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User Info There Are Two Ways To Be 'Rich'; entered at 2017-09-05 03:41:05
Posts: 133
Registered: 2009-05-26 NJ
I'd like to offer a 3rd alternative, which I do not endorse in any way, but have to recognize its existence. Cheat :). In fact, combined with a few years of hard work, it is very powerful indeed.

I just came back from a village on an island in Greece, where I spent all the summers of my childhood and early adulthood. It's a serene, scenic place, with a beautiful beach, very nice views, and relaxing atmosphere. The village has about 500 people and the nearest town, 2 miles away, has 4 thousand. It's not in the US, so there are no suburbs, no lawns, no neighbor 4km away etc. The houses are next to each other but the place is sparsely populated. There's plenty of farmland an of course the sea, which provides great fishing opportunities (and is quite calm since it's in the Mediterranean).

I ran into a childhood friend who I hadn't seen for 17 years. Unlike me, he didn't get a higher education but started working at 15 as a waiter, then became a farmer (he had some land and bought some more since most people his age didn't want to cultivate land anymore), and also worked construction. He was basically working about 16 hours per day, almost all manual labor. Through a combination of hard work, but most importantly, BY NOT PAYING ANY TAXES (i.e. cheating), he managed to accumulate 1M euro by 2009. He built 5 houses, without a single mortgage. However, he also got massive subsidies from the government (cheating/theft again) in order to build those houses, as well as cultivate specific crops.

So basically in 2009, this guy had about 50x the money I had, since I chose to educate myself and most importantly not be a cheater :).

Of course, in 2017, things are different, since now he has to (THE HORROR), pay some taxes! (including property tax for his houses and land. Property tax is a new thing in Greece, it's only been going on for the last 4 years). He still doesn't pay anything close to what he should, since he's still able to cheat, but not to the extent he could 10 years ago.

He's also not the only one that did this. Most people on the village and the entire island even took advantage of cheating opportunities to amass a lot of wealth. They of course complain about the condition of the roads, while boasting about their tax-evasion ability. Oh and they all vote socialist/communist, because capitalism is evil & all that.

Moral of the story?
- It's amazing how much money you can accumulate if you pay no taxes. This is a clear indication of how damaging a punitive taxation system is for production (i.e. the US tax system is horrible, but unlike Greece, it's harder to cheat).
- Hard work pays off (and is motivating enough) when you don't have to pay taxes :).
- Cheating in all its forms helps (tax evasion, falsifying land size for the purpose of subsidies, the subsidies themselves even).

Cheating aside however, life in a place like that is a lot like Karl describes. They grow their own food (without a shred of Monsanto), they grow their own meat (free-ranging cows and a lot of sheep), they make their own milk and of course they get fresh fish for most of the year. And the whole tax-evasion & cheating is the cherry on top.
2017-09-05 03:41:05