The foolishness of wisdom the poet proclaimed
and for saying so by many was acclaimed.
While at first it was hard to understand why
when I finally got it, all I could do was cry.
When young, the Sea of Arithmetic I could never navigate,
and always foundered when asked to calculate.
When I had to do even the easiest sums
I was forced to use my fingers and my thumbs.
Anything over ten would produce mental blocks
and I had to remove my shoes and, of course, my socks.
But then there arrived that now ubiquitous tool
to which I had no access when attending school.
The electronic calculator saved my bacon
and showed me how often I had been mistaken.
As I could now add, subtract, divide and multiply
its usefulness I could not deny.
I was able, if I felt the urge, to extract a square root,
though why I should want to is a point that is moot.
I became adept at using my new-found skills
to balance my bank account and check my bills.
I then decided to find out what was of great concern –
how much money on my savings I would earn.
I embarked on a voyage of discovery to see if it would reveal
whether those holding my cash gave me a reasonable deal.
When checking my figures, then deducting inflation,
what I saw only caused me consternation.
As interest rates kept going into decline
the results always appeared with a minus sign.
In the deep waters of percentages I began to swim
and what I found there left me feeling grim.
The figures I got seemed out of sync
because, as my savings grew, the returns would shrink.
Should I stop behaving in a way I thought was proper
and perhaps become just another shop-‘til-you-dropper?
For they are the ones the banks would reward
by piling them with loans they could not afford.
The day came, of course, when they were unable to repay
and the banks saw their assets washed away.
But those steering an investment bank Titanic
did not feel the need for any panic.
You see, unlike the days when he who steered the ship,
and let it sink when he had lost his grip,
would proudly stand and salute as they together went down,
investment banks’ C.E.O.s went out to paint the town.
Before leaving the vessel they looted its vault
as into investors’ wounds they rubbed more salt.
They jumped into a lifeboat with as much as they could take
and as billionaires enjoyed a huge tax break.
I regretted, therefore, that I ever learned to add and subtract
for the figures against me always were stacked.
I will be understood, I am sure, if I say that I miss
the days when my ignorance was, indeed, bliss.