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The bohemian investor

A pre-Raphaelite painting of a young knight in search of something

A few Mondays ago I was enjoying drinks at a friend’s book launch in Bloomsbury.

I know!

A friend who published a book! Drinks on a Monday!

Bloomsbury!

You can see where the title of this article came from, right?

Actually I’ve more to say on that, but first let’s set the scene.

Before my time

The people I knew at the book launch were old friends or acquaintances. In many cases they knew me best 20 years ago.

The talk turned, as it always does, to what we’re all doing now. There were no huge revelations this time – no journalists turned landscape gardeners, or women turned men – but my obsession with investing came up, and it provoked 15 minutes of light banter.

“What the 20-year old you would think of you now,” sighed one old friend. “The bohemian who became a banker…”

I protested, but people were more interested in fun than the facts.

And who can blame them?

The table was big and round, there were candles, and for a moment it felt a little like we were drinking on a school night in Les Deux Maggots or at the Algonquin Hotel.

Vive la revolution

When I made most of these friends, I was a student with hair down to my shoulders, working my way through Marx, Chomsky, and Robert Nozick’s Anarchy, State and Utopia.

That memory was what drove the bohemian/banker quip and the resultant comedy outrage.

Never mind that having long hair and being a bit of a lefty at 20 is about as unconventional as listening to Bob Marley and sticking Matisse posters up on your bedroom walls.

Even Dave ‘Call Me PM’ Cameron was a fan of The Smiths at Oxford.

No, as far as my friends are concerned, when I was young I was a free-spirited outsider, and now I’m a penny shuffling accountant to The Man.

And in some ways it’s true. If you’re not a communist at 20 you haven’t got a heart and if you’re not a capitalist by 30 you haven’t got a head, and all that.

Also, they were obviously kidding around.

On the other hand, I know how they see the world.

To generalize, if you believe everything in The Guardian, hate Thatcher, and work in the media, arts, or the public sector, you’re an authentic human being.

If not, you’ve got more work to do.

Bourgeois bohemians

I think they’re wrong, but I don’t want to overdo my imminent defence.

Authorship of Monevator alone would probably grant me First Up Against The Wall status should Jeremy Corbyn turn out to be the new Lenin.

Still, I think my friends were exhibiting their usual tribal prejudices that have them living as consumers and exploiting all the fruits of capitalism, while moaning about social injustice on Facebook to make themselves feel like Nelson Mandela locked on Robben Island from the comfort of their cubicles1.

See my thoughts on Margaret Thatcher’s childish children for more on that.

Returning to the bohemian/banker debate, a definition from Google:

Bohemian
/bəʊˈhiːmɪən/
noun
1. a native or inhabitant of Bohemia.

2. a socially unconventional person, especially one who is involved in the arts.

synonyms: nonconformist, unconventional person, beatnik, hippy, avant-gardist, free spirit, dropout, artistic person; informal freak

“he is a real artist and a real bohemian”

And Wikipedia:

Bohemianism is the practice of an unconventional lifestyle, often in the company of like-minded people, with few permanent ties, involving musical, artistic, or literary pursuits.

In this context, Bohemians may be wanderers, adventurers, or vagabonds.

I’ll immediately concede one thing – I am not a native of Bohemia.

But when it comes to the other traits, while I am no wandering minstrel sleeping in churches and living on bread exchanged for charcoal sketches, I think I’m at least as bohemian in spirit as my Monday night friends.

Why is this relevant to you?

Because I think it reveals how the quest for financial independence via knowing how money works and exploiting it to your advantage is hard for many people to grasp.

Instead they see money as evil (despite chasing it for 40 years in their careers), they cling to old stereotypes, and they plod along the status quo.

And that’s fine if it’s what they want to do.

However I do get frustrated when people pigeonhole investing as something for other people, when it could be the key to their own greater freedom.

For me, investing was first a means to an end.

It’s clearly become more than that – I’m only a couple of script rewrites short of Dustin Hoffman in Rain Man when it comes to multiple obsessions – but that’s my problem.

We’ve shown many times how passive investing can yoke global capitalism to your cause with barely an hour’s effort a year, if you can get beyond Sixth Form thinking about good and bad.

I say again, my friends are not penniless iconoclasts who might be excused their position.

They are just normal middle class consumers who for some reason think knowing about the stock market means you must have secretly done time in the Bullingdon Club.

Banker or bohemian?

Let’s do a quick quiz to see how me and my stock market-shunning mates compare on the bohemian scale.

Involved in the arts: A win for my friends. A good two-thirds of those present that Monday work in creative pursuits – the author, of course, but also journalists, a film festival organizer, some publishing types, a musician, a couple of video game creators. Whilst I sort of make my money in the media and I’d argue Monevator is a creative pursuit, I’ll concede this one.

Bohemian-o-meter: Friends 1 / Me 0

Unconventional lifestyle: Note I said my friends ‘work’ in the arts. Most if not all have traditional jobs. In contrast, I’ve worked in full-time employment for barely four of the past 20 years. The rest of the time it’s been a self-made mishmash of short and long-term projects and ad hoc freelancing, working out of my own home or a nearby cafe. Added to some other traits we’ll get to shortly, I win this one.

Bohemian-o-meter: Friends 1 / Me 1

Few permanent ties: Nearly all those friends who find my interest in shares so mercantile and Conservative own their own homes. (Many have pensions that hold shares, too, but let’s set that aside). As I’ve lamented written about before, in most cases their homes have doubled or tripled in value, giving them multiple six-figure windfalls that they choose not to see as real money because “you have to live somewhere”. This is nonsense, but in their eyes a 10% gain on my portfolio makes me a blood-sucking banker and a £500,00 gain on their two-bed flat makes them free spirits who happen to own a property. Anyway, I rent and I sometimes do move on a whim.

Bohemian-o-meter: Friends 1 / Me 2

Nonconformist: Once we’d finished talking about how I’d metamorphosed into a member of the (un)landed gentry, we moved on to talking about foreign holidays, kitchen extensions, schools (yawn), the state of their various marriages, and how most need more money because they’re “skint”. In contrast I’ve never married, I’ve had several full-on two to five-year long relationships, I don’t want kids, I have friends 10-20 years younger than me, I’ve saved 30-50% of my income for decades instead of buying tat, and I live like a well-off PhD student.

Bohemian-o-meter: Friends 1 / Me 3

Wanderers, adventurers, vagabonds: If all goes to plan, within the next few years I’ll achieve financial independence on the terms I’ve set myself. I don’t know exactly what I’ll do then (I don’t rule out a house in the suburbs and 2.4 kids because I’ve seen that happen often enough) but I’m presuming I’ll do about half as much paid work as today (I enjoy what I do), maybe try to write that novel, and possibly try both while roaming the world for a few years. In contrast, it is nailed-on my friends will still be working and paying off their mortgages; they have kids, often only one working spouse, and most have little in the way of non-pension savings to speak of.

Bohemian-o-meter: Friends 1 / Me 3.5 (I haven’t done it yet)

Is interested in the stock market: I think being involved in the stock market through two bear markets and an anti-capitalist backlash makes you a free-spirited independent thinker – that’s pretty much my point with this piece. Not to mention the buccaneering spirit required to see your entire net worth lurch in a month. Still, I’ll not argue the toss. They can have this one.

Bohemian-o-meter: Friends 2 / Me 3.5

By my reckoning, I’m nearly twice as bohemian as my friends, in terms of living an unconventional lifestyle that I’ve created for myself, and the potential freedom it offers.

I win! Mine’s a double absinthe and soda.

The left banker

You might say who cares what my friends think, and I agree (although I’m only human, so I do care a bit).

Mainly I’m just having fun – and this is all half tongue-in-cheek.

On the other hand, I do think it points to the silliness of our age – that people working 9-5 for other people to pay their mortgages, spend nearly all their earnings on material goods and holidays, and who buckle up as middle age approaches to do another 30 years of the same thing feel on solid ground accusing someone who a visitor from space would have trouble distinguishing from a 1960s dropout of having sold out, just because he knows what a dividend is.

The truth is in this free-wheeling capitalist society of ours – the one these particular friends so despise, despite being up to their necks in it – you have options.

You can choose to try to live differently – you can choose to avoid taking on the Joneses car for car or handbag for handbag, to not have to fear you’ll be downsized or outsourced at 50, and to do more than just slave for decades so your heirs can do the same.

But if you want it, you have to go out and get it.

Seize the power

Finally, I realize bohemian is a loaded word.

Many of you probably can’t imagine anything worse than the sort of aging art student turned dinner party bore it brings to mind.

I’m just using it because my friend did (and, okay, because I have a soft spot for clever people who don’t show up at an office every day, and also for Czechs.)

The irony is the original Bloomsbury bohemians were pretty much aristocrats.

They could afford to run about baring their ankles, wearing trousers, and painting each other as drowned Greek nymphs because for most of them, a job was optional.

They hadn’t earned that freedom. They inherited the wealth to do as they pleased whilst living on 3% from the family estate.

Good for them – they still broke fresh ground – but as I always say when arguing for massive inheritance taxes, most of us are not so fortunate.

We have to create our own trust funds and pay for our chosen lifestyles ourselves.

And if you’re under 50 and trying to achieve that without using the stock market, then you’re not a bohemian – you’re just boneheaded.

  1. Does anyone actually work in cubicles anymore? It’s years since I saw one… []

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{ 30 comments… add one }
  • 1 Neverland August 20, 2015, 11:57 am

    A touch bitter from you maybe?

    Your friends lives sound pretty ghastly to me, the quiet desperation of keeping up appearances in middle class London

    You should be pretty glad to be out if it

    As to the punchline; “We have to create our own trust funds and pay for our chosen lifestyles ourselves. And if you’re under 50 and trying to achieve that without using the stock market, then you’re not a bohemian – you’re just boneheaded.” I think that’s untrue

    A private business is a perfectly valid way to create wealth without paying exorbitant fees to the finance industry and so is property (in terms of property to rent out), although its pretty unlikely to match the returns of the past in the UK

  • 2 Brodes August 20, 2015, 11:58 am

    Superb!

    Despite appearances, I’ve always considered myself as a bohemian radical sort of chap. I can’t draw, paint, or even write especially well. I studied chemistry at university. I even wear a suit to work. However, under my dark suit and conservative light blue shirt, I have the full buccaneer’s garb (minus the cutlass – security might take issue with that). My buccaneering spirit is strong, and I have poured the last 6 years of my life into high yielding investments so that I can break away from the Man and be free.

    Rather than write books, I plan to use the dividends (target 2.5-3K/month) to spend the time having amazing adventures with my wife and young family before I get too old. Campervan holidays, rock climbing, wild swimming, climbing all the Munroes, surfing and eating paella in Spain, and so much more. Living on my own schedule. Wish me luck, and maybe see you when I get there.

    Brodes

  • 3 The Investor August 20, 2015, 12:03 pm

    @Neverland — I don’t see this article as about who is doing the right or best thing. I see it as about what it really means to be living differently, in 2015.

  • 4 PC August 20, 2015, 12:40 pm

    Love it!

    Your friends are wrong!

  • 5 Jonathan August 20, 2015, 12:58 pm

    @article: “Finally, I realize bohemian is a loaded word.

    I’m just using it because my friend did (and, okay, because I have a soft spot for clever people who don’t show up at an office every day, and also for Czechs.)”

    Funnily enough, the “bohemians” weren’t Czech at all. In the sense of describing unconventional lifestyles, the phrase was used in 19th century France originally, to refer to those who lived in “lower-rent, lower-class, Romani neighbourhoods” (See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bohemianism)

    The Romani (“Gypsies”) in France were, at that time, called “Bohemian”, because they were popularly thought to come to France from (or via) that region.

    So, it’s really nothing to do with the way Czech people lived, or even citizens of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and more with the popular conception of the free, unconventional life of the Gypsy. Which makes some sense.

  • 6 Dom August 20, 2015, 1:01 pm

    I can see where @Neverland is coming from with the bitter comment, however I think it’s more of a disappointment.

    These people could be in a similar situation to you, or better off. But they’re so lazy and ready to dismiss anything outside of the normal 9-5 Mon-Fri lifestyle that they are stuck. Stuck working for the next 30-40 years for the man, wihout any respite.

    Probably leading them to divorce, continuous stress headaches and back ache from staring at VDUs for 40 hours a week.

    But I bet they’ve got nice cars! 😉

    Dom

  • 7 Neverland August 20, 2015, 1:01 pm

    @ Investor

    My experience of class/work reunions is everyone exaggerates how terribly well they are doing and how marvelously successful they are, taking every opportunity to direct attention to someone else’s shortcomings as depicted in the seminal 1997 comedy romy and michelles high school reunion

    Its just like being 9 in the playground really

  • 8 Lee August 20, 2015, 1:01 pm

    I hail from this background (bohemian but thoroughly poor, in the proper sense) and have tried to escape it. The friends of my parents also despise the “system” and talk of its eventual demise. Almost a parody, but really dinner parties of homemade wine and splifs, ill fitting wooly jumpers and lentils. They are alternative types but still consume musical instruments, housing, cars, new pine kitchens like crazy…. and they are still waiting for the collapse of the system to this day.

    I’ve come to think of capitalism as a rather beautiful system. Totally uncoordinated, leading to new products and innovations that can be really beneficial. The major benefit as I’ve come to see it is the kind of social distribution which capitalism enables, and not just via these types of changes in new, products, process and service innovations.

    Having some shareholdings really allows you to live off the work of others via dividends and maybe if you’re lucky some capital growth. Saving, reinvesting….you know the rest. It’s not obvious when you’re brought up in this bohemian background but I wish really that it gained greater prominence. There’s perhaps no better organised system than social capitalism – you have to teach people to work and play it to their advantage, rather just being a complaining cog.

    I never thought I would write such things, and would still be reluctant to let my parents know this….

  • 9 Curious Sarah August 20, 2015, 1:29 pm

    To @TheInvestor — “I’ve had several full-on two to five-year long relationships”

    I think I’ve fallen a tiny bit in love over the months of reading!! where/how do I sign up!? 🙂

    (I am also being a bit tongue in cheek like you — but not totally! Haha. 🙂 )

  • 10 gadgetmind August 20, 2015, 2:04 pm

    I hate labels like “Bohemian” and “Hipster” because they don’t really achieve much, and also because I’m the kind of person who hates labels. There must be a term for a person like that?

    As for what friends think, I’ve got a wide array of friends and associates, from a wide range of backgrounds and “social classes” (hate those too!) and to a man and woman they all think I’m weird for being invested in finance, science, technology, and anything else with lots of moving parts. I’ve even had two IFAs tell me that I’m weird because of my knowledge and my spreadsheets (particularly my spreadsheets) but I choose to take this as a compliment.

  • 11 Minikins August 20, 2015, 2:21 pm

    Bravo!
    I think some may have missed the irony of your double absinthe request; there’s no bitterness there…
    Bohemian is too boring a word to be associated with, it’s just come to mean established eccentric or kinky kook. Free spirited is too fluffy and fairy. Maverick is more the Monevator style. Everyone fancies themselves as a piratical contrarian these days but you really have to earn the maverick moniker.
    I can see how sometimes one needs to define oneself not by emulating others but by doing the opposite of what others are doing or by having opposing values to the majority. But in the words of Baltasar Gracian, “Think with the few and speak with the many”. He also noted:
    “Enemies are of more use to the wise man than friends are to the fool”.
    Even if those occasional dinner parties are tortuous, if it helps to clarify your path and purpose in this way and if it spawns brilliant writing like this then please continue to dine with them!

  • 12 Mathmo August 20, 2015, 3:47 pm

    I can’t see what know how numbers work has to do with lifestyle choices (other than the fact that if you don’t know how numbers work, you have fewer of them).

  • 13 Cerridwen August 20, 2015, 4:10 pm

    Authorship of Monevator alone would probably grant me First Up Against The Wall status should Jeremy Corbyn turn out to be the new Lenin. – that’s not such a given is it? (I haven’t read enough about Corbyn’s financial/business stance to be absolutely sure though :-)).

    But my position would be that we live within a capitalist system, some of us do better out of it than others and some aspects of how it works currently do not sit well with financial equality . However educating everyone, for free, on how to get the best out of their money must be a good thing. The wider the readership the better.

    Personally I think your friends are probably doing well enough for themselves without your advice (despite their moaning), but there’s plenty of less well-off people out there who could really use it (and hopefully are :-))

  • 14 Sam August 20, 2015, 4:16 pm

    Fantastic post!

    “Still, I think my friends were exhibiting their usual tribal prejudices that have them living as consumers and exploiting all the fruits of capitalism, while moaning about social injustice on Facebook to make themselves feel like Nelson Mandela locked on Robben Island from the comfort of their cubicles.”

    So true! I know a few people very much like this!

    One of the sure signs of success is the mockery from the masses you left behind!

    Sam

  • 15 FIREvLondon August 21, 2015, 12:16 am

    Excellent post – thank you.

    Like you, I made a lot of strong relationships at university. Those dynamics remain extremely resonant 20 years on, to the chagrin / enjoyment of our better halves.

    I wasn’t in the ‘long haired Smiths fan’ clique and most of my mates were pretty obviously destined for the capitalist track. Most were pretty ambitious, competitive, talented people. So I wouldn’t have quite the same ribbing at a contemporary book launch as you got.

    What strikes me when I look at how my 20+ year friends have turned out are three things:
    1) not much Man around. Relatively few of my peers work for The Man. Many of us are creative, freelance, professionals, stay-at-home, entrepreneurs, call it what you will. Either my social skills are limited to such people or something else is going on.
    2) social pressures are strong. The ‘keep up with the Jones’ dynamic, positional goods, Rich Dad / Poor Dad scenarios – I see a lot of this whenever we catch up en masse. Basically it drives insecurity and overconsumption.
    3) investing means property. And maybe pensions. Just about, for some of them, ISAs – cash ones, usually. Despite the fact that I know plenty of people earning six figure London salaries, I know hardly anybody who appears to save 20%+ of their pre-tax income. Property and pensions are it. School fees, eating out, holidays, etc come next.

    While a kid, or even in whisky-fueled late night deep-and-meaningfuls at uni, I remember conversations about how we’d just work our guts out until we were 40 and then retire. This was bravado talking. But as the FIRE community illustrates, it is a very practical possibility and you don’t have to start with a Goldman Sachs internship aged 20. Yet hardly anybody I know has ended up choosing that route. What has happened to us all?

  • 16 M from theresvalue August 21, 2015, 8:29 am

    Really loved this article. Especially the bit about reading the bible (Guardian) and hating Satan (Thatcher). These lefties are fundamentalists through and through… Jeering at what they don’t or can’t understand because they’re so tied to a narrow set of beliefs, whilst intentionally living in and participating in the culture they say is so wrong and should collapse/be destroyed/be utterly reformed…

  • 17 Neverland August 21, 2015, 8:55 am

    @M

    To some people a blinkered devotion to Adam Smith’s much quoted “invisible hand of the market” and the adoration of Saint Magaret seems an equally narrow world view

    @FIRE

    Funnily enough I’m a cynic; whenever I see a new luxury car I wonder what the lease payments are; whenever I see a London house with the basement being dug out I wonder how big the mortgage is

    Acting rich and being rich are two different things, the ready availability of nearly unlimited credit to couples with two middle management jobs has mixed the two things up. That all goes swimmingly until it doesn’t

  • 18 gadgetmind August 21, 2015, 9:10 am

    Mrs. Thatcher was exactly what this country needed at exactly the time we needed it. Yes, many wanted to cling to massive loss-making nationalised and unionised industries, churning our low-quality cars/etc. that no-one wanted to buy, with closed shops, “one man one job”, and “one out all out”, and some still seem to want to return to those dark days. Fortunately, the voters saw the writing on that particular wall at the key moment.

  • 19 Survivor August 21, 2015, 10:32 am

    I think it’s not only that people’s University dreams collide with reality in time that makes people change or lose direction – never underestimate the psychological power of social pressures, like status anxiety. Also, life is getting harder generally because we are competing with so many others on the planet with every generation, while resources are spread ever thinner per person on average. So what took a certain time to attain before will probably take longer, even if it’s still possible.

    I don’t actually feel that it’s a contradiction to strive to be as financially literate as possible whilst not wanting to destroy everyone & thing around me to get a comfortable, secure, but meaningful life. You can really respect money as a means to an end while still trying to be compassionate & live sustainably – ‘treading lightly upon the earth’ in your time here. In fact, [as I think the author may be saying] financial competence is becoming a prerequisite to survival in these days of never-ending austerity chic.

  • 20 Neverland August 21, 2015, 11:12 am

    @gadgetmind

    Sigh….is it groundhog day again

  • 21 Neverland August 21, 2015, 11:26 am

    @Survivor

    I can really see the pressure whenever we visit friends in London. Visible increases in inequality among one generational cohort and reduction in living standards in younger cohorts

    However the real reason is the financialisation of everything that has happened in the last 30 30 years

    Renowned leftist thinker (and FT columnist) John Kay has a book coming out on the topic:

    http://www.johnkay.com/2015/06/15/other-peoples-money-introduction

    I’m trying to figure out how to get it on the cheap (library probably)

  • 22 paullypips August 21, 2015, 1:13 pm

    @The Investor
    Many thanks for a very entertaining (and thought provoking) article.
    In my opinion we all secretly think we are a bit different (or bohemian) compared to everybody else. Even if it ain’t so. However, I’m sure you’re very independently minded although I’m not certain if this is the same as “bohemian”.
    I always enjoy reading this blog…I wish you more power to your pen.

  • 23 Survivor August 21, 2015, 4:00 pm

    @Neverland

    Thanks for the tip. As far as investing is concerned, I’ve relatively recently diversified into P2P & am getting a regular, respectable, independent income stream from lending to small businesses. This not only gives a much better return (with respect to the equivalent risk) than the equivalent conventional/generally venal finance industry, it also keeps local jobs alive & so contributes to the real economy. These businesses in turn don’t have to get reamed by the usual banking cartel.

    Next April there will be a P2P ISA & so the inevitable losses to to the occasional bankrupts will be balanced out by the tax-free aspect – so a more decent deal all round.

    I agree the NeoLiberal juggernaut is robbing the next generations of all hope & what irritates me most is that most people think that’s just capitalism – but cartels & other monopolies are a regression all the way backward to the age of robber barons & feudalism ….. & people associate that with just the likes of Russia !

  • 24 Grumpy Old Paul August 21, 2015, 4:08 pm

    Really loved this article. Especially the bit about reading the bible (Telegraph) and hating Satan (Blair). These right-wingers are fundamentalists through and through… Jeering at what they don’t or can’t understand because they’re so tied to a narrow set of beliefs,

  • 25 The Investor August 21, 2015, 6:27 pm

    Thanks for all the comments guys, and not only the nice ones! 😉 For time constraints, I’ll only respond briefly and will doubtless miss a few of you out, so apologies in advance.

    @Grumpy Old Paul — Strange comment. My point is mainly that my most purportedly left-wing friend’s lop-sided beliefs lead to inconsistent behaviour (such as letting out property and taking expensive foreign holidays bargained for via price comparison sites while decrying capitalism when it comes to the stock market) and less than productive strategies (such as not diversifying their assets into stocks for the long-term). As a regular reader of this site, even you’d be eyed with suspicion despite your oft-expressed leftist views. That’s my issue. If you’d like to write a post or article somewhere else on the Internet about how middle class right-wing people decry their taxes whilst getting an over-sized allocation from local schools and the NHS, say, which I believe is the case from previous reading, then please do leave us a link to it here. 🙂

    @Survivor — Indeed. I have got into trouble with my (fewer) right-wing friends and indeed readers of this site — a few of whom have even questioned my claim to be a capitalist — for not espousing the one-track lines beloved of others. E.g. To the ‘walk lightly on the Earth point’, and to the downsides of capitalism:

    http://monevator.com/environmental-degradation-and-wealth/

    http://monevator.com/consequences-of-income-inequality/

    @Brodes @PC @Sam @paullypips — Cheers!

    @mathmo — They don’t see being good with numbers. They see Pact With The Devil (or the atheistic equivalent). (At least until they eventually get to the point of asking about stocks and shares ISAs, which a few have done in more recent years… So there’s hope! And more irony… 😉 )

    @Minikins — Thanks — and interesting quote, thanks for sharing.

    @Cerridwen — Well, I’m saying if Corbyn *is* Lenin, which I don’t think he is. I’m pretty sure it’s a given that a full tilt socialist/communist revolution would be bad for the likes of me, and for many readers of this blog. Of course that’s not remotely on the cards though, it was just a joke. As regards Corbyn himself, I don’t agree with his economics, obviously, but I admire his authenticity, and I loved the way he responded to the tabloid tittle-tattle in that C4 interview with Krisnan G-M the other day. I think there’s a significant number of people who feel politics has gone too centrist — many of my friends among them — and unlike some I don’t think a party of protest is entirely redundant. It might pull the trend a tad left-ward, if that’s what enough people want. (Leftward hardly means even 1980s Labour, let alone Lenin!)

    @FireVLondon — I have friends who aren’t from university and are a bit more rightwing, including some entrepreneurs, bankers, a hedge fund guy, etc. A good half of them are Prosecco Socialists, too. I guess I just like them despite their sometimes infuriatingly contradictory views. Probably a substitute for not having kids. 😉

    @Grumpy Old Paul @M — Sorry, Paul, I now see what your comment was getting at. Obviously I agree with M here more (as per the Thatcher’s Children link in the article above) but as I said to Paul earlier, I wasn’t so much questioning their beliefs as their view on mine.

    @gadgetmind @nevermind — I’m inclined to leave the Lady to her peace this time. 🙂

    @Lee — Interesting comment, thanks. Feels like we’ve taken a similar journey, in some respects anyway. (My parents were more middle of the road working class types at heart, than hippies!) Here’s my take on how people might optimally live as capitalists, given that is how the world is:

    http://monevator.com/how-to-be-a-capitalist/

    @Curious Sarah — I presume (hope!) you’re joking, but thanks for the sentiments. Funnily enough a friend actually suggested I advertised the vacancy on this blog! Not inclined as of yet, but give me six more months of not meeting Miss Right… 😉

  • 26 gadgetmind August 21, 2015, 6:55 pm

    I take comfort from the fact that my right wing friends regard me as being a raving lefty (that I cycle to work seems to provide all the confirmation they need) while my left wing friends react in horror if I don’t agree with them on every point as they mostly seem to mingle with people who do.

    I’m an engineer, so I just need things to make sense, and I’ve never quite figured out why we need quite so much politics to simply provide some basic public services while keeping tax as low as possible.

    As for being different to others, I’m a life-long geek and entrepreneur, so it comes with the job. I don’t try to be different but simply struggle to be the same.

    For example, someone recently asked me if I’d ever been to Japan. I briefly explained that I’d spent several years as the only non-Japanese director of a Japanese company, so I’d been there 30+ times. OK, it doesn’t make me Elon Musk, but it’s certainly a career trajectory that not many follow.

  • 27 The Escape Artist August 21, 2015, 7:26 pm

    Great article, TI. Reminded me of a quote I read recently….don’t bother keeping up with The Joneses because they are crying inside.

    Your friends may or may not be crying inside…but I’m pretty sure they’re wrong. But what do I know? I wasn’t a communist even when I was 20…

  • 28 gadgetmind August 21, 2015, 7:33 pm

    The other top quote is IMO “Spending money you don’t have, to buy things you don’t need, to impress people you don’t like.”

  • 29 Survivor August 21, 2015, 7:53 pm

    @gadgetmind

    I hear you on simplicity of systems …..I’m also a scientist & so crave logic – maybe then the irony is we can’t complain when people get frustrated & uneasy at not being able to give others an easy, neat label.

    It can be hard to not fit in, I find it makes others feel uncomfortable – I think the psychology behind it is they may be projecting that you are implicitly criticising their choices & actions by being different to them.

    I have learned though that you have to just be yourself, trying to please & be someone else doesn’t work – not for long anyway ….. & if there weren’t different people like you for example, nothing new would ever happen/improve in the world.

    @ The Investor

    Thank you for your reply, I know you are busy & like all the others who follow your site, really do appreciate your mission here & likeable style. My personal life philosophy is try to live & let live in all matters possible.

    Specifically on financial systems, my take on it generally is that to date we don’t seem to have found an improvement on capitalism for the improvement of all, but the NeoLiberal perversion of it is actually anti-free market, since the endgame is monopoly of some description & non-sustainable anyway. It’s human nature to corner the market if there are no effective regulations against that move, it kicks off a free-for-all. I prefer capitalism with a human face.

  • 30 Bob August 23, 2015, 10:28 pm

    Investor and curious sarah……up a tree….er…monitoring their portfolios……

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