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A New Definition of “Luxury” for Times of Uncertainty



What is “luxury?” The West has been more or less unified in the answer to that question for a century. Big fancy house. Fast cars with suicide doors. A huge rock on the finger or a Rolex on the wrist. Vacations in the Maldives. Exclusive access. A big bank account.


How times change. With governments failing, economies stagnating, the balance of power shifting east, and the prospect of “world war” very much on the table, the calculus looks very different. More and more, the values of our parents and grandparents look outdated — even pathways to disaster.


Abraham Lincoln once said, “The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present.” So what will “luxury” look like in our stormy present?

Freedom of Movement

The digital transformation created what Tim Ferriss called the “New Rich” — people who measure wealth not by the size of the bank account, but by the quantity of freedom. These are the digital nomads, who travel the world living the “laptop lifestyle.” Older generations take note — this is not a fad. Consistent relocation a permanent fixture of the new economy.


On the other side of the coin, think of the plight of the men of Ukraine, impeded from leaving their own country and subject to conscription. The biggest, fanciest house in Kyiv, the fastest Lamborghini in Kyiv … they have to be of slim comfort. 


Think of the plight of the inhabitants of the Gaza Strip, restricted from leaving a miniscule territory that is not self-sufficient, unwanted as refugees by any of the surrounding “friendly” governments. They are subject to daily attacks by an Israeli government who insists that Hamas hides military targets in civilian centers. Residents of Gaza are caught in the middle, powerless to flee as foreign powers treat their very lives like pawns on a global chessboard.


Consider “citizenship by investment” to get a second passport or golden visa. $100,000 might have seemed like a high price to pay for a passport or visa … but what price can you put on the freedom of your family to relocate across national borders and out of a warzone?


Quality Time

Another characteristic of Ferriss’ “New Rich” is freedom not only of movement but of time. Rich Dad/Poor Dad author Robert Kiyosaki measures wealth in time as well — not how much money you have in the bank, but how much time you could maintain your lifestyle if you stopped reporting to work.


The message has struck a chord, and that chord can’t be un-struck. The ability to spend your time as you see fit — with loved ones, on hobbies, passions, adventures — rather than in service of a corporate or government goal you have been “told” to care about … What could possibly be more valuable? After all, you can always make more money. You can never get more time. 

Financial Inclusion

Bitcoin’s biggest disruption wasn’t the idea of digital currency — it was the idea of a store of value accessible to everyone. A completely democratized investment market. Out of the reach of governments to limit access to cronies and oligarchs. Immune to fiat and borders. What wonder that no fewer than nine countries (including the most populous country in the world) have banned cryptocurrency.


Bitcoin is the leading edge in a trend toward financial inclusion. This isn’t just about access to markets either, but about privacy. Consider that with an American passport, you can no longer open a Swiss bank account. 


Nor is the reframe of values limited to the digital world. Remember that Rolex on his wrist or the big rock on her finger? These aren’t just conspicuous displays of wealth; they are portable, wearable assets that you can carry on an international flight without having to report it to the government on a customs declaration.

Future Generations

“You can’t take it with you.” Whatever you do in life is destined to be nothing more than stories told by your children and grandchildren. 


How many of us even know the names of all our great-grandparents or great-great-grandparents? But we are here because they survived and made an investment in the next generation. 


A financial legacy … a second passport or golden visa … simply surviving a time of crisis … This imperative, like the others on the list, blurs the line between “luxury” and “necessity.” 


Yet as the ground shifts under our feet, these “necessities” really will become luxuries — exclusively the domain of a new “elite” defined not by their bank account, but by their willingness to let old paradigms die and embrace new ones.


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