Nah, the real revolution we're undergoing is the organization revolution. After millennia of misplacement, we've finally been given the tools to actuate our anal retentive selves.
I speak from experience. Frequently. To anyone who will listen. Because I've finally got my house in order. My act in gear. My ducks in a row. I am organized.
It started innocently enough. I wanted to find out where my money was. Some might say I didn't know because I didn't have any, but that's specious carping. If I did have some, I was sure I would want to know where it was and what it was doing. So I fired my broker and registered with an on-line brokerage. This allowed me to set up "Watch Lists" of securities I didn't own and track them, minute by minute, at any time of the day or night. Which I did. Whenever there was a lull in my work. Which there was. More and more often, funny enough.
But merely being able to track the changing prices of the investments I didn't have hardly sufficed. I wanted to follow them back and forward through the years. For that, I needed charts. Bar charts. Pie charts. Banana charts. So I bought Quicken. Because I am organized.
Quicken is a software program that helps one manage one's finances. With it, I can perform a calculation that will tell me the exact date my net worth will exceed $3 million. If the market keeps growing at 20%-plus a year. If I'd bought Microsoft in '92. And Magellan in '88. Instead of gold. And that Fiat.
But Quicken is so much more than a bar-chart generator and a net worth calculator. It's really a marvel of modern social science. If you use it to track your charge cards and your bank accounts, it enables you to reduce your entire self into a set of data that shows with pinpoint precision just how empty your life really is. Especially if you charge your meals at McDonald's. (They take credit cards now. I know. Because I am organized.)
To take full advantage of Quicken, you have to be able to download data straight into the program. This means you have to gain on-line access to your bank and credit card accounts. The friendlier, more personal and service-oriented banks don't allow you to do this yet. So you have to switch your accounts over to a large, impersonal bureaucracy, where the idea of human contact is not only totally foreign but deeply abhorrent. Like Citibank. Which I did. Because I am organized.
So now, every day, I can log on not only to my email, my brokerage and the alt.fans.exotica list-serv (everything you wanted to know about Mancini and Esquivel but were too ignorant to ask) but to my checking account, my savings account and my Visa, Mastercard and American Express accounts. That's progress, I hear you saying. But it's still not a revolution.
For that, I had to get a PalmPilot. With it, I can now download my calendar (Datebook III, if you must know) straight into my laptop, thus adding my cash expenditures to the list of items I enter into Quicken. A waste of effort? Not at all. You'd be amazed at how all those taxi cabs and magazines can pile up to, oh, one or two hundred dollars' worth of deductible expenses by the end of the fiscal year.
It only takes me two or three weeks-total!-to arrive at that number before I do my taxes. Combined with the month I spent investigating on-line banks and brokerages, the days I still spend painstakingly entering the financial data that yet comes in on paper, the hours I take checking out market reports on wallstreetjournal.com and Microsoft Investor and thestreet.com-well, who has time to earn any money?
But I don't need money. Because I am organized.