Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The "Minimalism" Threat

So I was talking to our IT guy today and we were talking about stuff.  "Stuff" as in "stuff in the house" and how much he'd like to get rid of it.  Of course he can't because the Mrs. won't let him get rid of the stuff, even though this stuff has never been used in the past 10 years.  This sent our conversation on a trajectory in terms of how nice it would be to get rid of most of our stuff in order to live another lifestyle.  The IT Guy said he would love nothing more than to jettison all of his stuff, grab a backpack, his laptop, sell his house and live in Mexico.  I spoke of my desire to pretty much do the same.  I'm kicking around a way to camp in the National Grasslands during the warmer 6 months of the year, commute to work, save on rent, and then get a 6 month lease during the winter months.  Again, I'd have to get rid of all my stuff.

But opine as we might about how nice it would be to get rid of all our stuff and lead a Spartan existence, there are consequences men and women don't think about to such minimalism.  Consequences so huge, underestimated, unseen and (dare I say) on our front-door step I believe they need highlighting.

First, understand the only reason stuff exists - women.

Women want stuff.  Men hate stuff.  This is no better highlighted by comparing a bachelor pad to a bachelorette pad.  A (true) bachelor pad is sparse.  It's functional.  Nothing matches.  Nothing goes with anything else.  All items were a potpourri of hand me downs, Goodwill purchases and charitable donations.  The couch is for sitting on, not looking at.  The table is for eating on, not looking at.  The bed is for sleeping on, not looking at.  And if you're a really good bachelor you will eat, sleep and sit on your couch, making the bed and table obsolete. Sure there may be the occasional nice thing (primarily your TV or LCD projection and computer), but for the most part a true bachelor spends no more than $2,000 on non-electronic stuff.

Women on the other hand have to "nest" (a term a psychologist friend of mine was trying to explain).  This means no consideration is given to functionality or price, only aesthetics which ultimately supplant functionality and price.

Is the couch for sitting on?

Good god, no!  It goes with the drapes.

Are the drapes to keep the sun out?

Good god no!  They go with the hutch.

Is the hutch for storing things?

Good god no!  They go well with the dining room table.

Is the dining room table for eating on?

Good god no!  It goes well with the couch.

Women will also buy crap and trinkets simply because they want "crap and trinkets."  Said trinkets and crap have no other function but to ornament the place with cute little things she likes to look at and stimulate the part in her brain that is only stimulated by spending money.

Could that money have gone to pay down the mortgage?

Yes.

Could that money have gone to pay for gas?

Yes.

Could that money have been donated to a small third world country, thereby lifting it and all of its people out of poverty forever?

Yes.

But it's more important to have the "crystal unicorn set" sitting on top of the TV because it goes well with the armour (sp?) and she got it for "50% off!"  Malaria infected third world children be damned, she has the whole collection!

Admittedly, I'm being a bit sarcastic, but not by much.  In all truth and reality the VAST majority of the "stuff" that is found in the average American home (and I'm saying 90%) is ONLY there because the woman wants it AND it really serves no functional purpose.  Because of this, that means by default 90% of the consumer spending in this economy is driven by women.  Spending that would not exist if it were purely up to men.

And now you see some consequences on the horizon, don't you?

If it were up to men, consumption spending would tank.  We wouldn't be wasting our precious time (in the form of money) on doilies or Beanie Babies or "nice, matching furniture" or general crap that isn't needed.  There would be an entertainment system, some dishes, some used furniture and that's about it.  But don't think it would stop there.  Our Spartan spending habits would have ramifications WELL beyond that of trinkets and doilies in the house.  Notably, the house itself.

Not only would demand for non-durable consumer items tank, the housing market itself would tank.  Men need nowhere near the size of a house as women do.  This in part because we don't have as much stuff that needs storage, we (frankly) don't want children AND we view the house as merely a place to sleep and retire to from work. ie-our lives are outside the home, while women's spending habits (no matter what they keep contending) proves the majority of their lives are still inside the home. The suburbs I doubt would even exist if it were up to men.  We'd have the city center, apartment buildings and condos, and then for our rural brothers small towns with wood cabins in the forest.  Vast swathes of 10,000 sqft McMansions used to impress the Suburban Princess Suzie McQue's of the world would not exist.

Regardless of which markets would be affected by male minimalism, the point is that consumer spending would be a mere fraction of what it is today.  And since consumer spending accounts for 2/3rd of our economy, you could expect (at least in the short term) a drastically contracting economy should men all of the sudden follow the religion of Minimalism.

Now if you think that prospect is bad, we haven't even gotten to the other side of the economic coin.  Because for as important as consumption is, production is even more so.  The reason why is it doesn't matter if you want to "consume" a Ferrari or "consume" some sushi.  If nobody produces the Ferrari or the sushi, you ain't getting anything anyway (just ask anybody in the former Soviet bloc about empty grocery store shelves despite the socialist guarantees of their governments). And so when it comes to the economic consequences of men en-mass pursuing "minimalism" we must also consider production.

However, understand when I say "we must also consider production" I do not mean men will say,

"Finally, she stopped nagging  me about buying all her trinkets and crap!  Now I can finally get to work."

and start to focus their energies and efforts into producing more and increasing standards of living for the family.

Quite the opposite actually.

They will look at the lower financial demands of their family and will RE-EVALUATE whether or not it's worth all the production for the compensation they receive.  They will RE-EVALUATE whether it's worth slaving away 60 hours a week, 20 hours of which is uncompensated overtime, and another 10 hours that are stuck in traffic.  They will RE-EVALUATE whether it's worth 30 years of tolerating insufferable insanity of corrupt bosses, incompetent co-workers and lazy underlings.  They will RE-EVALUATE through the prism of minimalism whether the percent of their finite lives they are forfeiting is worth the monetary compensation they receive OR if it's just better to forfeit labor for leisure and suffer/enjoy a lower standard of living.  And it is here the true threat of "minimalism" lays for the rest of society.

Understand, in general, men still produce the majority of the stuff.  This is not up for debate now, but I guarantee you that if you look at labor statistics you will find the majority of men produce the majority of stuff in this economy that "matters."  What do I mean by "that matters?"  ie- stuff that has value.  Stuff people want.

For example the disproportionately women-dominated field of "day care" does not produce anything people really want.  Other women are taking care of other women's children while those women go work (primarily) another government job that is (guess what) taking care of other women's children (though typically in the juvie criminal system by this time) so they can make the money to afford day care for their children AND the increased taxes to pay for other women who work in social work programs. Or take for example, the non-profit sector.  By the fact non-profits have to go and beg and plead to get their funding OR have the government force people to pay for it via taxation is proof that nobody really wants it and therefore it is not "stuff that matters."  The non-profit industry is again predominantly staffed by females.  But whatever the industry, the point is there is a strong correlation between faux economic production or "make work/rent seeking" economic production that really only exists for political reasons and the percent of those industries staffed by females.

Now, are there women who are engineers and doctors who make the stuff we want like electronics and surgery and gasoline?

Certainly, of course.

Is that the majority of women?

No.

The majority of stuff that people want is still produced, created and innovated by men, period (though again, up for a debate at a later time).

So, logically then, since it is men who are producing the majority of the stuff we want, we should make them happy, right?  Compensate them, reward them.  Cheer them on and encourage them.  Support them be it emotionally as a wife or in terms of policy when it comes to law.  And certainly not stand in their way of creating, producing and innovating, right?

Right?

RIGHT?

I mean, they are producing all the stuff.  They are the engine of economic growth, RIGHT?

Heh heh.  Where do I begin?

I guess I could start with the "family" in that this is, or at least, WAS a primary motivator in a young man's desire to work hard, succeed and produce.  Originally the man would do all the production and the wife would take care of the house and little kinder.  He'd come home to a loving wife, obedient children and was rewarded with a family.  Of course things have changed.

Now the division of labor between worker and home-care-take was too logical, too efficient and obviously oppressive.  Now nobody stays home to take care of the kids, the kids grow up maladjusted, causing more psychological strife for the man at home.  A home that he presumably would retreat to, to decompress, relax and be reinvigorated for the next day of work.  Now he has a wife that is equally stressed out, the home is in disarray, the kids are misbehaving, they really won't leave until they're 26, and did I mention most men didn't want kids to begin with?  If anything, the chaos that has been left in the wake of outsourcing parenting to the government has turned a man's castle into just another office where he works a second job.

Now you would think this would disincentive him to work hard, but ironically, it makes him work harder.  He gets to not only pay for the children and subsidize his part-time-working "social worker" wife, he gets to pay more in taxes to support an ever growing parasitic class collecting a government check.  He is the Atlas in Atlas Shrugged, but he cannot shrug.  He is chained to his family.  Employers love him because he's their bitch.  He cannot afford to be independent minded, he cannot talk back, he cannot speak his mind.  He is their little slave at least until his youngest graduates from high school, and given the dependency of young "adults" today, until that kid graduates from college.  He is the slave of America.

So far it doesn't sound like a family is a great disincentive for a man to produce.  It almost sounds like it FORCES him to produce MORE.  And it does.  But what people don't see is his childless, unmarried male friends taking note.  What people don't see is his sons watching their dad suffer.  What they don't see is that for every enslaved Beta-Atlas there are 3-4 men who are deciding not to have families.  And deciding NOT to have a family is arguably the single biggest thing a man can do to minimize his responsibilities AND  CONSEQUENTLY cut his life long production needs by at least 67%.  That does not bode well for the economy.

Closely related to family is the only natural course or outcome of getting married - divorce!

When you know half your assets are going to go bye bye and there's a 50/50 chance you're going to get divorced, then what do you think happens to a man's desire to work hard and produce?  Again, it sucks to be the Beta-Atlas sucker stuck in a marriage whose wife is on the precipice of divorcing him.  But for every one of those poor unfortunate souls, there's a score of younger men who haven't taken the plunge, remember their old man getting divorced and are taking very studious notes. They are opting instead to just stay single.  And as every guy will tell you, without a wife or a girlfriend, you can get by EASILY on 40% less social expenditures than if you had one.  Guess what, that translates into less production.

So good for them.  Single, no wife, no kids.  You're in the clear, right?  I mean, society is going to support you now, right?  Young, go getting corporate man, or young budding entrepreneur?  Backbone of our society.  Right?

Oh, you foolish male you.

See, you are male.  Therefore you must pay because you are privileged.  So now you get to suffer affirmative action and constantly be hounded about the pay gap.  Less qualified women are passed over you, standards are lowered for them, and let's not forget the devastating effect an attention-seeking-drama-queen can have by launching a frivolous sexual harassment complaint!

The effect on male production?  Well most men, when they're young, have a desire to belong to something better and bigger.  To belong to a team.  To find a good institution, pledge their loyalty, give it their best, achieve great things and take pride in their accomplishments.  But when the rules are point blank unfair and the institution is corrupted by petty office politics AND their careers can be extinguished instantly by chaotic whims of a petty drama queen, not so much.  Their loyalty fades, their allegiance dwindles and I'm no HR expert, but I believe high employee turnover is bad for a company's bottom line.  So instead of being the loyal corporate man for 35 years, you're lucky if you're on one gig for more than three.  Again, the result?  The production of the average man today is only going to be a fraction of what his unharassed, undiscriminated against 1940's counterpart was. 

It can't get worse?  Right?  I mean, we don't discourage men from production beyond that, right?

Well let's look at progressive taxation, no small part in which was brought to you by disproportionately socialist-and-democrat-voting women who want more of your money to take care of their...er...I mean "the" chilllllllldreeeeeennnnn.  Again, I'm no economist (oh, wait, I am), but it seems to me the more I work the higher percentage of my money you're going to take away from me is going to provide a disincentive to work.  The enslaved married Beta Atlas can't shrug, but I and millions of other unmarried, childless men can.  Again, congratulations, production reduced.

Well, at least what I worked for I get to keep, right?  I mean it's not like the government would CONFISCATE my assets or anything?  They'll tax my income, but not my wealth, right?

In 2008 the democrats were kicking around a way to nationalize (read -confiscate) people's 401ks and 403b's.  It has already happened in Bolivia, Ecuador and Argentina.  Now, MOST men I admit are unaware of this.  However, more and more men are becoming more and more educated about economics.  And as they read more and more about economics and study this here country's fine federal finances they can put two and two together and see that there is an increasing chance the government WILL inevitably start taxing our wealth and confiscating our assets.  Now, I know you girls are too busy reading People magazine or watching Kate Perry's drama with Russel Brand, voting democrat because you care for the children, and studying for your masters in communications, but for us men who DO look up the federal budget occasionally, we're starting to see it's more and more likely whatever we produce today will be confiscated in the future.  And not just that, but the MORE we produce today then progressively more of it will be confiscated in the future.  End result?  Less production.

But let's say we men wanted to be charitable.  We still wanted to work knowing full well our effective tax rate would be 60% at state, federal and local AND there would be a 75% at least 50% of our wealth would be confiscated in the future.  Because by god, it's for the chillllllldrreeeeeeennnnn.

Just one problem.

We can't work even if we wanted to.

I'm not talking about the overburdensome employment laws foisted on employers many thanks to disproportionately-female-voted-in socialists and democrats.

I'm not talking about the incredibly inept and corrupt HR industry which I do not believe to be dominated by males, that has completely impaired the labor market. 

No, those are hurdles we get to suffer anyways.

I'm talking about the regulations that (once again) disproportionately-voted-in-by-females socialists and democrats have enacted making male-dominated industries either impossible to work in or have just driven them overseas.  You know like energy, oil, construction, fields and industries where we produce all the stuff you need, but like to regulate and punish for the sake of the chilllllldreeeeeennnn or "mother Earth."

I don't know if it's your grand economic scheme to get everybody to work as barristas at Star Bucks or we all work as school teachers or something, but I do know all those regulations make it quite difficult for us men to produce.  So congratulations, even LESS economic production.

And finally the cumulative effect of this veritable war waged on men - it's toll on our loyalty.  I'm not talking loyalty to an employer.  I'm talking loyalty to the country.  I used to want to join the military and even to this day kick it around.  But then I ask "who would I be protecting?"  You see, all of the above really grinds mens' gears.  We don't take kindly to being accused of automatic sexism, we don't like being enslaved to a government that does nothing more than take our money to bribe parasites into voting for more government, we don't like paying the taxes so you can play "pre-school teacher" and claim your 9 months a year job makes you an "independent adult," we don't take kindly to divorce (even though most of us haven't been), we don't take kindly to you ruining the industries we are predominantly employed in, we don't take kindly to the childish mind-games girls played on us during our teens and twenties, we don't take kindly to watching naive, spoiled, brats destroy the world's formerly greatest country and thusly steal our birthright and we get down right pissed when you start complaining that we're not "manning up" and choose to "sit on our asses all day playing X Box."  Because when it comes to us men "investing" in this country be it buying property, starting a business, marrying, starting a family, whatever...

why should we?

Seriously, I want somebody to answer that question.

Why the hell would we work more than we have to than to support our meager little selves?  Why would we invest in anything that can be taken from us (either assets by government confiscation or family via divorce).  And why would we try to EXCEL when the majority of our production will merely be taken from us and given to not just ungrateful parasites but people who hate us and demand more? There's no incentive or upshot to it.  Congratulations, you've effectively stalled you engine of economic growth and production.

But wait, there's one final aspect you haven't thought of, and it's particularly precious. 

Men are infinitely better at being minimalists than women.

I don't believe this was always the case.  Say the pioneer or the Great Depression days.  Men and women had to watch every penny, and there was no such thing as "nesting" or getting "matching curtains."  But after roughly 90 years of uninterrupted economic growth (not to mention HEAVILY subsidized consumer spending financed by our Chinese, Arab and Gen Y Generation Forced Mortgaged Future Volunteers), the women alive today have never really had to suffer, scrape or scrimp by.  They EXPECT a luxurious house or apartment they can't afford.  They EXPECT clothes they don't need.  They EXPECT every little aspect of their material goods lives to be perfect.  They CANNOT (or very few can) scale down to a small studio apartment from a house, sell all their stuff, and downsize their car.  They cannot get rid of the daily Starbucks.  They cannot fathom utter poverty and what they'd have to do to survive it.

Men on the other hand (of the non-OWS, pansy commie type) can.  Part of the reason I'm kicking around the camping 6 months a year is to see if I can do it.  And though I don't know for sure, part of the reason my IT Guy wants to go to Mexico with just a backpack is to see if he could also do it.  Men forecast and run "worst case scenarios" in their heads in anticipation it might just happen and we're prepared for it.  Poverty is ALWAYS licking our feet, driving us to stay one step ahead of it.  However, whereas in the past poverty would be beaten by working hard and making more money, when that route is merely punished or impossible, the only alternative is minimalism. 

This situation where making more money is impossible hits every almost every guy during college, forcing them to become experts in minimalism.  They can't get a job, but have the tuition-cost demands of college.  They MUST resort to minimalism.  I graduated with no debt only making $16,000/ year in college.  Factor out tuition costs and factor in inflation, that's still around $16,000 today.  But that's if I had a lot of stuff.  If I got rid of my stuff and did the tent thing or the roommate, I could probably get by on $11,000/yr, roughly the standard of living of South Africa or Colombia.  I'd like to see a modern day western woman do the same.

Sadly, most can't.  But this is where it gets particularly precious.

With economic growth stagnating and the population growing, our standards of living are decreasing.  Additionally, nobody is loaning us money anymore so we can maintain our "I'm a Barbie Girl, In a Barbie World" lifestyle.  The can cannot be kicked down the road any more because it's been kicked off the cliff.  Sure, we can move money around and rely on Europe's economy being "slightly more sucky than ours" to delay the economic realities from hitting our domestic shores, but ultimately there is no more money left to maintain unsustainable lifestyles.  This puts the ball back in the court of men.  Men who have the know-how, the ability, the creation and the innovation to produce the economic production necessary to solve all these problems.  Men who can make this country dominant as it once was.  Men who literally could make our standard of living jump from the $43,000/capita it is today to $70,000/capita I believe in just 10 years.  Men who could make our debt and financial problems go away.

Just one problem - the aforementioned problems and disincentives are making these men go the route of minimalism instead of production.  And we men can do that because we CAN survive on $11,000 a year.  We won't have a nervous breakdown.  We have no problem hocking our stuff and living out of a van.  But the social worker who is accustomed to making $80,000 a year and $20,000 in fringe benefits on our dime who loses not just her job, but her pension because her California city filed for bankruptcy, she'll break down in tears.

So, whether you like it or not, the threat of minimalism is very real and it is very present.  So present in fact that the people of America (primarily women, but men too) have to ask themselves a question - are you going to cut it with the "socialist, woe is me crap," give us producers the ball and let us run with it, or are you going to demand even more from men (and the productive women of this society), in which case we can pursue our minimalism and by default, force place it on you?

51 comments:

Anonymous said...

The short answer of course is no, there will be no "crap cutting". They will cry and bitch all the way over the cliff and into the ground. It's hard to truly accept, but there is no "saving the country", no matter what your definition of "saving" is, "this pig is going down".

I think lumping all women together is not fair though, there are plenty of single moms (not of their own making) that do get by quite minimalistically.

I do get what your saying, in general guys require A LOT less to be happy than women. But we've been lied to our whole lives that happiness comes from family, marrige and so on...bullshit, happiness can only be defined by the individual for said same individual, everything else are mere suggestions laden with biases.

That better than half this country doesn't understand the consequences of their actions is an understatement. It's not that they don't "get it", it's that they refuse to even think about it, while the getting is still marginally good.

Christopher Phillips said...

Cappy! You hit this one out of the park!

Aynsley said...

Any links on that 401k/403b business? I know a few folks that would have kittens over it.

And, point of interest, the majority of my "stuff" is in storage. But my tools and computers take up way more space in my unit than my crafting and decorative stuff.

Aynsley said...

Books take up more room than either, though.

sth_txs said...

" Men who have the know-how, the ability, the creation and the innovation to produce the economic production necessary to solve all these problems. Men who can make this country dominant as it once was. Men who literally could make our standard of living jump from the $43,000/capita it is today to $70,000/capita I believe in just 10 years. Men who could make our debt and financial problems go away."

Of course, you don't mean vegan mangina metrosexual men or men with liberal progressive views? :LOL:

Scott said...

You've been on a role lately and have currently been upgraded to my #1 amazon affiliate for the time being. (You've got some good competition in instapundit and basicinstructions"

sth_txs said...

This a great post Captain! When I took my first job out of state in a state with income taxes I was sadly disappointed.

After contributing the max to my 401k and paying half my health insurance, the take home kind of sucked. I realized I could not raise a family and for a single guy it was just getting by.

I felt like I should have just worked at WalMart and lived in camper trailer at the parent's home.

And yes, I love my country, but I can't say I feel any loyalty to the state or federal government these days.

Unknown said...

"We won't have a nervous breakdown. We have no problem hocking our stuff and living out of a van."

Plenty of guys do that in my town; guys who get day work at the boatyards here. Probably in the $11k/yr salary range as well.

Doesn't look too attractive to me, but you're welcome to give it a try and let us know how you like it. It would be fun to watch your progress. Don't let me keep you back.

Anonymous said...

Guys consume some stuff. Its just different stuff. How many firearms do I really need vs how many I have. Every year I buy some new piece of gear for hunting, even though I have had everything I need. I have huge numbers of books collected over the years, (although I mostly only read ebooks now.

I think the idea of tenting it for the summer is a great idea. Get rid of as much stuff as you can, but get a storage locker for what you can't. Get a PO box as an address and make yourself comfortable in a tent. Get a gym membership near where you work and you have somewhere to shower. You can keep your work clothes at the office. - minuteman

Jose said...

Yep. Last year I experimented with minimalism (well, my type of minimalism), and it was simple:

http://sitacuisses.blogspot.com/2011/11/less.html

As I mention, the great advantage of having forgone the luxury items "wife and children" cannot be overstated.

And quoting from my closer: "if the ideas I wrote here were widely adopted, most economies would crash. But I don't think there's any serious risk of that."

There's still a lot of what the Captn calls "married betas" and there'll probably still be a lot of them. It will get worse [for them, especially] before it gets better.

JCS

Captain Capitalism said...

Anon 546,

Agree, there are some truly independent women, but the Leykis NAWALT rule applies here. I can't address each and every woman out there. Additionally, always providing a caveat ruins good writing.

Captain Capitalism said...

sth txs,

correct.

Captain Capitalism said...

Ansley,

HEres the article:

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122477680834462659.html

This was before the republicans kick the crap out of the democrats in 2010.

James Wolfe said...

Unfortunately I fall into the class of Betas who can't shrug. I have 2 kids barely in their teens so I'm a slave to my job. I take the crap I'm dealt. I do what I'm told for 8 hours and I get the hell out. But fortunately I was able to downsize on the wife which relieved a lot of my household grief and though we've had to take a hit in our discretionary spending me and the kids are a lot happier.

We've learned to live with less. I've replaced a lot of the stuff she took but only with stuff that is practical. Who needs six different kinds of mixing bowls? Who needs a dozen different spatulas? So much unnecessary clutter is now gone.

And since I'm also a slave to my mortgage I have tried to make my home as nice as I can since I'm going to be living in it the rest of my life. Instead of spending a month's income on a one week vacation to the beach my home is my vacation, out in the country, away from the noise and crowds and crime of the city. I look forward to getting back to it every day. It's what keeps me sane.

My wife was a social worker who wouldn't dream of giving up that job, even though she hates it and it pays half what I make, just to stay home and take care of the house and raise our kids. Now all of her income goes to her house and all her useless trinkets and matching drapes.

If it was just me I'd sell the house, buy one of those nice big and tall Mercedes vans, put a bed in it, a small kitchen and port-a-pot, and live out of that. Put a solar panel on the roof to charge my gadgets, or maybe a generator on the back for air conditioning. Live at a truck stop or one of those travel camp sites, or just buy a small lot out in the middle of nowhere, put a sewer hookup, water and electric and just park there at night. A place to sleep and a comfy chair to sit and read and mess around on the web is all I really need.

I have no interest in working my butt off just to have all my money taxed away and spent by parasites. I earn just enough to take care of what I have. I have no interest in "advancing" my career. I do all my own repairs around the house. I build and landscape everything myself. I even grow a bit of my own food, space permitting. Minimalism is a good thing as far as I'm concerned. What I don't have can't be taken away from me.

sisterbrat said...

This was a great post.

I live minimal since I am in school, but I lived minimal before that. When my income comes up in conversation the disbelief on some faces is delightful to see. Debt is slavery and stuff is slavery too.

I do have a weakness for books though. Lots of books. ah well.

Anonymous said...

Cap,

Don't smoke, but I think I need one after that post.

Well done.

Philosophy Major said...

"My wife was a social worker who wouldn't dream of giving up that job, even though she hates it and it pays half what I make, just to stay home and take care of the house and raise our kids. Now all of her income goes to her house and all her useless trinkets and matching drapes."
An important distinction you missed is that a housewife economy is based on thrift and making the husband's salary go as far as possible. I think a lot of working women buy crap a)because they can (especially with their own lines of credit) and b)to make up for their sucky jobs for which they neglect their husbands and children

Anonymous said...

The mid-post content reminded me of an independent consulting stint I did about five years ago. Told someone what I was billing. Their response was "so you'll be making $200k at least this year?"

- Why would I do that when I could make $50k and work just 10 hours each week?

Anonymous said...

Hey Cap, check out early retirement extreme. The engineer nerd who coined the concept reckoned the absolute cheapest he could live was $7000 a year.

Anyway Cap, if you can live on $11000 then you can do all your work in three to six months and have the rest of the year off.

MarkyMark said...

Cappy,

I LOVED the part about how bachelor pads are spartan and full of 'hand me down' furniture. That's my place to a T! The stuff sort of matches, but I don't care about that. No, I don't have a table at which to eat, because I do all my eating in my old easy chair, hehehe... :)

MarkyMark

Amy Haines said...

always providing a caveat ruins good writing

Can you send this memo to every journo and blogger, ever, please?

Also, always providing a caveat makes a writer look spineless. You, Cap, are not spineless. Bravo on a great post.

I'm not as minimalist as I want to be. Each day I cull another closet or a cabinet in an effort to get the crap out of my life. My rule: if I have not needed it, used it, worn it, or don't have any particular sentimental attachment to it,* it's gone. We don't have drapes in our house because we can't afford them yet. I'm fine with that. Most of the clutter comes from the kids, though. We have a big and generous family that buys toys and clothes for them that won't even fit in our house, and it drives me nuts but you can't be impolite and throw the stuff away. It's balance, more often than not.

*I have a sentimental attachment to some items and even though I don't use them everyday, I cannot get rid of them. For instance, my great-grandmothers enameled coffee pot from Poland, or the stone bakeware my husband buys me each year on our anniversary (I bought a few pieces on our honeymoon in VT and he adds to the collection each year). I tried to live by Neil McCauley's rule: "Don't let yourself get attached to anything you are not willing to walk out on in 30 seconds flat if you feel the heat around the corner." It's not easy, but it is a good idea to keep tucked away for the SHTF moment.

sth_txs said...

The Go-To Guy Gets Educated:
How Business Really Works on Planet Earth

http://www.perrymarshall.com/adwords/renaissance/gotoguy2/

lifescansdarkly said...

Currently living on 12k/year. Could easily live on 8-10k/year if I was living in a cheaper area. I'm very comfortable; I have all the material shit I need. No debt. You hit the nail on the head here - no wife, no kids is what makes this possible.

Man's desire for freedom is incompatible with woman's desire for family. But man also desires woman. And wanting kids isn't irrational. How to reconcile this?

Country Lawyer said...

"I think lumping all women together is not fair though, there are plenty of single moms (not of their own making) that do get by quite minimalistically."

How can one become a single mom without being involved in the process of making themselves such?

And I call B.S. on this. I really don't think men or even women realize how much "free stuff" women get from the government, helpful beta orbiters, family and friends. Cap's post on the date wealth transfer is just the tip of the iceberg.

Also, anyone foolish enough to be putting money in a retirement account is going to regret it, the government is going to take it, they'll have to for "social justice and equity" reasons to prop up the bankrupt public employee retirements which some states have been stupid enough to constitutionally guarantee (not statutorially, but actual put it in their constitutions).

Get the money out now if you can because they are going to take it.

And you're going to have a "mandated" retirement contribution on top of social security.

As for the minimalist thing, I suspect that there is a dramatic paradigm shift in attitudes by men toward marriage and this whole country that is just starting to be noticed, but won't really be statistically recognizable for several years.

Expect the "man up" cries to become everyday and constant.

Anonymous said...

"And I call B.S. on this. I really don't think men or even women realize how much "free stuff" women get from the government, helpful beta orbiters, family and friends."

Most people don't realize how much money is available to single mothers, at least here in Canada. For starters, $100 per month, per child in child care benefits. Daycare is subsidized for the single mom so she can go out and work. If she makes under $40000 a year, she'll recieve a gst rebate and probably pay little to no income tax.

In fact, while doing my income tax this year, I realized that financially, we would be better off divorced. It's crazy.

Anonymous said...

Great read. This ship is sinking, can't be saved and even if it could we shouldn't bother. I've always lived pretty spartan since its not like i got any joy from a nice dinner set. Though i am busting my ass working, and stashing about half my take home into "exotic" investments so i can hopefully laugh my way through the crack up boom ahead.

Nice catch on the 401k seizures. I emptyied mine after seeing that years ago and i refuse to contribute. It's a gimmie that uncle sugar will grab those when he cant find another lender. And the masses will cheer "think of the children!"

Anonymous said...

Why do you need that circular saw?

Because my table saw is too heavy to hold in my hand.

Why do you need a table saw?

to help cut long boards.

I never see you cutting long boards.

that's because I am working on electrical outlets right now, I only need my electric screw driver.

Couldn't you have just used your old hand held screw drivers?

hell no, they take too long and I get tired.

All I see are thousands of dollars in boy toys in here, couldn't you have just paid a contractor to do all the work?

hell no, then I would have been wasting money when I can do it cheaper.

Cheaper, there's thousands of dollars of tools in this garage, can I park my car in here some day?

hell no, where would I put my tools!

I'll let the gentle ready answer that question :)

Captain Capitalism said...

Oh I never said all men were sane and rational. Though buying tools at least has SOME practical use to them. THAT IS ASSUMING THEY USE THEM AND FINISH PROJECTS WITH THEM. Not mere "start" new projects.

Mark Matis said...

The real question is whether the economic collapse will come BEFORE of AFTER the shooting starts

Frank Drakman said...

I (almost) live your dream, buddy. About 5 years ago, I left a somewhat interesting job to start my own business, just in time for the financial crass. I'd been separated from my wife for a couple of years, and I was now broke, and living in a basement apartment.

The economy was sucking wind, and I ended up taking a string of telemarketing jobs, paying between $10-12/hr for a 35 hour week. By the time I paid taxes, Canada pension and unemployment insurance, and the $50/wk in transit passes, I was netting about $250/wk - or less than $13k/yr. Rent was $550/month, plus $200 for my share of heat, hydro, etc, and of course internet access. That left about $60/wk to live on - food, clothing, entertainment. That enforces minimalism in a big way.

Car? Last one died, now I take the bus, or my $99 bike. Cable tv? Gone, now I use an antenna that pulls in about 7 stations. It's enough. Cell phone? Nope - I have an internet phone - $7/month. It was harder to give up the daily newspaper, but it's gone. New clothes? Nope, only shoes when they wear out. Magazine subscriptions, first run movies, fancy restaurant (hell- fast food!) meals? Gone, gone, gone.

Food changes. No more pre-processed anything (well, peanut butter and frozen pizza). No more prime or choice beef; it's select now. I scour the flyers and pounce on bargains. You can make a reasonably tasty meal out of frozen veg, 4 oz of blade steak and a package of instant noodles, so long as you have hot sauce.

A few months ago, I found a better job. Pay's still not great, but it's better. Has my lifestyle changed? Not really - haven't added any monthly expenses like cable or paper or cell phone. I'm paying back various debts, banking a tiny bit, and keeping the monthly nut under $1,000. It's doable.

I miss playing golf. And with ice time $200/hr and new sticks $50, I miss playing hockey. I miss the freedom of a car. But I can live without all of those, and I'm not miserable. In many ways, I feel liberated.

van Rooinek said...

You're wrong in your assertion that most men don't want kids. Men with any sense of religious, racial, or cultural identity, BADLY want kids, to carry on their legacy.

However, the rest of the article is right on target. Running up credit card debts, buying a garage full of useless stuff, and having no emergency reserve, is just INSANE. One has to wonder: why are almost all women insane?

I recall an environmentalist, Ed Begly Jr, who talked quite eloquently in a local radio interview about the spartan simple life -- which he actually practices -- in terms that both liberals and conservatives could relate to. I guarantee you that every MAN listening to him, secretly wanted to do what he's doing (except for the vegetarian nonsense, that's biochemically wrong).

I also guarantee you that not one in 100 of those men ever will, because MOST women DEMAND lots of "stuff", especially if they have children to pamper. Only single guys, gay guys, and guys married to truly exceptional women (as apparently Mr Begly is), can ever hope to live the spartan dream.

Women are the reason the nation is bankrupt. Women are the reason for our huge ecological footprint. If you want to save the nation, or the earth, you need to somehow get women to accept spartan lifestyles.

I'm not optimistic.

j said...

Men can live minimally, so can families if mum is a clever, non-retail, shopper.

We have lots of stuff. Electronica, books, pretty clothes for my sweetie, couches which match, kitchen gear, really nice china - and it has all been bought second hand at .10 on the dollar and, in most cases, without sales tax.

This has two effects: first, you can have a lot of stuff but no debt. Second, when a kid drops a plate you shrug.

The great curse of family life is retail and credit cards. If you never go to the mall and always pay cash you can have stuff without the worry.

And here is a bonus - if you know what you are looking at you can often find books, tools, video games, designer clothes which have a resale value greater than the garage sale price you pay. So, if you are lucky and a bit canny, your stuff can pay for itself. Certainly my 2000+ volume library is very close to break even. As is my wife's extensive wardrobe.

Anonymous said...

I'm a husband who stays home with the two kids. My wife is an engineer and wanted to go back to work. If I were to work we would only pay more in taxes so I chose to stay home. I contribute by keeping the cars running doing anything to avoid the mechanic (one car has 250,000 miles on it). This, along with any repair work on the house has saved us a bundle and I'm learning and honing many different skills that could be put to use for money should the need arise.
I clip coupons, you would be amazed at what you can get for free or near free using coupons, a lot of the housewives I know can't be bothered using coupons. There are lots of ways to live frugally with a family too, but your point about minimalism isn't lost on me either

Anonymous said...

I can't believe that no man has mentioned the one true cause of non female induced male consumerism.........golf.

Takes money to join the country club, and money for equipment, golf trips to Florida, etc.

Tyler L said...

Cap although I agree with most of your posts for this one I must be the exception to this Rule.

I buy the most of the crap my family owns including the furniture and my wife keeps telling me to downsize all the time. I like to own nice stuff and take care of it... When I was a student obviously I didn't have that luxury but now I'd more than happily work a few more hours and even pay the incremental tax rate to have a newer Pick-up Truck than the old beater I used own as a student that would barely start in winter, or a couch that is comfortable to sit on vs. a hand me down with some crappy spring that pokes you the wrong way.

I have tones of hobbies and most of the ones I like don't come cheap (Quading/Snowboarding/Wakeboarding/Travel) and require lots of storage. So sometimes I need to upsize to keep up with all my "Toys". I was doing this way before I was in a relationship with a woman and wasn't doing this to "Pick up" or Impress chicks either. I have always felt I'd rather spend money having fun then buying drinks for chicks at the bar.

If you guys want to work 10 hour weeks and live on the cheap with Low Cost living expenses and hobbies have at it I did it enough as a student and don't want to be there ever again.

As for Going Galt or Enjoying the Decline...

I'll work the 40 hours and pay more taxes to fund the parisites if it means I have the freedom to Eat Steaks, Take an exotic vacation for a week and drive a Nice Truck and not worry about how I'm going to afford it all.

With how slow civilization progresses I'll be long gone by the time everyone pays there fair share if ever, So i'm not going to waste it trying to prove a point. I'll pay my toll to live how I want to live.

To quote Eddie Van Halen "Money Can't Buy Happiness. But it can get you a sweet boat to drive right next to it."

Anonymous said...

Live on a sailboat. Simple and mobile.

Anonymous said...

This is great. Most dudes - outside of their influence from girls - are not materialistic.

About 2 years ago, I moved from Milwaukee to San Diego. Sold about 80% of my clothes, most of my books, all my art, my car, my 'trinkets', furniture, you name it. Came out here with a suitcase, a laptop, a guitar, and about 20-30 books. That's still about all I own these days.

When I tell this to a girl - or bring one to my house - and she sees a spartan bedroom with only a bed, some books, and a computer...they are usually shocked . "Where's all your stuff? How do you live like this?". There is a very real anxiety that these chicks get when faced with not having 'stuff'.

Even girls who I am only friends with will try to convince that I need more 'stuff'. "You need some art in here to brighten things up"; "You should get more, nicer dish towels"; "Have you considered painting the bathroom, that yellow color is kind of gross"; "You should get new dishes and glassware. These are old!".

I sleep in my bedroom, I eat in the kitchen. What I have does the job. The rest of the time, I'm at work, at the gym, making new friends, socializing, partying, with girls. The more you have a fulfilling, interesting life outside of your 4 walls, the less 'stuff' matters.

Alex said...

Not only can I imagine a minimalist existence, I'm in the process of reaching for my goal.

I came to New Mexico to learn how to build earthbag houses, and now I can, for about $10,000.

I'm looking for some land now anywhere in the US, that catches my fancy, but can you imagine if others joined me. You'd have 20 or 30 men, one a welder, another a motorcycle mechanic, o farmer, etc... each one having something to contribute, something to barter with, without the legal chains that bind us into slavery to hold us back. Man, what we could accomplish!

This doesn't mean women would not be allowed, but rather that feminist ideals would have no place in such a state of masculine creative anarchy. Your girl start agitating that a feminine hand should rest on the tiller, you regulate that chatter, or you gots to go.

Sillygrammy said...

There are so many 'decluttering' blogs and simple-life blogs now because WOMEN get crazy being surrounded by so much stuff. They get sick too. Stuff makes it harder to do basic housecleaning and to find the things you need. This truly is the way of the future.

I've been a housewife for 26 years and although the work is repetitive, I contribute to the family income by decreasing the out-go by not shopping for entertainment. I also do the gardening and whatever house maintenance I can. I guess I'm one of those 'truly exceptional' women.

Dave said...

In other words, America is devolving from patriarchy to matriarchy, freeing women from their traditional duties while expecting men to selflessly uphold theirs.

Look at a typical matriarchal African village. The women toil in the fields all day long, or walk miles with 100-lb bundles of firewood balanced on their heads, while also carrying a nursing baby or two in a sling. The men relax in the shade joking about whose bed they're going to sleep in tonight, working just enough to afford food and beer.

Such societies have little or no surplus production, and if they hold any extra provisions, there's no army or police to guard them. When drought or locusts ruin the crops, the men grab whatever food they can find and let the women and children starve.

Swipe yo' EBT, it's free! And it's the only thing keeping matriarchy alive outside the tropics.

Senior Manchild said...

A very good detailing of the situation. To place your article in another context, let´s consider the following:

http://pjmedia.com/blog/men-the-gender-wars-are-over-—-we-won/

¨So sit back, men, and enjoy the slide. It’s Miller time.¨

That sounds dangerously close to ¨enjoy the decline¨ or as I like to say enjoy the personal explosion. The good times are only just beginning.

As a successful minimalist, I would like to have some say in the future and not just wait around to see how it all plays out. What we do need to support are the efforts to control the fiatocracy of the fed. There is alot of hand_wringing about U.S. debt, but let´s always be conscious of the following:

Debts are one´s problem so long as the repercussions of giving up on their repayment is greater than the liberation of doing so( i.e. Greece, Iceland).

So as the minimalists that we are, let´s not let Bernanke and his printing press saddle us with what is not rightfully ours. Our lenders are perilously close to allowing our debts to become a freebie; as it should be since really, how much of that debt actually helped us and didn´t more insidiously hurt us( men, particularly younger men)?

So, let´s partake of a little agency on our own behalf( as we certainly are agents, not accessories) and in place of tacitly excepting the future, maybe we should drive many of these trends; drive them wherever we see our interests lie.

Men seemed to have lost their voice ,but our new technologies that now are a muffled scream will one day be a roar.

Lead on Captain

BobC said...

Wow... loved this post. Really enjoyed it. As others, I disagree with some parts especially about all men not wanting kids. However, I also liked your comment about bad writers using caveats for every assertion. How true!!! I would say that although not ALL men fit into the category of not wanting children, you could assert that ALL men would be better off not creating a family in this particular generation. For all the reasons you said... courts giving them the shaft when it comes to divorce (women getting 1/2 of all capital gains despite putting none of their own money or time at risk). I also suspect that you just haven't found the right woman yet. I think that if you do find the right girl, you will be buying her diamonds and pearls and you will be buying her matching drapes for the expensive new couch in no time! I do it... and I'm no beta. I do it because I look at her and I can see how happy it makes her and that is the best feeling in the world.

I am also fascinated by this concept of minimalism. I was reading your post (and some of the comments) and it just amazes me that others have these same feelings that I do about quitting their jobs and living off of a very small wage. I absolutely detest working for the government and I feel that my job is totally without purpose. I couldn't care less whether my organization is successful and I just can't become engaged as an employee. At the same time, I feel absolutely trapped by the amount of money and benefits I receive. I live on a fairly large acreage. I tell my wife that if she wasn't in the picture, I would rent out the house we live in, rent out another house I have on my property, and I would quit my job and live simply off of the rental income. I would build a small house with a big deck and a large workshop.... and yes, enjoy the decline. On my property I can grow vegetables and I know how to make bullets.

By the way, my property would make a great place to start our own Gault's Gulch.

Craig Cavanaugh said...

Ah, good post Cap'm. I see we are on the same wavelength...

Anonymous said...

I fear the institution of a bachelor tax.

Anonymous said...

On a long drive I bought this topic up in a roundabout way with my old man. He is from the country and he told me that were he young now he would live out of a car, working one or two days a week on a labouring job, or else working cash in hand, and spend most of his time fishing.

Me said...

Captain,

Your idea of camping/commuting and then leasing in the cold weather could save you a boatload of cash! I say why lease? Why not become mobile?

Before my Mommy life, I managed high rise condos and had a doorman (at the time pay for doormen was only a tad over $14/hour but included no deductible health insurance, pension, and seasonal bonuses) who had "no stuff" and spent little money.

He "house sat" for owners in the building and walked pets, watered plants, let the cleaning lady in, etc. So most of the time he was living in a high end condo unit. He was trusted (and deservedly so) by the residents. When he didn't have a house sitting gig he would sleep in a camper on his truck. Not a super high end camper, it was just one of those on the back of a pick up truck type campers but it did have heat (no A/C). I don't know all the tips and tricks for how/where he parked it but I do know he often showered at work, before his shift on days he worked and was a member of a 24 hour gym (again I think to shower and work out). Almost all high rises have showers for employees since they often get dirty at work and need to clean up before moving onto the next task - also most maintenance floors have decent kitchens so he could have cooked on days he worked. His work clothing consisted of required uniforms paid for and laundered by the association.

His internet connection was a plug in stick from clear, he had a cell phone (I don't know how he charged it). I can assure you he returned emails and phone calls. Not sure how he made meals on days he didn't work but I am sure it is easy to figure out. Maybe he ate out a lot? or had an ice filled cooler?

Anyway I never even knew until the building Engineer (his supervisor) and I were chatting one day and the Engineer filled me in. I was gobsmacked! This guy had figured out how to work a full time job with full benefits, made money house sitting/pet care/plant service on the side which REQUIRED him to live in the condo during the time the Owners were gone and had minimal living costs.

He has been doing this since the late 70's. Some quick math will tell you he is probably a millionaire. He was really good at flying under the radar since I was his supervisor's, supervisor and had no inkling that he didn't live in an apartment/condo of his own.

Anyway just wanted to chime in that it can (and likely often is) done. Especially now with technology, you could even watch tv on the computer in your camper and keep up with the blog.

William said...

Cap:

6 months in the bush is possible.

1) Develope a massive safety focus - safety first in all you do out there.

2) Learn how to do your own stitches and pack gauze and lots of polysporine (wonderful stuff).

3) Make sure you have an viable exit at all times that you can use even if you have an infected leg wound and can't walk.

4) Perhaps most importantly is camp hygene. Practice latrine discipline and wash with hot water and soap every damn day no matter how inconvenient.

Good luck.

Luke said...

"Could that money have been donated to a small third world country, thereby lifting it and all of its people out of poverty forever?"

Uh, many people (I'm one) wouldn't want money given to a Third World country even if it could be done for free. Those people are in many senses our rivals (demographically, religiously, etc., as well as economically).

Let them fail.

Has no one here read Kim Du Toit's excellent short article "Let Africa Sink"?

http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/924795/posts

Anonymous said...

Interesting perspective, some things I agree with some things I don't. I wish I could speak up more for women, but as someone who enjoyed entering a male-dominated field to get away from women don't think I can. In college I took in elective in a female-dominated field. The projects were made out to be super hard, but I completed them the morning of the day they were due. It was a sharp contrast compared to the actually hard projects from my main classes in the male-dominated field.

Yes I am a woman, but I'm one of your exception to the rules women. Possibly because in the house I grew up in, a couch was a functional place to sit until the object fell apart and the curtains were whatever was there when we moved in, simply because money was limited and was reserved for things we actually needed like food. Though I seem to have found a husband that is an exception to your rule for men. I would be happy to give up some of the nice things we have or buy, in return for less income between the two of us. But someone won't let me. We have similar income, but my work leaves me tired and unable to take care of the house. I would gladly give up my job and take care of the house, but then we wouldn't have enough for the things he wants to buy.

Anonymous said...

I disagree that stuff exists due to women.

We have an 8 car garage, that is filled partly with cars, and partly with man stuff.

There are boxes of man stuff that haven't been unpacked since moving house 2 years ago.

Then there are 2 more shipping containers full of more man stuff.

Its not always the women....

Lata said...

"I'm kicking around a way to camp in the National Grasslands during the warmer 6 months of the year, commute to work, save on rent, and then get a 6 month lease during the winter months. Again, I'd have to get rid of all my stuff."

Aaron this was written over 2 years ago. Did you manage to do it?