The real use of money is to buy freedom

As the founder of a profitable software company, I happen to make more money than most office-goers of my age. There’s no shame or pride in admitting that. I don’t dislike money. Having quite a bit of it is simply a fact. Though there must me many thousands of people who have enormously more money than me, I consider myself lucky to have more than I need right now. However, more than the money, what fascinates me is the nature of money, its ubiquity and how our behavior gets unknowingly influenced by it.

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Lifestyles of the Young, Rich, and Homeless

We arrived in New York City with no real plans. It wasn’t until then that I thought about all the favors my friend must have done for others; all the experiences he must have shared that had allowed him to build up social capital—so much so that he always had a couch to crash on, anywhere he went.

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Unconditional Basic Income

The digitization of our economy will bring with it a new generation of radical economic ideologies, of which Bitcoin is arguably the first. For those with assets, technological savvy, and a sense of adventure, the state is the enemy and a cryptographic currency is the solution. But for those more focused on the decline of the middle classes, the collapse of the entry-level jobs market, and the rise of free culture, the state is an ally, and the solution might look something like an unconditional basic income. Before I explain why this concept is going to be creeping into the political debate across the developed world, let me spell out how a system like this would look…

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What do others think of me

Civilization, which is held together by a fragile web of tactful phrasing, polite omissions and white lies, would collapse in an apocalypse of bitter recriminations and weeping, breakups and fistfights, divorces and bankruptcies, scandals and resignations, blood feuds, litigation, wholesale slaughter in the streets and lingering ill will. […] Hearing other people’s uncensored opinions of you is an unpleasant reminder that you’re just another person in the world, and everyone else does not always view you in the forgiving light that you hope they do, making all allowances, always on your side. There’s something existentially alarming about finding out how little room we occupy, and how little allegiance we command, in other people’s heads.

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Consumerism and Investments

Realize that happiness comes from accomplishment and personal growth, rather than from luxury products. Seek out voluntary discomfort as a way to become stronger, rather than running from it. Develop a healthy sense of self-mockery, and acknowledge that you are a wimp in many ways right now (and only by acknowledging it can you improve). Practice optimism. And of course, ride a bike.

Read the article: Meet Mr. Money Mustache, the man who retired at 30

Life

Last week there were two deaths, close together; one, a class mate of mine from my school and college days; the other, a senior colleague, recently retired. Both untimely and both sudden. When in the thick of work, with the hours rushing by, as I get engrossed in files and meetings, the thought of the fragility of life never enters my mind. And why should it, I wonder: there are certain duties assigned to each of us and performing these duties is at the core of the meaning of life, as I see it. And so I, living life from minute to minute, caught in the moment, ignore tomorrow, ignore the uncertain and the unknowable.

Read the article: Our precious lives

Power of Simplicity

Blaise Pascal once famously ended a letter with an apology: I’m sorry that this was such a long letter, but I didn’t have time to write you a short one. Computer science has pretty much the same problem. It’s a young field, and young fields are messy. They get weighed down with excess Jargon. There are multiple names for the same ideas and the ideas themselves are often snarled together. It’s a complicated science, because we haven’t had enough time to make a simple one.

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Goldman Sachs and the $580 Million Black Hole

James and Janet Baker spent nearly two decades building Dragon, a voice technology company, into a successful, multimillion-dollar enterprise. It was, they say, their “third child.” So in late 1999, when offers to buy Dragon began rolling in, the couple made what seemed a smart decision: they turned to Goldman Sachs for advice. And why not? Goldman, after all, was the leading dealmaker on Wall Street. The Bakers wanted the best. This, of course, was before the scandals of the subprime mortgage era. It was before the bailouts, before Occupy Wall Street, before ordinary Americans began complaining about “banksters” and “muppets” and “the vampire squid.” In short, before Goldman Sachs became, for many, synonymous with Wall Street greed.

And yet, even today what happened next to the Bakers seems remarkable. With Goldman Sachs on the job, the corporate takeover of Dragon Systems in an all-stock deal went terribly wrong. Goldman collected millions of dollars in fees — and the Bakers lost everything when Lernout & Hauspie was revealed to be a spectacular fraud. L.& H. had been founded by Jo Lernout and Pol Hauspie, who had once been hailed as stars of the 1990s tech boom. Only later did the Bakers learn that Goldman Sachs itself had at one point considered investing in L.& H. but had walked away after some digging into the company.

Read the article: Goldman Sachs and a Sale Gone Horribly Awry