Unmistakable Marks

Warranted Genuine Snarks

The Upside of Not Appealing to the Youth Demographic

The Wall Street Journal has an article on the difficulties of classical music fans when trying to buy music in this brave new world of medialess media. At the end, though, they hint that there may be some hope, because:

Vivendi Universal's Universal Classics, a New York-based company, says classical music is a much bigger part of the digital business than of the CD business.

Now, this might be because tech-savvy folks are more likely to be fond of classical music than regular folks; but it seems more likely to me that classical music is still as niche a market as ever, but that classical music fans are more likely to actually pay for their music than fans of... um, whoever the hell it is that kids listen to these days. (According to the Billboard Top 40 chart, it’s likely to be “Mario” or “Ciara Featuring Missy Elliott.” This may or may not be news to you.)

It turns out that there may be some advantage to actually paying for things. I kinda thought that might be the case.

Comments | March 21, 2005

Marriage out of Joint

David Brooks’ column today isn’t the stupidest thing I’ve read; but that’s about the extent of the praise I can direct its way. Brooks’ column is a rambling not-quite-diatribe against married people having individual checking accounts, apparently because they diminish “family happiness”, which (unlike the more conventional “regular happiness”) is “built on self-abnegation and sacrifice.” Perhaps I’m a bit on the odd side, but I tend to find that the less self-abnegating and sacrificing I have to do as a matter of daily routine, the happier I end up being.

Or perhaps it’s Brooks who’s on the odd side, as he appears to have some issues with basic comprehension:

A Texas woman celebrated her family’s separate accounts, remarking, “It’s so freeing to be your own person, and not feel like someone is looking over your shoulder.” It’s not clear whether she’s talking about a marriage or a real estate partnership.

Marriage. Hope that clears it up for you.

But my favorite line of the article is this:

I’m not saying that people with separate accounts have marriages that are less healthy than anybody else’s. I’m saying we should pause before this becomes the social norm.

Translation: “I’m not saying that, because it’s clearly insupportable, and all my vague hand-waving hasn’t even come close to allowing me to draw that conclusion. But I see no reason not to just assume it, and get on with the cautionary tales about social norms.”

At any rate, Brooks’ stupid-ass article gives me a lead-in to mention what is obviously the perfect way to handle marital finances. (Okay, okay, Your Marriage May Vary, and each couple must come to accommodations that suit their particular circumstances and desires and so forth; but I still think this represents something of a “best practices” method, suitable for adoption by couples who haven’t already settled into different habits.) It’s pretty straightforward:

Step 1: Pool all your income into a common pool. There’s no point fussing about who makes more than whom. If you’re in it for the long haul, this will vary widely over the long run anyway (I made a bit less than my wife when we started dating, and make a bit more than her now; in the middle, I made way more for a while and way less while I was unemployed); and if you’re ever going to have kids, a strict sourcing is ultimately unworkable, as it’s going to end up totally unfairly skewed against somebody. Besides, a marriage in which one person can take random trips to Paris but the other can’t afford dinner at Chili’s is less fun than one where you can do recreational things together.

Step 2: From this common pool, budget out enough for common expenses. House stuff is a common expense, food is a common expense, retirement saving is a common expense; cars, furniture, and other things are only common to the extent that they’re a shared priority. If you both want to drive Tauruses, go ahead and figure those as shared; if one of you could never justify buying a new car, but the other lusts after a Lexus, keep the cars separate.

Step 3: Take what’s left, divide it in half, and transfer it into your individual accounts. Now you can do whatever you want with your money without any spousal oversight. You don’t need to plead your priorities, you don’t need to set the CDs you want to buy against the books your partner wants to buy, you don’t need to make excuses (or amends) for buying extravagant electronics. Not only does this free you to set your own priorities, it also frees you from having to play petty dictator over the irrational desires of your spouse.

What’s not to like about that? Oh, right, not enough sacrificing. Well, it turns out you can buy crucifixes out of your individual account, if you feel the need for martyrdom, so it all works out in the end.

Comments | March 1, 2005

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