Don't be too impressed. Let's put those revelations into perspective.
To make the top 50% in the world team, you have to be able to come up with... wait for it... about three grand. In order to qualify as part of the top 10%, you need a net worth greater than $69 000 US. No, they're not typos and that's where we're at as a species.
Hell, we're probably living it up with the fucking 5%, since our net worth is oooh, probably about $300 000 NZ, on a good day.
Nouveau-riche and middle class convention dictates that one should never, ever divulge that sort of information because... 0_0 To be honest, I don't know the official rationale behind that secretive bullshit- it's probably to do with the envy and shame so fundamental to those cohorts. But suspicious insecurity and spurious measures of status are tactics used by monetarists to keep us at each others' throats instead of theirs, so Imma never mind the bollocks and tell you we live on about $500 a week, net. I'm a really firm believer in everyone knowing what everyone else earns because, like I said, the current seven-veils situation fosters both impunity and division. We should have to justify our greed and overconsumption to each other- look what happens when that requirement is massaged away. The truth is vitally important and will one day set us free.
R and I are excess-refuseniks. We work strictly to live and regard employment as a necessary evil to be minimised in favour of personal autonomy, in accordance with largely epicurean principles i.e. modest living, reasonable hedonism, tranquility and freedom from mental and physical affliction. We both feel very strongly that, beyond a certain point, holding onto more than you need is fucked up and will rebound on you. I actually believe it's psychopathic because it fits all the diagnostic requirements. Unfortunately, clinical psychologists tend to be rich so it's no use asking them.
We also strongly believe that a single full-time-ish income should be enough to live quietly on, and the fact that it's usually not reveals the state of slavery and compulsion that has closed in around us. Being quite poor by Western standards is only difficult in NZ because the cost of living here is off the fucking charts and gets worse every year; we squeak by because we do virtually everything for ourselves, have minimal accommodation expenses, no kids, no car, no holidays, no credit cards, no health conditions, bugger-all insurance and no expensive habits. And don't come sloping round looking for $300 000 worth of pimpy swag, because the very little portable shit we own is all second-hand or er... vintage. Our vacuum cleaner is 22 years old. Lol.
Even though we regularly (always) run out of money at the end of the fortnight, we're still living large compared to many of our compatriots via the simple expedient of being able to pay our bills, although that ability is eroding steadily. New Zealand is a low-wage, high-cost economy with repulsive levels of inequality and poverty, as defined by any measure you care to name. I'd conservatively, anecdotally estimate that two thirds of locals are in spiralling operational deficit and/or already suffering varying degrees of practical hardship.
One in four children and one in seven households are actually in officially-designated poverty, which is a gross underestimate and an artefact of sleazy criteria. Food banks and heinous overcrowding are the new normal for a lot of us. It costs R and I over $20 (again, not a typo) to ride a bus into town and back (12 kilometres each way). With no tvs, no dishwasher, no electric heating, no clothes dryer, no microwave, no nothing, our power bill is still $120 per month with the cheapest, prepaid provider. $5-600/month bills are commonplace for a family; everyone else lives in fuel poverty, under-or-not heating their houses and getting sick in winter. When we're too old to haul and chop wood, we won't be able to afford a fire, our sole source of heat. We personally spend 40% of our income on groceries (no alcohol), because successive governments have refused to regulate the two supermarket chains who monopolise 90% of our food supply and distribution. General sales tax on everything (including essential food items) is 15%. Our median house price is 6 times the median annual income (3xs is considered sort-of affordable) and rising every day, only slightly better than London but worse than LA or NYC. Our current housing bubble (probably the worst in the world) means home ownership will never be possible for the vast majority of people not already on the property ladder, all of whom face the prospect of turning over three quarters of their take-home in rent to wealthy slumlords.
We can already foresee the day when local council rates (property taxes) will force us out of this slowly-gentrifying area. Then we're really fucked, because we'll never be able to afford to pay market rents and our current crop of *representatives* are selling off what remains of state-owned and rent-controlled accommodation. That's if most local authorities don't go bankrupt Detroit-styles when repeat bubble collapse leaves them in a bucket of bottomless red.
Does all this sound familiar? Are you a 10%er too, living large, rolling around in all that carefree first world largesse? The FirstWorldProblems hashtag trivialises the fact that virtually everyone in a similar situation to our own is or will be as screwed as anyone in sub-Saharan Africa if the fucking wind changes.
So fuck you, Credit Suisse. If New Zealand is the second wealthiest nation in the world, it's because a single-digit percentage of the people living here are making life a walking nightmare for the rest of us. I really, really hate them for it.
This week- movie reviews. Here's something to take the fucking edge off.