Zen and the art of minimalism

How can you (we) all go about buying less stuff?

I have bought many things over the last few decades. I started with bike parts, I was forever looking to build the ‘ultimate’ bicycle.

I have easily spent tens of thousands of dollars on bike parts of the last 20 years. But every time I got something new, I would lust for something even newer. The more I got, the more I’d want. It was pure greed and indulgence.

But looking back, some of my favourite rides (most of them actually) weren’t done on my most expensive bikes. Most of my favourite rides were made on relatively cheap bikes!

Whenever I see a product now I ask many additional things:

1. Where did it come from / how was it made? What was the the environmental cost of manufacture?
2. Will I be able to resell it, reuse it, recycle it or compost it when I am finished with it? (and the packaging)
3. Do I really even need it? Or do I think I just ‘want’ it?
4. What are the “false promises” being advertised?
5. Will the new item create extra ‘worry’?

The next time you go to buy something, stop yourself and ask whether you really need it. Never buy on impulse. Never! Wait. Put things in your ‘watch’ list. Meanwhile, look for the most sustainable or ecological alternative. If you still think you ‘need’ something after one or two months, by all means, go ahead and buy it.

Ever since I started doing this, I almost never regret anything I have purchased. [Read more…]

Is a revolution forthcoming?

You know, I keep seeing lots ostentatious displays of wealth online lately. Like this. Or this. Or this. Or this. Or this.

Practically every diamond record has been broken – this year alone (2016). It’s literally been one in every colour. Every single one of them being worth way more than $10M. What’s scary is not that they are worth that much. It’s that there are so many people secretly bidding for them…

And I’m just wondering how much more people are going to take… before they go on some kind of revolution. That’s half of what this blog is about by the way, starting some kind of revolution.

And I’m not alone. What I would like to know is, have any of billionaires today read articles like these?

http://www.marketwatch.com/story/americas-new-economic-guillotine-is-dead-ahead-2013-10-16
http://www.forbes.com/sites/dalearcher/2013/09/04/could-americas-wealth-gap-lead-to-a-revolt/
http://bigthink.com/praxis/why-do-americans-tolerate-extreme-wealth-inequality
https://www.quora.com/Was-the-French-Revolution-caused-primarily-by-income-inequality
http://www.macrobusiness.com.au/2011/12/does-inequality-lead-to-revolution/
http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2012/09/us-income-inequality-its-worse-today-than-it-was-in-1774/262537/
https://kisworldhistory.wikispaces.com/Distribution+of+Wealth

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. If you’re young and you don’t want to contribute to the huge gap inequality, don’t buy from big corporations. Most of the big corporations are headed by billionaires. That is the main reason why the older and wiser people are always telling youngsters to avoid the big brands, buy locally and support the littler businesses.

I think it might actually pay the ultra rich to be a little more conservative and donate a little more to charity. Because people today are more stressed than ever before. And no one is ever really immune to a lynch mob. Not even the ultra rich.

Because we live in the age of information. These days, people can find out things within seconds. And I for one think that the general social acceptance of extreme wealth is fast coming to an end. People used to look up to rich people. Wealth used to be something to aspire to. Not so any more. Now if you post a photo of your maybach limousines in every colour, you are likely to cop a lot of flack for it. Do that in the wrong place, and something is bound to happen eventually.

Now I’m not actually jealous of the ultra rich. Because richness too brings stress. Rather, I have empathy for the poor.

I don’t know about other people, but I am personally done working for the ultra rich. There is no way I would want to get a mortgage. Because I believe banks are charging way too much interest. And there is no way that I would want to rent. Because real estate agents are also charging too much. And I’m basically done working nine–to–five. I mean why would I want to? I see it as a form of modern slavery. I’d rather live with my family… and just do whatever it is that I want to do (illustration).

Well Ill leave it at that today. Meh.

The most powerful people in the world are not who you think.

I type “most powerful people” into today’s most powerful internet search engine, google. Seven of the top ten references are made to Forbes’ annual rich list, ranking people according to their estimated net worth. But are rich people really as powerful as they claim to be?

YES they say that money talks. Money can buy people’s opinions. Money can corrupt. Money can certainly get people to do things they wouldn’t otherwise do. In that way, money can definitely change people’s behaviour. But why have we come to regard money as synonymous with power?

For sure, the more you own, the more you have to lose. The more you can be manipulated and blackmailed. But there’s much more to it that that… [Read more…]

You say you want a revolution. Well, you know, we all want to change the world.

As I sit and write this, Forbes magazine talks about who they think the next trillionaire is going to be. I should probably stop visiting the Forbes website. But you know what they say. Know your enemy…

BUT it’s not just them. There are all kind of predictions going on. The Global Wealth Report from Credit Suisse reckons there will be 11 trillionaires within the next two decades1.

They have the nerve to say it’s not a ‘prediction’, they make one, and then call it their best estimate. Nice.

Two generations ahead, future extrapolation of current wealth growth rates yields almost a billion millionaires, equivalent to 20% of the total adult population. If this scenario unfolds, then billionaires will be commonplace, and there is likely to be a few trillionaires too – eleven according to our best estimate. [source]

So. What do I think about that annual report? Firstly, as far as annual reports go, I think it has a beautiful design. I used to look at the numbers first, now I look at the design.

Getting back on track, the trouble with traditional economics is that “shit happens”. If shit didn’t happen, dinosaurs would still be roaming this Earth. Even they weren’t so bold as to make predictions.

You know the thing about predictions? Predictions are unpredictable.

I think it’s more than a little naïve to think that  [Read more…]

Blue Moon of Josephine.

We estimate that 3.4 billion individuals – or 71% of adults worldwide – have wealth below USD 10,000, while the group of millionaires, who comprise less than 1% of the global population, account for 45% of total wealth.[source]

SO. It seems the rich are indeed getting much richer. There is a truly massive gap in the distribution of wealth and it just keeps getting wider and wider and wider.

I’ve had most of this post sitting in draft format for quite a while. But just today, I learned that Joseph Lau, the billionaire Hong Kong real-estate tycoon, paid a record-breaking US$48.4 million for a cushion-shaped internally-flawless fancy vivid blue-coloured diamond, called the “Blue Moon”. He named it “Blue Moon of Josephine”. And he bought it for his seven year old daughter. 

For his seven year old daughter! [Read more…]