The Truth About the Ultra Rich

They’re very different one from another. Too often, people paint them with a broad brush.

The Buffets, Gates, Bloombergs, Allens are intent on contributing to the common good. Big time. In the case of the Gates Foundation, they seek to enhance global healthcare and reduce extreme poverty, and in America, to expand educational opportunities and access to information technology.

Then there’s the oil billionaires Charles G. and David H. Koch. Read what motivates them, in “How the Koch Brothers Are Killing Public Transit Projects Around the Country“.

“The Kochs’ opposition to transit spending stems from their longstanding free-market, libertarian philosophy. It also dovetails with their financial interests, which benefit from automobiles and highways.

One of the mainstay companies of Koch Industries, the Kochs’ conglomerate, is a major producer of gasoline and asphalt, and also makes seatbelts, tires and other automotive parts. Even as Americans for Prosperity opposes public investment in transit, it supports spending tax money on highways and roads.

‘Stopping higher taxes is their rallying cry,’ said Ashley Robbins, a researcher at Virginia Tech who follows transportation funding. ‘But at the end of the day, fuel consumption helps them.'”

The Koch brothers oppose whatever slows their fortune from growing ever larger. Things like low income people gaining mobility and conserving natural resources.

David Koch’s networth is between $50 and $60 billion. How much is enough? Based on his actions, no amount.

Twice The Fun, Half the Money

Two words. University housing. Few travelers know that most universities have housing options for any visitors looking to save serious money on nearby hotels. Many times the options range from inexpensive minimalist dorm rooms with shared bathrooms to modestly priced hotel-like rooms with private bathrooms.

The Good Wife and I just spent three days living in a small, but very clean and comfortable hotel-like room on the campus of The University of British Columbia in Vancouver. The centrally located hotel is normally filled with conference participants, job candidates, and visiting faculty. The first night we watched our President pal around with the world’s worst dictator on a 42″ plasma t.v. and throughout our stay we luxuriated in the large commercial kitchen that came complete with a giant fridge/freezer; precise tubs and instructions for labeling our food; free fruit, tea, and coffee; newspapers; and an expresso maker complete with two types of beans waiting to be grinded.

And don’t forget U.S. readers, everything north of the border is currently 24% off, so our three nights cost $302. See how far that will get you in downtown Vancouver.

It gets better. Large university campuses like UBC, go Thunderbirds, have tons to recommend them, especially in the summer, when there’s a tiny fraction of the normal number of people. On our first campus walk, we met a man who befriended us and told us we had to visit the Rose Garden because “the roses knew you were coming, so they’re blooming” and also the Museum of Anthropology which has the world’s largest collection of Pacific Northwest indigenous art.

We dug the roses and the MOA, but the cheap vegetarian restaurants on campus rocked too. And the running was great, the trail that looped the campus, the tartan track, the coastline trail. Next time we’ll take our bicycles because West Vancouver’s ubiquitous bike lanes we’re calling us.

Best of all though was the swimming. After arriving, we learned a new state of the art aquatic center had recently opened in the middle of campus. BEST pool ever. Tons of natural light, beautiful materials, white, clean, spacious—the hot tub is designed for 34. I thought I had died and gone to heaven. Entrance to heaven, $5. Bring a quarter or a loonie for a small or large locker and your own towel, shampoo, and soap.

The pool was set up for long course. I could’ve swam, hot tubbed, and steam roomed all day. The only mistake I made was diving off the 3 meter board. Trying to impress the Gal Pal was not worth tweaking my shoulder.

Speaking of swimming, the nearby 137 meter long Kitsilano pool, or Kits pool if you’re cool, was what inspired our trip to West Vancouver. We were mesmerized by the pictures. Not sure it was real, we knew we had to experience it ourselves. It’s described as the third sexiest pool in the world, but that was before The Good Wife graced it with her presence. It was hard to get her out of the water. We had perfect timing too, decent weather, a week after $3.3m in improvements, but a week or two before the summer surge.

And if you’re fortunate enough to visit Vancouver, don’t miss the Granville Island Public Market for some nice art and excellent food. Speaking of food, the first night we ate at Lido, one of the Richmond restaurants featured in the previously highlighted NYT article. We we’re the only non-Asians for as far as the eye could see, super cool. The bok choy, green beans, chicken, and white super sticky rice were off the charts. Heads up—they only take cash and get Canadian money in advance because they don’t want to be bothered with silly currency adjustments.

The best part of this trip, besides reconnecting with my best friend, was mixing with locals the whole time. Downtown we would’ve been two of thousands of tourists. On campus, in coffee houses, at Kits Beach, everywhere we went, we were surrounded by ordinary Canadians, largely Chinese-Canadians, living their daily lives. As travelers, that’s how we’ve always rolled.

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UBC’s New Aquatic Center

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Kits Pool

 

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Now The Sexiest Pool En Todo El Mundo

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Post coastline to downtown run and leisurely swim with far fewer flip turns than normal.

Saturday Assorted Links

1. Where you live has a bigger impact on happiness and health than you might imagine. Unhappy? Maybe you should move.

2. The Most Ruthlessly Effective Move in Sports. Man, did I dominate kickball at Zachary Taylor Elementary School in Louisville, KY! A legend in my own mind. And another thing, you have to love Slate.com. Imagine, in this day and age, pitching this, “I’d like to do a piece on bunting in kickball” and then having it green-lighted. “By all means,” the editor responds, “this is a story that needs to be told.”

3. Dog ‘adopts’ nine orphaned ducks at Essex Castle. This link will be clicked more than all the others combined because who can resist doggies and duckies alone, let alone together?

4. The Men Who Terrorize Rio. Maybe our Second Amendment zealots who are down with citizen militias should vacation in Rio’s militia controlled neighborhoods this summer.

5. A Day in The Life of my Supposedly Frugal Stomach. An engineer tries to perfect his diet on the cheap.

Worst Advice Ever, Take the Emotion Out of It

Maybe not the worst advice ever, just the least practical.

That’s what a former engineer recommended we do at last Sunday’s annual congregational meeting when discussing the uncertain status of the After School Tutoring Program (ASTP).

It’s been a tough year for Good Shepherd Lutheran Church. Maybe historians will point to my being elected to the Church Council as the catalyst for the downturn.

Recently, my fellow Council members and I asked the pastor to resign. Inevitably, that upset some members, some so much so they left. Others stopped attending probably because they had enough conflict in their lives already. Consequently, we have challenging budget decisions to make.

Despite the fact that the After School Tutoring Program represents somewhere between 2-2.5% of the total budget, the congregation spent 90% of last Sunday’s budget discussion debating whether we should continue it or not. This wasn’t a one-off, the church is preoccupied by it. I am totally flummoxed and exasperated by the congregation’s seeming fixation with the ASTP. The attention is receives is totally out of proportion to that of other programs, ministries, and issues.

Which begs the question why. My only conclusion is that my engineering friend has it completely backwards. It’s impossible to take the emotion out of it because it’s  exclusively based upon competing emotions that have formed over its long history.

I am resigned to the fact that the ASTP is our Ford Mustang. Of Ford’s decision to eliminate every sedan except the Mustang:

“. . . the Mustang’s survival isn’t really about numbers. ‘Five years from now, whether Ford decided to keep the Mustang or not isn’t going to be a material factor,’ Mr. Jonas said. ‘It’s more of an emotional thing. They’re trying to preserve the sexuality of motoring the way it used to be known.'”

Apparently, Ford suits gets what my engineering friend does not. You can’t take emotions out of things. At least not completely. And in the case of the ASTP, hardly at all. Resistance, I’m finding, is futile.

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By Age 35

Earlier this month, Marketwatch published an article stating that by 35 years old, a person should have twice their salary saved for retirement.

In my view, an imminently sensible goal, but the Millennial blowback on Twitter was fast, furious, and funny. You know what “they” say, goals should be achievable.

Cases in point:

  • By age 35 you should have at least one fork in your cutlery drawer that you just don’t like, and actively frown at if you accidentally grab it.
  • By age 35 you should have a huge box of cables but you can’t throw them out because you’re pretty sure you still need a couple of them but you’re not sure which ones.
  • By age 35 you should have a kitchen cabinet dedicated entirely to plastic bags that contain other, smaller plastic bags.
  • By age 35 you should have approximately 10 times the existential dread you had when you graduated high school.
  • Listen. Meghan Markle wasn’t a duchess til age 36 so stop telling me what I should have by age 35.
  • By age 35, you should have hoarded more books than any human could possibly read in three lifetimes.*
  • By age 35, you should have a big bag of socks that have no matches that you are afraid to throw even one of them away because as soon as you do, you’ll run into its match.
  • By age 35 you should stop paying attention to condescending life advice from strangers writing think pieces.
  • By age 35 you should have a shitload of books. Some of them you have read and are too sentimental to give away. Others (you know in your heart) you will never read and yet you will keep these as well. All of these books have followed you through multiple moves.*
  • By age 35 you should have one pair of jeans you like and a four shirt rotation.
  • By age 35 you should be able to re-watch Bridget Jones and think ‘You’re only 30 and you manage to afford to live alone?’
  • By age 35 you should have a list of documentaries you tell people you want to watch but you don’t watch them because you just never feel like you’re in the right mood.

Go ahead, give it a go, by age 35. . .

*Alison

 

What Milton Friedman Got Wrong

First, Friedman in praise of greed or “economic self interest”.*

Oliver Hart and Luigi Zingales on what Friedman and his fellow free market true believers got and get wrong:

“. . . the conclusion is that this idea, which seems to have taken hold that companies should be all about making money and that indeed managers, the CEO, they have a fiduciary duty to their shareholders to be concerned only with the bottom line. We think this is wrong — a serious mistake. Actually if they want to act — be loyal to their shareholders — which is what fiduciary duty means, they should actually ask them what they want. That’s the loyal thing to do. Rather than just assume that it’s making money at the expense of all else.

* Seriously underrated. . . Phil Donahue’s hair.