Archives for posts with tag: Money

My friend’s 13-year-old troubled child is here at the house.

To tell you the truth…I don’t find him very troubling.  Why?  Because I was just like him when I was his age.

Difficult, intransigent, argumentative, addict manque.

Though our home situations are very different I began feeling a deep regret for how I had treated my mother and brothers.  Without doubt the genesis of my anger toward them had some basis.

Seeing him treat his parents so appallingly, confound them, fight them…distresses me and everyone who witnesses it.  He demands money with menace, internet privileges and rides to see other equally troubled, weed smoking teens.

It has been a particularly hard week for my friends.  Interrupting a drug deal he was making with a pair of 16 year olds in a car, a deal funded by money he had stolen from his mother, he attacked his Cambridge educated father and literally ripped the shirt off his back.

Until that moment his father had been his great ally and protector.  Until he saw what the rest of us had seen for some time…that there was nothing his own child wouldn’t do to get what he wanted.

The violence toward his parents is shocking to witness but he tends to behave properly when I am around because, rightly, he is scared of me.  I refuse to co-sign his bullshit.  I am bigger and potentially twice as violent and, of course, he knows that I will not acquiesce.

He steals anything he can lay his hands on and lies about it.

The last time I was at the house he stole $20 from me.  I just demanded it back and he handed it over.  When caught he tends to walk into a weird cloud of denial.  Glazed, fearful.

After he attacked his father the police came and cuffed him.  They wanted to take him to juvenile hall but his parents balked at the last moment.

It is only a matter of time before he ends up in very serious trouble.

I was sent to boarding school so my parents could live a normal life.  It suited me to be away from the house.  It suited them to get on with their normal, family life.

The problem seems to be that this kid has no passion for anything other than money.  He isn’t, as I was, sketching imaginary couture collections, writing plays or poring over houses I would one day build.

His stated aim: the acquisition of money.  He will do anything he can to get hold of it.  He doesn’t have anything particular he wants to spend it on.  He just craves hard cash.

Ultimately he will leave home and make his own mistakes…in his own time, on his own dime…but for now he tortures his parents and sisters with tantrums, violence and vile words.

When things get really bad at the house his desperate mother calls me and I sleep over.

Calm is restored.  Last night we made tea and dipped strawberries in chocolate.

I know, of course, how things will end up for him: jails, institutions and death.

It is the way of the addict.  We are all similarly destined until we take those imperative steps toward sanity and abstinence.

Oh what a tangled web we weave.   Loads on my mind today: Taxes, Tiger Woods, and Mr. Darling NYC.

The dogs are sitting on the bed looking expectantly but God only knows when we will walk again judging by the gloomy weather reports.

I seemed to have stirred up yet another hornets nest.

I want to make something clear to my hornets.  Like many of you I pay thousands of dollars in tax: federal, state and local taxes.  I pay sales tax, road tax and property tax.  In fact of all the taxes I pay the one that galls me most is my property tax, which at  $17,000 a year is unforgivably huge.

SEVENTEEN THOUSAND DOLLARS A YEAR.

An equivalent property tax in the UK for a similarly priced home would be $3,000 at most.

I pay all of my many and various taxes begrudgingly because if I don’t the state will take my home.  Why begrudgingly you may ask?  Well, a good proportion of my tax funds bogus wars I do not agree with and bank bailouts that counter my free market sympathies.   Wars and bailouts that just make a few people very, very rich and kill many, many innocent people.

My tax dollars help kill thousands of innocent people.

As one reader points out, I can’t vote so I am not able to have a say in the way my taxes are spent.  I am not allowed to get involved with politics here in the USA so I have no legitimate soapbox from which to stand and complain.   I only have this blog.

Rather than cast me as unpatriotic, ungrateful or as an America basher why can’t you understand that I, as a taxpayer have every right not to agree with the status quo.  The attitude some of my readers have that we have no option, that we are powerless in the face of government, that an opposing view is un-American, that the IRS has a right to rip us off so we may as well get used to it..is simply astounding.

My desire for all of us and our children is that we get what the rest of the developed world takes for granted:  that for just about the same amount of tax we pay or less in the case of the British the PEOPLE get so much more.  Let me tell you again:  three free years of education, public transportation, well maintained highways, healthcare, public arts, BBC etc. etc.

It is sickening that the majority of our tax dollars are simply drained away from the public to fight expensive wars, imprison people in private prisons, subsidize the pharmaceutical industry..the list is endless!    As a taxpayer I am outraged that so little of our hard earned cash works for the common good, for the investment in people so that we might halt this rapid decline and encourage invention, entrepreneurialism, and industry.

The price for a total lack of investment in the American people will be catastrophic.

Is it even logical to saddle the young with huge student loans and expensive health insurance whilst you fight costly wars or fund bank bailouts?  Can’t you see that education and healthcare are basic human rights and serve any prosperous nation? An educated and healthy workforce will serve a country so much better than those who live in fear of economic insecurity or health related bankruptcy.

I maintain my assertion that yesterdays mad Joe into the IRS stunt was a metaphor and should be understood as such.

Let me make one thing perfectly clear to all of you.  I believed in this country so much I moved all of my personal wealth from Britain only to see it vanish because of appalling fiscal mismanagement and endemic government mandated greed.  Greed that has not only destroyed our shared dream, the American Dream that many of us still believe in but the dreams of the next generation.

Of course I don’t want to fly an airplane into an IRS building but can understand the murderous frustration of someone who does.

So, I was thinking about humanity.  I was thinking about Haiti.  I was thinking about looters being shot after being saved from the rubble.  I was thinking about fresh water.  I was thinking about scrabbling around for stuff when the big rain comes. When the big shakedown comes.  When they breach the great Fairfax divide and claim what they think is theirs.

I was thinking about John with his pump action, his house on the Beverly hill and how he underestimates the will of the people.  We learned to live with nature, we never tamed it, we never will.   We must never fear God’s big rain, but always fear the will of the people.  John said that ‘cream always rises’.  But when the anarchists come with another set of rules, a different cream will find it’s way to the surface.

(I remember at Monkton Wyld School waking up at midnight and skimming the thickest cream off of the milk from the churns into aluminum pans and onto cold apple crumble.  The only time we could get at the cream was at the dead of night for midnight feasts.   At a different boarding school I remember bad boy Mark Machin waking me at 3 in the morning with a dead pheasant he had poached.  He said, “Cook it.”)

With rampant inflation just around the corner I wonder what can save the banking system?  Still tinkering rather than overhauling, clinging to what they know like so many old school soviet politbureau. The toxic assets are still on the banks books.  What could have, would have happened if these banks were allowed to fail? Some people think-the end of the world.

Did the world end when the Romans lost control?  When tulip bulbs lost their value?

Money is an abstract notion.  It only has value if and when we decide it has value.  It can be manipulated, reinvented, withdrawn…

The banks should have failed.  It is the way of capitalism and by steering away from the inevitable, by altering the true course we merely delay the eventual dashing of the good ship Capitalism on the rocks of time.

This ship will still sink and the world will not end.  Their world will end.  The world of Bernake and Geitner.

Revolutionary change is hard for some, exciting for others.  It is essential for our evolution.

Cautionary tale number 1:

Two years ago I bought a painting at auction for $50.  When it was first sold at a smart New York gallery in the 1970’s it sold for $50,000.  During the 80’s the gallery owner died.  The market and cache around her artists and their work crashed.  Their credibility failed.  With nobody to support the abstract notion of what this art was worth, no longer championed by the powerful gallerist, the stable of artists drifted back into oblivion.

Cautionary tale number 2:

In 1593 Carolus Clusius, a Dutch botanist planted the first tulips in Holland for medicinal purposes. Clusius planted a small garden of tulip bulbs and once they bloomed his neighbors begged him to sell them.  Carolus refused. This, understandably, created a huge demand.

So, one night, his garden was broken into and the bulbs were stolen. The thieves created the Dutch Tulip Trade. Tulip bulbs became a commodity and determined the wealth of the nation.

Tulip bulbs became so valuable that they were not planted for fear of being stolen and the entire economy of Holland was based upon their value.

Then, quiet suddenly, the tulip trading business crashed due to bad bulb speculation and an inability of growers to produce enough bulbs to meet demand thus ruining many, many businessmen.

Tulips lost their value and people began to plant them again.

The world did not end.