What it’s like to be poor.

From IRC, adnotated :

mircea_popescu: Only redistributive taxation can create this situation where they who should be rich think they’re somehow poor, and the poor wear alternatively idiot and imbecile clothes.
*pete_d Just had a moment imagining taxation that wasn’t ~redistributive~ but actually for summun bonum.i

asciilifeform: What’s it mean, ‘think they’re somehow poor’ ?
mircea_popescu: What you do, asciilifeform.

asciilifeform: WTF, I’m actually poor.ii
mircea_popescu: Right.

asciilifeform: Having to, e.g., work for a living, actually compute costs of things, etc.
pete_d: For the record, this is as abysmal a definition of ‘poverty’ as whatever gov metric, ‘>50% spent on room and board’ or whatever.iii

asciilifeform: Very nearly 50. But moreover, ‘poor’ is a matter of emotion strictly. A brick cannot be poor.
pete_d: Then you’re only borderline ! Gov says !

mod6: I agree with ascii ; if you have to look at the price tags, you’re not rich.
pete_d: Such nonsense.iv

asciilifeform: Because brick has 100% of what he wants. I will add, if you use an alarm clock, and don’t have the option of stopping, you’re not rich.
trinque: I dunno ; prices are good information.v
pete_d: ^

trinque: Why would someone who knew enough about money to keep it ignore those.
asciilifeform: Did not say ‘ignore’. Again, like the clock. Rich has ~the option~ of ignoring.vi

mod6: Not that they’re not good info, or good signals in a market place. But if you go shopping and have to think about whether you can afford to buy something, you’re not rich.
trinque: Yeah granted.

asciilifeform: He can set alarm clock, as mircea_popescu suggested, to watch a meteor shower. But it is an ~option~.
mod6: Yah, & alarm clock, job, et al.

pete_d: As if rich people don’t weigh out costs and benefits ? Maybe I buy off-brand mac and cheese instead of ‘kraft dinner’, save $0.50, invest, be moar rich !
mircea_popescu: I think you two are conflating at least three things. There is 1. “Not having any ability to direct the course of public affairs, as encoded in “money” in this society” ; 2. “Not having 1 and perceiving one should have it” ; 3. Perceiving one should not have it. I agree you’re poor as per 3. You like to claim it’s as per 1.

asciilifeform: I don’t give a tinker’s damn per public affairs. Only sleep-ad-libitum. These are ‘packaged together’, yes.
mircea_popescu: Your ass is public property in this view. Much like genitalia belong, indivise, to “the other gender” as a group.

asciilifeform: Aha. ‘money with which to buy back own arse’ is, approximately, what ‘rich’ means in my mind.vii
mircea_popescu: Yes but the problem with that worldview is that it makes absolutely no sense. You can not “buy back own arse”, at any price, for as long as you think in those terms or anything like them, your ass is public property. And this is purely a subjective problem, no matter what it masquerades as.

___ ___ ___

  1. To my mind, taxation that’s actually for the summun bonum is that which builds infrastructure like bridges and 1 gbps Internet. Really, pretty much the entire rest of the gambit is an utter waste.
  2. I dunno why I find this so side-splittingly hilarious, but I think it’s mostly because of Stan’s complete and utter indignation, as if even the slightest suggestion that he’s not essentially picking bottles out of trashcans is tantamount to heresy and a hangable offense. Also possibly because his rejection of anything other than the moniker of a pauper boils down to his sense of his place in the world that cannot be remedied with all the tea in China, nor even all the chip fabs in China. Also also possibly because we’re each a bit tragic in our own way.

    In any event, this ‘woe is poor me’ isn’t a new position for Stan and it therefore ties back into an earlier thread about poverty = having no capital to allocate on goods, wherein Stan took the (indefensible) position that crates full of Z80s and Pogos weren’t ‘capital goods.’ Because sure, if states can play with definitions, why can’t we all ?

  3. In Canada, the most commonly accepted definition of ‘poverty’ is literally the stupidest government stat out there, which is no small feat given the horrific abuse of the definition of, say, ‘inflation.’

    So ‘poverty’ is defined as ‘any family unit that spends 20% more of their income than the average amount spent by Canadian family units of the same size on three things : food, clothing, and shelter, in after-tax dollars.’ Seriously now. Twenty percent. An arbitrary number plucked right out of thin air. Just like that. Just like the US ‘growth rate’ last quarter, (and really, every quarter).

    Leaving aside the sheer impossibility of measuring such a ‘poverty’ statistic with any meaningful accuracy, with a STATSCAN-calculated average of 43%, an otherwise prosperous family making $240`000 per year before tax ($160`000 after) and spending $7`000 per month on housing, $2`000 per month on food, and $1`000 on clothing – none of which are unreasonable in Canada for a young professional couple (I certainly know a few such) – meaning that they’d be far and away into ‘poverty’ territory because 75% > 63% and thems just the numbers.

    No wonder ‘1 in 7 Canadians live in poverty’ ! Hell, it should be more like 6 in 7 !!!1

  4. As if the wealthy have no sense of curiousity, no interest in markets, no zest for a bargain – just too much money and not enough brains. This is a very contrived view and one that arguably describes only the American flavour of ‘wealthy’ that lack the intra-aural capacity to maintain their wealth.
  5. It’s how markets work. To quote an earlier piece :

    What the market is : A system of trade and exchange for determining prices as a means of resource allocation.

    What a market isn’t : A system of centrally controlled trade and artificially constructed exchange for determining the “fairest” prices as a means of “the most equitable” resource allocation.

    So you want a fair and competitive market ? Then stay the fuck out of the way. Because that’s how that works.

  6. No, again and again and again, the rich do ~not~ have the option of ignoring prices, not if they have any intent of staying rich. This is that fucktarded American ‘social mobility‘ thing all over again, wherein idjits without intellectual wealth are given material wealth and magically imagine that their station is sufficiently achieved, quite contrary to the empirical findings that indicate that New Worlders, far more than Old Worlders, are badly deluded by this halfway-there definition of ‘wealth’ and as such are able to maintain the mistaken perception of living in a ‘competitive society’ rife with ‘entrepreneurs’ who in point of fact end up being little more than scammy wallet inspectors and lottery winners instead of admitting that their heads dun work so good and that staying rich is more than half the battle. Go figure.
  7. By this definition, Ted Kaczynski was rich. He had his own log cabin in the bush where no one could tell him what to do, he could sleep for as long as he pleased, and he could eat fresh, organic food (hunted game, wild berries and mushrooms) etc etc. He just didn’t have access to eBay curio. The point being, it’s either or. Tertium non datur, except perhaps in heaven.

10 thoughts on “What it’s like to be poor.

  1. Kaczynski did not own or otherwise have any claim to the land he camped on. In fact, the forest was eventually bulldozed by its actual owners, which lead to Kaczynski resolving to do the things for which he is now famous.

    • Pete D. says:

      The funny thing is, there’s nothing stopping ‘NYC Mayor’s Office’ or ‘Land Developer’ from doing the same to Taleb. Where’s his standing army ? Hell, where’s MP’s ?

    • The corresponding thing for Taleb would be USG zeroing out his bank accounts. Which is something he ought to expect eventually. As for MP, I cannot comment, perhaps his countermeasures to all of this include orbiting deathrays; ask him, not me.

    • Pete D. says:

      It’s not the first rodeo for either of them. Contingency, if not Antifragility, are their middle names.

      That being said, if one cannot comment on MP, Taleb is hardly a better known specimen.

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  7. […] looooves to ham up his poverty. He’s like the fast food junkie who keeps going back to McD’s on his way home from work […]

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