged by contemporaries: those who have witnessed the financial chaos of Europe may perhaps judge him more leniently. His principles were not entirely unsound: his application of them was disastrous. The condition of France was desperate. Crushed under a load of debt, committed to an annual expenditure double the annual revenue, the State was bankrupt; trade languished; people were reduced to dire poverty. Law proposed to redeem the debt, to balance the budget, and to restore prosperity to trade by a large issue of paper money, based not upon cash reserves but upon the credit of the State. He shared the belief of the day that money is wealth. Gold and silver are wealth. Paper may serve as money so long as people have faith in the credit of those responsible for putting it into circulation, but paper money is not in itself wealth, and may become worthless.”

Louis XIV the Sun King or the Grand Monarch of France lost lustre barely half way through his reign and Marriott has said: “After 1683 the sun of prosperity was declining fast and finally set amidst lowering clouds which boded ill for the happiness of France...”

President J.R. Jayewardene who called himself the monarch next in line after Elizabeth II of Britain who ceased to be the sovereign with the promulgation of the Constitution of the Republic of Sri Lanka of May 22, 1972 proved that absolutism can be justified only by efficiency which flows from honesty.

President J.R. Jayewardene came to power riding on the wave of unpopularity of the former 1970 United Front Government after the two leftist parties, the Lanka Sama Samaja Party and the Communist Party of Sri Lanka were forced to leave it in 1975 with Feudalism raising its ugly head again in the person of one who when trying to be too talkative in Parliament drew the comment from the Father of Socialism Philip Gunawardena: “You are the people whose ancestors exercised the jus primae noctis,” which made him virtually fall back in his chair.

It is hoped that President Ranil Wickremesinghe who has so far performed admirably well as Prime Minister, Finance Minister and President in bringing much needed relief to the people managing the grave economic crisis will continue to do so with greater efficiency that was President J.R. Jayewardene’s forte ably assisted by Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena the son of the Lion of Boralugoda.

A check on the unlimited use of fossil fuel which is an extravagance for a non-oil producing country as stated by transport specialists, by vastly improving public transport by bus and rail avoiding travel by car as far as possible thus also saving on building and maintaining roads and highways, is imperative at least until we develop to an adequate level if we are to live within our means both as individuals and a country.

It is best that luxury by the affluent few is sacrificed to bring happiness to the indigent many at least until happier times come making the country not live a whisky life with a toddy income, so to say.


Add new comment