The Main Benefit of Travelling Solo

I’m sitting at the airport now. There are two girls next to me who are clearly travelling together. As I sat there, these two girls got into a huge argument over how much money they should be spending at the airport.

Holiday fights are not unusual. When I was in the hotel, I overheard a family bickering because the mother kept barking orders at her children, and the children didn’t appreciate it.

Like like bacteria thrives in moist environments so too arguments and disagreements thrive during holidays or vacations. There is something about travelling with others. It forces you to work together.

This is not to say that all holidays will descend into argument and chaos. If you’re travelling with a great travel buddy, it’s a brilliant experience. I’ve travelled with good travel buddies before. However, if you’re travelling with a bad travel buddy, that is a big problem.

If you are travelling with someone and suddenly an argument breaks out, you are stuck with this person for the remainder of the holiday. You may even be sleeping with this person.

The better approach, in my opinion, is to travel solo and sleep alone. If you want to be with others, you can still agree to meet them at, say, a restaurant or cafe, and you can still agree to go on tours together. The benefit of travelling solo is that at the end of the day you retreat to your own space where you have privacy and freedom. From your own space, you can choose to be with others or to be by yourself. There are times you want to be with others and there are times you want to be by yourself. Travelling solo gives you the freedom to choose from both these options. However, when travelling with others, because accommodation and tours tend to be booked in advance, you are stuck with the people you’re travelling with.

If you have your own accommodation and you meet up with a friend, if you get into an argument with this friend, you have the option to simply never see him or her again.

There is nothing wrong with human intimacy and closeness. We humans are social creatures who need closeness with others. However, there are smart ways to get human intimacy without exposing yourself to the risk of being captive to human anger or hate.

Total independence is essential. You need to build a fortress for yourself where you are safe. You may venture out from this fortress to seek out human intimacy, but you do so cautiously, and you retreat back to your fortress when you are not comfortable. Every man need his own space.

Don’t be Desperate

If you’ve been to a developing country, chances are you’ve walked along the footpath and you’ve had people coming up to you trying to sell you things. As I was walking around in Kuta, Bali, there were many people sitting on stools on the footpath. These people look poor in that their hair is all over the place and their clothes look dirty. When they see you, they likely assume you are rich and immediately try to sell you something, and the immediately knee-jerk response is to just say no.

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Kuta, Bali

If a ship you are in hit an iceberg and everyone had to jump into the ocean, some people may have life jackets while other would not. If you had a life jacket and were floating in the water, but you see someone who does not have a life jacket and was struggling to keep his head above water, you’d be reluctant to help the man, not because you’re a bad person, but because you know he is desperate, and desperation drives people to do whatever they can to survive, and if you try to help the man, he may through no fault of his own try to steal your life jacket, and you may drown instead of him.

It is the same with the man trying to sell you things on the road. You know he is desperate. Chances are the products don’t have any price. There is an expectation that you haggle over the price, and you just know that he will try to rip you off, so the initial reaction is to just say no and get away. At least that’s how I feel.

The same applies to relationships. If you’re with a girl and suddenly she seems clingy and desperate, that is, she messages you all the time asking to meet up with you, then it’s the same knee-jerk response. You immediately try to distance yourself because you know that desperation drives people to do crazy things, and a desperate girl might pressure you into marriage or children even when you may not feel ready for that.

A relationship is like sales. When you’re with a girl, she is providing female intimacy, companionship, as well as other hard-to-define services, and you are providing something of value back to her as well.

The retailers you feel comfortable with are those that don’t push you overtly. When you’re in an Aldi store, you don’t feel any desperate person trying to pressure you into buying their almond milk. It’s there on the shelves. The price is clearly labelled. If you want it, bring it to the checkout and pay for it. If you don’t want it, just walk away. There’s no pressure on you. You can feel that Aldi is not desperate at all. Aldi is a huge business.

This lesson should be applied to your business and relationship dealings. Don’t be desperate because people can detect desperation, and desperation repels people.

When you are in a relationship with someone, don’t behave as if you must be with them. You need to have a life of your own. Don’t be desperate.

Even in your career you should not be desperate. Too many people, once they get a job, they buy a house and take on a large mortgage, borrow money to buy a nice car, get married, have multiple children, and go on multiple expensive exotic holidays, and these high expenses and high debts make them dependent on their job, and if there is suddenly a recession or if there are job cuts, they go into desperation mode, and employers can smell desperation. It is best to keep your expenses low and invest surplus cash so that you are less dependent on income from work because you are building up income from investments. Passive income makes you less dependent on your employer.

 

Why Left vs Right is Dumb

One of the most absurd ideas in politics is that everything is either left or right. You are either a liberal or a conservative. The reason why this is absurd is because there are many different political systems that can be used and within a government there are many different policies that can be implemented. Politics is complex, and left versus right oversimplifies.

For example, I once spoke to someone and told him that one simple way that the government can raise more revenue is to increase taxes and then all of a sudden this person called me a “liberal” and then started criticizing me for supporting abortion. I make one comment about taxation and then suddenly my views on everything else is known. I am pro-abortion, for gay rights, etc.

This is very similar to racism. Racists will assume, for instance, that just because someone’s skin is black that he is a criminal when logically this is false. Not all black people are criminals. Likewise, just because someone wants to increases taxation, it doesn’t mean they are pro-abortion. In fact, what does taxation have to do with abortion?

This is what is wrong with left versus right. The views lumped together on the left have nothing to do with each other. Just because someone is pro-abortion, why would that mean he is pro-taxation? Just because someone is anti-taxation, why would that mean he is anti-military?

There is absolutely no logic to the political spectrum, but I suspect many people love it because it fulfills the human need to belong to groups.

Trump vs Clinton – News vs Betting Markets

There is a considerable amount of news showing polling results that suggest Donald Trump leads Hillary Clinton currently.

However, betting markets still predict Hillary Clinton will win, so what is happening? I’m inclined to trust betting markets, so perhaps the media is trying to push momentum one way.

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Isn’t Monarchism Dictatorship?

I’m on holiday now. I am not doing too much during this holiday, but I have been thinking about monarchism and dictatorship. You see, many people are monarchists, but I cannot understand why anyone could be a monarchist.

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Dictionary.com defines monarchy as “a state or nation in which the supreme power is actually or nominally lodged in a monarch.”

A monarchist is someone who advocates for rule by a particular monarch. What is a monarch? A monarch is just a person. Is there anything special about Queen Elizabeth? She is just a person. Hence monarchism is advocacy for rule by a particular person.

But wait? Isn’t this the definition of dictatorship?

Dictionary.com defines dictatorship as “a country, government, or the form of government in which absolute power is exercised by a dictator.” It is also “absolute, imperious, or overbearing power or control.”

Dictatorship is rule by a dictator. Similar to a monarch, a dictator is just some person. Is there anything special about Adolf Hitler or Josef Stalin? No, they are just people.

In other words, monarchy and dictatorship pretty much mean the same thing.

Why do I raise this up? What is the point? You see many people supporting monarchism but hardly anyone goes around supporting dictatorship.

Why is that?

Is it like cult versus religion where a cult is a belief you hate while a religion is a belief you like? Perhaps authoritarianism by someone you like is referred to as monarchism but authoritarianism by someone you hate is called dictatorship.

Aren’t developed countries like the UK and Australia well functioning  monarchist countries?

These countries have what is called constitutional monarchism, and constitutional monarchism is effectively just democracy except the monarch has no power and simply has a ceremonial role. If that is the case then, in my opinion, monarchism is a waste of money. Why should taxpayers pay a monarch and her family to ride around in horses and live in castles?

The opposite of constitutional monarchism where royalty has no power is absolute monarchism where royalty has absolute power. Absolute monarchism exists in Saudi Arabia and Thailand.

Can monarchism or dictatorship be successful?

You can always give examples of dictatorships that succeeded. I’d argue Communist China is a somewhat successful dictatorship as judged by economic growth. Benevolent dictatorship is possible in theory but top-down control is usually hard and for every example of good dictatorship you can give there is always Hitler, Stalin, etc. If you were a monarchist leading a political rebelling to restore monarchy in America with the hope that you get a benevolent dictatorship, this is a risky strategy because you might end up with another Hitler or Stalin.

Democracy can be more inefficient that dictatorship but the spreading out of power under a democracy lowers the risk that comes with concentration of power.

How Money Printing Can Fail

The world economy came crashing in 2009 but was rescued through money printing. Standard economic theory would say that money printing would increase inflation, but we haven’t seen that.

If anything, the threat has been deflation (prices falling), and central banks lower interest rates or print money to cause inflation and fight deflation.

Lower interest rates encourage more people to borrow, and borrowing increases the money supply, so the effect is similar to money printing in that there is more money in the economy.

When people are confident, they tend to borrow money so that they can e.g. expand their business or buy more shares or real estate so that they can make even more money. However, when people are bearish, they don’t borrow because they may not be able to make enough money to pay off the loan, and so they tend to focus on paying off the debt. If going into debt increases money supply, paying off debt does the opposite, which is reduce the money supply. Paying off debt destroys money, which leads to deflation.

The game central banks seem to be playing is to wait for a dip in the market or a time when there is falling confidence and hence there is deflation. Then they lower interest rates or print money. People then expect the higher money supply will push up the prices of the property, shares, businesses, etc that they hold due to higher money supply increasing inflation, and then they borrow or leverage more, which pushes the market back up.

In theory, this can go on forever. As deflation occurs, just stimulate more.

There is one problem with this, which is what happens when money is printed but the recipients of printed money don’t do anything with it because they are concerned and want to “wait and see.” If interest rates are lowered, the expectation is that people will borrow more, but what if they don’t? Even if interest rates are zero, if returns on investments are negative, it’s not worth borrowing to invest. Likewise, if the recipients of printed money feel that all investments are poor and that the best use of money is to just leave it as cash, then this reduces the so-called velocity of money in the economy, which is deflationary.

In the past, assets produced great income. However, as money is bring printed in record quantities and interest rates are lowered, people are grabbing that easy money and investing it. If, say, a house in South America produced a rental yield of 10 percent, then as investors borrow money and buy the house, the prices go up, which lowers the rental yield. As the yield goes down, investors search for other assets. This is the so-called global hunt for yield.

As the global hunt for yield continues, investors need to search far and wide to find returns. Two ETFs have been released for the ASX that satisfy investor appetite for yield. There is an ETF that invests in junk bonds, i.e. lending money to bad companies (iShares Global High Yield Bond (AUD Hedged) ETF). There is also an ETF that lends money to emerging market governments (iShares J.P. Morgan USD Emerging Markets Bond (AUD Hedged) ETF).

As interest rates and money printing intensify, investors may reach the point where the global hunt for yield ends because all avenues will be exhausted. Investors then either don’t borrow at all or if money is printed and thrown at them, they do nothing with it. This bubble in yield pops.

This is when stimulus fails, and it looks like we are getting close to that day.

Happier When I Have No Friends

I don’t have any close friends. I barely even keep in touch with my family. But I feel much happier without friends.

It’s difficult for me to put on paper (or computer) the admission that I don’t have any close friends because telling someone they have no friends is seen as a put down. In our society, having friends is a status symbol. It is a measure of worth. When I tell others I am spending the weekend reading a book, they often say, “You don’t have any friends?” as if there is something wrong or defective with me if I choose not to do something with someone.

Some people call it the “cult of friendship.”

But I do remember the days when I did have friends, but having close friends was not all positive. In fact, much of it is negative.

The main problem is that everyone is an individual. We are all different. However, to bond with our friends, we need to be like them. If they are interested in going to the night club all the time and you don’t like night clubs, then you will not spend much time together, and because your interests differ, you’re not going to have much to talk about, so it’s difficult to bond.

People change over time, so you could be friends with someone, for example, because they are funny and always laughing. But then slowly they may become boring and dull people for whatever reason, and if you want to maintain a bond with them you need to be like them.

With one former friend of mine, over time we had moved in different directions. He had a girlfriend and got engaged while I was still single, and when we caught up there was awkwardness because I just didn’t vibe with his partner jokes and constant talk about relationships. It was a topic I had no interest in.

Friendship then is not really about accepting others for who they are but more about trying to be someone else so you can fit in with them. Either you change for them or they change for you.

Over time, I got tired of changing for other people, and rather than put in effort to maintain friendships, I just let them die, and this allowed me to focus on myself.

Rather than do what other people did because that’s what they expected of me, I looked at what I was interested in. What were my passions? What excited me?