A Ferrari Socialist

Life – Terror. Ecstasy. Fight. Denial. Flight. Failure. PAIN. Forgiveness. Reconciliation. Hope. Love. Peace – Death

Can a guy who owns a Ferrari claims to be a Socialist?

The ultimate hypocrisy?

My employers have secured a substantial government grant to replace some expensive technology. Apple Mac technology. The very latest workstations to be used for sound & video recording, media, enhanced manipulation. Expensive kit in any format, by Apple? Add a zero or two.

Apple are established market leaders in this area – sound/media manipulation. Apple have cornered and consolidated this area (rightly or wrongly)? A colleague was explaining some of the costs involved. Part of the Apple psyche is their ergonomics, their superb look and form, attention to (superfluous)? detail. Whether you agree or not as to price (value for money) there is no question, they not only do the job (better than the rest)? They look fucking cool!

Their latest Mac hardware range comes with a choice of numerous add-ons, including; software, accessories & even dedicated Mac furniture. Cabinets, storage tables (looks a bit like any other similar computer table – persuade me?). In order to make it portable, flexible within a studio environment, the Mac fancy table requires an additional purchase, a set of Apple Trolley wheels (see pic above). I was disturbed at the £699 price tag for the optional Apple Cabinet Trolly wheels! So much so it prompted me to write this post.

To reflect (on myself) and the fact that even if I had all the riches of Elon Musk I could not bring myself to pay £699 for a set of trolley wheels that are functioning unseen, at the bottom of a piece of furniture that could be (similarly) purchased in any number of furniture hardware shops with decent change from a £20 note.    

To which, somebody within my social circle responded – “Which one of your Ferraris are you complaining about the price of these from”?

Can a (true) socialist own such an undeniably capitalistic symbol as a Ferrari?

I’ll rephrase – can an individual, who claims to have socialist principles, with a clear conscious own a Ferrari?

Can a Ferrari owner complain about anybody paying ‘what they want’ for anything really?

Things are not always what they seem

My two Ferraris were not inexpensive (relatively)?

However, they were not new car purchases either. In ‘Ferrari-world’ they were inexpensive.

I bought both by part xing, some savings and a bank loan.

The first (at the time of purchase), was 15 years old and cost (2nd hand) around about the same as a brand new Ford Mondeo. Maintaining, servicing and day to day running it is a different matter.

I part x ed the first Ferrari for my second. A net gain of £5000 after 4 years of ownership due to appreciation within the brand and model. My second cost £34,000, the deficit was made up by savings and a 5 year bank loan.

I sold the second Ferrari recently, after 7 years of ownership for £42,000 (£8,000 more than I paid for it), I wonder what I might have got for the brand new Ford Mondeo?       

I have no regrets regarding my car choices. I am happy to be judged (and vindicated)? Yet, the older I become (the nearer to death?) conflicting feelings grow stronger. Doubts in regards to my own principles and my (visibly) obvious penchant for overtly, materialistic trappings. Why do ‘we’ do this, why do I need to validate myself?

What we (the world) have become makes me angry, constantly at odds with what seems like our own, wilful and imminent self-destruction. And for what? The incessant drive for yet more and more personal wealth.

Wealth.

Greed.

Profit – Above all, above anything else.

Neoliberalism

I was a hungry, ambitious musician, a young dad in the UK in the ‘80’s when Margaret Thatcher set out to crush the unions. There was a new language at that time: the message was that if you are poor you are simply just not working hard enough.

You had to be a winner and if you were not, it was your fault. Ordinary working people were put on the defensive.

Nowadays, there are hardly any people now who see themselves reaching the top. The top involves a tiny number of such very rich people it’s unreal. Ordinary people are saying: “Wait a moment, we are in the majority, down here, and our lives are not like that.

I acknowledge (some of) the underpinning principles, the theories the doctrines of Capitalism, ‘high achievers pave the way for others to succeed’. ‘Free (market) societies make it possible for more people to rise up’, ‘trickle-down economics theory’ Fine, trouble is it has now stalled, I am not sure it ever worked but it is clear to see that isn’t working now, at least for the vast majority?  

The (extreme) counter argument communism (not to be confused with socialism) is not without scepticism either – while capitalism gets a bad rap for promoting or allowing the vice of avarice, socialism is not immune from the problem of human immorality either.

My socialism is simplistic –

  • Treat others like you would (like) to be treated yourself?
  • I would take that a step further – everybody has the right to equal opportunities, a fare crack of the whip regardless of social status, ethnic origin, religion, race, gender, age, sexual orientation, disability regardless of ANYTHING.
  • There is enough (pointless) wealth in the world to ensure nobody should live in poverty – nobody should be hungry

Priorities that deliver (ensure) –

  • Access to health and social care
  • Access to equality (opportunity
  • Access to education – Education for life

I was born ‘lower class’ (working class to most) in a time when that actually meant what it sounds like. I have owned fifty-six vehicles, some sublime, some ridiculous, others simply exciting, some merely functional and at least a couple of extravagant toys: two Ferraris and nine Porches. My first car was a £100 Austin 1500. … little did I know?

I have always been a grafter, my first job, a weekend job, aged 13. I paid my own way, I pay my dues (taxes). I am increasingly concerned about my welfare and the welfare of my family and others, mostly those less fortunate than myself.

I would gladly pay more. More tax if I believed it would assist others. I cannot even consider the widespread acceptance of Foodbanks used to prop up a vastly underfunded social welfare system so that ordinary working families do not starve.

Equally, I do not have a problem with anybody who wants to and can better themselves, work hard to do well, to live well as long as it is within their means and they do not sacrifice others along the way. #FuckTheImAlrightJacks

I cannot understand greed, especially billionaire greed. The seemingly insatiable, relentless, accumulation of incomprehensible wealth. With no discernible point other than personal gratification. A must win (at all cost), nothing will ever be enough, greed?

I recently sold the last of my ‘nice’ cars. I currently own one, modest car (10 years old cost £5K). I worked out that although I did actually love them all (actually cried when many of them ‘drove away’ for the last time), I would never really be fully satisfied by more. No matter how many cars I had I was always looking for another and then another? There are so many I desire that it was pointless? I was looking for the (my) solution in the wrong place.

Substitute nice cars with nice watches, take it up a notch (way beyond my reach) to nice paintings, nice properties, nice super-yachts, nice football clubs! ….. still never enough?

Why?

For me it has always been about the chase?

Finding, hunting down, negotiating and clinching the deal. Winning.

Once I had the car I wasn’t interested in it anymore. Not instantly, I always enjoy(ed) showing it off (I liked other people seeing). Always a temporary fulfilment until the next hunt, the latest chase, the next win. If you are not Winning you are losing, you loser,… the Capitalist Dream? Capitalism.  

Nearly 250 years ago, the economist and philosopher Adam Smith wrote The Wealth of Nations, in which he described the birth of a new form of human activity: industrial capitalism. He predicted that it would lead to the accumulation of wealth beyond anything that he and his contemporaries could have imagined.

Socialism

The regime of 20th century Cambodian revolutionary Pol Pot was notorious for arousing envy amongst peasants against city-dwellers through the phrase “Trees in the country, fruit in the town”. This adage which is based on traditional maxims convinced the peasants that the extermination of city-dwellers was right and just and was used to advance Pot’s worldview which seeks to create a peasant society free of class distinctions.

It might make sense to be concerned (and sorrowed) at the possessions of the rich if the economy were a zero-sum game. That is to say, it might be reasonable to sorrow at another’s material gain if that somehow harms you.

Modern capitalism emerged in the early nineteenth century in western Europe and the European offshoots of the Americas and Oceania. Recognizing the unparalleled dynamism of the new socio-economic system, Marx and Engels predicted in 1848 that capitalism would spread to the entire world.

The beginnings of Renaissance Capitalism (Reagan and Thatcher’s ‘80’s – 90’s Neoliberalism). The economy consists of goods and services, and the value and quantity of these are not fixed.

Arguably, early market freedom was the driver for  drastic poverty reduction in the 90’s despite the population growing by nearly 2 billion individuals in the same time period. Since 2000 Net worth has tripled, but the increase mainly reflects valuation gains in property assets, rather than investment in productive assets that drive our economies (the trickle-down economics we were promised and bought into).

In recent years, capitalism’s shortcomings have become ever-more apparent. Prioritising short-term profits for individuals has sometimes meant that the long-term well-being of society and the environment has lost out – especially as the world has faced the Covid-19 pandemic and climate change where the rich have become infinitely more richer in equal disproportion to the poor becoming poorer. The gap has never been greater.

As political unrest and polarisation around the world have shown, there are growing signs of discontent with the status quo. In one 2020 survey by the marketing and public relations firm Edelman, 57% of people worldwide said that “capitalism as it exists today does more harm than good in the world”.

Indeed, if you judge by measures such as inequality and environmental damage, “the performance of Western capitalism in recent decades has been deeply problematic”, as the economists Michael Jacobs and Mariana Mazzucato wrote recently in the book Rethinking Capitalism.

The Rise & Rise of the Global Balance Sheet

Across ten countries that (combined) account for 60 percent of global GDP—Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Japan, Mexico, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States—the historic link between the growth of net worth and the growth of GDP no longer holds.

While economic growth has been tepid over the past two decades in advanced economies, balance sheets and net worth that have long tracked it have tripled in size. This divergence emerged as asset prices rose—but not as a result of 21st-century trends like the growing digitization of the economy.

Rather, in an economy increasingly propelled by intangible assets like software and other intellectual property, a glut of savings has struggled to find investments offering sufficient economic returns and lasting value to investors.

These savings have found their way instead into property and expensive possessions (largely land, real estate), but also Art, (rare) Cars and recently digital Art (NFT’s) all of which in 2020 accounted for two-thirds of global net worth.

Other fixed assets that can drive economic growth made up only about 20 percent the total. Moreover, asset values are now nearly 50 percent higher than the long-run average relative to income. And for every £1 in net new investment over the past 20 years, overall liabilities have grown by almost £4, of which about £2 is debt.

The ‘balance-sheet’ does not stack up – too much out not enough in?

Thanks for Reading

Peace

Published by Riff

Husband to my inspirational, (long suffering) wife, father of two amazing (adult) children, teacher, former guitarist (now guitar owner), recent 'granda(r) to my beautiful grandson who I am yet to meet. I Love people. I love my family, my friends, I love(d) what I do (my Job), I love Music, Cars, Everton .... I love many things, most of all I fucking love 'life'.

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