New Year's Resolutions 2013

Don’s Diary

New Year’s Resolutions have been made for thousands of years. The New Year follows so closely after the northern hemisphere winter. Until relatively recently no refrigeration and poor means of food preservation resulted in the cupboards being fairly bare and the New Year would be quickly followed by the growing season, ice melting on the lakes and waterways and coming out of hibernation. It was something to look forward to and plan to make the most of the opportunity. In our own part of the world for many the New Year is a milestone after graduations and a long holiday break – it is a time to contemplate the future. However, it is believed that fewer now make New Year Resolutions than did so in the past. Why?

Resolutions made about things that you cannot control are futile and frustrating. They are really just “wish lists”. Resolutions should be about matters within your own control and achievable – a change of direction in life or priorities for the future. For me I would like to an improvement in economic management so that I can sort a few things out in the later stages of my life. For me any time for heady idealism has well passed.

The New Year is a time when people get financial planning advice. Somebody I know thinks he now has the solution. When to retire, and do so as early as possible, take as much lump sum superannuation as possible, buy your partner a new ring, take an overseas trip, buy a new car when you return, put any residual cash “under the bed” and go to Centrelink and cry poor milking the system for as much as you can. When the money under the bed has gone and you need another trip or another car, you sell your house and “downsize” (a very trendy thing to say you are doing) – it releases capital that again you can try to hide from Centrelink while you are milking the system. Then the next step the strategy is to reverse mortgage the little apartment that is now home and spend the rest of your children’s inheritance – if you or your partner need care, well that is what the children are there for is it not, to pay for these things! If you would prefer capital again rather than an annuity sell and rent getting and claim an accommodation allowance. Incidentally, make sure that you do not vote for any Party that may increase or stop exemptions for the GST or it will limit your cash economy. Leave taxes on the earnings, make no investment in the economy and the nation and to hell with the future!

With this sort of thinking and a belief that new is always better, it is little wonder that we seem to have a situation where in my lifetime we have gone from owning a piece of Collins Street on a prime CBD corner site and the former Masonic Club. Owning a great piece of land on edge of the CBD (two if you count the former hospital) overlooking arguably the best park in Victoria, to a strata title where we occupy about 10% of a building. We had a presence in Melbourne. Do you find something depressing about that, not just the reduction in membership it represents, but the reduction in wealth? Has our property strategy help lead the decline in numbers and not just been the result?

The horse seems to have bolted on 300 Albert Street. Don’t waste your time on New Year’s Resolutions! All ordinary masons can do now is observe. Is one of our secret arts and hidden mysteries to defy conventional marketing strategy, ignore the principle of “position, position and position” and grow in community standing and enjoy optimum recruiting and retention by reducing our public profile? You could be excused be thinking there is a lot to be said for the practice in corporate governance where the directors get a share of the business they grow with no reward for being undertakers.

Yours fraternally

Don Paterson