Cracker by Damian Christie

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Cracker: Another Capital Idea...

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  • bmk, in reply to BenWilson,

    I can imagine easily spending all the money you earn in the top tax bracket. But I can't imagine that you struggle to get by day to day.

    When I was married with two children and studying. Our family had a total income of about 25k before tax. And we got by just - permanent scraping by and living week to week. Was very unpleasant but doable.

    So anyone in the top tax bracket should be able to live quite comfortably and shouldn't begrudge the tax they are paying (which I note you weren't).

    If I were in the top tax bracket I would be probably spending all my money too just living much more comfortably and wouldn't be worrying about where to find the money to buy a pair of shoe's for my daughter or dread the school stationery list/fees.

    Since Jun 2010 • 323 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    But I can't imagine that you struggle to get by day to day.

    No, I have occasionally struggled, usually trying to work out how the hell to pay my next tax bill, since the payment on contracts can be very delayed. But on the whole, I seldom spend time worrying about paying the mortgage and feeding the family. I expect that would be deeply unpleasant, and that's probably a large part of the reason a lot of people like me feel bitter on the idea of more tax - a fear of being put in that position. I just doubt it would play out that way for me. More likely, there would be some tightening, and the overall quality of life would be identical, or even, paradoxically, better, due to tightening causing a highlighting of wherever the money is going, and a re-evaluation of what's important.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8598 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle,

    I just don’t think too much about money

    Isn't that a key sign of well-offness? Not having to think about it. The difference in my mental outlook from 'oh my god, if we spend that $20 the mortgage payment will bounce' to 'huh, does the mortgage payment come out this week or next week? Can't remember' is very, VERY striking to me. It's one of the most improved things about my life in the last few years, because I'm so much less stressed out. (I am, um, not very good with money.)

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3661 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    Isn't that a key sign of well-offness?

    Yes, but I don't think it's a key sign of richness. This is the odd similarity about the poor and rich. The middle class is actually quite different in this dimension, I think.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8598 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso, in reply to BenWilson,

    Isn’t that a key sign of well-offness?

    And fucking how.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7386 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    The middle class is actually quite different in this dimension, I think.

    Actually, I should be more careful. There surely are middle class people who budget hard, this is most likely the springboard from whence mobility to enormous wealth comes. And there are some who are so disinterested in money that they end up getting interested in it again, the hard way. But the basic training of the class is to hold position, and to seek happiness over greatness. I don't know that they find it, particularly. Anyone aware of any research? Seems to me that poor people are made unhappy by money worries, and the same goes for the rich. In sweeping generalizations.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8598 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart, in reply to BenWilson,

    But the basic training of the class is to hold position, and to seek happiness over greatness.

    The basic training of the New Zealand middle class is to be happy as long as you can pay the bills and not have to worry about getting the occasional nice thing, rather than seeking greater wealth. I don't know that it necessarily holds everywhere.

    I don’t know that they find it, particularly. Anyone aware of any research? Seems to me that poor people are made unhappy by money worries, and the same goes for the rich. In sweeping generalizations.

    I don't have a link, but there was some fairly well-publicised research done not so long ago which suggested that income did increase happiness, but once people hit a certain level of income - about $70,000, I think - their happiness stopped increasing, which fits your generalisation quite well. It's that worrying-about-regular-bills/not-worrying-about-regular-bills divide which makes all the difference.

    Amherst, MA • Since Nov 2006 • 2093 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Lucy Stewart,

    It's that worrying-about-regular-bills/not-worrying-about-regular-bills divide which makes all the difference.

    Interestingly, it's been my wife's greatest worry despite making a lot more money the irregular way.

    The side of my generalization I'm least sure of is the part about the money worries of the very rich. The theory is pretty simple - being so far from poverty, the very idea of it strikes genuine terror into the heart. Also, it could be quite hard to form happy relationships when you can't be sure the other person isn't solely into you for your money. That could even include your own children. So you'd probably aim to find a partner from a similar background. But there's no external forces keeping you together - walking away from the slightest difficulty could be very easy. Also, inheriting money could be especially likely to cause insecurity, because you'd very likely not have any of the talents held by whichever ancestor made the money in the first place. You could end up in the strange position of being wealthy and feeling worthless.

    They can, however, indulge themselves like no-one else. That might balance the whole thing out. I don't know yet, will research it.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8598 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to BenWilson,

    inheriting money could be especially likely to cause insecurity

    I for one would welcome that type of problem :)

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16794 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart, in reply to BenWilson,

    Also, inheriting money could be especially likely to cause insecurity, because you’d very likely not have any of the talents held by whichever ancestor made the money in the first place. You could end up in the strange position of being wealthy and feeling worthless.

    I watched a very interesting documentary the other week about the children of the very wealthy in America, filmed and produced by someone of that class; the overriding message ended up being a) how totally, totally out of touch they all were about how overprivileged they actually were compared to the average person and b) how most of them were trying desperately to find any sort of meaning to their lives - when you don't have to work to live well, and you're not content with endless partying, what do you do with yourself? How do you know that any of your achievements are real, rather than tokens to curry influence? (A couple of the interviewees were clearly unable to tell the difference.) Several talked about how they'd actively tried to fail university and been unable to get themselves kicked out because the administration was too worried about losing their parents' donations. When you can't even fail on your own terms...

    But, as Sacha says, it's a problem most people would love to have. It's not at all the same as the fear of being unable to support yourself or your family. Which doesn't make it not a problem, just...not very high up the list.

    And, then, of course, there are all the people who technically make more than enough but are so busy trying to buy into a lifestyle they think they should be able to afford, but can't quite, that they're constantly treading water. I'd say that's the biggest cause of unhappiness that comes with high income - the very, very wealthy are very few in number, but 10 or 15% of the population could potentially fall under this category.

    Amherst, MA • Since Nov 2006 • 2093 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Sacha,

    I for one would welcome that type of problem :)

    Depending on the severity, so would I. If someone said to me that the cost of more money will be lifelong severe depression, I would think twice. In fact, that's precisely the choice I'm facing right now. It's been very empowering to choose happiness, I must say. Time will tell whether it is a wise choice. I hope I get both, but currently, in the balance, I'll take the happiness over the money.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8598 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to BenWilson,

    Happy to act as a control group if you want to bankroll an experiment :)

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16794 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Lucy Stewart,

    I can't bankroll it, but it's not that hard to test out for yourself. Just start by thinking about money and how to make it all the time, recusing yourself from all the good work you currently do. I sorely doubt that if you put your intelligent mind diligently to such a menial task, that you couldn't massively increase how much money you had. You might love it, in which case great. Or you might hate it. What have you got to lose, except for your identity, values and sanity?

    ETA: I'm dead certain I clicked Reply To on Sacha. O well.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8598 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to BenWilson,

    I'm dead certain I clicked Reply To on Sacha. O well.

    Like I've said, one line of code..

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16794 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca, in reply to BenWilson,

    I’ll take the happiness over the money.

    Nice.

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6281 posts Report Reply

  • DeepRed, in reply to Lucy Stewart,

    I watched a very interesting documentary the other week about the children of the very wealthy in America, filmed and produced by someone of that class

    What's it called? Are these kids old money types, new money or both?

    And, then, of course, there are all the people who technically make more than enough but are so busy trying to buy into a lifestyle they think they should be able to afford, but can't quite, that they're constantly treading water. I'd say that's the biggest cause of unhappiness that comes with high income - the very, very wealthy are very few in number, but 10 or 15% of the population could potentially fall under this category.

    A big part of the problem is the bourgeois equivalent of 'whaddarya' - otherwise known as Keeping Up With The Joneses. To pull the middle finger at the orthodoxy is to invite ridicule or accusations of being a Red.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 4365 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle, in reply to DeepRed,

    Are these kids old money types, new money or both?

    I'm now imagining the reality show version of a Whit Stillman film.

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3661 posts Report Reply

  • bmk, in reply to Lucy Stewart,

    I watched a very interesting documentary the other week about the children of the very wealthy in America, filmed and produced by someone of that class; the overriding message ended up being a) how totally, totally out of touch they all were about how overprivileged they actually were compared to the average person and b) how most of them were trying desperately to find any sort of meaning to their lives - when you don't have to work to live well, and you're not content with endless partying, what do you do with yourself? How do you know that any of your achievements are real, rather than tokens to curry influence? (A couple of the interviewees were clearly unable to tell the difference.) Several talked about how they'd actively tried to fail university and been unable to get themselves kicked out because the administration was too worried about losing their parents' donations. When you can't even fail on your own terms...

    That sounds eerily like the entire point of Less than Zero by Bret Easton Ellis. One of my all time favourite books even though the characters inhabited a different planet from my own experience.

    Since Jun 2010 • 323 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Danielle,

    the reality show version of a Whit Stillman film

    Barcelona or the Bag

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16794 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to BenWilson,

    all the good work you currently do

    too kind (and yes, you can read that both ways)

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16794 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle, in reply to Sacha,

    Barcelona or the Bag

    Metropolitangst
    The Last Days of Compact Discs, Oh!

    Damn, I wish he'd made more than three films. :)

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3661 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart, in reply to DeepRed,

    What’s it called? Are these kids old money types, new money or both?

    It's called "Born Rich", and was directed and filmed by Jamie Johnson, one of the heirs to the Johnson & Johnson fortune. The people interviewed were a mix of old and new money - I remember a European aristocrat, one of the Trump kids, Jamie Johnson himself is the third generation-wealthy, and there were a few in between. It's not high documentary, but if you can track it down it is an interesting watch.

    To pull the middle finger at the orthodoxy is to invite ridicule or accusations of being a Red.

    I've seen someone over here complain that they were embarrassed because their family only had an above-ground swimming pool and that this made them trashy - because you needed an in-ground swimming pool, of course. It's just a total disconnect from the actual reality of how much money most people subsist on.

    Amherst, MA • Since Nov 2006 • 2093 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Oh, well... looks like Phil Goff didn't get that spine implant after all:

    Labour hopes to swing public opinion behind its capital gains tax plan by including an exemption for hundreds of thousands of tradespeople and small owner-operated businesses.

    And it is understood there will be a five-year moratorium on the tax applying to gains from the sale of residential and commercial property in earthquake-stricken Christchurch.

    The exemptions come on top of those already leaked out in advance of today's launch of Labour's economic policy, which is being touted as a "bold" prescription for lifting New Zealand's economic game.

    Other exemptions will include the family home and inherited assets, while dollar thresholds will be set before gains on the sale of other personal assets are subject to the otherwise broad-based tax, expected to be set at a rate of 15 per cent.

    Fair my fucking arse.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12040 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    Which part seems unfair to you? I'm presuming the tradespeople exemption will apply to their business, rather than their real estate. Family home we knew about. I'm not sure of the reasoning on that, other than to avoid scaring people off (but by the same token halving the effectiveness of the tax). Inherited assets are something I don't know the tax rules around, but understood that they're taxed directly in some other way. Anyone know the current laws around inheritance?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8598 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to BenWilson,

    Which part seems unfair to you?

    I'm one of those awful right-wingers who doesn't automatically regard a capital gains tax as the work of the Evil One. But, damn, I really hope the actual policy isn't going to live down to my expectations that it's going to be so full of focus-group driven exemptions that the only sector of the economy really helped is the tax avoidance industry. I don't see anything fair about that.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12040 posts Report Reply

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