Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
The Lonely Life of a Yacht Influencer (melmagazine.com)
267 points by microtherion 37 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 263 comments



I'm reminded of an old colleague of mine. She worked as a food safety inspector for Cara Foods that service many airlines around the world. They have kitchens in airports and prepare the food for airlines. She would travel the world inspecting the kitchens. She would always travel business class and had an IATA pass/badge and had the ability to bump business class passenger and hold the plane. She wasn't paid well but was young, single and loved the idea of travelling the world in swank business class. She quickly learned two things, her company wasn't willing to give her time to take day trips into the city (so her sightseeing was airport hotels and the underbelly of international airports), and more importantly, flying economy feels really bad once you've spent time on business class flights.

So for this influencer, I imagine it's tough to live a regular life once he is forced to. If he wants to vacation with his friends, they are renting a 20ft boat rather than a 200ft boat.


That echos my experience really closely. I spent almost 4 years traveling twice per month with each trip lasting between 3-6 days, and each day, due to work schedules, being 12+ hours long. At the end of those 4 years, I couldn't tell you anything about the actual cities I visited, but I can still describe the intricate details of the hotel/conference centers in which I basically lived.


But how many million tax-free hôtel and airline points did you accumulate?


Hotels? none. It was always comp'd by the host org.

Miles? Ultimately not that many -- or not enough to be of long term value. It was enough to get high enough in the status tiers for reliable upgrades, but for the most part, a few ad-hoc spontaneous flights and that giant bank of miles you built up over the years evaporates over night.

It's a weird carrot on the stick that you kind of fall into. To ensure status, I would take purposefully crappy flights just to rack up the miles.

Looking back it was a silly thing to chase and a really stupid use of time.


I had a couple year stint where my job involved me flying 1-2 times a month. Not crazy compared to the road warriors but a decent amount of flying (almost all the flights were from one coast to the other so always long).

After going through that, and playing the airmiles game, airline miles seem to only exist to trigger human emotions around the fear of losing out and the same kind of dopamine dependency that's exploited by grindy video games and gambling. You need 5million experience to level up, and dammit, it feels so good when it rolls over.


I think of the movie "Up In The Air" with George Clooney.


A million miles is a lot. If you flew roundtrip from New York to London twice a month, it would take over 6 years to have flown a million miles: http://www.gcmap.com/mapui?P=JFK-LON


You don't need to fly close to a million miles to get a million "miles"/points. Miles are based on spend now, not on distance traveled, so it's easy to rack up a million when you're flying business or first class.

As an example, let's say you're a regular business traveler flying a $5k business class round-trip from NYC to London on American Airlines. You have the highest status level which gives you a 120% bonus on miles earned. Each dollar spent on the flight thus earns you 11 miles, so that one round-trip is worth 55k miles. Source: https://www.aa.com/i18n/aadvantage-program/miles/aadvantage-...

But wait, there's more. Of course you also bought the $5k flight on your AA credit card, which gives another 2 miles per dollar spent, which puts the total up to 65k miles earned for one 7k mile round-trip flight. Or maybe you put it on your Chase Sapphire Reserve card, which gives you 3X Chase Ultimate Rewards points for travel spending, so 55k AA miles + 15k UR points. Now imagine that you're doing this trip several times per month and the miles/points add up very quickly; you can get to a million in no time.


What airlines include card miles in your million miles count? Having a million miles is different from the million miles status which seems to be based on the first kind of miles you mentioned.


That wasn't the asked question though. And getting a million flown miles isn't all it's cracked up to be; you get a lower level of status guaranteed for life, but given that you're still actively traveling frequently for business you're gonna have a much better level of status anyway. And it all depends on the airline anyway.

American Airlines, for example, only gives you gold status (the lowest level) for life at 1M miles.


Delta did lifetime silver for 1M miles, which was their lowest level. They did give a nice Tumi suitcase at the 1M (or was it 2M?) actual miles mark, but I don't think it does much outside of a normal high status... probably zone one boarding, or something like that. Once you hit diamond status, upgrades domestically were pretty common. International... not so much. The flexibility was the really nice thing - they always would go out of their way to get you on the route you wanted if possible.

With status multipliers (but flying meat space), the most I ever hit was 623k miles in a year. I suspect it was close to 300k 'real' miles. Our travel person was booking 'round the world' tickets to save money at that point.


It’s kinda a jab at the inflationary nature of the programs.

They devalue existing miles but remain competitive going forward by requiring, and giving, more miles for the same trip.


You can get that down to about 1.8 years if you go London to Auckland return twice a month. Sounds terrible.


What was your job ?


That may explain the disconnect when he talks about his goal: "I actually want to own a yacht. Owning a yacht, really owning it in full and being able to pay for its upkeep, means that you’ve somehow freed yourself from work and want."

He can much more easily free himself from work and want by skipping the super expensive yacht, putting several million dollars in a nice diversified portfolio, and withdrawing 3% per year. Not saying that's easy, but it's way easier than the yacht plan.


But maybe he wants to live on a yacht? Nothing wrong with that, since it can effectively be a house on the water (albeit a very expensive one).


A group of friends could easily rent a 50ft sailboat. 20ft is quite small. ...and if one or two people has taken a couple of weekends to get a sailing license, it's actually a pretty fun vacation.

My girlfriend and I did it in the Abacos for a week, just the two of us. Sailing from island to island each day in the crystal Caribbean water. It's cost effective, super fun, and way more accessible than people realize.


I agree - my comment was more on the fact that he'll never be able to afford the lifestyle he lives during work hours, and it could be tough when that work goes away.


Can you roughly outline the cost once you have a license?


He now made a “comfortable middle-class living,” but sitting there with me in the cabin, fretted that it could go away at any time. “This is me working a little network I’ve built using someone else’s social media platform,” he said. “If Instagram changes its algorithm slightly, there goes a bit of my business. If Instagram disconnects some of the tools I use to build and monitor my account, there goes a bit of my business. And if Instagram goes away and is replaced by something newer and better, I need to get there first, just like I did with this account. If I don’t, I’m done. I’m totally dependent on a platform that’s completely out-of-control.”

I think this man is a bit of a canary in the coalmine for the rest of us. Even for those of us who do not depend on social media for our income, enough of human communication is wrapped up in social media to affect our lives in a significant way, whether we want it to or not.


Is it, though? I run through my FB notifications once a month or so to see if my parents tagged me in something, and that's about all my interaction with it since early college. I just got too busy with class and later work to sit there and scroll through the news feed, which takes a lot longer to do these days with all the reposting of advertisement and clickbait. I stay in touch with people by texting/groupchats/calls and email for professional relationships, and I don't feel like I'm missing out on anything at all.

I do use snapchat pretty often, but I'm only friends on there with people I actually met and I only really interact with smaller groupchats of my close friends. I never look at the third party content in the app. It is an excellent outlet for when I gotta show my friends how this asshole parked halfway up the curb, or how my cat is bouncing off the walls, or brief highlights from late night shenanigans. All temporary and fleeting, and I'm really just hoping my friends snort a little more air out of their nostril and smirk when they see it, nothing more. Probably not the type of engagement that Snap has in mind, so we will see how long the app is tolerable.


Can you elaborate? The only social media I do is here and I'm not seeing the connection.


The only social media I do is here and I'm not seeing the connection.

To me, HN is a refuge!


This made my day. I am now totally sure I don't want a super yacht. If I did have one, I'd want the toilets to be clean and the dining room to serve good dinner.

On the picture that asks if I want the yacht, the classic car or the private jet, I found myself thinking that I'd like to build a replica of the classic car. That'd be way more fun than owning any of the three and would save about 99% of the budget. I guess I missed the point.


> I am now totally sure I don't want a super yacht. If I did have one, I'd want the toilets to be clean and the dining room to serve good dinner.

If you own a super yacht then isn't this sort of up to you? I mean, you don't have to invite a tone of people to mess up your toilets.


Doing interesting things builds your self-worth. Owning interesting things only demonstrates your wealth.


I'll take a hotwheels version of the car, and the rest in cash.

Who spends $50 million on a car?


>Who spends $50 million on a car?

Someone who has so much money that $50M feels the same to them as the price of the hotwheels feels to you. (Also, people without that much money who are impulsive).


I don't think there are $50 million cars even one of the GT40's and Ferraris that raced at Lemmans a lot less than that.


Yea, the car displayed (250 GTO) sold for $48 million at auction in 2018


Ah I sit corrected - I seem to recall one of the Lemans Ferraris was $16 Mil


Having that kind of money is like `iddqd` for life: fun for five minutes, then the game gets boring.


Instead of getting a $50M car, I would hire a small team of scientists to optimize the middle-class purchasing decisions I already make.


Someone who's confident he can resell it in a few years for $70 million or more.


Someone who knows that car will never be worth less than 51 million again.


I'd be torn between the boat and the plane. Living on a boat has some nice things to it, and the plane is both useful and a lot of the operational cost can be offset by keeping it flying.

The car? Meh...


The boat would definitely be nicer than my house, so I would move into the boat permanently and figure out from there how I will maintain it. If you think the 27ft sloop in the local marina has some bodge jobs, just wait until you see what I cook up trying to fix a super yacht with unlimited time and no money.


The car is likely to increase in value, while the boat and plane will only go down, in addition to having far higher maintenance costs.


It is not imperative that yacht owners invite Lindsey Lohan and her ilk aboard.


TBH, she would probably be a lot of work.


Edited:

In my preferred world, no single person would be able to afford a large yacht. However, I have no problem with yachts per se. Yacht enthusiasts could join cooperatives, for example. Just like I think its silly that individuals can be so wealthy that they can afford massive private golf courses, but think that people who want to play golf should be able to join a golf club.

“But for the guy who owns the Eclipse [Roman Abramovich, a Russian oligarch], that’s not the point. He’s not chartering that thing out. It has a submarine and a missile detection system. See, the power of owning a magnificent yacht like that is in how you’re telling the world that you’re beyond buying and selling. You have more money than there is money to have. You’ve transcended. There are no frontiers left for you on dry land. I mean, true peace is only at sea.”


And that attitude got us a luxury sales tax in the 90's that destroyed a lot of highly paid workers building luxury yachts. A lot of craftsman-style jobs rely on rich folks. A lot of manufacturing jobs rely on rich folks. Private golf courses need people.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/business/1993/07/16/h...


Marginal utility of money. After redistribution through a luxury tax, the same craftsmen could make say 100 smaller yachts at the same cost as one mega yacht, each with less status appeal (which is zero sum), and on net increase wellbeing more.

That's not necessarily how the taxes were structured and the money might have gone into other things that hurt luxury yacht craftsmen.

We'd probably be better off with even one smaller yacht and paying the craftsmen to dig holes and fill them back in with the excess time. Less status to the yacht-buyer, but the same goes to his competitor buyers so it probably nets out, and then you have less exposure to fiber-glass dust and solvents and stuff for the workmen who are now doing something just slightly less productive from a marginal utility standpoint. Probably a net win overall.


This was quite a popular media thing among conservatives who were torqued about the evils of the 10% luxury tax in the early nineties. It was always about the yachts and yacht industry, too. It was the opposite of persuasive because in reference to the luxury tax, they were always going on about the freaking yachts. I imagine in the end, it did little more than make most normal people conscious of how little they cared about the yacht industry.

The way the repeated messaging was effective in getting everybody talking about the same (ridiculous) thing was an early taste of what was to come in right-wing media.

The yacht costs $2,995,000, but, thanks to the current luxury tax that kicks in at $100,000, you have to fork over another $289,500. Rich people aren't happy about paying this extra money. Even if they can afford it, they think it's unfair. And in some cases, they're refusing to pay it -- simply by refusing to buy new boats and planes.

Funny stuff.


> This was quite a popular media thing among conservatives who were torqued about the evils of the 10% luxury tax in the early nineties. It was always about the yachts and yacht industry, too. It was the opposite of persuasive because in reference to the luxury tax, they were always going on about the freaking yachts.

>> The yacht costs $2,995,000, but, thanks to the current luxury tax that kicks in at $100,000, you have to fork over another $289,500. Rich people aren't happy about paying this extra money. Even if they can afford it, they think it's unfair. And in some cases, they're refusing to pay it -- simply by refusing to buy new boats and planes.

> Funny stuff.

Hilarious, and so transparently selfish and self-serving. Something tells me that if you can afford to spend $3 million on a conspicuous-consumption item like a yacht, you'll still find $3.3 million affordable. They just don't like paying taxes. I'd bet they'd have to raise the luxury tax to a level quite a bit higher than 10% to negatively affect the yacht industry.

Even the tax did hurt the yacht industry, the important question is: what did people spend their money on instead? If a tax kills the yacht industry, but strengthens industries more beneficial to the common good, I think that's a positive result.


The incredible depreciation of yachts is a much bigger part of the cost of owning a yacht. A million-dollar yacht will go down to like 200k if that after 10 years.


Boats are holes in the water into which you throw money.


[flagged]


I'll be the first to admit that I'm not always a wellspring of human empathy, but even the article is pretty frank about the fact that flagging yacht sales were part of a long-term trend:

First, understand that because of the 1987 stock market crash and the 1990 recession, many of the toymakers were in deep trouble even before the luxury tax took effect.

The evidence that a luxury tax was the harbinger of doom for these people is not so great. The bigger thing which struck me about this story at the time, and I think it's pretty crucial, is that the evils of luxury taxes are probably exaggerated if you have to refer back to the same example all the time.


I feel sorry for the tens of people who lost their jobs because we no longer make luxury yachts in the U.S.

Oh wait...it turns out we make more luxury yachts in the US now then we did when the 25-year old article you cited was published.



This sounds a lot like trickle down economics.....


What an awful attitude.

Not seeking to benefit anyone, just prevent anyone from being fantastically well off, while endorsing those who are merely incredibly well off.


Why is it awful? It would certainly benefit many people if the fantastically wealthy were prevented from engaging in so much wasteful conspicuous consumption, since then they'd at least have to find marginally more productive things to do with their money.


jonnycomputer didn't propose redirecting that wealth or increasing the cost for redistribution (e.g., a consumption tax), just that only "yacht enthusiast cooperatives" would be able to afford them.

It's a crabs-in-a-bucket mentality that says it's OK to be in the ultra-rich club that can wastefully spend $mega for a yacht club membership, but not $mega++ to buy it. And specifically "large yacht" - so conspicuous consumption is OK, but not beyond his personal threshold.

You could say the same thing at every level: In my preferred world, no one would be able to afford a vacation home, only time-shares. Or a private automobile, only ride-shares.


Totally agree, the problem with that kind of thinking is that it ignores the creation of wealth. A world without superyachts would probably be a world where they did not exist i.e. two hundred years ago (guess). Wealth is always distributed unequally due to nature, it is a random and chaotic world. The difference from two hundred years ago is that the accumulated wealth of the world now enables superyachts to exist. From the factory and the machines that make a screw, to the metal panes, the engine etc... All that machinery ends up indirectly benefiting most of the population who are now able to buy other goods which were produced thanks to the accumulated wealth (machinery, technology, resources, knowledge) that made superyachts possible. It is a symbol of conspicuous consumption, but also a symbol of everything that made it possible and in the process raised the standards of living of a whole lot of people.


"Wealth is always distributed unequally due to nature"

No. Wealth is a social fact, not a natural fact. It is the consequence of policy choices.

And most of the stuff you go on about is really just unsubstantiated nonsense. You are actually claiming that the existence of ultra-billionaires as consumers of luxury goods leads to technological innovation.


I'd like to mention SpaceX, Blue Origin, and Tesla.

Regarding the policy choices:

Joe and I have equal income. Joe spends his full income every year. I invest 50% of my income. After 40 years of average stock market returns, I have accumulated 1000 times my annual income as wealth.

What policy choices created this wealth disparity?

Joe and I both retire. How much of my wealth do I need to give to Joe?


> After 40 years of average stock market returns, I have accumulated 1000

Your math is as far off as your reasoning. The long-term average return is 7%, so after 40 years your first years' investments would only have multiplied by only 15x - subsequent years' even less, and that's not adjusting for inflation. If your income exactly kept pace with inflation, you'd end up with 151x your income in original dollars or 43x in inflation-adjusted ones. I'm sure you think you'd get bigger raises than that, and you're probably right, but then again 50% savings (especially after tax) is pretty unsustainable, so you're off by between one and two orders of magnitude.

> What policy choices created this wealth disparity?

That's almost a non sequitur, since even if policy choices didn't create that wealth disparity they could well have created others. But, as it turns out, they even contribute to that one. How is it that those investments of yours return 7% on average, year after year after year. How is it that capital grows at ~2x the rate of wages? The answer has a lot to do with property (especially intellectual property) law, liability law, tax law, subsidies, tariffs, free infrastructure, etc. That's a lot of policy choices favoring your choices over Joe's. Maybe those are even the right policy choices, but to pretend that they didn't have any effect at all is ridiculous.

> How much of my wealth do I need to give to Joe?

None, but that's the (deliberately) wrong question. The real question is how much you should give to the society that sustains both of you, or how much you should never have had at all. There's a lot of room for debate on that, but first we have to get the facts and figures right - something you have so far seemed loth to do. Care to join a real debate?


Sorry, switched calculators partway through and got monthly contributions. Originally had it 100x and edited it to 1000x (blush).

Capital returns more than labor growth rate because of many factors. The most obvious is that capital is a productivity multiplier, so it adds value and should be compensated, and the growth rate is naturally a multiple of the labor growth rate. (Capital investment allowed Model T production to go from 12 man hours to 3 man hours - 4X productivity.)

Time value of money/discount rate: Would you pay more for $1000 today, or for $1000 inflation-adjusted in 30 years? If capital doesn't grow at least as fast as inflation, may as well just spend it on consumption now, leaving no money for those capital investments and that 4X productivity gain.

You'd expect labor growth rate to only match inflation (you make one Model T, you get one Model T). Wage growth has also been depressed for the last several decades by additional workers entering the market (e.g., rise of two-income households) and supply vs demand - 50% more people willing to make Model T's at wage X.

Let's start the debate with real numbers at a lower bound: Assume 0 capital gains (I stick it in a mattress and only get out what I put in), saving 25% of my income for 40 years, I'd still end up w/ 10 years of my average income as wealth.

Joe has 0.

> how much you should give to the society that sustains both of you, or how much you should never have had at all.

Should I give Joe or society any of that money? Is any of it money I should never have had at all? That money was already taxed, so society already took what it considered its fair piece of that pie (and the hidden tax of inflation took its share, too!)

The fact of wealth disparity does not imply unfairness.

How about if instead of sticking it in a mattress, I let Henry Ford use that money to build a factory, and it lets him build 4X the cars so that people who want cars can buy them, should I not get some of that added value as well?

Now, maybe Henry should get a part of that money, for his great ideas (say, 33% of the increase). And maybe we should make sure that the workers get a bigger piece than they would have (if labor costs were 50% of the cost of the car, say they get a 50% wage increase?) and we should drop the price to the customer as well (25% discount?) and assume lots of other costs are fixed per car. 4X cars, 25% discount gives 3X revenue. Labor costs went to .75X. Henry gets 1X. Return on capital is 1.25X. Uncle Sam gets his piece in various ways - sales tax on the cars, income tax on the company, on the workers, on Henry, on the capital gains.

And everybody in the picture is better off - customers, labor, company, capital investor, and unrelated parties that benefit from tax revenue, all because I chose not to "spend" that money.

Now, society has taken its piece of the pie in all the ways above (and society chose to set the size of its piece in advance), and you're coming back and saying society needs another piece, just because I didn't spend my money like Joe?


> If capital doesn't grow at least as fast as inflation, may as well just spend it on consumption now

Nobody said anything about capital returning less than inflation. The question is why should it - no, why does it - return more than labor? You're spinning all over the place trying not to address that.

> That money was already taxed

The principal was taxed, not the appreciation. Or, to put it in even clearer perspective, the labor was taxed but not the capital gains. Why? No matter how you slice it, that's a pretty serious policy decision. Why shouldn't capital gains be taxed at least as much as labor? If capital is so amazingly effective, it would still be advantageous to accumulate it.

> The fact of wealth disparity does not imply unfairness.

It implies fairness even less.


> You're spinning all over the place trying not to address that.

Except where I addressed it above:

"capital is a productivity multiplier, so...the growth rate is naturally a multiple of the labor growth rate...at least as fast as inflation...You'd expect labor growth rate to only match inflation..."

So labor only grows as fast as inflation (unless it's getting a larger piece of the pie) and capital investment is a multiple of that, and returns at least as much as inflation, or it doesn't exist. Sorry if that wasn't clear.

The "already taxed" comment followed a "savings in a mattress" example, so no appreciation, no capital gains. I saved 10 years of income over 40 years. I have wealth. It's already been taxed. Do I owe society another part of my unequal wealth?

> Why shouldn't capital gains be taxed at least as much as labor?

Maybe they should not be taxed as much as labor. Maybe more. Maybe less. It's not immediately obvious that either should be taxed more. Thus the reason for the wealth inequality even with zero capital gains example (capital loss after inflation).

Reasons to tax capital gains less would be to promote investing, because we want to encourage people to save for and invest in the future, and because that is the mechanism to create wealth & jobs for the country.

Reasons to tax capital gains more are mostly that the rich can afford it more (taxing luxury spending rather than necessities). Also if seeking tax revenue, it's like Willie Sutton's career choice of robbing banks - that's where the money is.

What I'd like to know is, what's the best tax strategy to increase the overall standard of living in, say, 100 years?

Unfortunately, economists differ strongly in answering that questions - but most people just say "more! less!" but have no "the ideal is X".

> > The fact of wealth disparity does not imply unfairness.

> It implies fairness even less

I can agree with that - wealth disparity implies neither fairness nor unfairness.


> the growth rate is naturally a multiple of the labor growth rate

There's nothing natural about it. It's the result of policy choices. The whole idea that exactly the system we have is "natural" and that anything else must be "artificial" is infuriatingly dishonest. Having been created by humans, the system we have is very much shaped by ideology and self-interest. It's an evolved system, and evolution does not favor morality.

> I saved 10 years of income over 40 years. I have wealth. It's already been taxed. Do I owe society another part of my unequal wealth?

In that very particular and thoroughly unrealistic case, I would say no. OTOH, that ten years' worth of income is a pittance once inflation has been factored in. It's not creating the kind of massive inequality that the superyacht owners - remember the original topic? - personify.


> There's nothing natural about it. It's the result of policy choices. The whole idea that exactly the system we have is "natural" and that anything else must be "artificial" is infuriatingly dishonest.

It can be infuriatingly dishonest, but usually it's just infuriatingly ignorant.


>> the growth rate is naturally a multiple of the labor growth rate > There's nothing natural about it

How to say it differently? We've previously agreed that capital must have positive returns (discount rate/time value of money). Labor gains do not compound (each year, I can only provide 1 year of labor. Gains from labor not consumed become capital for future investment). Capital gains do compound (next year, I have original capital plus capital gains plus labor gains minus consumption to invest). Compounding naturally leads to higher rates of growth for capital than for labor, because compounding multiplies productivity and inflation gains of labor, and surplus gains from labor also become capital.

Propose a different system, please, preferably one that has a demonstrated history of raising hundreds of millions of people out of poverty.

> In that very particular and thoroughly unrealistic case, I would say no.

Good, now we have a starting point. We have established that some inequality is allowable and natural, and is caused by saving funds rather than spending on current consumption.

Now how about if we allow capital gains that just offset inflation? (Still good, right? no need for more taxes?)

How about capital gains that just match the time-value-of-money/discount rate? (I'd still say Society has claimed its predefined share, but you may differ - fine, introduce capital gains taxes)

How about if I let Henry Ford use the money for 40 years to make his factories more productive (4X), double his workers wages (2X one year, voluntarily), give his customers discounts (model N was $3000, Model T dropped from $850 to $300), largely create the American middle class, and pay lots of taxes to the government as a company, as workers, as the owner of the company, and as capital gains?

Ford paid 100% of initial capital as dividends in the first year (https://www.quora.com/How-did-Henry-Ford-start-Ford-Motor-Co...). That's the kind of return that generates great wealth for investors and society (or obscene wealth, if you prefer).

And if it turns out that left me with, say, 200 billion dollars (Henry Ford net worth adjusted for inflation), what did I do wrong?

How did it become immoral or unfair that Henry Ford paid all the taxes society required (up-front and as capital gains) while making every party better off (customers, workers, even non-parties to the transactions who benefit from the tax revenue or make money off all those worker wages)?

Please identify at what point that turned against the welfare of society? Why would having 100 or 10,000 Henry Fords that provide similar benefits to hundreds of thousands of people (and reap similar $200 billion rewards) be a bad thing, even if they could each individually buy a mega yacht or two?

Is it by crossing some arbitrary wealth threshold?

Or just when spending some of that accumulated wealth - maybe it was when Ford bought a yacht in 1917 https://www.thehenryford.org/collections-and-research/digita... It was at least partly for business purposes, so maybe he got a tax deduction. Can't find length or cost on it, so I can't tell if it crossed that 250'/$275M immoral line. Sorry.


> We've previously agreed that capital must have positive returns

No, we have not. It might have positive returns, but then again it might not. There's certainly no reason for society to help it along.

> Propose a different system, please

You're trying to set up a false dichotomy here, between a system in which capital is absolutely unfettered and privileged relative to labor, vs. a welfare society where capital is not allowed to exist. Yet another dishonest freshman-debate tactic. Here in reality, there's a whole range of tax and other legal choices under which capital can still flourish without turning into oligarchy.

> How did it become immoral or unfair that Henry Ford paid all the taxes society required

Are you unaware of how Henry Ford and others like him were helped along by the government? Where did his raw resources come from, and under what property-rights regime were they mined from the commons? On what publicly subsidized transportation systems did those raw materials reach him? Most egregiously, who was paying the goons who broke union leaders' heads to keep labor costs down? The "taxes society required" were a bargain compared to the value received and externalities allowed. As great as Henry Ford might have been, if he had been taxed appropriately in the first place he wouldn't have been nearly as rich. Even more to the point, his offspring who had never had to earn their massive wealth in a meritocratic free market would not have been able to extend that wealth into a true dynasty.

I have no problem at all with people getting just as rich as they want through fair trade. What I do have a problem with is whole dynasties persisting because of corruption, privilege, and ignored externalities. In a real free market billion-dollar fortunes would still be possible, but they'd be rare and temporary.


> We've previously agreed that capital must have positive returns

You had previously written: "Nobody said anything about capital returning less than inflation."

I should have said, providers of capital must "expect positive returns on average."

> You're trying to set up a false dichotomy here, between a system in which capital is absolutely unfettered and privileged relative to labor, vs. a welfare society where capital is not allowed to exist. Yet another dishonest freshman-debate tactic. Here in reality, there's a whole range of tax and other legal choices under which capital can still flourish without turning into oligarchy.

Absolutely not. That false dichotomy, and particularly capitalism "absolutely unfettered and privileged" is not in my statements. These repeated accusations of dishonesty don't contribute to a real debate.

I see capital's potential to improve returns as limited only by human creativity and the capital (physical and intellectual) available. Labor's productivity is largely determined by the capital applied. This is why modern workers produce so much more than stone age workers - they have the resources, techniques, and equipment needed to produce more than our ancestors could.

I also described capital owners paying taxes (determined by society) and assume obedience to other law, but I can't see a justification for some arbitrary upper limit on wealth because someone thinks "nobody should be able to afford X", whether X is a super yacht or a vacation home, etc. If someone makes a few million people each couple of thousand dollars better off, or a few billion people each a dollar better off, without external harm, let that person have a billion dollars.

> Are you unaware of how Henry Ford and others like him were helped along by the government?

Like when FDR banned Ford from government contracts and paid $169,000 more for 500 vehicles from a competitor because Ford wouldn't go along with the government's anti-competitive "auto code"?

But yes, all of society, including individuals and for-profit companies, benefits from good infrastructure, stable laws, enforcement of property rights, etc. And also yes, Ford did some very bad things, particularly later in his life. Violence is not acceptable.

Evidently the taxes paid at that time were sufficient to pay for those government services. We didn't start persistent ramp-ups in debt until later. I'm not sure you can prove Ford and others at the time weren't taxed appropriately.

Reward good behavior. Punish bad behavior, including bad behavior by companies and billionaires. Enforce laws. Establish taxes. Require payment of taxes. Limit political power of wealth, particularly power to enlist the government in granting, protecting, and extending wealth. Don't let people vote themselves money or buy preferential treatment.

> In a real free market billion-dollar fortunes would still be possible, but they'd be rare

Yes (caveats on the "billion-dollar" line regarding inflation and the general increase of wealth over the last centuries)

I'd also suggest that a huge fortune should only be earned by actually improving wealth for others, not through coercion, rent-seeking via government power, etc. This does play into the next item:

> and temporary.

With respect to dynasties, I agree the transfer of vast wealth across generations is concerning. I'm not sure how much well-being it provides heirs (is "never had to work a day in his life" really a blessing?). I do know that leaving a legacy is often a strong motivator for the wealthy, and I am encouraged by the Giving Pledge of Gates, Buffett, and others, to leave a legacy of good works done, rather than simply massive wealth at time of death.


> These repeated accusations of dishonesty don't contribute to a real debate.

Neither do all the fallacies. I'll stop pointing them out when you stop throwing them in.

> I see capital's potential to improve returns as limited only by human creativity and the capital (physical and intellectual) available. Labor's productivity is largely determined by the capital applied. This is why modern workers produce so much more than stone age workers - they have the resources, techniques, and equipment needed to produce more than our ancestors could.

You see wrong, then. Did it ever occur to you that people might be more productive because of advances in knowledge, which are independent of capital? Because of markets in which people can exchange the fruits of their specialized labor, even if little or no capital was involved? Physical capital certainly can improve productivity in many industries, but there's way too much financial capital out there that's not really tied to the physical kind. There's no reason arbitrage, rent seeking, and flat-out betting should be taxed more favorably than making stuff.

> Like when FDR banned Ford

Yeah, like decades after Ford had already become a tycoon, and had no effect on whether he remained one. Exactly like that, except not at all.


You haven't yet proposed any alternative reality that differs from what you call fallacies. You've nit-picked a few misstatements and cited the benefits of general infrastructure and advocated increased taxes on capital gains, which I haven't argued against.

>> they have the resources, techniques, and equipment needed to produce more than our ancestors could.

> Did it ever occur to you that people might be more productive because of advances in knowledge, which are independent of capital?

This is known as "knowledge capital". See, for example https://mitpress.mit.edu/books/knowledge-capital-nations

For other forms of non-privately owned capital and their effect on productivity and growth, see also https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Public_capital

> There's no reason arbitrage, rent seeking, and flat-out betting should be taxed more favorably than making stuff.

Agreed. Rent-seeking is harmful, speculation is likely harmful, and though arbitrage may be helpful, I doubt it's valuable enough to justify preferential treatment.

I said above "Maybe [capital gains] should not be taxed as much as labor. Maybe more. Maybe less. It's not immediately obvious that either should be taxed more." And I believe that applies even on applications of capital that are beneficial.

I do think the incentive structure of income and capital gains taxes is inferior to consumption taxes, but that's probably a different debate.

> > Like when FDR banned Ford

> Yeah, like decades after Ford had already become a tycoon, and had no effect on whether he remained one. Exactly like that, except not at all.

It was a mildly humorous aside, showing that Ford faced definite government discrimination, regardless of any unspecified government support he received. (I'd be interested if you know of any specific government assistance to Ford during Henry's lifetime that wasn't general infrastructure available to everyone).

I'm quite satisfied with the conclusion we reached a few posts above:

"I have no problem at all with people getting just as rich as they want through fair trade. What I do have a problem with is whole dynasties persisting because of corruption, privilege, and ignored externalities."

And my addendum: "I'd also suggest that a huge fortune should only be earned by actually improving wealth for others, not through coercion, rent-seeking via government power, etc. "

I'll let you have the last word.


Oooh, those companies will build the superyachts of the future!

Or alternatively we create a policy that:

1) no superspacecrafts are allowed. Not one

2) no individual owners are allowed? Oh no what if the Walton's bought their own? Now that would be UNFAIR

3) No fun is allowed aboard the spacecraft, it must only be used for the common good in a strictly utilitarian sense.

4) Joe gets half

Cheers,


For starters, the policy of favorably taxing rent-seeking capital gains rather than actual valuable labor or resource generation. Joe's spending was valuable to the economy. Your rent seeking behavior was not.


Rent-seeking has a specific meaning, and that's not it. https://www.investopedia.com/terms/r/rentseeking.asp

Capital gains represent increase in wealth in the economy, whether taxed preferentially or not.

The example remains the same even with 0 capital gains: After 40 years, at 0 gain, I've saved 20 times my annual income to support my family through retirement. Joe has saved 0.

How much of of my wealth do I need to give him?

Equal opportunity + freedom of choice = unequal outcomes


Wealth IS the accumulation of resources and it is naturally unequally distributed. From Oxford's Dictionary: "1 An abundance of valuable possessions or money." "1.1 The state of being rich; material prosperity."

Only considering raw, natural resources, are they not distributed unequally around the world? Some regions have naturally more forests than iron deposits, for example.

If you dissolved society (perhaps a la hunter-gatherers) would not there still be differences? Perhaps one is faster and would collect more berries than his brother, etc, etc...

You are correct in that there might policies that might lead to increased wealth and others that will reduce it. However how would you propose to "police" superyachts?

Furthermore, what makes you think that consumption and the fulfilling of human needs (including superyachts; billionaires must need them otherwise nobody would build them) is not behind technological innovation? I was going to say Economics might substantiate this claim, but I think it is self-apparent. Otherwise what would be the driver of innovation?


Hunter-gatherers usually share what with each other whether they want to or not; not sharing, especially with kin, is the kind of anti-social activity that will get you kicked out of the group and having to fend for yourself on your own in the wild.

It is a social fact because ownership is a social fact, not a natural fact.


my fault for not being clearer.

in my preferred world, no-one would be so rich they could afford to own and maintain 250+ ft yachts on their own.

however, i am not averse to people just being rich enough to join clubs that can jointly afford such a thing.

i am also averse to individuals being rich enough to have their own full-scale private golf courses; but am not averse to people playing games of golf.

>“But for the guy who owns the Eclipse [Roman Abramovich, a Russian oligarch], that’s not the point. He’s not chartering that thing out. It has a submarine and a missile detection system. See, the power of owning a magnificent yacht like that is in how you’re telling the world that you’re beyond buying and selling. You have more money than there is money to have. You’ve transcended. There are no frontiers left for you on dry land. I mean, true peace is only at sea.”


I just don't get the perspective that says, it's OK for someone to be 10 times as wealthy as I am, but no one should be 100 times as wealthy as I am, but it's OK for me to be 1000 times as wealthy as some other people.


> ... but it's OK for me to be 1000 times as wealthy as some other people.

Can you point me to the place where we write that? Because I certainly don't see it.

I'm speculating, but the world he imagines is one where the wealth of those who are 10x and up richer don't exist because feedback mechanisms (e.g. tax) exist to use that excess wealth to help those who are now 1000x poorer.


https://www.gfmag.com/global-data/economic-data/worlds-riche...

Central African Republic, $712, US average $62,000.

There's a 100x disparity in averages. You don't get shared yacht enthusiast clubs at $62,000/year. High earners distort this a lot, and if you actually save a large percentage of your income in two-earner, high-earning households, you will accumulate a lot of wealth. Should they not be able to save it? Not be able to spend it after they've saved it?

Hence the "crabs in a bucket" mentality. It's OK for me to be way richer than others, but nobody can be way richer than me.


In what sense does the citizen of the Central African Republic share any economic interest with the American? Legal system and political system are entirely separate.

You seem to think that if some Americans are richer than sone Africans, then it’s fine for some Americans to be richer than other Americans. Conversely, if some Americans want to tax some other Americans, why aren’t they willing to surrender 90% of their wealth to the globally impoverished?

It’s not about guilt, and it’s only partly about fairness per se. It’s about what kind of society we want to live in. Unequal wealth is unequal power. Extremely unequal wealth is extremely unequal power. If you don’t believe me, you don’t have to stop with Citizens United. Consider the French Revolution.

Your examples consistently attribute (exaggerated) returns to virtue, never allowing for chance. Did Bill Gates foresee the PC revolution? Maybe, but so did a lot of other people. Was he smarter? To a degree, perhaps. But he was late to the Internet party, much less did he predict it. He couldn’t know how the courts would decide the rights to the WIMP model developed by xerox. He couldn’t know how the AT&T divestiture would work out. He couldn’t know how copyright would be extended in Microsoft’s favor. He couldn’t foresee the toothlessness of antitrust enforcement.

Could the worker taking a job in a Ford factory in 1980 be expected to predict the US trade policy that would foreclose his career? Did the college graduate joining a bank that year have any idea how important finance would become? One was whipsawed, the other saw a windfall. Where does that fit into your ant-and-grasshopper parable?


> In what sense does the citizen of the Central African Republic share any economic interest with the American?

"in my preferred world, no-one would be so rich"

I'm not sure if you're complaining that the "preferred world" includes ultra-poor non-americans or that it includes ultra-rich non-americans, or that the disparity of wealth and power is so huge between americans and africans, or you think that it would somehow be A-OK if only all americans had some particular limited inequality.

Legal and political systems may be largely separate, but economies are increasingly tied together. Globalization, foreign aid, military intervention, interfering in elections, and even separate political systems may become intertwined.

By no means do I think Bill Gates is an angel, or Henry Ford is without fault.

I do think that they are two good examples of people who got incredibly wealthy by capturing a very tiny fraction of the wealth they and their companies created for society.


You're combining numbers that should be used in isolation.

In a hypothetical world where the richest are only 10x richer than the other across the world, your $712 vs $62k data comparison simply doesn't exist.

Ultimately, my beef is with you making a straw man argument.


Within one working life, by investing 10% of income, I can accumulate wealth of over 100 times annual income while someone who spends 100% of income ends up with 0 wealth.

What part of this are you going to make illegal?

Individual choices, even with absolutely equal starting conditions, yield unequal outcomes.


First of all: I'm not taking sides any way or the other. I was simply annoyed by your straw man ways of making an argument. The one where you claim that OP is being fine with having 1000x more money than this guy, but not 100x less than the other. OP never said or implied that in any way or form.

That said: if somebody wanted to implement something like this, nothing needs to be made illegal. It could easily be done with a more aggressive form of progressive taxation on income or on total assets (as exists in some European countries).


No strawman, just an observation that it is far easier to see the excesses of those far more wealthy than us than for us to see our own excesses compared to those far less wealthy. The 10X numbers were just categories, which were inferred based on the various items mentioned (yacht ownership vs yacht club, etc.)


> by investing 10% of income, I can accumulate wealth of over 100 times annual income

That wasn't even true for 50%, let alone 10%. Wrong facts lead to wrong conclusions. Get facts.


It might be that the parent is ok with anyone being 10 times as wealthy as them, and not 100 or 1000 times as wealthy as the least wealthy person.


18-hole golf course for sale: $3,700,000

https://www.loopnet.com/Listing/922-Crazy-Horse-Rd-Hutchinso...

That's a pretty low threshold for "too much wealth".



spurcell has interpreted me accurately.


I'm not sure exactly what GP meant, but I took the spirit of the post as more "I wish there wasn't so much wealth inequality that ONE person could own a superyacht. I have no problem with yachts in and of themselves."

Edit: sibling since posted


So, it's OK for a group of, say 20 people to have enough disposable wealth to pool together to fund the amortized annual expense of buying and maintaining a superyacht.

But it's not OK for one individual to invest that money for 20 years and then buy it.


You're still not getting it. It's not about how many X owners it takes to pool the money together to buy something obscenely expensive and wasteful. It's about the wealth disparity that makes it possible for just a few people to do something like that, especially given that the wealth disparity is based on rent-seeking (and frequently borderline-fraudulent) behaviors.


My preferred world is everybody doing better, even if some can afford things that are "obscenely expensive" (good for them!), because I think absolute well-being is more important than relative well-being.

How about a world where everyone has basic needs met, but a few can afford a large yacht?

Or a world where everyone can afford a yacht club membership, but a few people can afford TWO large yachts?

jonnycomputer wrote "In my preferred world, no single person would be able to afford a large yacht."

I'll say it again: "What an awful attitude." It just proposes taking away from people who have what he thinks is too much, without any benefit stated or implied for anyone else.

Inequality, rent-seeking, and now fraud are all topics that have been added later.


I didn't propose taking anything away. I said that in my preferred possible world no one would be rich enough that they can individually afford such extravagances. I made no claim about this world, not did I outline how that state of affairs would have come about.

Did I touch a nerve or something?


It's focusing on the harm to specific individuals rather than any benefit, thus implying you consider that change a benefit in itself, rather than a necessary harm that enables some other benefit.

It's like Hillary Clinton saying she'd put coal miners out of business - it sounds hateful, regardless of the intent.


I think your parent mostly has a problem with excludability exercised at the extremes, e.g. sprawling private golf course that is empty except for the five days a year the owner visits.

I can sympathize, with goods I'm not that concerned but the thought of (for example) a small group of people locking up the world's limited amount of beachfront, riverfront, and lakefront for themselves seems deeply wrong.


Note that excludability was added as a late edit. The original comment just said something like "In my preferred world, no single person would be able to afford a large yacht, but yacht enthusiast clubs could own one."

I agree on the excludability issue, but I'm not sure where it ends. I'd also add beautiful mountain valleys, etc. Forests? Interesting deserts? Waterfalls? Intellectual techniques? (at least patents have limited time) Cultural stories? cultural clothing? Foods?

I'm not sure how to balance "my family earned money/had power a long time ago, so I can exclude anyone else from this forever" with "I want to work hard and save to provide for my family".

I wonder if there will need to be a change in what can be passed on to future generations (we no longer allow political power to be inherited, does it make sense for economic power?). Can eminent domain play a role in the public re-acquiring assets? Both of those have really scary implications, though...


Lets put it this way. A superyacht to massage the ego of oligarch is around $275 million with about 10% of that yearly for upkeep. How much would it cost to replace the lead pipes in Flint, Michigan? Replacing lead pipes would be about $7500 per home.

So at the cost of one man's ego, we could replace the lead pipes in 36,667 homes in Flint, Michigan.

Which is the greater loss of social welfare: the lost enjoyment of a yacht or clean safe water for tens of thousands of children?


If we didn't let people use money to stroke their ego / indulge themselves, how much of an incentive do people have to produce wealth?

If I couldn't trade money for interesting machines, I would take an easier job and contribute less to the world. I'm not alone in this, but the status quo that lets me keep the majority of my earnings is what encouraged me to better myself and become valuable.

I'm not saying it's a bad idea to replace the pipes in Flint, I'm just saying that we have more good ideas than we have other people's money. Sure, replace the pipes in Flint but don't do it in a way that means replaced pipes are the last pound of flesh we're ever going to get out the wealthy.

Beyond that, it's important to build limits into policy - remember the adage that 8 out of 9 people enjoy gang bangs. Just because something makes more people better off doesn't mean we can discount the costs to those who are made worse off.


1. Making yourself wealthy doesn't necessarily make everyone better off. The social welfare cost of wealth creation is not always the same.

2. If you couldn't trade money for interesting machines, then you'd likely do something else with it. If you could keep less of the money you earn than you do now, you'd probably continue doing exactly what you are doing now. In fact, you might work harder at it because you'd need to afford to buy those things that you really want. There is a point at which taxation is counter-productive, but I guarantee it is far below the level at which people can individually afford their own luxury yachts and private jets, especially when the pleasures these afford might be gotten by joining exclusive clubs that jointly can afford them.

3. Lead poisoning cause social welfare costs that persist across generations. The net utility gained by ensuring tens of thousands can be healthy and productive members of society instead of societal burdens far exceeds those you mention.

4. Suppose some very rich person spends an extra 100k on a golden toilet to replace his old silver toilet. I guarantee you that utility gained by that replacement is greatly exceeded by buying a homeless family a home with it. So, yeah, definitely, lets put the two on equal footing.


>Making yourself wealthy doesn't necessarily make everyone better off. The social welfare cost of wealth creation is not always the same.

No dispute there, but if people are engaging in counterproductive wealth transfers, there's a case for intervention and we don't need to amend the tax code for that.

>If you couldn't trade money for interesting machines, then you'd likely do something else with it.

Not really, I'm not super interested in luxury / the simple pleasures in life are often enough for me. I would work to make sure I could afford hamburgers, but I'm not the sort of person who would put in additional effort to eat steak. If I couldn't play with machines, I would play with my mind and recreational drugs.

Taxation isn't the only thing that discourages work - regulations on what we can buy and how we can use it discourage as much. If supersonic flight were more legal, I can promise you that I'd buy a jet, but since that's not an option, I'm saving the money for early retirement.

If we're trying to design a policy that encourages people to do productive things, we can have a rock talk. However, if we're simply trying to eliminate wealth gradients in a way that makes materially poor people better off, understand that's a one time event. And there's usually a reason poor people are poor, if they squander their one-time redistribution money, you're really going to wish people were out there working and producing surplus value for you to redistribute to those who can't take care of themselves.

3. Again, I don't dispute the ROI of this investment. My point is that we have more investment opportunities than we have money. Malaria nets, childhood nutrition, primary schooling for girls, etc - there are great places for us to park money. How would you prioritize?

4. Why stop at precious metal toilet seats and houses? Why not redistribute everything owned by above-median wealth holders to below-median wealth holders and erase any gradient of material well-being?

Again, my concern is redistributionists tend to offer no limits on what they want to distribute. This is the same line of attack that incels use to advocate for redistribution of sexual access.


A world in which some people retire early after making a lot of money (there is an enthusiast community advocating this) doesn't actually seem all that bad? There will always be younger people willing to step into those jobs and do the work so they can retire early too.

If they love the work, they'll be willing to do it for a reasonable salary, rather than to make mega-millions. But if they don't, why should we throw money at them to prevent them from retiring?

(Edited.)


What would you do when AI gives you the opportunity to do whatever you want without scrabbling for the dollar? When the incentive to produce wealth is gone, would you work years of your life to purchase things to impress people who have no care for you?


I'd explore the world on the machines I own and will eventually own.


The cross-posting and multiple accounts strategy is rampant on IG. I have two major hobbies (very unrelated), and very much the same there.

It's kind of annoying, because in the end, there's no stylistic difference. So my IG feed gets bombarded with content from the same handful of people. Gets old real quick.


I only have friends on my account, but I did follow what was clearly a "corporate" or entrepreneurial account once, and I simply can't imagine why anyone does it. It's not even virtue signalling, because no one else sees my feed, so the only benefit is that I gave this specific advertiser the unhampered use of my eyeballs. They may not be selling a specific company, but they're definitely advertisers. No thanks.

I could never see why people thought IG or Twitter were so bad until that day, and I'm almost certain it's because they've followed a few corporate accounts and now all their friends are drowned out in the noise.


>The cross-posting and multiple accounts strategy is rampant on IG

It's the same on YT.


I have seen this on YT, but it's normally "CodysLab" and CodysBLab" or "VSauce" and "VSauce2" where it's very clear that the original channel and spinoff are related. Is this what you're talking about?


Mostly influencers going on one another's channels and "cross-posting" their wares and people starting side businesses off of their initial channel.


I have to think that what basically amounts to spam will bring about a quality vs quantity tipping point for the platform and ultimately cause people to abandon it if not mitigated.


I've been pretty aggressively unfollowing accounts in Instagram. I kind-of wish they'd create a "list" feature, but I'm OK with just cutting it down to my core group of friends. When I want to see the stuff of the influencers, other things I only need in small doses, I go to the search and look at hashtags or "videos I might like".

Ideally, to me, my social network would be a small group of people I know and love.


So this guy has 800k followers, but most pictures only get 5k likes? I feel like I know where he got most of his following. I also don't get who he's trying to influence. Which millionaire is going to decide to buy a specific yacht because they saw an Instagram picture of it ?


So I don't know a thing about yachts, but I know a thing or two about really expensive cars. And the interesting thing is that 90% of buyers for cars $200k+ don't even try them out before buying. There are plenty of buyers who literally phone the dealership(or their assistant does) and they just make a phone order, wire the money, and they maybe come over to pick up the car unless it's delivered to them directly. The guess in the industry is that those people literally see an article or an ad for a new Lambo(or whatever) and they just buy one on an impulse. If they don't like it they'll just buy something else, doesn't matter. I can only imagine that it's somewhat similar with Yachts - you see something cool on instagram, you want it.


And the interesting thing is that 90% of buyers for cars $200k+ don't even try them out before buying.

My favourite car buying statistic is the difference between Bentley and Bugatti owners;

On average people who buy a Bentley already own 8 cars.

On average people who buy a Bugatti already own 84 cars.

Some cars just aren't bought to be driven around. They're works of art and collector's toys; they're not cars as any normal person would consider them.

(https://www.businessinsider.com/this-is-the-shocking-differe...)


Yikes. As that article points out its an even more extreme difference (and here I was wondering if you were exaggerating):

> Bugatti customer has about 84 cars, 3 jets and one yacht


Really shows the relative costs between extremely high end cars and extremely high end jets/yachts.


Jay Leno is well known in the car collecting hobby. He has some old car that has oil lamps for headlights iirc. I bet some of those go for as much as a jet. It's hard to get your head around but don't forget there are plenty of places where clean water on demand from a faucet is hard to get your head around too. It's all relative to your situation.


There are "high end cars" that cost as much as 2-3 average yachts -- if we get into antique collection cars.

A 1959 Ferrari for example was sold for $18 million.


But, would the sort of person who owns a 1959 Ferrari want an "average yacht" ? I don't think so.

Yacht is a purpose classification, there are little boats in my local habour that a couple of old people drive out into the open water every weekend in the summer, and then there's something like Britannia, the ex-Royal Yacht that is a permanent floating museum in Edingburgh. Both are yachts because they are (or in Britannia's case were) for the pleasure use of the owners rather than being military, transport or for any commercial purpose.

So it's not difficult _at all_ to spend $100M on a yacht, whereas it's pretty tricky to do that for a car.

Worse, unlike cars as yachts grow more expensive a staff becomes at first a good idea and then essential - even if you barely use it you may be spending $1M plus per year on staff.


I guess you would start buying or founding a car company if you want to 'invest' $100M in that areas?

Or maybe first customer for a new car brand, e.g. Benny Caiola

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PfjcgcOfgww


$18 mill is entry level for a super yacht


But not for an average yacht.


I can't find the source, but I read somewhere that the average length of ownership of yachts over 60ft is only 9 months. Or something, maybe it's 100ft & 18 months. But astonishingly short.

Which points to these not being well-considered deeply researched purchases. So I can see instagram playing a pretty big role.


I work for a client that designs and builds these 100MM+ yachts. They just can't build them fast enough to keep up with demand. Some of their clients buy a yacht, and sell it within a year for a hefty profit, then buy a new one, repeat. There is quite a business in selling 'used' yachts simply because it takes 2-4 years to build a new one.


Indeed. Some people have a talent for taking a risk on the front end of buying something they know they can flip for a profit, and that something may even be just a place in line. Years ago I helped start a corporate jet manufacturer (that went bankrupt after investment dried up after 9/11). One of our first deposit holders (a "mere" $10K as I recall) flipped his early position in line after about 18 months for a cool million dollars. He tied up for a relatively short time a relatively trivial amount of money for something someone else did most of the work in developing and promoting. His bet was our effort would be successful enough to simply sell his early spot in line. I recall thinking at the time that was why he was rich and I wasn't - I could have bet the same small amount and made the same money, and I had the insider knowledge to guess we'd do a good job early on. Yet I didn't have the idea to do that.


I've heard of this type of thing happening in Boston Real Estate in hot markets, where someone gets in early on the new condo going in the Seaport, and by the time it's done, they flip it a few months later for a profit. Seems pretty risky, but some have the stomach for it.


Nonono, the trick is to sell it before completion so it’s almost entirely off-the-books.


see also, Toronto condo market.


Do you have any estimate of how many buyers actually want to sail around / host parties, and for how many it's some kind of tax evasion / money laundering scheme?

I don't know any details but always wonder about this... an easy-to-move super-expensive asset, physically in Cannes but legally in the Bahamas... there must be many schemes.


That kind of information is not something I'm privy to, but I'd say it's about 50/50. It's definitely a laundering scheme for many. They deal with brokers obviously, and those just want a cut, never mind where it came from. But they deliver to a lot of Russian oligarchs. I bet there are tons of schemes.


I’ve heard of similar VAT avoidance schemes where the vehicle/vessel gets returned or « returned » back to the tax-free base and another lease gets drawn up before VAT would be owed.


It was my understanding that new yachts depreciate ~20% in the first year after purchase.


Well, if it's anything like exotic cars, then I guess it works like this: if you walk into a Lamborghini dealership right now and buy an Aventador off their stock, then yes, that car will lose 20-30% of its value the second you put the keys in the ignition. That's just how it is.

But....if you keep buying loads of cars from Lamborghini, eventually you will end up on a list of people who get to put a deposit for brand new cars that haven't even been announced yet. And if you get an opportunity to do that, then you do that. Because then you get to buy cars like the Centenario, like the Reventon, like the Veneno - and you can be 100% certain that those will go only up in price regardless of what their sticker price is.


All I know is that the buyers that flip make quite a bit more than 20%. Some people just don't want to wait.


I'm assuming what the article says about operating costs is part of it. If you search around, you can find fully operational small cruise ships for a few million. The hulls and engines etc. last enough that the cost of these ships, whether outfitted for use as luxury yachts or cruise ships is dominated massively by operating cost.

So you can dream of being able to drop X million to own a dream of being on a yacht all the time. Then you realize you're not on it all the time, because you have a life, and whether you're on it or not you're dropping close to X million a year to keep the crew on hand and keep the yacht ready, and if you want to offset that, you're now running a yacht charter business.


That's why there is a saying: "Don't own anything that flies, floats, or fuks."


That's for the poor. Billionaires don't care about the "rest of the year" maintenance costs.


It's OK, you can swear here. Although I always found "fornicates" more humorous.


I just looked it up, it was a quote on the HBO show, Ballers. (Not sure if they originated it, though, but that's where I saw it.)


Anyone know the origin of this, BTW? I can't tell whether this economist obit. is saying that Felix Dennis invented it:

https://www.economist.com/obituary/2014/07/03/felix-dennis


It's an actual quote from a movie or something. I've heard it before.... so I think the context of the swear is in align with the quote.


Meh, if you have $100b, is your life really going to change if you lose half of it or more?

No.


This gave me a good chuckle!


Many yachts that are actually used by the less wealthy are set up as their own legal corporation and labeled as a charter business for tax and liability purposes.


Do they do that to lower cost of having a yacht or does charter business have some special tax exemption?


I believe it's usually just a tax play. If it's a personal possession, 100% of the maintenance costs are after-tax $$. If they actively rent it out (even for only a portion of the year), then only their personal use of the yacht (maintenance and costs during that time pro-rated etc) would be paid for in after-tax $$. The rest of the costs would be business costs for the charter business. I suspect the accountants would set it up so that the charter business actually invoiced them for their own personal use of the yacht to keep that separation clear.

I suppose it's possible to claim yacht expenses as business expenses for things like entertaining clients, etc, and in some cases that might be quite legitimate. But I don't think people get away with nearly as much tax avoidance shenanigans as most people think - The tax man isn't that stupid and trying to claim that sort of use for luxury products is just asking for an audit.

It might be different for super-yachts with really high yearly costs, but for the under 100 ft category of pleasure yachts that cost 10-30k per year upkeep I don't think the net benefit would be worth the complexity. At least for those _trying_ to play honestly. I'm pretty sure every lawyer/dentist/doctor etc that owns one asks their accountant the same type of question, but I don't believe most bother setting it up like that.

source: I own a pleasure craft/yacht big enough to charter regularly to offset the ownership costs, but don't do it on the advice of my accountant.


I believe if you own a "business" that constantly loses money year-after-year, the IRS can classify it as a hobby and not tax-deductible. Though maybe that's why the yacht ownership turn-over is high; they sell off their "unprofitable business" as to not incure the tax liability of a hobby.


Nope, someone fought that issue since there is no law that says a business must be profitable and won.

IIRC it was drag racers or something similar.


>I don't think people get away with nearly as much tax avoidance shenanigans as most people think - The tax man isn't that stupid and trying to claim that sort of use for luxury products is just asking for an audit.

It all depends on how tangled a web you weave.

For example, this case only came to light due to a leak via Paradise Papers: https://www.businessinsider.com/how-lewis-hamilton-avoided-p...


One does not need complicated tax shenanigans to avoid a noticeable bottom line difference in what one pays to the IRS for owning a pleasure craft. Nobody is measuring how much fuel is used for a charter versus how much was used for the owner's fishing vacation.

I have lived in Florida around boats all of my life. There are quite a few yachts 55' and longer that have a legal entity registered on Sunbiz (http://search.sunbiz.org/Inquiry/CorporationSearch/ByName) and a sign that says they are available for charter. This sign never comes out of storage.


Probably depends on what degree your country’s laws are caught up and how much tax you’d be avoiding.

IE: the IRS is probably into such schemes and taxes are generally lower.

Not so in a lot of EU countries.

I doubt yachts are given much thought by the German or Austrian tax authorities.


They do that for the same reason that a carpenter I used to know had a Corvette as his company car. Deductible tax expense.


I guess it becomes an arms race. Hard to be proud of your 100ft yacht when everyone else in Monaco harbour has long ago traded up?


Old saying about boats is the two best days of ownership are the day you buy it and the day you sell it.


Similar things have been said about aircraft and marriage.

Come to think of it I recall there being a (gender neutral!) quote that provides sound financial advice regarding all three...


To some people the day you sell it is the better one because then they can buy an ever bigger one.


It's sexist to say but I bet a lot get bought to impress a wife or gf then the season ends and it goes up for sale.


I would have scoffed at this once upon a time, but I've seen a guy buy a brand new Porsche on a drunken impress-the girlfriend spree that she drove for a few months before "trading up" herself.


> And the interesting thing is that 90% of buyers for cars $200k+ don't even try them out before buying.

>The guess in the industry is that those people literally see an article or an ad for a new Lambo(or whatever) and they just buy one on an impulse.

The same thing happens on the bottom of the price spectrum too. When cars like the Focus RS and Civic Type R came out, people were gladly putting down $10k+ over MSRP (which was already around $35k) without ever leaving the lot, all for a souped up economy car. I don't think it has anything to do with having so much money that someone doesn't care, it's the auto enthusiast mindset of knowing exactly what you want.


I would bet that most buyers of the Tesla Model 3 have never driven one before taking delivery.


The Model 3 sits alone in its own market segment at the moment. Buyers know exactly what they want because there's literally nothing else to want without spending significantly more. The i3 is a joke, the Model S and Model X are significantly more expensive (even with the Model 3's currently high pricing) and the rest of the "competitors" are hybrids.


Well, I think this hegemony is about to end, with several different cars approaching quickly. For example - the new Kia E-Niro - just as much range as the model 3, arguably more space, and you can order one right now for just £32,999 - and you can't get a Model 3 here for that price yet.


I don't see many people cross shopping Tesla and Kia, unless Tesla makes an extremely barebones Model 3 that is more economy car-like than the vehicles they've previously made. The Model S may not have the interior of an S Class, but Tesla is seen as a tech company, innovator and market leader, and that's a huge part of their allure. Tesla has cachet that Kia will never have, no matter what they do to ditch their bargain bin past. The Stinger and K900 are great cars, but they haven't attracted people who would have otherwise bought a 540i or A7, they're getting people from downstream to stretch their budgets upwards. I'm all for more electric cars, but I don't see Kia taking on Tesla. I think when "premium" brands like Volvo, Infiniti and Acura start offering them it'll really hit Tesla where it hurts. Both Volvo and Infiniti have teased an electric CUV, but that's still years away. Volvo claimed it'll be ready in 2019 in press releases, but nothing on their website indicates that it's ready for purchase.


I bought my WRX STI without worrying about bothering to drive it.

I already had a WRX I was trading on it, but still. It was kind of neat buying it like that.


I remember briefly flirting with the idea of buying a new WRX back in 2000 or so. Went to a few dealerships and asked to take a test drive, and none of them would even let me. They said "If I let you test drive this car, it would end up with a non-zero mileage, and I have buyers lined up for blocks demanding zero on the odometer."

Well, okay...


Yeah, it's kind of goofy.

In my experience of owners, including myself, people are super precious about their WRXs and they are pampered and fawned over beyond all reason. Mine was festooned with aftermarket parts, stickers, lighting, sound upgrade and DVD, noisy muffler etc.

OTOH, my STI is more of a 'no fucks' style tool, no mods, not even a sticker. Great car, probably way too much car for me if I'm honest, but safe and predictable. Just fast. Was nice to get one straight off the truck, 8 miles on the ODO.

And if anyone doubts the mettle on one of these, take a look at the following showing a not heavily modified standard car: https://youtu.be/mejMde6z1Nw?t=861 [Top 20 Finish in a WRC Event - Almost Unheard Of!!]


Those sort of low volume versions of cars are not low end the stepped on versions the RS (audi/ford) , Black, abarth's and so on.


Yes? That's the "why" of the cost, not the "why" of people willing to buy sight unseen. The latter is explained by enthusiasts when it comes to lower end cars, as I mentioned. There are plenty of higher end cars that are even more exclusive than the Type R and RS and sold very poorly, such as the 2017+ GT-R Nismo and the new NSX.


I guess the difference is whether you can order a new one every week without breaking a sweat


The difference between what? An enthusiast and a rich person looking to show off?


It makes sense actually, the pictures pretty much tell the story. A yacht buyer isn't going to go take one for a test drive, that's what the captain does. Nor is the buyer going to test out the galley because that is what the crew does. A yacht buyer is interested in aesthetics and luxury and pictures convey that fine.


I played hockey with a rich guy who had a collection of about 30 super cars. The dealer he worked with knew the cars he was looking for. If the dealer saw something come up, he'd contact him and say "Hey I think I can get X car for $Y. Want me to pull the trigger?". The other way was when the local Ferrari dealership was getting a new, hard to get model, they'd contact him since he was a preferred buyer and he'd get first right of refusal basically. That's how he got his LaFerrari. You can't just walk off the street and buy some cars.


Also, you're going to assume a $200k+ car is good. It's not like taking a risk on a $10k car on a lot where you know there's going to be a compromise.. at least one of the engine, steering, bodywork, or economy are going to be bad. With a $200k car, you sorta know what you're buying.


>So this guy has 800k followers, but most pictures only get 5k likes?

Only a tiny minority of followers is active in most mediums. HN can kill a website with 100K views in a couple of hours, but you just see like 200-300 people commenting on a given post.

>I also don't get who he's trying to influence. Which millionaire is going to decide to buy a specific yacht because they saw an Instagram picture of it ?

You'd be surprised.

That's exactly how a large part of that world thinks and buys ultra-expensive stuff. They don't do "comparison reviews" and tests, or consider the pros and cons. That's for us, middle class guys, with our paychecks.

"That other rich guy/sheik has one of those" is more of an incentive than any actual need.

And that's exactly the yacht companies pay such influencers too. Because they know they reach their target market.


Having lots of money doesn’t make you wise.

When I worked retail in college I dealt with impulsive millionaires all of the time. They would spend up to $50k without blinking on computers and crap. I sold a neurosurgeon $75k worth of laptops, games, and accessories so his kids, nephews and nieces could amuse themselves on a ski road trip. My dads neighbor (Wall St type who plays gentleman farmer) bought a kenworth and custom trailer so he could haul 3 cars to a salt flat with his buddies once a year. The impulsive buys get bigger with bank account.

If you’re some princling, pictures of a gulfstream or yacht are the equivalent of a lady in a bikini leaning over a sports car in a magazine.


What's the best way to get in touch with these people and do some freelance/software consulting for them?


Come as an accessory with a yacht?


Advertise they need houses and cars that say "Welcome Mr. (Billionaire)" as they enter.

Use terms like "machine learning" and "AI", maybe "blockchain" if you really need to seal the deal.

"Who's more impressed? Your friends when they enter just another mansion, or your friends when they enter the only mansion that addresses its owner by name?"


That's what I was thinking...


No wonder health care is expensive in the US when a neurosurgeon can blow $75k on a whim.


There better be a big payday if I’m spending all my 20s in school and then 100 weeks in residency a few years and then finally in my 30s I start making money, but I still have to deal with the general public, and they’re sick.


Residents get paid, doctors don't spend their 20's as un-paid employees of the medical system.


You should talk to more teachers.


Unless you don't have other options or really, really love teaching, I wouldn't recommend becoming a teacher unless the pay was greatly increased. Too much liability and annoyance of dealing with other parents.


Or if you want a M-F, 7a-3p job with great vacation.

Though you might need to grade homework/projects on your time off, as well as develop lesson plans.

(I went to a Super Bowl party, and there were teachers grading worksheets in the corner.)


Lots of people work hard and work long hours all their life; where's their big payday?


They may not have a choice, people who are intelligent enough and/or supported enough to become doctors presumably have other high paying options. High pay is determined by supply and demand, not how hard you work.


You should see what kind of money the insurance execs blow on toys.


I don’t see insurance company executives compensated any more than other large company executives. If anything, insurance companies are more conservative.


This is peculiar US thing where anything said against doctor is taken as personal slight. All healthcare issues have been caused by insurance, government, bureaucracy or anyone except doctors.


"insurance companies are more conservative."

What about AIG?


Health care insurance CEOs are paid well, and better than others in that system. [0]

Insurance companies in general are generous with their CEOs. Total compensation for CEO of Allstate was $42 million in 2010 (last time I checked them).

[0] https://www.modernhealthcare.com/article/20150425/MAGAZINE/3...


AIG-FP paid Joseph Cassano ("Patient Zero of the global economic meltdown.") $315 million and he wasn't even CEO:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Cassano


That article isn't about health insurance companies.


Right, it's about the health care industry, which includes insurance companies and other segments of the industry. It shows that health insurance CEOs are paid better than CEOs from other segments of the industry. It is in response to the assertion that insurance execs are compensated more conservatively than execs from other large companies, specifically compared to segments of the same industry.


Can confirm. I worked in high end audio visual sales when I was younger (Calgary) and there were plenty of oil-money rich people who would come in and drop $50-100k and not even look at you as they dropped their black Amex on the counter.


Well if I was a car nut and rich id be interested in doing speed runs on the flats.


What does “playing gentle farmer” mean? I think I have a friend like this who downplays his richness.


A rich person who has a farm basically as a hobby, hence "playing". See https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gentleman%27s_farm


I got the impression that it's mostly about influencing people who charter a yacht for a party.


Which millionaire is going to decide to buy a specific yacht because they saw an Instagram picture of it?

Depends how many times, I guess. If you keep seeing something you like the look of, you're going to at least be curious. I've certainly bought sneakers and other fashion items solely from seeing pictures of them and as a %age of my disposable income that probably works out similarly to someone rich buying a yacht.


You’re looking at this wrong. 5k with a 5% engagement rate is 100k legit followers who are all interested in yachts. Doesn’t matter how many fake followers you have if you have sufficient relevant engaged ones.


I’ve always wondered how some people manage to get their engagement rates so high. Like 20-25% of followers liking their posts, some with 50-60k followers. Or sometimes it’s a similar percentage but a normal persons account with 300-1000 followers. I guess some people are just ultra-popular, and IG is the equivalent of the high school lunchroom.

FWIW I had 300 followers or so but rarely managed to even get 10% of likes. Usually like 3% ha-ha.


>Which millionaire is going to decide to buy a specific yacht because they saw an Instagram picture of it ?

It's not about "that" yacht or boat. It's about "a" yacht or boat. It's about convincing the wealthiest people that that boating is a better way to spend their fun money than another vacation house or restoring antique cars.


I agree about where he got most of his following. From the embedded instagram posts, he has 800.1k followers, which seems... rather close to a round number.



My fiance is in the IG influencers game. And that few likes to that many followers definitely smells rotten.


Why, how many would you expect?

It's not like people are on their yacht liking IG pictures all day - realistically his account is probably paid out of he gets a couple of people to buy a superyacht.

The story's images have 5k, 10k, 10k likes. His IG has a range (small sample) from <1k to 32k, commonly 3-15k. Most of the low likes are, it seems, not yacht pictures.


I feel like his most valuable customers don't want to leave a 'like' trail all over instagram, and they're most likely to be lurkers who buy things rather than lookers-on who can only afford the 'like'.


Rotten? That's par for the course for most accounts -- the active followers are a small percentage of the overall followers.

(Except if we're talking about a pretty girl or something, where the followers are also mild-remote-stalker types).


Most of the brands that approach my fiance expect 5% engagement (likes) and 1% comments for a paid campaign. She has 20k followers and gets 700 or 800 likes on pictures of our dogs, more when she shares a recipe or travel post. Sponsored stuff with a brand tie in is always higher than that.


I wonder how much he makes, and how long he thinks this gig will last. He wants to own a Yacht, but unless he's making a ton, I'm not sure how that would be possible. Also, I'm not sure it's fair to say "lonely life", the article mentioned that he has a family. If anything, he just seems like a workaholic.


I think it's very fair to say he lives a lonely life. He doesn't seem to have much if any time away from the boats. I've sailed with many men that were so loney, a good number of them had been married and divorced 4 or 5 times. Others that had kids, rarely got to see them. That's one of the reasons why I quit being a Merchant Mariner.


There's a step beyond owning a yacht and an airliner sized private plane - having your own airport for your own private planes. The Google founders have that. They lease 1000 acres of Moffett Field.

Brin was rumored to be building a giant dirigible at Moffett, but not much has been heard since 2017.


I’m always on the clock, always tracking my time on these expensive wristwatches with the big clock faces. And so, I’m sure to never set foot on dry land when I’m working.”

This ending struck me as not how someone would actually speak in real life. Too poetic to be an actual quote.


Interesting hustle. I hope this article doesn't spoil his gig with his clients.


I hope it does. Don't get me wrong, I don't wish the guy ill. I hope he expects that and was ready to get out anyway. But I also don't care much for the "Instagram influencer" thing. It's a lot like political astroturf, appealing to people's preference for real-person authenticity when there's really none involved. The harder it becomes for people to make money at it, the better off we'll all be.


Because it's better to have professional models in ads rather than self-educated hobbyists?

It could be improved by journalistic standards of disclosure - but instagram/facebook already requires that, though I don't know that it is widely followed/enforced: https://www.facebook.com/policies/brandedcontent


I think you're using "professional" in a manner inconsistent with its actual meaning. Modeling is not generally considered one of the "professions" requiring licenses and adherence to standards, so the operative definition clearly has to do with a source of livelihood rather than a pastime. In that context, your dichotomy leaves out one of the most relevant groups - self educated professionals. Like me, albeit in a different field.

"Self educated" is really orthogonal to professional vs. hobbyist, and if somebody is a professional in that sense then damn right I think they should be honest about it. Being a professional is fine, being a hobbyist is fine, but neither should try to pass as the other. That's deceptive, in the astroturf-like way I already mentioned.


"Professional model" is a common phrase that has nothing to do with licensing, just that someone is paid to appear in a photo.

Old: Manufacturers create advertising, including professional models. Journalists write reviews, but aren't generally in photographs of the items. Manufacturers try to build positive relations (influence) with journalists in various ways.

Social media influencers: Self-selected individuals produce content about products, often including themselves as the "models" in the product photos, hoping to build a following so they can get paid by sellers for publicizing products.

It's all marketing, and almost all of it is fake, and it requires finding voices you trust and agree with.


> just that someone is paid to appear in a photo.

In other words, the difference between a livelihood and a pastime. Like I (and the dictionary) said. A "professional model" is someone who makes their living at it, and I challenge you to find an instance of a non-idiot using it to mean someone who only got paid a modest amount one time.

> it requires finding voices you trust and agree with.

Ideally, it also means those voices are trustworthy. Among other things, that means being honest about whether they're professionals or amateurs. That precludes "influencers" pretending to have genuine passion about something when in fact they're being paid to fake that passion. Encouraging and rewarding deceptive behavior is not a good thing, even in marketing.


> in fact they're being paid to fake that passion

So it's better to have professional models in ads being paid to fake that passion rather than self-educated hobbyists?

The difference isn't "paid vs not paid", it's "model" vs "someone who consistently produces content about a topic". They're both getting paid, but theyachtguy at least started out with some passion for the topic, and you have a chance to evaluate how well theyachtguy's opinions match yours.


> So it's better to have professional models in ads being paid to fake that passion rather than self-educated hobbyists?

If they're faking it then yes. You keep conflating "self-educated" with "hobbyist" and it's starting to seem a bit disingenuous. A self-educated person who is making a substantial portion of their income from promoting products is a professional. They shouldn't portray themselves otherwise, and if they do they're being dishonest. That's not a problem with professional models or actors who are clearly performing a role.

Since disclosure of interest is strictly relevant to the conversation, do you by any chance have a horse in this race? I don't. I barely even use Instagram, and my only experience with modeling was one charity fashion show when I was a child. I have never been paid to promote anything, nor do I wish to enter that line of work. Can you say the same?


You keep reading what you want to see in my statements.

You said you'd like theyachtguy to lose business. I contrasted his role starting out as a self-educated hobbyist with a paid model. He has migrated to a full-time job, because he produces content people like. I think that is still more useful than a paid model appearing in an ad (certainly not less useful).

I think we can agree that the problem isn't whether someone is self-educated or not, or what percentage of their income they derive from the activity, the problem is if they are claiming as true opinions positions that are really just paid positions. As we agreed above, disclosure is important.

As for me, I created an amazon affiliate account a dozen years ago but I don't think I ever got anything from it, not sure I have an instagram account, have maybe a couple of dozen social media posts in my life, and you're one up on me in modeling.


I mean if you're going to hustle someone, better to hustle the rich.


He is not its marketing to a niche audience a couple of years ago I worked on one of the big yacht broker sites sorting out their tech / SEO.


> better to hustle the rich.

How so?


They've got more money.


I still don't understand how that makes it better.


If you hustle someone who's poor, maybe they won't be able to make rent on their primary residence next month.

If you hustle someone who's rich, they're probably still going to be rich next month.


"Maybe" and "probably" are a lot of assumptions. Hustling is a shitty activity that isn't made better by the status of the victim.


Putting people in prison is a shitty thing too, but it's still better to do it to people who are actually a menace to society. Something doesn't have to be good in an absolute sense to be better (than an alternative) in a regular one. Even if we're just dealing with statistical probabilities, hustling the rich seems less egregious than hustling the poor. Would you have reacted so strongly if the same sentiment had been expressed as "preying on the poor is especially bad"?


> Would you have reacted so strongly if the same sentiment had been expressed as "preying on the poor is especially bad"?

Nope. Preying on anyone is bad. A rich person could lose everything in a hustle the same as a poor person. It's only the extent of the hustle that makes it better or worse. E.g., hustling someone for a fraction of their assets is better than taking all of their assets. The value of the assets is not relevant.


Do you seriously think taking half of a poor person's assets is the same as taking half of a rich person's? I suggest a little reading on the concept of marginal utility before making more simplistic moral statements.


> Hustling is a shitty activity that isn't made better by the status of the victim.

But it is made worse by the status of the victims.

Also, I'd say that victim-status is the variable that's responsible for most (but certainly not all) of the "shittiness" of the activity.


It only made worse by the extent of the hustle. E.g., hustling someone for a fraction of their assets is better than taking all of their assets.


> It only made worse by the extent of the hustle. E.g., hustling someone for a fraction of their assets is better than taking all of their assets.

No.

It's pretty clear that it's worse to hustle a poor person out of 85% of their assets, and have them wind up homeless under a bridge, than it is to hustle a rich person out of 85% of their assets, and have them wind up living a comfortable upper-middle-class life. Both these scenarios involve the same "fraction of [personal] assets," which shows that some simple numerical comparison doesn't properly capture the essence of what we're talking about.


They can afford it


Even if the hustler takes everything?


There's no such thing as bad publicity. This guy comes across as knowledgeable, honest and down-to-earth. Great salesman traits. Only thing better would be knowledgeable, honest, down-to-earth and famous.


There's probably not much audience overlap between "Mel Magazine" and people who select yachts by browsing IG?


Sounds like he could have his pick of VP of social media jobs at ad agencies.


Tangentially related but wow, these yachts are a pure expression of the excesses of fossil fuel capitalism. These personal boats are extremely inefficient, far more luxurious than 99.9% of human's domiciles, and they are only utilized some small fraction of the year by their ultra-wealthy owners. It's truly a shame that so much money is poured into such utterly wasteful possessions, rather than scientific research, philanthropy, or mitigating climate change.


> It's truly a shame that so much money is poured into such utterly wasteful possessions

When the yachts are idle, which is the majority of the time, they are typically plugged into shore power and are thus just consuming electricity from the grid. The electrical systems of these things are typically far more efficient than your home because they must generate their own electricity when at sea.

As for the wasting of money, you'll note that most of the cost of building a yacht is labor because they are mostly one-off builds and can't take advantage of automation. The article mentions that they cost 10% of the purchase price per month in upkeep. The vast majority of those costs are labor.

These things are among the most efficient devices for transferring wealth from the rich to the middle class. I wouldn't discourage their use at all.


This all is true.

I also wonder how much of the yacht business is really about money laundering or tax-evasion. Like the art collecting world. If your company buys the boat in one country, reflags it to Panama, sells it in Monaco the next tax year... I don't know any details but I'm sure there's substantial room here to massage what numbers you present to various tax collectors.


Given how short the ownership tends to last (~9 months according to an anecdote in this thread), I suspect moving or protecting money is probably part of it somewhere. I also imagine a lot of it really is just wealthy people spending for fun rather than profit.


Heh, my anecdote is famous already :)

Indeed, it's pretty hard to tell. Both seem entirely plausible and I just have no way to guess how such buyers think.


Staff on these boats work on them year round, if they are being used or not.


> It's truly a shame that so much money is poured into such utterly wasteful possessions, rather than scientific research, philanthropy, or mitigating climate change

Realistically speaking, are these areas lacking money? Will throwing more money at the problem solve it, or is it another one of those "nine women can't make a baby in one month" problems?

Really, I find it hard to care about what other people do with their own time, effort or money. I'm not trying to stan billionaires, but really, who cares that they bought a yacht?


> philanthropy, or mitigating climate change

These could consume the wealth of several billionaires, make a difference to hundreds of thousands of individuals, and still not make much of a visible dent in the scope of the problems.


Upon what are you basing this assertion? Wealth disparity is huge, and increasing over time. Specifically, the richest 1% of Americans own about 40% of all wealth, whereas the bottom 90% of Americans only own ~20%. This implies that "consum[ing] the wealth of several billionaires" would make a huge dent in wealth inequality, and could dramatically reshape society -- in both good and bad ways, depending on how the wealth is used, and depending on unintended consequences.

Also, depending on the problem you're trying to solve, "hundreds of thousands of individuals" could very well constitute your entire problem space.


From what I understand, the wealthy will rent out their yachts when unused. Especially for people who could barely afford the yacht in the first place. Still horribly inefficient and wasteful, but not quite so unused.


There's a reason the people you admire for their philanthropy don't have a yacht...


The specified reason is because they chose to spend their money on philanthropy instead of waste their money on luxury possessions that they don’t even utilize. It’s fairly circular. What was the reason you are alluding to vaguely? The assumption here is that the person in question already made enough money for this to be relevant.


philanthropy is just a symptom of policy failure. it's less wasteful than luxury possessions, but those efforts eat up a lot of capital costs just through staffing, etc


Both yachts and philanthropy have most of their money go to staffing costs, and at the level of wealth yacht buying happens at I assume people are spending based solely on their virtues.

The real question though, is why not both? Most people buying super yachts could probably afford to set up a philanthropic fund of some kind.



I interpret that as ‘people may as well spend money on wholly useless frivolities because charity is not 100% efficient’. I disagree with that.


no, it's because charity is capricious and people shouldn't have to depend on one person's whim to fund causes.


Applications are open for YC Summer 2019

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact

Search: