Inflation


J

John A. Weeks III

joetaxpayer said:
This may be going off topic, forgive me, but to this point, there is a
web site http://www.globalrichlist.com/ which tells you where you stand
on a worldwide scale. $48000 is median in the US, right? On a world
scale it's the top 1%. Half the world's population lives on less than
$850/yr. This may not be relevant to how we plan our finances here, but
it does offer one an interesting perspective.
It would be just as interesting to figure the cost of government in
each of these places, and the cost to wake up in the morning. For
example, if I went down to city hall and proped up two sheets of
plywood and tied a sheet of corrugated steel to the top to build a
typical 3rd world house, I'd be arrested in short order and hauled
off to jail. Dittos if I went to use the gutter as a bathroom.

Just to wake up in the morning, in the US, I have to have running
water, hot water, electricity to make the water, I have to pay a
sewer connection fee, pay for expensive plumbing, I have to have
walls and roofs that meet exoitc building codes, and I have to
pay taxes on each of these items, plus pay a general property
tax just for occupying a spot on the planet. It probably costs
me $750 a month just to wake up, and kick in another $750 because
I choose to live in a nice house.

Then there is food. I live in a condo, so no garden, and I live
in a city where farm animals are not allowed. It isn't legal to
collect firewood, and there is no cattle dung within walking
distance. That forces me to buy corporate food, and use electric
appliances to heat it up. Yet more costs, and more taxes on the
power, plus I have to pay to have the trash hauled away.

There is a river between my city and where I work. All the
bridges are freeway bridges and do not allow people to walk
or use scooters. Public transit mostly goes to the downtowns,
and goes nowhere near the industrial district where I work.
As a result, if I want that income, I have to have a car, pay
taxes on the car, buy fuel, pay all kinds of fuel taxes,
license fees, and more environmental fees on the repairs.
When I do get my pay check, more than 50% is deducted for taxes,
medicare, welfare, social security, union dues, and all kinds
of silly fees. I max out my retirement, so what starts as a
nice paycheck ends up being a drib or a drab of money.

Bottom line after all this rambling is that comparing median
incomes is bogus. Net profit is what counts. If I spend all
my money on modern living, and put nothing away, I am far worse
off than a 3rd world goat hearder who lives a semi-nomadic life,
but is able to feed their family and increase the size of their
heard by a few goats each year. And if our goat hearder gets
health care as a human right, and I cannot afford health coverage,
then tell me who is better off in the long run?

-john-

--
======================================================================
John A. Weeks III 612-720-2854 (e-mail address removed)
Newave Communications http://www.johnweeks.com
======================================================================

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E

Elizabeth Richardson

John A. Weeks III said:
Just to wake up in the morning, in the US, I have to have running
water, hot water, electricity to make the water, I have to pay a
sewer connection fee, pay for expensive plumbing,
Comment: a friend of mine, who resides in Virginia, lives without
electricity and running water. She lives on a communal farm and there are
others similarly unencumbered. She has a job, she does drive a car, they use
propane for cooking. She has chosen to live thusly for over 16 years. We're
not talking about a homeless person, or someone others might call down on
their luck. I'm simply pointing out that running hot water and electricity
are not required living accoutrements in the US (though living like that
would not be my choice!).

Elizabeth Richardson

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E

Elle

Elizabeth Richardson said:
Comment: a friend of mine, who resides in Virginia, lives
without electricity and running water. She lives on a
communal farm and there are others similarly unencumbered.
She has a job, she does drive a car, they use propane for
cooking. She has chosen to live thusly for over 16 years.
For many folks I think much is to be said for the simple
life. I think it can give one an appreciation of what is
really meaningful for filling one's time. Unencumbered is a
good way to put it. No (or fewer) chains, and less worries
about inflation etc., if only because one knows how to
survive at the most immediate level, as opposed to tarrying
over one's portfolio and counting on investments to survive.

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D

Don

Good point, but moderate inflation means gradual loss of money. So if
one notices it half a year late and takes measures, it is still
worthwhile to take them.
Agreed. Iinflation protection should be a basic part of any financial
plan for anybody at any time. Better late than never. But I would not
count on any "timing" strategy of shifting money around depending on
the inflation statistics.

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D

Don

For many folks I think much is to be said for the simple
life. I think it can give one an appreciation of what is
really meaningful for filling one's time. Unencumbered is a
good way to put it. No (or fewer) chains, and less worries
about inflation etc., if only because one knows how to
survive at the most immediate level, as opposed to tarrying
over one's portfolio and counting on investments to survive.

Many wealthy people are able to live a "simple" life without
encumberances. Their money pays for other people to take care of the
usual encumberances and protect them from the stresses that otherwise
would make life complicated. I am not talking about people who have
become wealthy because they have worked hard in business all their
lives and profited from investments. They can be under a lot of stress.
I mean peole with inherited wealth, the ones who never have to worry
about working or investing or much of anything else except maybe hiring
someone to take care of unpleasant tasks. I suspect the hippies with
the back-to-nature life style on the farm or in the commune would
really like to be one of those favored ones, but setttle for at least
getting away from the rat race insofar as it is possible to do so with
little or no money.

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W

Will Trice

John said:
Bottom line after all this rambling is that comparing median
incomes is bogus. Net profit is what counts. If I spend all
my money on modern living, and put nothing away, I am far worse
off than a 3rd world goat hearder who lives a semi-nomadic life,
but is able to feed their family and increase the size of their
heard by a few goats each year. And if our goat hearder gets
health care as a human right, and I cannot afford health coverage,
then tell me who is better off in the long run?
So the availability of affordable health insurance is your only criteria
for quality of life?

-Will

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J

joetaxpayer

Will said:
So the availability of affordable health insurance is your only criteria
for quality of life?

-Will
I get John's point. One can burn through $10K's in the things he
mentions, water/AC/rent, etc, and my comparison using median income is
not quite apples to apples. While I have the option to liquidate and
choose to live in the proverbial van by the river, that's not likely to
happen, and I may not actually be living 100X the quality of life
despite having 100X the income of the $850/yr world median person I
reference.

Joe

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E

Elizabeth Richardson

So the availability of affordable health insurance is your only criteria
for quality of life?
Well, this has certainly gotten off the Inflation topic, but I'll chime in
here and offer that even if you have health insurance but have no access to
medical care, that health insurance is a waste of good money. The goat
herder would be a prime example, but so, too, is the welfare recipient on
medicaid who can't get to pre-natal care because the buses don't come
anywhere near where she lives and she can't call a cab to get to the doctor
because she has no phone. Financial planning, of course, does not exist for
those so situated, inflation or not.

Elizabeth Richardson

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W

Will Trice

joetaxpayer said:
I get John's point. One can burn through $10K's in the things he
mentions, water/AC/rent, etc, and my comparison using median income is
not quite apples to apples. While I have the option to liquidate and
choose to live in the proverbial van by the river, that's not likely to
happen, and I may not actually be living 100X the quality of life
despite having 100X the income of the $850/yr world median person I
reference.
That's not very rational. If you're not getting your money's worth,
shouldn't you go where you will? I know that may not be possible for
the goat herder, but I'm guessing it is for you.

-Will

william dot trice at ngc dot com

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D

Douglas Johnson

joetaxpayer said:
I get John's point. One can burn through $10K's in the things he
mentions, water/AC/rent, etc, and my comparison using median income is
not quite apples to apples. While I have the option to liquidate and
choose to live in the proverbial van by the river, that's not likely to
happen, and I may not actually be living 100X the quality of life
despite having 100X the income of the $850/yr world median person I
reference.
Of course you aren't. The theory of marginal utility says that the first bowl
of ice cream tastes better than the second, which tastes better than the third.

But, so what? You are leading a much, much better life than our goat herding
friend. Not necessarily happier, but better in every material regard. Try
visiting the third world, especially outside the cities. No safe drinking
water. A poor harvest means serious hunger. Medical care is a two day walk
away. Electricity? You've got to be joking. People can't afford the fuel to
boil the water to keep the kids from dying of dysentery.

When Warren Buffett is asked for the reasons for his success, he always starts
out "I was born in the United States." I've been trying for a couple of days
now to figure out how to reply to John's post and this is the mildest I've been
able to manage. If you want appreciate what we've got, volunteer overseas for a
third world relief agency. That'll work for sure.

-- Doug

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E

Elizabeth Richardson

bo peep said:
Anyone who can afford a cab can have a phone. Get a Tracfone for $10
and about $7 to $8/month for service.
Over snipped. She doesn't have to pay for the cab, medicaid will pay her
transportation.

Elizabeth Richardson

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A

Augustine

Anyone who can afford a cab can have a phone. Get a Tracfone for $10
and about $7 to $8/month for service. No credit check required - you
don't even have to identify yourself to the company.
Better yet, pre-paid phones can be got virtually for free. Sort of,
it's about $20 for a phone with 20min, but more minutes can be
purchased for as little as 10c/min.

HTH

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