2007-06-14

New Scientist: Paying taxes is a pleasurable duty

Interesting.

In my personal experience, I find that this is true. To the extent that I believe the taxes I am paying are assessed fairly, and to the extent that I have confidence that the money will be put to good use, I find paying taxes enjoyable.

I just found myself thinking the other day, as I was buying a $5 bottle of water at the Marriott: "If only a percentage of this bottle went for a sales tax, I could at least feel that by buying it I did something good."

As it happened, St. Kitts has no sales tax, and that water was bottled locally, so the $5 was pure markup going to the hotel store. That didn't feel as good.

Fun facts about living in St. Kitts

Yesterday was our first month 'anniversary' of our arrival in St. Kitts. Here are some of our fun - and 'fun' - experiences.
  • You can get more or less everything, but everything is twice the price. Bottled water, twice the price. Smoked salmon, twice the price. Car, twice the price. Canned vegetables, twice the price. This seems to be partly due to tariffs, partly due to costs of transportation, and partly because of the local monopolies.

    Essentially all goods are imported by two companies, Horsfords and TDC. Tariffs or no tariffs - I'd guess the duopolies have something to do with the local prices.

  • During the first 30 days we've been here, the electricity was out about two days consecutively. You could say we have about a 94% effectiveness at having electricity.

    Apparently, these outages were the longest that people recall, and the reason was apparently that they were installing additional generators so that, er, there wouldn't be so many outages. :)

    What's interesting is how many offices, hotels and restaurants had power throughout, even despite these day-long power outages. It looks like everyone who's smart has their own generator somewhere. The local Marriott has one. The Timothy Beach has one. The Leeward Cove has one. But our place, unfortunately, doesn't yet have one, at least not at this time, so I sought refuge at the Marriott to get some work done and to get Net access. Net access at the Marriott is $5 for 1 hour, $10 for 2 hours, and $20 for a day. That's USD, and the daily pass is a scam - it expires as soon as you log out.

  • Besides the power outages, there are surges all the time that will fry anything electrical. The air conditioning breaks down here all the time. So does everything that's plugged into the electrical system. Don't plug in anything unless you have a surge protector.

    Unfortunately, for some things like stoves, dishwashers and refrigerators, there is no choice. The people building our apartment say they're trying to source a solution that will surge protect the whole apartment. I hope they succeed, but I wouldn't entirely bet on it. Solutions take a while to materialize here. If at all.

  • A large bottle of water at the cafe in the Marriott is $5.60, USD. Or, it's $5.00 at the hotel store.

  • The Marriott has sushi from Tuesday to Saturday evenings. It's not spectacular; it's decent. But boy, do you have to wait. Last time we went there, it took 1 hour and 35 minutes between the time we walked into the place and the time our order actually arrived. Some Americans nearby were getting pissed after they had to wait just 45 minutes. :)

  • Intellectual property doesn't count for much here. You can get counterfeit DVDs from stores in town. We recently moved into a different apartment where we have a temporary roommate, and right now he's watching Blood Diamond on DVD. He also bought Oceans 13 and Spiderman 3. We need to find that store and get our hands on Shrek 3. :)

    We'd prefer to see it at the cinema; but there's only one cinema here, and that one is fairly seedy.

    I'd prefer to get Shrek on an original DVD; but the industry insists on not making them available at a time when you actually want to see the movie, and then they insist on pricing them insanely.

  • Not only are DVDs readily available, so are Cialis and Viagra! Yes. The cost is roughly $26 US a pill, and you don't need a prescription.

    I tried Cialis, and it works. Man, it works. My wife can attest to that. :) But I took a whole 20 mg pill, and that had some undesired side effects. I had a headache that lasted some 24 hours, and I think it seriously disturbed my sleeping pattern. I'm definitely going to do it again at some point in the future, but I'm definitely not going to take the whole 20 mg. :)

    I haven't yet tried Viagra. If anyone has any tips on dosage, let me know. The pill I have is 100 mg, but I think that's going to be way excessive. However, I have no idea whether I should split it up in 1/4 or 1/2.

    On the one hand, I'm 26, not 60, so I probably don't need the dosage for old geezers. On the other hand, I don't want to waste a quarter of the pill and not have anything to gain from it. So, if you have the experience, post a comment and let me know. :)

2007-06-04

I enjoy it, you pay for it - the socialist mindset

An anonymous commenter nailed the nature of Slovenian socialist nostalgists on the Libertarian's forum (in Slovenian):
Borba proti "plehkemu" potrošništvu po mojih opažanjih borba nekaterih ljudi proti lastnemu demonu, ki bi ga lahko imenovali "slabe potrošniške" navade, zoper lastno odvisnost od potrošništva.

"Kritični intelektualci", ki sem jih spoznala jaz, imajo navado, da si plačajo počitnice na Maldivih, nato pa državo pljuvajo, ker ne morejo plačati kruha (sociale), ali pa bolj vsakdanji primer, ljudje si sprčakjo denar za frizerja, bencin, avto, zmanjka jim pa denarja za plačilo elektrike in stanarine, potem pa tulijo, da jim država ne zagotavlja "temeljnih" socialnih pravic. "Kritični intelektualci" zahtevajo od občine, da jim zgradi luksuzni stadion, potem pa javkajo, ko jim zasoli ceno (socialnega) vrtca. "Kritični intelektualci" volijo župane, ki jim gradijo in dajejo luksuzne knjižnice, ne gradijo pa vrtcev.

"Kritični intelektualci" se obnašajo kot triletni otroci, ki verjamejo v Božička in v njegovo denarnico oz. plačilno kartico, ki nima limita in čigar terjatve ni treba nikoli plačati, kritični intelektualci živijo v svetu, kjer ni prioritet, kjer ni odrekanja (varčevanja). Seveda pa potem sprevrženo zahtevajo, da so odrekanju (varčevanju) podvrženi drugi sodržavljani, še najraje na podlagi državne prisile. Drugi naj bodo tisti, ki naj skrbijo za okolje, ki naj ne bodo potrošniki, ki naj jim odpuščajo dolgove v katere so zapadli zaradi lastnih slabih potrošniških navad, ki jih pač maskirajo v lastne "socialne" pravice.

Sicer pa, kdor hodi v gore VE, da je tam vsaj na nekaterih področjih tak ferker kot v Sparu ob 11 dopoldne, ter da ni nobene razlike med preživljenjem časa v Sparovi štancuni, ali pa v zastoju pod zadnjim vzponom do Aljaževega doma. (kar je v bistvu dokaz, da "kritični intelektualci" ne hodijo v gore)

"Kritični intelektualci" so potrebni preprostega potrošniškega opismenjevanja.
In later comments on the same page, socialist nostalgist Boris J. posts about the supposed slavery of heteronomous work (where you do stuff that other people actually want) as opposed to autonomous work (the socialist ideal, where you do stuff that you want to do, but which no one else has a use for).

Socialists basically want to live in a world free of reality, and they want others to suffer and pay for it. They want everyone to be able to enjoy doing "autonomous work", the work that they like to do best. (Which for most people is, drinking and partying.) What they don't address is, who pays for this? Infrastructure is needed to survive the winter, infrastructure is needed to provide clothing, infrastructure is needed to provide medicine, as well as the beer and food and the sneakers. So who's going to support and maintain this infrastructure if everyone can just go and do "autonomous work" - which is, most of the time, drinking and partying?

Well, the other guy will - the guy who pays taxes!

Just as long as the socialist doesn't have to - or gets to pay less.