Tuesday, September 05, 2006


"privately enterprising"
(photo by K. Urner)

Obviously I consider my skills as a teacher bankable assets, and indirectly, so does my bank, in that they model me keeping an income sufficient to pay down the mortgage and maintain high "credit worthiness" (which computers keep track of).

My "earning capacity," along with my wife's (a dual-income household) allowed us to build equity in the house, typically the principal physical asset of a middle income family, next to the car and/or truck (no ATV or jet ski in our case).

Such physical assets are also principal assets of the neighborhood bank, which models average incomers as incapable of financing a home's purchase without credit, meaning a huge markup on the sticker price, but one you tend to not see unless you run the spreadsheets, and realize how good it is to be on the receiving end of exponential interest rates (where the "rich people" live, a lot of 'em bankers).

Banks get to mortage the same house multiple times, as people in varying financial straits assume title and secure financing. Homes are like DVDs in the video store, watched over and over and over again. It's a secure way to make a living, if you're in the business of loaning for homes.

Part of why LAWCAP fought Bucky so much is he derided this system of governance as somewhat pathetic, as it assumes dire straits for so many. But that's how LAWCAP tends to operate: overwhelming lack of life support is just a given. "We don't fight that state of affairs, we make money off it."

Not a popular strategy among the poor, and in a model democracy the government might take a different direction. That presents a puzzle: how to intimidate enough people into supporting the low living standards standard. You need a lot of ideology in overdrive, keeping people thinking straight and paying those mortgages.

Anyway, part of my responsibility as a stakeholder in this home (me and the bank share this asset), is to see to its upkeep. To that end, we just had some painters come by to make a bid. The "down to the wood" approach is the premium ten years guaranteed way to go, but most middle incomers not surprisingly go for the "feathered edge" (scape and power wash, but if the paint's tightly bonded, leave it be and paint over). The bid for the latter service was like $4,500 give or take, more like $11,500 for the former, with 10% off if we commit within the next three days (likely we will, after checking against other bids -- I liked their energy).

Now if I were a really good capitalist tool, I'd be using my intelligence to venture capitalize in various corporate ventures. By age 48 (my current age), I'd have a track record of having bet wisely and earned good returns. I might have lots of money, which I'd subtly advertise with various lifestyle cues, and various dependents, friendly companies (affiliates) would want to piggy-back their money on mine, i.e. let me manage their investments for them, so they could get rich the way I did.

What with a Princeton degree, no doubt some social connections, perhaps membership in one or more clubs, I could be living on easy street by now, with several homes, several cars, and a lot of satisfied (well off) customers.

However, I made a career building skills in the not-for-profit (aka public) sector, trying to think ahead the way Bucky did, anticipating new kinds of need, even new kinds of science. This is called "high risk" venture capitalizing, closer to what "crackpot inventors" seem to do. Some of them get rich, but mostly they end up remorseful, for having squandered so much energy on cold fusion or whatever.

But from my point of view, Synergetics was more of a "sure thing" in terms of its philosophical sophistication. I could see a bright future, if I only stuck to my guns, which is what I did, and I don't regret it. Now I'm this hot shot gnu math teacher, respected by my peers.

OK, gotta go now. Time to open a new bank account for my daughter. She had a summer job this year, earned some savings. Now I'd like to wire her account to a debit card and iTunes, so she can pay for her own music and video iPod downloads. She'll still get her allowance and all that, but I'd like her to consolidate and have a sense of managing her own affairs.

Back from the bank: snapped that cool bizmo on the way home (above picture).

Transaction: cheque from flextegrity.com pays for Portland Knowledge Lab's rent this month. I did some work on the web site (still very minimalist at this point).

Addendum: we also plunked down for two years of orthodonture for Tara; we like and trust Dr. Joe. Tonight: joining Wanderers on Barry's boat (Barry the banker).