Gwen Guthrie – Ain’t Nothin’ Goin’ On But The Rent (1986)
As a professional economist, I have always been a huge admirer of Gary Becker who won a Nobel Prize for his pioneering work on the economics of discrimination and the economics of the family. The application of the neo-classical utility maximising framework to inform our understanding of the inter-relationships between decisions regarding marriage and partnerships, fertility and labour supply opened the eyes of many people to the potential explanatory power of economics.
Now, of course, we all know that real human beings are not fully informed, rational beings, carefully weighing up the short, medium and long term consequences of their choices on their own utility (“desiccated calculating machines” as Nye Bevan might have described them). Nonetheless, Becker’s insights have added rigour to the way in which we try and understand the choices that people make.
In my own life, the decision of my (now) wife and I to finally get married after 31 years of (trial) cohabitation was significantly driven by the need to make sure that she fully inherited my pension …. (who said romance is dead?)
This same, hard, cold, logic also underpins the lyric of this soul/funk/house classic from 1986. Using a ruthless logic that would have had Gary Becker “welling up”, Gwen Guthrie sets out the case for his Treatise on the Family in just 6 minutes …. A few snippets:
No romance without finance
Boy, nothin’ in life is free
That’s why I’m askin’ you what can you do for me
I’ve got responsibilities
So I’m lookin’ for a man whose got money in his hands
‘Cause nothin’ from nothin’ leaves nothin’
You got to have somethin’ if you wanna be with me
Oh, life is too serious, love’s too mysterious
A fly girl like me needs security
‘Cause ain’t nothin’ goin’ on but the rent
You got to have a J-O-B if you wanna be with me
Boy, you’re silky ways are sweet
But you’re only wastin’ time if your pockets are empty
I’ve got lots of love to give
But I will have to avoid you if you’re unemployed
The 12″ club mix for your delectation ….