Home' A Plus Magazine : March 2013 Contents 60 March 2013
Talk about a worrying metaphor.
On the day of writing this, I saw a
picture on the news of the Chinese
god of wealth protesting in Guangzhou over
Of course, I realized that it wasn’t the
real god of wealth, since I saw Cai Shen
down at my local shopping mall yesterday
and it seems unlikely he could have got to
the protest in Guangzhou the same day, giv-
en the difficulty of moving in ankle-length
Any way, the whole idea is screw y. No one
expects to pay Cai Shen. The god of wealth
is an astonishingly large one-way outward
cash delivery conduit (the exact opposite of
But it got me thinking of others who
do the same thing. If a despot like Robert
Mugabe creates money with no strings at-
tached, you call it “printing money” and pre-
dict economic doom. But if a Western leader
does it, you call it “quantitative easing” and
give him a round of applause. Strange, right?
Any way, I’ve always thought that the god
of wealth’s operation felt like a tax-reduction
dodge, possibly arranged by some sort of as-
sociation of mythical characters. No joke:
this whole area of finance could have real
relevance. I was at a lunch where two small
businessmen (that’s the official phrase, but
one was medium-sized and the other was
door-jamb-squeakingly huge) were discuss-
ing staff bonuses. One said that he planned
to give them out as personal lai see packets
because staff would not be taxed on them.
The other said that if this were true, all bo-
nuses would be given out as lai see packets.
A third party at the table said that he had
looked up the relevant ordinance and there
were references to bonuses and dim y ung,
which is a Cantonese term for “a little off the
top,” but no mention of lai see packets.
I did not contribute to the discussion but
quietly resolved to invest in lai see envelopes
massive enough to receive the sort of multi-
million dollar bonus that investment bank-
ers get. I shall call them lai see buckets.
Taking this issue further, it’s clear that
Santa Claus runs some sort of highly sus-
pected operation that involves no know n
sources of income and massive flows of out-
goings. This is a ludicrous business model
used by nobody at all, except for Wikipedia,
YouTube, A mazon, Twitter, Instagram and a
thousand more of today’s best-k now n firms.
Santa’s smart. He lives at the North Pole,
which is a totally tax-free jurisdiction. If he
v isits 200 countries on Christmas Eve, he
spends too little time in any of them to be
classified as a taxable resident. It’s hard to
avoid the conclusion that Santa is running
some sort of loss-leading business designed
to increase turnover for retailers and res-
On related lines, one wonders about the
connection between Chang’e, the goddess
of the moon, and the snacks sold at vast ex-
pense in her name: moon cakes. How much
of this cash is repatriated to the moon? Zero.
This is probably a mistake. If profits were re-
patriated to the moon, they would attract a
zero tax rate, since there is a curious short-
age of inland revenue inspectors up there.
Once moon cake makers realize this, they
will surely move their head offices to the Sea
of Tranquility with immediate effect.
Meanwhile, there’s only one mythical
person I know who actually insists on get-
ting something for her money. And that’s the
tooth fairy. She doesn’t pay a lot to her cus-
tomers, yet she ends up with a supply of high-
grade ivory. Now that’s a mythical creature
with a practical attitude.
Nury Vittachi is a bestselling author, columnist, lecturer and
TV host. He wrote the Institute’s first two storybooks, May
Moon and the Secrets of the CPAs and May Moon Rescues the
World Economy. A third, May Moon’s Book of Choices, was
published in 2012.
Get your daily dose of Nury’s humour at www.mrjam.org
Let’s get fiscal
Money secrets of
Legendary figures keep society’s
cash moving all through the year,
says Nury Vittachi
“Anyway, I’ve always
thought that the
god of wealth’s
operation felt like
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