Wednesday, November 07, 2018

Stupidity Tax

Conspicuous Consumption is a stupidity tax. Conspicuous Consumption is the lavish spending of money for the express purpose of demonstrating that you have the (appearance) of money to spend. Normally, it is associated with "New Money". It can be debt-financed (big car, big loan), and is seldom sustainable.

It doesn't bother me as much as Conspicuous Hoarding. Both thrust wealth, income, or bad financial planning, in the face of people with much less. Both are a way of wallowing in luxury while others are struggling to survive. The difference is that Hoarding actually gets in the way of other people. Hoarding is of the Needs. Consumption is of the Wants.

So if someone wants to pay a Gazillion Dollars (the record is $450 million at the moment) for a painting... nothing is made or destroyed. The painting simply changes hands. Conspicuous Consumption is a way of firing your money rather than investing it. It works for someone else, and you consume any rights. On a smaller scale, the same can be said of excessively fancy clothing, nights out, or anything else that doesn't stop anyone else from being able to survive. Say you buy a bottle of 1869 Chateau Lafite-Rothschild Wine for $232,692, it is still just a bottle of wine. No physical cash is even likely to change hands. It will just be a swap of 1s and 0s in the code of a bank. Maybe the same bank.

A form of Conspicuous Hoarding is NIMBYism ("Not In My Back Yard"). When people oppose a development that will benefit the community, because it has some negatives for them personally. Even though they have more than their fair share. Conspicuous Hoarding is when not everyone has even nearly enough... and you insist on your big slice of the pie. Water is another example. If you insisted on continuing to have baths, when you were living in a City with dramatic water restrictions... that would be Conspicuous Hoarding.

Money isn't a thing. It is smoke and mirrors. You need to look through the clouds to see what is going on behind the scenes. That is what really matters. Don't be fooled by what you see. 

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