Random Food For Thought

Wisdom from a pair of nonagenarians, and one who is as ornery and grumpy as to be one.

The first is from an inventor of a deadly weapon – one that will go down in history as the most destructive weapon. The AK47 has been the weapon of choice for revolutionaries, governments, and terrorists alike looking for a cheap but effective killing weapon. The gun has no loyalty, but is generous in its function. It can work equally well in the desert, swamp, or arctic. Its inventor deserves a quiet moment, not for commemoration of his life or work, but for remembrance of his impact on the world.

Another interesting article is from Helmut Schmidt, former chancellor of Germany. He is one of the few able to talk clearly and with cutting insight about the problems facing Europe today. Namely, the lack of solidarity and the inevitability of future writedowns for Greece.

Lastly, Simple Living in Suffolk has a snarky as always post about the transfer of power from labour to capital. This may seem strange as it is governments that have control over the unlimited creation of capital, but the control of most governments by the conservative rich make them wary of promoting too much inflation. Labour, on the other hand, is suffering more and more with cutthroat global competition. We’ve seen stagnant wages coupled with a crushing rising cost of living as a result. This is the real effect of globalization: $10 t-shirts, but far more unemployment for the unskilled masses. One can react to this by being a revolutionary, tightening the belt and learning to make do with less, upgrading skills to climb higher up the crumbling ledge, or switch sides from labour to capital.

I’ve made do with a combination of the last 3. Being a revolutionary will likely get me shot, so I’ve chosen to look out for myself and my family/friends by saving as much of my pay as I can, being frugal but not miserly, getting an advanced degree (in one of the few protected fields left, to boot), and gradually switching my income stream over from a paycheck to dividend payments. Aside from this joke (After Orszag went from government to Citibank as a highly paid consultant, a commentator wrote, “Didn’t we used to own those guys? I guess it’s better to be labour than capital.”), it really is better to own shares of many different rising income streams. Not only is that safer and more diversified (What’s more likely to hurt you? Losing your job or one of your divident-paying companies stopping payment?), but dividend payments are always going to rise faster than wages and inflation.