We Should Probably Ponder This Question

I’ve been wanting to write about this for quite a while now, but it is such an abstract and unpleasant subject all at the

Picture of America's Uncle Sam pointing his finger at the reader as he reads the caption "I Want Your Money".

A Message Which Is Wearing Thin On Those Paying 97.3% of the Taxes

same time, it just seemed too difficult. Day before yesterday though, I caught an interview with Marc Faber, a “Contrarian” Investor, so with his wind at my back, I decided to try.


First, a little trip back in time almost forty years.  I’m the mother now, its dinner time, and in those days when I spoke the people at the table actually listened to me.  So humor, me, please.

Today, I opened my Facebook and saw one friend ranting, “The homeless go without eating. The elderly go without medicine. The mentally ill go without treatment. Troops go without proper equipment. Veterans go without benefits that were promised to them. Yet we give billions in tax breaks to the wealthiest 2% of Americans — those who need it least.”

I’ve known this man for over 25 years, and while I know he has always been sensitive to those in need, he was never given to outbursts of total frustration and tirades of class warfare…  at least not in a public forum, and Facebook is pretty darn public.

Meanwhile three or four conversations further down is the conservative group of friends  arguing amongst themselves about whether or not the budget cuts in last year’s budget, which was just completed late Friday night, were deep enough for one member of the Republican group to stop referring to the Speaker of the House as Benedict Arnold.

Stop it…..  just stop it, all of you.  Don’t you see what we are doing to each other?  Are we doing this as part of the denial dance to avoid dealing with the fact that our country is going broke and that the collapse of the dollar is almost inevitable?

We must, as we used to say, “get a grip”!

Here’s what is heading our way, whether we like it or not.  It is a big fat spoonful of our just desserts for all that time we’ve spent since we got our TV sets, moved off the front porch into our air conditioning, and went on the dole as the “Great New Society”.

Well, I happen to think we are still Great, but we are pretty tired and old right now, and if we don’t get up and get together (operative word is “together”), we will become the “House Divided Against Itself That Fell”.

Today I have a little clip from a CNBC interview last Friday with Marc Faber.  Before you click on the button to hear it, you must do this:

Pretend you are a Student Again.  Pretend you do not have preconceived, simplistic notions that if only the Democrats or the Republicans weren’t involved, things would be just fine.

This is NOT Dancing with the Stars, nor Wheel of Fortune, but it is your invitation to get off that “crack” and get back to your civic duty.  That’s right, your civic duty to spend enough time to learn and understand the world around you so you aren’t be so easily duped by the guys in Washington who are supposed to work for you.

You know, “While the cat’s away, the mice will play.”  We are the cat and we’ve been away a very long time.

Things used to be different in this country, and I daresay in many ways were a lot better.  A man’s word was his bond and a promise made was a promise kept. I believe we are still those people.  However, we cannot continue allowing the ones we elect to run this country to continually feed us the verbal nonsense they spit out as though we are as dumb as a box of rocks.  If we can’t at least do this much, then we deserve to stand on this desperate cliff and probably ought to just jump and get it over with.

Here’s how I think we got to where we are:

1.      We fell for the Federal Reserve Scheme back in 1914. That’s when a few wealthy families took over the world’s banking.  Their children’s, children and the cronies picked up along the way continue to profit from us through inflation to this very day.

2.      Then in an attempt to buy votes and thus power, and using public funds under the pretense of concern for others, the entitlement programs began. First it was social security followed by public housing and public food in the form of what used to be called, “the commodities”.  These are but a few of the programs. We may have gotten our cheese, but we lost our self-reliance and self-esteem in the process.

3.      Sometime in the late sixties or early seventies, middle class Americans who would never take a “handout” decided, “If other people could get them, why shouldn’t they?”

4.      Finally, in 1971, in order to allow the Federal Reserve to print enough money to pay for all of this, President Nixon removed us from the remaining gold reserve standard requirements backing the US dollar. This allowed the presses to roll without having to worry about that pesky little “gold reserve” problem.  Let the planned inflation really  begin.

Number three is how the spiral begins, but interestingly enough, the “me too” attitude began as soon as the abuse of the welfare system became public knowledge. I will never forget my good friend from college who was moving to Charlotte from Atlanta to take another job.  She took it, but decided she didn’t want to go to work when she first got to Charlotte.  She learned there was a way for her to collect unemployment instead of going right to work.  When she told me about it, I think I said something like, “Why are you going to do that, you have a job.”  She fired back, “Well, they all do it and brag about it, so I want mine too.”

No, two wrongs don’t make a right, but human nature is what it is.  Obviously, this example is meant to show the beginnings of the entitlement syndrome were small, but have grown tremendously through the years.  Remember, it has been almost fifty years since the Great New Society and there is hardly a person I know, if anyone, who isn’t receiving some kind of benefit from the government.

Fewer and fewer of us are bearing the burden of paying for all of this as more and more votes have been bought with more benefits and lower taxes for the shrinking middle class.  We have reached the point in this country where almost a full 50% of us pay little or nothing in taxes.

The top 5% of earners in our country pay almost 60% of the tax revenue.  The top 50% of earners (those of us paying taxes) pay over 97% of all of the taxes paid. On top of that staggering number, we have now reached the point where the number of us with “skin in the game”, as they say, are just about to be outnumbered at the polls.

Ponder that.

Ronald Reagan used to say, “If you don’t like your state taxes, vote with your feet.” It’s meaning, move to another state.  People do that all the time today to avoid state taxes.  Know this little factoid:  The top 10% of earners contribute 70% of our tax revenue. My bet is they have discussions about voting with their feet, if they haven’t begun to do so already.  Problem is, when they vote with their feet this time, they will be gone for tax purposes and probably for good.

Ponder that.

The answer isn’t to have class warfare, because the only ones who will win will be the wealthy. They will leave and take their money with them.  The rest of us will be stuck right here with scads of people who want or need something for nothing and there will be no one able to pay for it.

Ponder that, then listen to Marc Faber.

Lining Up For Gas in 1974

Part I of a three part discussion

Evaporation?  The last two plus years have been surreal to Grandma.  She has seen a lot and lived to tell about it financially, but this time is different.  The first gas lines in 1974 and Grandpa’s instructions not to cash his paycheck really got her attention.

She was fresh out of college, teaching school then, without a care in the world.  Grandma loved every minute of playing “grown-up”.   Promise number one to her adult self was:  “In order to survive financially, you must pay attention to the world around you.”  And so it was she was soon married to newspapers, TV news, financial publications, and numerous investment letters.  Grandma has been paying close attention ever since.

Blissfully teaching school immediately came to a screeching halt.  Into the “rat race” she leaped in order to gain three times her former salary.  Meanwhile, the stock market heaved a big downward sigh as first President Nixon put into place a ‘voluntary’ wage and price freeze.

Heady inflation followed, and President Carter came on the radio one afternoon and begged the country to stop using credit cards.  One bank in Grandma’s area was charging 24% interest to buy a home.  As usual, the ever vigilant Grandma had the radio on.  Her office staff and she were speechless as they listened to Carter’s plea.

Things began turning around under President Reagan.  Again the radio was on the afternoon in August of 1981 when the stock market took off like a rocket.  The announcers were giddy with joy as they relayed the news.  Grandma was vacationing that day, and always remembers how the lunch patrons in the golf course club house broke into loud applause.  We were ready for that day.

The day we weren’t ready for was that Monday afternoon in October of 1987.  Grandma was literally ‘sick to her stomach’ as she watched her portfolio and the college trust funds for her girls lose almost half their value in a matter of hours.  Life went on though, and we all survived.

We will physically survive this time too, but this a cycle that is distinctly different than the ones mentioned above including the crash of the NASDAQ in 2000.

Evaporation of your wealth doesn’t really happen, it just feels that way.  In reality, wealth just leaves you in a transfer to its new owner.  If your home (wealth) has been through foreclosure, your home (wealth) has been transferred to the lender or to a buyer at the auction.  When people lose money as stocks drop in price, somebody else made money by selling short.  Transferred again.

Grandma really thinks this time will be different, not that wealth transfer hasn’t already occurred.  To be sure, the transfer has begun and will continue.

The key is learning to recognize what’s happening so you can protect your wealth.

Next….. Part II:  How we got where we are today, the short-term view.