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Time to Focus on 'Return of Capital'

Reflections on the day after the election
Wednesday, November 7, 2012, 1:01 PM

I am more concerned with the return of my money than the return on my money.

- unknown (often attributed to Mark Twain or Will Rogers)

The U.S. Presidential race is now behind us. And this morning the world woke up and realized that all the issues the election postponed now lie before us.

In his victory speech, President Obama focused on moving 'forward':

Obama's re-election puts 'forward' to the test

"You elected us to focus on your jobs, not ours. And in the coming weeks and months, I am looking forward to reaching out and working with leaders of both parties to meet the challenges we can only solve together. Reducing our deficit. Reforming our tax code. Fixing our immigration system. Freeing ourselves from foreign oil. We've got more work to do."

That's not a bad list of several of the bigger challenges we face: perniciously high and persistent unemployment, trillion dollar annual deficits, a complex and unequal tax code, overdependence on fossil fuels (domestic as well as foreign, I would add), and population management. These are truly prodigious issues that our nation is struggling with, in many cases for decades without resolving.

But that list of woes is not near complete. Add to it our national over indebtedness and insolvency, our eroded manufacturing base, escalating costs of food/fuel/health care, our outdated infrastructure, our failing educational system, accelerating global depletion of and competition for key resources, an aging population, the most dramatic wealth gap in our country's history, and an unsustainable monetary system. For certain, there are also many other competing problems that can be further added to this 'worry list'.

The hard truth is that these problems are not going to be resolved in the next four years, irrespective of whoever won the election last night.

In fact, as Chris so often states, many of these are not problems; they are predicaments. Problems have solutions. Predicaments have only outcomes. Outcomes that need to be managed. And if you're jawboning about 'solving' a predicament (which our politicians have made a full-contact sport out of), you're wasting precious time.

So, the big question is: what approach exactly are we going to use to move 'forward' from here? From what we're seeing so far, the best I can tell is we are going to continue to throw money at these problems/predicaments until it's clear to all that won't work anymore.

The Bush and Obama administrations have seen exploding debt and deficit levels accompanied by staggering issuance of new money by the Federal Reserve. There is little to indicate that this policy is going to change as long as our economic malaise continues. In this way, the government is taking future wealth from our children's pockets.

And it seems increasingly clear that the government will take more of the current wealth from ours, too. Rather than take the pain of reigning in spending, government demonstrates, time and again, its preference to raise revenues via taxation.

PIMCO's Bill Gross predicts the same:

Gross: Fixing 'Cliff' Will Mean 'High, Higher' Taxes

A newly re-elected President Barack Obama will push for higher taxes -- including a dividend-tax hike that will cause a substantial drop in stocks, Pimco's Bill Gross told CNBC Wednesday.

Obama will get little time to enjoy his election victory Tuesday, as he will have to get to work quickly with Congress to avoid the nation's "fiscal cliff" of looming mandated tax increases and spending cuts.

One likely remedy for revenue-raising will be to take the current dividend tax rate of 15 percent and hike it five to 10 percentage points, said Gross, co-CEO at the firm that runs the largest bond fund in the world and has $1.8 trillion assets under management.

"Obama ran on a higher-tax agenda," Gross said during a "Squawk Box" interview. "Marginal income taxes go from 35 to 40 (percent), capital gains from 15 to 20, dividends from 15 to who knows what...so they could go high, high and higher."

Risk-averse investors prefer dividend stocks, which are common in pensions and mutual funds even though they've largely underperformed other market indexes over the past four years.

Consequently, Gross said, higher dividend taxes would make those companies less attractive and thus take the stock market down 5 to 10 percent.

That's "the ultimate danger here for the stock market," he said. "Dividends are sheltered in 401(k)s, they're sheltered in pension funds. At the margins investors pay dividend tax rates. To the extent that you raise them from 15 to, say, 25 (percent), that implies in terms of equaling after tax rates another 5 to 10 percent down in terms of stock prices. We've been very spoiled for the last 10 years."

Last night, California passed Proposition 30, which approved an increase in the income taxes for 'wealthy' Californians (those with income >$250K). Education is by far the state's top expenditure, yet it ranks at or near the bottom of the nation on most school performance ratings. But rather than tackle the difficult work of determining how to spend their existing budget more effectively, it's far easier for Sacramento to address shortfalls by increasing taxes. Which is why Governor Jerry Brown crafted and championed Prop 30. Pity the Californian taxpayer, who already suffers the highest state income taxes in the U.S.

This is likely a preview of what's to come in future years. As we bump (or slam) into the hard limits of our predicaments, our political leaders will throw greater amounts of our current and future wealth at them. Like a drowning man frantically reaching out for anything that can possibly keep him from going under, our federal and state governments will grab for sources of revenue with equal desperation as they drown under their debts.

The markets are certainly concerned today. The Dow is down over 330 points as I write this.

We are entering the era of investing where the risks are increasingly disproportionate to the downside. The prudent investor should be much more concerned these days with return OF capital, versus return ON capital.

Though, more accurately, the priority should be return of purchasing power. It does no good to get your dollars back if they've been devalued in the interim.

The following steps have become 'no-brainers' at this point:

  • Find yourself a trustworthy financial adviser who will invest your paper capital with these risks in mind (we endorse several).
  • Own some gold and silver as insurance against a currency crisis.
  • Diversify into other hard assets if you're able to, particularly those with potential to produce primary wealth (timber, livestock, vegetables/grain, minerals, energy, etc.).
  • Assess your employment situation – how vulnerable is your income? Invest in ways to make yourself more valuable to your employer, add additional source(s) of income, and/or create your own business. 
  • Invest in increasing your personal resiliency (homestead investments, skill-building, physical & emotional health, and community)

Welcome to the future.

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125 Comments

RJE's picture
RJE
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
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Posts: 1369
First the Moon has to be in the 7th house...

...then we skedaddle. Dah!

Peace

BOB

Time2help's picture
Time2help
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Posts: 552
safewrite wrote: I agree that

safewrite wrote:

I agree that we should be more concerned about the return OF our money than the return ON our money.

Dogs and Dr. Chris are both gonna get a great return on their solar panels. If I had the money, I'd put up as many as would fit on my roof. Oh well, we've at least started with our first batch.

I feel ya...I just picked up 3x 250W grape solars with the associated batteries/charge controller, inverter, etc.  Ka-ching!  Need one more to round out the kW.  5kW is quite a bit of coin (at least from my perspective), and a helluva lot of area.  This stuff is not cheap.

RJE's picture
RJE
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What are you Folks paying for

What are you Folks paying for your systems? I'm in the process of seeing if I can put them up as I live in an attached condo community. I will live elsewhere when Barb retires so I would like to have a sense of costs.

Thanks

BOB

Dogs_In_A_Pile's picture
Dogs_In_A_Pile
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Posts: 2491
Small request for safewrite

safewrite wrote:

The Mayans are coming in December to take us all to Arcturus on their spaceships

No, Dogs, I have it on authority...we'll be fine. *cue guitar and fiddle music*

“Hi, Tom Bodett trying to make sense of this Mayan calendar. It seems to end Dec. 21st, 2012. That’s, unsettling. Oh well. Still plenty of time this year to stay at Motel Six and get a clean comfortable room for the lowest price of any national chain.  And we’re still taking reservations for after Dec. 21.  All due respect to the Mayans.  Sorry, King K’inich Ahkal Mo’ Nahb. Nothing but love for ya.  I’m Tom Bodett for Motel 6 and we’ll leave the light on for ya.”

See? You and Arthur have nothing to worry about.

safe -

Next time please put NSFVWDF* in the subject line.

* Not Safe For Viewing While Drinking Fluids

treebeard's picture
treebeard
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Posts: 390
Active solar

Bob,

I have finally given in to putting an active solar system on my passive house.  I liked the purity of the house being the system. No moving parts, nothing to break or repair. Integration and simplicity.  Following nature where everything serves multiple purposes. Oh well........practicallity won out.

I oversized the active hot water system to do some space heating with as well.  Hot water systems have the fastest payback periods, 7 to 8 years, PV's are still out in the 15 to 20 year range.  Hot water systems for a family of 4 are around 8.5k, but with typical state and federal incentives you can get it down to 4.5k.  If you have good exposure you can produce 60 to 70% of your hot water needs.  Hot water can be around 40% of your energy needs.

There are PV leasing programs available where you agree to buy the electicity for the panel installer, so no cash up front and electrilc bill is locked in, you can opt to buy the panels at the end of the lease period. Installer takes all the incentive credits.  These programs usually only work where there are stong local incentives.

Germany last month alone has installed as many panels as there are in the USA in total.  If you get depressed about what 's going in the USA, look around, there are whole other countries that "get it".

"Let the Sun Shine In, the Sun Shine in.........."

rhare's picture
rhare
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Get it? Not! Just a sign of subsidies

treebeard wrote:

Germany last month alone has installed as many panels as there are in the USA in total.  If you get depressed about what 's going in the USA, look around, there are whole other countries that "get it".

A bit of an exaggeration.  US has about 3.5GW of installed PV and Germany installed 1GW in September.

But yes, Germany has about 212 W/person of capacity installed and the US has about 8 W/person.  I'm doing my part to raise the US average with our 6,500 W/person system (13kW). wink

Germany's rate of solar installation doesn't show they "get it", rather it shows what happens when you massively subsidize something.  That growth rate will likely drop significantly since they cut the subsidies substantially this year.  Also, all those subsidies have led to an unsustainable corporate environment and many of the solar manufacturers are struggling because they never had to actually compete.  As we have seen many times in the past, governments can blow bubbles...

rhare's picture
rhare
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Solar costs...

RJE wrote:

What are you Folks paying for your systems? I'm in the process of seeing if I can put them up as I live in an attached condo community. I will live elsewhere when Barb retires so I would like to have a sense of costs.

Bob, you might want to check out Affordable Solar, they offer kits so you can see what pricing runs for the parts in case you want to do it yourself or just to use for negotiation from others.  Then you will need to check out the incentives for your location at DSIRE, for sure you get 30% Federal tax credit, but you may be able to get more by state/utility.

RJE's picture
RJE
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rhare, I have spent some time

rhare, I have spent some time on this, and are really paying attention here to what people are using and their savings. My intentions are to build on property I have in the North Country of Michigan. I want to get started now building a log cabin on a Lake but as my Lady is working (Hospital) and the medical coverage as part of her benefits being the sole motivation as we don't want catastrophic health cost should something crazy happen taking a good chunk of our cash reserves. I just had (last 3 years) neck, eye and a couple minor surgeries that totaled well over $200 thousand that if I had no insurance would have been a nice bite out of my rump. Don't want that. Additionally she loves her work so I wouldn't want to start something my Lady may not be ready for just yet. 

rhare, my intentions are to build everything myself, and I am getting wind charts from the area I plan to build in the future and do the math to see what I could expect by using wind power.

I appreciate anyone's personal costs figures as I will want to balance that against other things.

Regards

BOB

RNcarl's picture
RNcarl
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Posts: 358
Return of capital

Interesting,

simply put from what I have "learned" on this site is:

A.) All fiat money returns to its intrinsic value ~ 0

B.) The organism has way too many parisites on it making it sick (the planet) and it is running a fever (global warming) to rid itself of the parisitic illness. One of two outcomes will happen. One, the fever does not break the infection, and the planet dies(as we know it) or two, the fever causes a reaction that reduces the parisitic load to return the organism to homeostasis. 

Item B is self correcting wether we like it or not. Item A was caused by us so we can correct it. 

Preservation of capital is simple, understand that fiat money has no intrinsic value so trade it for that which does have intrinsic value. And, stop being a parisite. You stand a better chance of not becoming extinct. 

treebeard's picture
treebeard
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Agree to disagree

We fundamentally disagree on the perfection of "free markets" and the role public institutions in society, we have some common ground, but will never see eye to eye.  IMO Germany did the right thing, blowing a "bubble" in the solar market.  As energy prices continue to rise they can pull out the subsidies and let the thing run on it's own.  Certainly there will be some difficulty in the transition, but even as their growth slows they will be outstripping us by an order of magnitude.  They are and will stay way ahead of us on that front as a result of their approach to the problem. We are falling down in that regard.  I admire your individual efforts, but they pale in comparison to what a community can do when acting collectively (I know how evil that sounds to you - apologies ahead of time).

As we are arriving at the upward curve of the hockey stick on most resource and fiscal issues and germany is subsidising the solar industry preparing for whats to come,  what's happening in the USA:

I know, I know, it's all the governmets fault.

Sorry for the exageration on the solar panel facts, someone told me that today in a passing conversation and I could not believe it, should have research that before posting. Must have been in the past quarter.  The statistic is still pretty damn stunning.

RJE's picture
RJE
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Cost request...

I went back and looked at some notes I had from one of Chris's interviews with a radio host. 15% savings in his region with a payback of 7 years. This sounds good to me. Thanks for the help.

Chris, why the hell if you know this that others in your area don't take advantage as you did? Is it because their the same walleye Folks there as in my neck of the woods? This broadcast I think was a couple years ago, have you seen any changes there, in your neighborhood and community? Have you effectively changed your community to action? The political Folks heading your District? That would be interesting to know,

You have here because we are receptive, and I for one are waiting to be approached now rather than explain and get that look any longer because until their ready I can't help. I guess I'm asking if your powers of persuasion in your community had garnered any more people to do as you have.

Regards

BOB

rhare's picture
rhare
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Voluntary versus Forced - same song different venue

treebeard wrote:

We are falling down in that regard.  I admire your individual efforts, but they pale in comparison to what a community can do when acting collectively (I know how evil that sounds to you - apologies ahead of time).

Actually not, I completely support he community doing this type of thing as a collective.  When it's voluntary and the community wants something we can accomplish great things.  What I have a problem with is when a few individuals in a government decide what is best for a large chunk of the population. What if they are wrong?  What if they aren't considering other alternatives?  Also, when people are "forced" to do something they are much less invested in it and so they don't strive to do the best they can.

I actually believe in strong community, but community is voluntary, government does not create community, rather it pits one group against another as we have seen in our recent political landscape.

treebeard wrote:

Sorry for the exageration on the solar panel facts, someone told me that today in a passing conversation and I could not believe it, should have research that before posting. Must have been in the past quarter.  The statistic is still pretty damn stunning.

I agree it's pretty stunning.  I certainly have tried to convince everyone I know to get their money back from the government and to install solar.  Now, as much as I try to get people I know to install solar, it's still a subsidy for the rich (as most subsidies are), since the poor will be unable to take advantage of the incentives but they have to pay for it in higher utility bills.

The problem I see with solar subsidies is they don't really address the issue - solar subsidies are a band-aid for other issues - living beyond our means and subsidies for other forms of energy.  I suspect we actually agree about a lot of the problems, I just suspect we don't agree on the causes or potentially the solutions. For example, the problem with the German and Spain alternative energy bubbles is that the state picked the winners and the losers.  How many alternative solutions died because of the subsidy to PV?  How many people would have reduced usage instead of just adding PV and continuing their current lifestyle (I fit in this category).  Many of the companies that are now suppliers will perish because they do not have a product that is cost competitive and can't survive without subsidies (we have seen that here in the US market - Solyndra, A123, ...).

Just as the Fed distorts money, that money and government influence then distort the markets so that they do not create the things people need at the price they can afford.  I don't think markets are perfect, but they certainly do a better job of allocating risk and allowing those with good ideas to flourish than centrally planned, often politically motivated solutions.

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acomfort
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Population, Global Warming, Resource depletion

Global Warming,  Resource Depletion, Population

There is noway that this group can throughly cover any one of these topics without talking about the others.  

If we were not using so many resources we would not be causing global warming.         If world population was only 100 million of us we would not be worrying about resource depletion or causing global warming.   

I understand the dificulty of discussing over population . . . To discuss fixing it you will see many things that were good may now bad.   Examples: Having kids, agriculture, life saving devices,  fossil fuel driven labor saving devices, cheap transportation, maybe fire and cooked food,  and the list goes on and on and on.  

The Fuckit Slump

Oil’s running low at the pump,
Not due to some interim hump;
We’re ready to quit
‘Cause we don’t give a shit,
And we enter the Fuckit Slump.

Starvation hits, nobody’s plump,
Global warming beats on our rump;
When it doesn’t mean squat
That it’s getting too hot,
We’re into the Fuckit Slump.  

Air wafts by a nuclear dump,
We inhale a plutonium lump;
Fresh air provides
Radionuclides
To go with the Fuckit Slump.

It’s all of us, you’re not a chump,
The boiling frog still doesn’t jump;
Let’s be succinct:
We’re going extinct,
So we’re doing the Fuckit Slump. 

treebeard's picture
treebeard
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The perfect is the enemy of the good

I totally agree with your position in the abstract, but I do not believe that human beings at present are capable of organizing themselves at present in the way that you suggest. I hope that someday we evolve enough that we can live in a society in which every transaction is voluntary, and people are free do as they choose. In some ways the form of government is irrelevant. If everyone were Jesus Christ like, any form of government (or none at all) would do. If everyone were Adolf Hitler like, no form of government or nongovernment would do.

The question is, how do we get there and what do we do with ourselves in the meantime. I fundamentally believe that responsibility leads to freedom and not that freedom leads to responsibility. Pushing an agenda where Freedom is the slogan word and responsibility is mentioned only in passing leads to the collective pathological behavior we see today, where fame and wealth are worshipped, self indulgent self destructive behavior is the cultural norm. Human behavior leads the to form of government not vice versa.

Germany's method of achieving the solar development may not be the ideal. But if the majority of German's didn't believe in it, it would not have happened. Characterizing it is the few foisting it on the many is inaccurate. We are moving slowly in the direction of both better forms of achieving collective decision making and making better collective decisions. But to hold one hostage to the other is counter productive. The perfect is the enemy of the good.

RJE's picture
RJE
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I have no clue how anyone

I have no clue how anyone else here does their thing. Me, I just do it. I don't wait on the government or any person's timeline. I get it done. If it makes sense to me then I won't relax until that system is in place. End of story.

Respectfully Given

BOB

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kelvinator
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The Absurdity of Wealth Concentration in the Modern World

Speaking of outer space, has anyone seen the L-Curve of wealth concentration in the US - and I imagine it would be even more exaggerated for the world as a whole - and this chart refers to incomes, not actual wealth as of 2003.   As I understand it, wealth has continued to concentrate since then:

http://www.lcurve.org/images/LCurveFlier2003.pdf

So, from the stats of that time, if you stacked up the median income of the US population, $40,000, on the 50 yard line of a football field representing the income distributions in the US from the lowest at one goal line (0 yard line, presumably $0) to the highest (at the 100 yard line - Bill Gates), the median income $40,000 as a stack of $100 bills would be about 1.6 inches high, sitting on the 50.  Those with income at the 95 percentile earning $100,000 would have a stack of hundreds about 4" high.  At the 99th percentile, $300K, the stack would be about a foot high.  According to the write-up, Bill Gates income would be a stack of hundreds about 30 miles high, at the upper end of the statospere, and tens of thousands of feet above where Felix Baumgartner stepped off of the balloon gondola for his joy ride the other day.

When I was working on the documentary on corruption a few years ago, I made a 3D model in Excel of wealth concentration in the US, and it was an eye opener.   If you create a 10 x 10 matrix of wealth by percentiles in the US, you have an extremely flat area like the Great Plains for almost the whole area, except for a giant Mount Everest with exponentially rocketing foothills the very last few squares in the corner near the 100th percentile square.

I agree with Chris' basic position, and the basic information, that taxing alone is absolutely not a solution in itself to the major problems we face – it can’t raise close to the funds needed for the current budget commitments - and it absolutely can be part of a syndrome of "taxing someone else" instead of setting priorities and making the real reorganizations, cuts, and improvements to efficiencies where they need to be made.   But, like JBarney, I also cringe at the overdone anti-tax currents on this thread and this site.   Additional taxes and fairer distribution of the world's vast wealth are part of any budget balancing that includes any kind of social safety net in the US.  And IMO, capitalism absolutely doesn't work without providing some safety net and fairness, as we saw in the 1930's.  To the extent we’re all uncomfortable with “class war”, revolution, taxation and redistribution of wealth, we might as well prepare to be uneasy for awhile, because stark differences in wealth and welfare of people is absolutely part of the problem right now everywhere, and it’s worth not forgetting that – beyond all the distracting talk about eternal “freeloaders” which IMO is in part, an avoidance. 

A lot of the wealthy are freeloaders, too. I’m sorry, though they may all be great guys, I don’t have that much respect for a system that delivers outrageous billions to Bill Gates, Warren Buffet or George Soros and gives them control over so much of the planet’s resources, let alone Donald Trump.   They don’t need it.  I don’t need it, either – someone else does.   So, how do we change that? As Chris discussed before, one model to look at is the Swedish approach of a mix of free market, higher taxation and higher general welfare - gov't balanced against free markets.   Like many here, I tend to believe it’s likely the larger system is too ossified, corrupt and in denial to change in time and become more fair and principled, either by evolution or revolution.  So, in reality, we are more likely to be left to our own devices and organizing in more localized communities.

I’m not a particularly religious person, but apparently Matthew was a good dude with a nice quote in the Christian Bible that pertains to this thread and this problem at all levels:

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

As times get tougher, doesn't it seem our heart needs to be with our larger community as many have said, on whatever level we can make that work, and that that’s the only place to lay up treasures in the end and find a bit of heaven?

How about "the return of principles" instead of "the return of principal"?  Are both possible?  If not, and we're bound to all be "general partners" with 100% at risk, like it or not, is there a way at this point to do it happily with other people?

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Dogs_In_A_Pile
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treebeard wrote: We are

treebeard wrote:

We are moving slowly in the direction of both better forms of achieving collective decision making and making better collective decisions. But to hold one hostage to the other is counter productive. The perfect is the enemy of the good.

California's Proposition 30 would indicate otherwise.  A majority votes to tax a minority so the majority can have someone else pay for something the majority wants.

Yup.....that's awesome decision making at work there.

RJE's picture
RJE
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kelvenator, I watched as a

kelvenator, I watched as a boy in the neighborhood unwrapped a large two piece Snickers with his little Brothers (4 total). He broke apart the large pieces into smaller and visably simular pieces and shared with his Brothers and a neighbor boy who drifted over. I felt pretty good about that as this is at the heart of the human race were my thoughts. There is hope, I just feel it deeply.

Nice essay

Best Ragards

BOB

ao's picture
ao
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Posts: 2220
the gloves are off

cmartenson wrote:

I am quite unsettled by the idea of putting tax hikes that impact one segment of the population to a vote.  It brings to mind this quote:

"When the people find they can vote themselves money, that will herald the end of the republic."

          — Benjamin Franklin.

What's next, a ballot initiative to take the private assets of 49% of the population?  I know that's extreme, but the idea of asking the majority what it thinks of taking more money from a minority is somehow just not in the spirit of things for me.  Just too many ways for all of that to end badly.

I know it's been said, but the whole idea that the schools in CA have been 'rescued' by this tax hike (yes, that's the language being used) demonstrates a complete failure to address the core of the problem.  Perhaps the schools have become too expensive for some reason or there are better and more cost effective ways to run things or any of a number of other essential starting points for the conversation?

Here's a prediction:  the state will collect less than it thinks, some will be diverted (or 'borrowed') for other-than-school purposes, and nothing will be fixed except that the population of people earning over $250k in CA will shrink.  In just one or two years the schools will have chewed through whatever additional funds came their way and the whole problem will resurface.

Throughout my entire adult life, I've always willingly paid my full share of taxes, considering them the cost of living in this country and the benefits inherent to that situation.  As I've learned more over the years, however, I've become increasingly disillusioned with the entire situation.

I realize now, after seeing the taxes (both overt and covert) that this administration has planned for us, the very best investment for me at this time is not precious metals, timberland, arable land, livestock, alternative sources of power, skill development, or aquisition of other productive assets and/or businesses, although these all have merit.  I realize now that the very best investment for me is to seek out and hire the very best tax lawyer and attorney money can afford and restructure my entire life, livelihood, and future to utilize every available legal means to reduce my taxes to the lowest possible number, if not zero.  I've always preferred simplicity and directness and standing apart from the morass of legal and regulatory entanglement but realize now, such a course of action is no longer tenable if I want to financially survive or even thrive in the coming years.  To paraphrase a statement frequently made by the Viet Cong, I have to "grab them by the belt and pull them close", using the nature and design of their own system to my advantage.

ao's picture
ao
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one of the ground zeroes

thc0655 wrote:

Bah humbug!  We're going to reduce our world population severely, but not in any thoughtful, organized, compassionate way.  We're going to run wilfully into any one of several walls directly ahead of us (war, pestilence, environment, energy) and millions or billions are going to die prematurely.  It might be more than "necessary" or it might be less than "enough," but it's coming.  The one percent who see it coming won't be able to alter the course sufficiently or measureably, despite the best of intentions and good ideas.  Let's be kind to one another as we hurtle toward extinction (or mere Armageddon).

thc0655,

It was interesting to see in your stomping grounds (i.e. Philly), some of the wards had 99% of their vote for Obama.  Yikes!  I'd sure hate to be there when things start to get dicey.  I can see why you're thinking the way you're thinking.

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DRS78750
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RJE wrote: What are you Folks

RJE wrote:

What are you Folks paying for your systems?

Thanks

BOB

16 months ago, my 9.2KW grid-connected/dependant system cost $1.23/watt after rebates and tax credits. Today the same system would cost only $0.46/watt.  This means you should be able to install a 5,000 watt system for less than $2,500 in my area. My utility rebates $2/watt so you need to take that into account. Without the rebate, today's cost would be $1.86/watt. Missouri is a net-metering state, so I get credited for any excess energy generated.  I calculate my ROI on a daily basis and it mostly ranges between 10% and 20% (on a yearly basis).  And all of that avoided cost and billing credit is tax free. It is probably the best long term investment that I have made.

I used the 30% tax credit to free up enough IRA funds to install a 2-ton ground source heat pump to heat all my water and entire house.

Dave

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population reduction monograph

RJE wrote:

Geez, I don't like this conversation but I have thought that the heavy population centers around the world are most certainly near their food source and water, we can reasonably be assured of this. Now that means the mass GENOCIDE of large groups must be done close to these resources. So, this makes sense and why? The weapons needed to manage population will be environmentally unfriendly so what is the point of even carrying on about all of this. What we seek in effect will be destroyed for many years to come. Done with this topic now.

Don't worry Bob.  It really doesn't have to be accomplished with any loud booms, radioactive fallout, chemical clouds, pestilence, induced famines, or other fear producing drama. 

Given enough time, fluoridation and GMO foods are expected to take care of the problem quite nicely.

http://www.projectcamelotportal.com/files/PDF/water-flouridestory.pdf

 

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A Couple of Links on the Scandinavian Model

I think these provide an interesting counter point to the large representation of the quite individualist, Libertarian view here on the site, and the idealization of the individualist ethic in the US generally:

http://www.jsonline.com/news/opinion/the-us-could-learn-from-scandinavia...

This link below (after some gratuitous pictures of Swedish models) talks about how the Swedish economic model may not transfer as well to the US, because Sweden is much smaller, and more homogeneous - more like a smaller community, rather than large, diverse and cumbersome like the US.  It also points out that Sweden has been very adaptive - after setting up an 80% high end tax rate early on, it moved away from an over-emphasis on taxation and the social welfare state towards lower taxes and more free market reforms awhile back when over-taxation became too much of a drag on the economy.  Nonetheless, Sweden's been reducing its debt level while retaining much of its social welfare system for all citizens - heath care, education, retirement, etc:

It's an open question what kind of balance is possible in the US, but it doesn't seem we hear much real discussion of the values, priorities, and dollar amounts involved in various options. We tend to hear more about extremes.   Maybe we'll just have to sort it out in smaller than national regions.

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kelvinator wrote: I think

kelvinator wrote:

I think these provide an interesting counter point to the large representation of the quite individualist, Libertarian view here on the site, and the idealization of the individualist ethic in the US generally:

http://www.jsonline.com/news/opinion/the-us-could-learn-from-scandinavia...

This link below (after some gratuitous pictures of Swedish models) talks about how the Swedish economic model may not transfer as well to the US, because Sweden is much smaller, and more homogeneous - more like a smaller community, rather than large, diverse and cumbersome like the US.  It also points out that Sweden has been very adaptive - after setting up an 80% high end tax rate early on, it moved away from an over-emphasis on taxation and the social welfare state towards lower taxes and more free market reforms awhile back when over-taxation became too much of a drag on the economy.  Nonetheless, Sweden's been reducing its debt level while retaining much of its social welfare system for all citizens - heath care, education, retirement, etc:

It's an open question what kind of balance is possible in the US, but it doesn't seem we hear much real discussion of the values, priorities, and dollar amounts involved in various options. We tend to hear more about extremes.   Maybe we'll just have to sort it out in smaller than national regions.

I had the good fortune to spend some time this past summer with a young Swedish journalist who had flown to the US to attend an "Age of Limits"  weekend and learn more about peak oil, which she claimed was virtually unknown in Sweden.  She was quite pleased with the cradle to grave healthcare and education system in Sweden.

Obama's piddling attempt at healthcare reform missed the whole point of socialized medicine.  He left control with the insurance industry.  There will never be a viable healthcare system as long as they are in charge.

Doug

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ao, I liked your essay as it

ao, I liked your essay as it was a nice blowing off of your frustrations. That's a good thing.

The simplest path is to be a part of the majority. Look for a government job, get poorer or simplify your life and you won't need allot of stuff. Live with less and it becomes more actually. I dare say more rewarding. That way you won't have to spend your labors paying for lawyers who write the Bills that Congress supports but have never read, that actually take from us even more of our labors. Wash, rinse and repeat, and you just keep getting more frustrated, paying more of your labors to fight what the lawyers are writing in Bill form being promoted by the political ball less puppets who are screwing you in the first place.

In the end what you have paid to get more in the form of tax relief is eaten up by those that you seek help from, and you end up probably paying more for legal council than the taxes you want to save. Then the politicians come back wanting more as Chris said the cash gets diverted, and we start this thing all over again as those who are poor, have a government job or are now dependent on government for their earned entitlement programs vote for more taxes on you and probably will eliminate the tax advantage you seek by hiring accountants and lawyers, by closing all the loop holes and subsidies that you pay them to take advantage of in the first place. No more tax deductions for mortgage, health care, child care, and things like that.

Then the Fed floods the system with cash, raises gasoline prices, food prices, through inflation that is stated as 2% when the reality is most likely 6%, at least for food and gasoline and your $50,000 dollar income is $3000 dollars less as inflation rocks your family budget, and the tax savings you sought to get by hiring lawyers and accountants just isn't helping you at all.

Finally, what happens is you get a letter from the IRS wanting your books and a meeting to question you about all the deductions you have taken, and so you have to rehire the lawyer, the accountant to come with you and plead your case as you are ultimately responsible, and not the lawyer and accountant, and on average end up paying back $1500 in savings you paid the lawyer and accountant who haven't truly a clue because the tax system is so complicated that even GOD himself hasn't a clue of how to interpret that beast. At the end of the meeting you shake hands with everyone so relieved that you won't have to spend a day with some truly awful people who have an eye on those baby blues of yours in a prison somewhere who like you just wanted justice by hiring an accountant and lawyer to relieve some of their stresses too. They are in prison because all the stress and everything having been piled on them they get irate at the tax man, during a meeting, and calls him a crook, mother fucker and he can kiss my ass. They get pissed at their accountant, lawyer and are completely at their wits end. At trial the judge sentences them, and brands them the bad guy, and as they are placed in their sell the policeman tells them, "now have a nice day and please, behave yourself". The beasts in all the cells they have just past to get them to their new crib all notice them Big Beautiful Blue Eyes they have and say, "hey, have a nice day, whistle and look forward to seeing you later". 

Man do I ever feel your pain. Obviously!

My story, less is more and just try that first. Imagine, no change in life style, debt free, and you can choose to do what you want. Ah, FREEDOM. I have green eyes by the way.

Have a Great weekend.

BOB

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Agreed

Doug said:

"Obama's piddling attempt at healthcare reform missed the whole point of socialized medicine.  He left control with the insurance industry.  There will never be a viable healthcare system as long as they are in charge."

I agree, Doug.   As just an example, I read polling when healthcare was being debated that the public largely favored the vilified "public option" - especially before the insurance/GOP funded misinformation parade about "death panels" etc (as though the insurance companies themselves weren't already death panels based on who and what they'll cover).   The public option was the closest thing to single payer and might have hoped to provide at least some cost control, but Obama wouldn't even support that, or mass bargaining for drugs.   Yet, all we heard about from mega-media was how many people hated "Obamacare", which was stupidly crafted to require people to buy insurance from insurance companies - not a great political or practical approach.  

Well now, some kind of universal health care was just enshrined as more permanent in the election, but it's not a great plan and doesn't have appropriate cost controls.    Just about every other developed country in the world does healthcare better and cheaper than the US per person with government involvement, but somehow, you can never really hear about or talk about that here amidst all the yampooning about outrageous socialism, etc.   This is how the GOP ends up with their own "unskewed" polls that show them winning when they aren't, or data that shows climate change doesn't exist when it does, and that the American healthcare system is the best darn system in the world when it's not.   Tough to make smart decisions when you can't talk about facts.

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Hate of the wealthy - easier than real conversation.

kelvinator wrote:

So, from the stats of that time, if you stacked up the median income of the US population, $40,000, on the 50 yard line of a football field representing the income distributions in the US from the lowest at one goal line (0 yard line, presumably $0) to the highest (at the 100 yard line - Bill Gates), the median income $40,000 as a stack of $100 bills would be about 1.6 inches high, sitting on the 50.  Those with income at the 95 percentile earning $100,000 would have a stack of hundreds about 4" high.  At the 99th percentile, $300K, the stack would be about a foot high.  According to the write-up, Bill Gates income would be a stack of hundreds about 30 miles high, at the upper end of the statospere, and tens of thousands of feet above where Felix Baumgartner stepped off of the balloon gondola for his joy ride the other day.

Good graphic if your goal is to promote hate of the wealthy, but absolutely useless at showing the problem.  How about you then show a graphic if you take all the obscene wealth from them evil rich people (the billionaires - essentially the Forbes 400) and distribute it evenly to everyone?

Net worth of Forbes 400: $1.7T

Number of housholds in the US:    112M (assuming your median income was households)

That means every household in the US gets a grand total of $15K, one time!  Now what?  In your diagram you now have a one time bump to everyone's stack of a 1/2".  Wouldn't look very impressive on your graph would it.  And that's a 1 time bump for 1 year.

I think it's important to notice that that $1.7T is mighty close to the amount we are over spending in our federal budget every single year!  Or about 1/3 of our real deficit if you accurately (GAAP) account for the entitlements. 

kelvinator wrote:

To the extent we’re all uncomfortable with “class war”, revolution, taxation and redistribution of wealth, 

Then why generate inflammatory displays like your chart?  I think it's pretty easy to show that "eat the rich" is not a solution.  Don't get me wrong, I agree that the wealth gap is as issue, but promoting class warfare will not solve the problem, nor will taxes on the rich - despite all the rhetoric, there simply are not enough rich people.

kelvinator wrote:

I think these provide an interesting counter point to the large representation of the quite individualist, Libertarian view here on the site, and the idealization of the individualist ethic in the US generally:

Oh, the Sweden crap again!  Why is it that people like to pull out the Swedish model and say look how wonderful it is.  What you seem to fail to point out is that Sweden has twice the per capita national debt as the US.  Yes, you can build wonderful things by going into debt, but eventually they fail.  Swedish health care miracle is nothing but an unsustainable illusion built on debt.

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Competition and consumer preference is the best cost control

kelvinator wrote:

Well now, some kind of universal health care was just enshrined as more permanent in the election, but it's not a great plan and doesn't have appropriate cost controls.

Your right, but neither do any of the other socialized medicine programs.  The proper cost control method is to have those who are paying for it and getting benefit asking how much does it cost.  Only the individual can make the decision if the benefit is worth the cost.

Even if you think the government should be involved in health care, then the best thing would be to hand everyone a card loaded with X dollars to spend on health care.  They can choose to buy insurance, an HMO, or just pay for health care directly.  Or perhaps they will buy a new TV with it and decide they don't want health care.   But at least you then have consumers shopping around for the best deal, or making the decision about what procedures are worth doing.  If people don't ask then you either have rationing by some third party or you get spiraling costs.

Gee, Greece has socialized medicine, I wonder how that's working out for them now?

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Dave, thank you so much.

Dave, thank you so much. Numbers I can use. Good stuff and appreciated.

BOB

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As We Know, We Disagree rhare

My goal is not to promote hate of the wealthy at all, and that wasn't the tone of my post, if you hadn't noticed.  It was to talk about values and priorities.  It's to talk about other alternatives than a tiny percentage of humanity controlling most of the world's resources.   Is it possible to do that without free market people like yourself starting to yell "class warfare" and pretend that riots will be incited and the mobs will start gathering at the gate if we let them know the actual facts of wealth concentration?  Personally, I have zero ambition to be a billionaire.  What a bother.  But, as I said in earlier discussions with you, to me the notion that the power of the vastly wealthy won't always need to be counterbalanced by a gov't of the people is a fantasy.

At least you do acknowledge that "the wealth gap is an issue", while not talking about how to address it.   From my point of view, the wealth gap, as I said, is beyond an issue, it's an absurdity.   I don't at all assume that redistributing the wealth from the rich to everyone will solve the world's problems.  It won't.  But I'm certain that the "free market" cult's idea that the unregulated free market on its own - particularly at this point in history - can create anything close to a world that worth living in for the vast majority of people is utter nonsense, and all the historical evidence I see is to the contrary.  It's going to take a balance between free market and gov't.   Every study I've seen shows better health care under government supported systems in other countries but as I say, if we can't agree on facts, we're just not going to be able to have a discussion, are we?   Keeping blinders on in the service of a belief benefits no one.  You can say I'm doing that, and I can say you're doing that - sadly, then, it's time to give up, and we can each talk to people we find more open with whom we share more world perceptions and more agreement on facts.

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Belief in the benevolent govenrment

treebeard wrote:

I totally agree with your position in the abstract, but I do not believe that human beings at present are capable of organizing themselves at present in the way that you suggest. I hope that someday we evolve enough that we can live in a society in which every transaction is voluntary, and people are free do as they choose. In some ways the form of government is irrelevant. If everyone were Jesus Christ like, any form of government (or none at all) would do. If everyone were Adolf Hitler like, no form of government or nongovernment would do.

The question is, how do we get there and what do we do with ourselves in the meantime. I fundamentally believe that responsibility leads to freedom and not that freedom leads to responsibility.

I like to debate from the extremes - I'm sure no one has noticed that. laugh

Anyway, I don't think the character or morality of the individual is near as important as you believe. Let's take a quick stab at some "moral" demographics (totally a guess on my part):

  • 5 % of the population are saints - The Jesus Christ types
  • 5 % of the population are very good, will help anyone with little concern for themselves
  • 80 % of the population is neutral - looks out for themselves, family and neighbors, really just care about living and will help others occasionally during times of crisis
  • 5 % of the population are bad, the criminals who will steal from others as long as they don't get caught, care little for anyone other than their family
  • 5% are the Hitlers, psychopaths who it's only for them, throw grandma under the bus if it would get them more.

This is of course just like any other population, a bell curve of morality, responsibility, etc.  So as a society what do we want to protect against?   You seem to argue from the point that we need government so that the Christ types can have power over the rest of the population to keep us safe, make the right decisions, etc.  That we need government to watch out for us because without them we would fall into chaos.  However, the problem as I see it, is the good are generally fairly passive and don't generate conflict and don't believe in violence to get their ways.  The only way government has to maintain order is via violence.  Either you comply or you are eliminated (killed or imprisoned).  So instead of getting the Christ types into power we end up with the Hitler types who have no problem with the violence.   I believe this is the problem we have now.  Those that desire power/greed are in the government because it allows them an advantage.  I also believe that even if you have the best of intentions, if you use government (force) to implement your plans you end up as a tyrant anyway.  Larken Rose has a good video on this:

I also belive that responsiblity is a learned characteristic.  You learn to be responsible when your free to choose actions that create discomfort for you (starvation, cold, social outcast, etc).  If you are forced instead, you now can blame your problems on the one that forced you and you never learn responsiblity.  Responsibility comes from natural feedback loops.   If you treat people well, run a business that provides good products, then you do well.  If you are mean, or provide bad service you fail.  If you can't force your will onto others you have to win them over.  This applies to business and personal relationships. 

So let get back to our monetary/energy situation.   Germany (and the US) has picked PV as the winner.  Government has decided for you to funnel money into PV, its it right?  What if concentrated large solar plants was a much better choice - they are now priced out of the market.  What if conserving or putting the money into efficiency was a better payoff than PV?  All we see is what was done, not what might have been done.

treebeard wrote:

Germany's method of achieving the solar development may not be the ideal. But if the majority of German's didn't believe in it, it would not have happened. Characterizing it is the few foisting it on the many is inaccurate.

Hmm, I guess by that logic, the majority of the US believes the wars are right and that the bankers needed to be bailed out.   Do you agree?  What you have in Germany is just like you have here.   I'm sure there are strong political and monetary interest using govenment to force it's citizens to comply.  The only difference is this time the force is for something you believe in.  Next time it won't be....

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RJE wrote: ao, I liked your

RJE wrote:

ao, I liked your essay as it was a nice blowing off of your frustrations. That's a good thing.

The simplest path is to be a part of the majority. Look for a government job, get poorer or simplify your life and you won't need allot of stuff. Live with less and it becomes more actually. I dare say more rewarding. That way you won't have to spend your labors paying for lawyers who write the Bills that Congress supports but have never read, that actually take from us even more of our labors. Wash, rinse and repeat, and you just keep getting more frustrated, paying more of your labors to fight what the lawyers are writing in Bill form being promoted by the political ball less puppets who are screwing you in the first place.

In the end what you have paid to get more in the form of tax relief is eaten up by those that you seek help from, and you end up probably paying more for legal council than the taxes you want to save. Then the politicians come back wanting more as Chris said the cash gets diverted, and we start this thing all over again as those who are poor, have a government job or are now dependent on government for their earned entitlement programs vote for more taxes on you and probably will eliminate the tax advantage you seek by hiring accountants and lawyers, by closing all the loop holes and subsidies that you pay them to take advantage of in the first place. No more tax deductions for mortgage, health care, child care, and things like that.

Then the Fed floods the system with cash, raises gasoline prices, food prices, through inflation that is stated as 2% when the reality is most likely 6%, at least for food and gasoline and your $50,000 dollar income is $3000 dollars less as inflation rocks your family budget, and the tax savings you sought to get by hiring lawyers and accountants just isn't helping you at all.

Finally, what happens is you get a letter from the IRS wanting your books and a meeting to question you about all the deductions you have taken, and so you have to rehire the lawyer, the accountant to come with you and plead your case as you are ultimately responsible, and not the lawyer and accountant, and on average end up paying back $1500 in savings you paid the lawyer and accountant who haven't truly a clue because the tax system is so complicated that even GOD himself hasn't a clue of how to interpret that beast. At the end of the meeting you shake hands with everyone so relieved that you won't have to spend a day with some truly awful people who have an eye on those baby blues of yours in a prison somewhere who like you just wanted justice by hiring an accountant and lawyer to relieve some of their stresses too. They are in prison because all the stress and everything having been piled on them they get irate at the tax man, during a meeting, and calls him a crook, mother fucker and he can kiss my ass. They get pissed at their accountant, lawyer and are completely at their wits end. At trial the judge sentences them, and brands them the bad guy, and as they are placed in their sell the policeman tells them, "now have a nice day and please, behave yourself". The beasts in all the cells they have just past to get them to their new crib all notice them Big Beautiful Blue Eyes they have and say, "hey, have a nice day, whistle and look forward to seeing you later". 

Man do I ever feel your pain. Obviously!

My story, less is more and just try that first. Imagine, no change in life style, debt free, and you can choose to do what you want. Ah, FREEDOM. I have green eyes by the way.

Have a Great weekend.

BOB

Bob,

Thanks for colorful answer, lol.  However, the story you cite is of the average schmuck trying to deal with the tax system the way some other average schmuck has told him to deal with the tax system.  What you seem to overlook is folks such as the Rothschilds and Rockefellers who have set up trusts and foundations and other tax avoidance and reduction strategies and walked away paying to little or no taxes (and very capably defend their ability to do so).  Obviously, they're politically connected on the grandest scale on this planet but one can learn from their model which is exactly what I intend to do.  And if you're honest, accurate, and thorough with what you do, there's much less angst and expense associated with a meeting with the IRS folks.  I know of one family that set up businesses, trusts, foundations, etc. employing various family members in various capacities and reduced their taxes to next to nothing.  They then had one of those dreaded meetings with the IRS folks and after it was over, they were actually congratulated by the IRS for how ably they had use the tax code to their benefit while still abiding by the law.

By the way, I got a nice tax refund this year on my extension of $7617 with using what I learned this past year.  I even went down to the local IRS office to make sure it all met with their approval but interestingly, the folks there seemed to know less about their own tax code than I did. 

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In the 60's "bullshit" was

In the 60's "bullshit" was called on the government and the Elites, and we found ourselves with pacifying results that actually benefited society but led to Nixon. We called Nixon out but not until he closed the Gold window and as they say that was that.

Great strides were then made through the years by the radical now turned liberals. Along the way their kind hearts gave away the house, and the Super Doctors extended life beyond the 67 year mark that was the ceiling for collecting the greatest social engineering project ever conceived in the Social Security Act of the Roosevelt Administration. If only we had just raised the bar for when you could collect SSI commensurate with life expectancy then our issues would be less a predicament and more a problem solver type thing. That being just raise the age to 69, 70, 72, 74, 77, then 79, then 83. SSI taxes would just stay as they are or we sell a little more tax instead of an economy buster larger tax. We were NOT ever suppose to see a dime of SSI and is why people saved and planned a different retirement. Once we could see that we would have SSI as a supplement to our savings we realized we could consume ever larger portions of our future needs now, enjoy life while we were young and kick back when we were older.

The problem is the predicament now, and to change that will be no small task.

So we have "managed population" discussions. We have burned through more energy because instead of being frugal we went for it all and burned the shit out of dead things. We became glutinous and greedy as we all envisioned the rich life style, and are now stuck with debt that we spent on future desires and ate them all up in the present and we call foul because we are saddled with extreme debt that we and the government must pay back. What is so unfair is that we point the finger at government and don't think to point the finger at ourselves, and we are the government. You know, "government by the people for the people". We got what we wanted Folks. So I call "bullshit" on the people, That means you and me.

Along the way we forgot the only truth in existence and that is math. How would things look if SSI couldn't be collected until the age of 75. Would this problem be solved or is it to be managed as a predicament. How would things look if we weren't buying so much from the future that we had more than enough dead things to manage a future, and had the energy to do that?

Now we get cute with the math, if only we extend and pretend maybe the numbers will change when in fact the numbers will crush us as the moment of truth is finally set free.

I must get out of my office.

Have a good weekend

BOB

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Quote:It's going to take a

Quote:
It's going to take a balance between free market and gov't. Every study I've seen shows better health care under government supported systems in other countries but as I say, if we can't agree on facts, we're just not going to be able to have a discussion, are we? Keeping blinders on in the service of a belief benefits no one.

Say it brother!  Last I heard the US was first in healthcare costs and 37th in healthcare results.  The entire advanced world is on socialized healthcare and provides better healthcare at lower prices.  At some point you have to deal with facts.

Doug

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I'm In Support ot the Canadian Healthcare System

I'm Canadian and I am thankful for, and fully supportive of our public healthcare system. And I am also  greatly admire Tommy Douglas, the founder of our public system.  But I also realise that it will be very challenging to maintain our system especially as our population continues to get older.

Of course nothing is perfect, but I believe that most Canadians are thankful for what we have here. And that they would not like to have a for profit US style health care system. J.

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ao, I took liberty as I

ao, I took liberty as I sometimes do for effect and levity, thank you for enjoying it a bit. You are very bright ao and I am certain that you have things pretty worked out for your circumstance. Good Luck.

Hey, I had a visit with the tax man, and I was very intimidated but it ended rather harmlessly. It is where I got some of my material to respond, and then just let things go way to far! LOL

Regards

BOB 

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It's About Values

John said:

"...I also realise that it will be very challenging to maintain our system especially as our population continues to get older. Of course nothing is perfect, but I believe that most Canadians are thankful for what we have here. And that they would not like to have a for profit US style health care system."

IMO, it makes a huge difference what a community or a society's values and priorities are, and how directly and realistically they can talk about what works and what doesn't work, about how to adapt.   I really respect that Canada and most sane countries have made it a priority to find a way to provide healthcare to citizens.  At this point, US healthcare is like a Rube Goldberg contraption, an outcome reflecting the schizophrenic shouting match caused by the over-dominance of healthcare insurers and other big political funders in public healthcare debate in 2009.  As John says, Canada may have a hard time making its system work as the population ages, as will likely be true everywhere.  They may have to make changes, and may even have to scale back benefits in some respects.  Maybe they'll have to strongly curtail the extremely high end-of-life care expenses can be typical, and only provide them for people who have chosen to buy additional insurance for that purpose or want to pay out of pocket, or develop some other scheme.  I read a post recently in which a guy said his brother spent more in healthcare on the day he died than the rest of his entire life.  

But the point is, Canadians and other countries made a priority of providing universal health care, and that has a major impact on people's feeling about their relationship to their government and the basic fairness of their society.    Math will always be math, but a country that makes a priority of providing health care, and provides heathcare information to its citizens that helps bring down its healthcare costs may end up in a better spot than a country that idealizes lifestyles of the rich and famous who made a ton of money setting up trashy fast food chains that make citizens fat and chronically prone to be sick, for example, and with some tendency to suppress health facts that would be a buzz kill for those businesses and cut into profits.

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It's About Values, And Keeping Integrity Healthy

Thanks Kelvinator for expanding on my comment.

And I especially agree with this comment in your post,

"Canadians and other countries made a priority of providing universal health care, and that has a magor impact on people's feeling about their relationship to their government and the basic fairness or their society. " 

And it is certainly about values, and keeping integrity healthy.  

                                                                      A Definition Of Integrity

Integrity is a personal choice, and uncompromising and predictably consistant commitment to honour moral, ethical, spiritual, and artistic values and principles.

                  And Plato shared Soctrates's belief that that there should be an "art of living".

"Similiarily a man can live well only if he knows clearly what is the end of his life, what things are of real value, and how they are to be obtained... If man imagines that the end of life is to gain wealth or power, which are valueless in themselves, all his actions will be misdirected"

Plato also believed that society must be ruled by leaders who have "learnt, by long and severe training, not only the true end of human life, but the meaning of goodness in all it's forms"

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richardgordon
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Understanding the REAL problem.

"The Bush and Obama administrations have seen exploding debt and deficit levels accompanied by staggering issuance of new money by the Federal Reserve....

"...In this way, the government is taking future wealth from our children's pockets."

"...And it seems increasingly clear that the government will take more of the current wealth from ours, too. Rather than take the pain of reigning in spending, government demonstrates, time and again, its preference to raise revenues via taxation."

I read so much misguided hysteria in the press and it usually all wrong.  This article is no different.

First of all, how do you define wealth?  Is it a million dollars?  $25 million?  How about $50 million?  But, that's only money.  Its not wealth.   Money is just a score card for figuring out how well or poorly you are doing.  And as a measure of wealth its not very reliable. Real wealth is the clean air we breath.  The forests we depend upon for producing all kinds of products.  Its the seas filled with marine life.  Its the magnificent views and mother nature.  Its the ecosystem.  Wealth is technology and innovation.  Its patents and processes. Its a highly educated workforce.

Adam Taggart suggests that the government is squandering our future.  Well he's right, but in a totally different way than he means.   Our governments are focusing on entirely the wrong problems.  For example, in Canada our government is determined to exploit the Alberta oilsands.  For what?  Money!  In the process it is degrading not only Alberta, but its also destroying YOUR climate as well.  In thirty years time when we have passed the tipping point of runaway global warming we will be shaking our heads and screaming bloody murder because our governments were warned over and over again to fix the problem.  Sadly, we will realize what fools we all are.  We could have solved the REAL problems.

As for the debt or deficits.  I strongly recommend you read  a book by Randall Wray called Understanding Modern Money. 

From this book you will learn that governments.  Particularly the US Government can borrow UNLIMITED amounts of money and it can create UNLIMITED amounts of money.  Morover, taxation is not theft as so many right wing ideologes believe.   Taxation is a way for governments to keep control of inflation and the money supply. 

What is absurd is that Right Wing Republicans would have everbody beleive that "exploding debt and deficit levels accompanied by staggering issuance of new money by the Federal Reserve  is taking future wealth from our children's pockets."

Interesting how when Bush and Cheney were in power, Cheney declared "deficits don't matter".  Suddenly they do.  Another inconsistency is when the Right screams "SOCIALISM" when ordinary people are taken care of, but when the financial system is destroyed by the Banks and Financial system then its OK to pump trillions of Dollars into the banks to save them.  And its OK to spend trillions of dollars on unecessary wars with Iraq and Afganistan but its not OK to spend money on healthcare or infrastructure or education.  Mitt Romney declared that one of the first things he would do is get rid of PBS.  

People in America don't really understand what wealth is.  You think its money.  Its not.  Its the 300 million people whos tallents drive the richest nation on Earth.  And no matter how many trillions of dollars is pumped out by the Federal Reserve, that wealth is still going to be there.  So too is the land, and the resources of the United States.

On the other hand if you don't make sure your people are educated and taken care of.  If you don't protect the environment and if you let your infrastructure fall appart, you really will take the future wealth from your children.  Its time for America to get its priorities right.

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GlobalJoe
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Stable Economies

Would someone give me some suggestions, directions and recommendations regarding my strong

feelings that my $US? would be better exchanged into Candadian or Australian $ and bonds ?

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treebeard
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Sorry for the rant but...

Thanks Richard, John and Kelvinator for your excellent thoughts. To echo your same sentiments, its all about values and our relationship with each other and natural systems. The “economy” could be doing “great” and we still could walking off a cliff ecologically and spiritually. Thank god the money system and economy is crashing, if we had found some way to keep our “economy” “going” in its present form, we would be committing collective suicide.

Native Americans called europeans the fat takers, riding across the great plains in our iron horses slaughtering buffalo by the millions just for sport. Building McMansions and buying expensive cars for what? Have things changed? The question is will human being grow up and get beyond their petty self centered small minded thinking, my gold, my silver, my house, my money, my stuff. How will I survive?

If we don't change I, me and mine with we, us and ours we collectively are done. And that “we” needs to be inclusive of all the people and species on the planet. The foundation of capitalism, that if fervently seek to maximize my own personal utility, my own personal gain that is really not self centered and greedy, because if I become rich, then I will create jobs and everybody will get rich. Bulls@#%! You can throw all the higher math and pontifications ivy league Phd's at it but those are still the psychopathic musings of a 2 year old. How can we say that and pass the red face test as grown adults. Yet that has been the rationalization for this insanity we call western “culture” for decades. Forget the ism's, gold standards, free markets, big government, small government, whatever, we need to grow up or perish!!

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richardgordon
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It might be the only solution..

If you read the quote,  Ben Franklin he is saying something quite different from what Chris Martenson is suggesting.

My reading of the Ben Franklin quote is that if political parties are elected on the basis of all the public money that is handed out to their supporters then the Republic is in real trouble.  You only need to look at Greece to see how true that is.  And I totally agree with that sentiment.

As for the public demanding that the rich be taxed on the same basis as the working poor, how will that destroy the Republic?

If you look at the facts you will see the complete opposite has taken place over the past 20-30 years.

  • The rich are paying far less of their income than they ever have.  Romney's tax rate of 14% on income of many millions is obscene when compared to the tax rates paid by the rest of us.
  • CEO's have seen their incomes increase from 50 -100 times their average employe's wages to 500 times their employees wages.  That is unconscionable.
  • Middle class Americans have seen their incomes and standard of living stay the same or decline, by contrast, the further you go up the income ladder the better the richest 5%, 1%, 0.1% have done over the same period.

America's economy is becoming more and more like Zimbabwe where the rich own and control everything and everybody else owns nothing..  If the rich own and control everything and the lower and middle class own just barely enough to eat, who is going to buy all the products the economy produces?  I realize that globalization has on balance increased wealth and prosperity for everyone, but now that we (in North America) have outsourced all the jobs to China, which in turn will reduce their production costs by replacing workers with robots, who is going to buy all the stuff our economies produce if huge swaths of the economy is unempolyed or too poor to buy the products our economies produce?

In fact, the election was a turning point.  The people were not voting themselves more money, they were voting for more equity.  They were voting to change the warped and distorted system of government in America where the richest can purchase an election.  Somehow, the people saw through the blizzard of lies and disinformation and realized "if we don't get our economy back now, in the future we will merely be indentured servants of the richest 1%.

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richardgordon
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Here's the truth about the Canadian Dollar.

Both the Canadian $ and the Australian $ represent a claim on Canadian and Australian assets respectively.  And because both countries are rich in natural resources in a world wich resources are depleting at an ever increasing rate it is percieved that these currencies are good investments.  On the other hand, the US $ represents a claim on the real wealth of the United States.

Fact # 1:  If you look at GNP per capita PPP (which represents the real productive capacity of a country)  Canada produces $40,041 per person annually.  On the other hand the US GNP per capita PPP you will see that the US produces $48,441 Australia produces $39,465 GNP per capita at PPP. (http://www.tradingeconomics.com/united-states/gdp-per-capita-ppp)

Fact # 2: Canadians travel to the US to buy many products and services because they are 20-30% cheaper.  For example its cheaper to buy a car in the US vs Canada.  So infact the Canadian $ is overvalued quite significantly.

So if you really want to protect your wealth, a better way of doing it is buying great American Companies like Apple or Oracle, or Google or Stryker.  These are the entities that produce real wealth.  Money is not wealth.  Its only a medium of exchange.  It doesn't matter if the American $ evaporates in value.  Every other currency in the world will also evaporate at the same rate, since inflation will be transmitted to all the other currencies in the world.  If America devalues its currency, other countries will be forced to devalue their currencies otherwise their manufacturing sectors will become less competitive.

The truth is America's economy is still strong.  Are there problems?  Certainly! But there are problems everywhere.

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gillbilly
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Posts: 383
California education.

What's going in California is what's going on in the rest of the country. The price of education, both public and private, has been rising and is out of reach for many families and municipalities. The return on this education is now questionable, just ask any recent college grad. How much debt must a student incur for the employment market that's available? If you really want to know what's wrong with all our schools right now, talk with teachers (not administrators).

As a teacher, I can tell you there is not a day that goes by that I don't think of leaving the profession. Too much emphasis is placed on one type of education, cognitive learning. Science and Math, that's all we hear. It's the only thing we heard from Obama's mouth when he addressed the subject of education. Ask yourself why that is? Are these the things that are going to save our future? Isn't Chris's book a testament to the fact that these are the very things that have created the predicament we're in?  We are slowly killing true education one test at a time. I see it every day. Teachers teaching to the standardized tests, SATs, ACTs, APs, IBs. How many of you have proctored an SAT exam? I did a few weeks ago. Students sitting in rows filling in little bubbles - this is not education, it's a narrow quantification of content retention. It tells you very little about a student, but it's what we emphasize in education - grades and test scores. I'm not saying we should get rid of tests and assessment, but right now, it seems these are the only things that matter. Stop trying to quantify our children!!!

Now we want more "effecient" methods of teaching...on-line/asynchronous courses, computerized/teacherless courses. This is what is being heralded as the solution to our budgetary problems. You wouldn't want a sociopath teaching your child, well... a computer has no capacity for empathy. The estimates are that 70 to 75 percent of higher ed faculty are part-time adjuncts, and 2012 is the first year in history where administrations outnumber full-time faculty on every campus in the U.S.

My recommendation? Return education to those who teach. Administrations are way too big and they are making curriculum/class decisions on a daily basis. They are stepping into our classrooms and telling us what to teach, how to teach, and how to assess. Core syllabi are becoming the norm. There is very little room for the teacher to bring his or her life experience to the classroom, but this is the very thing that needs to happen to bring back true education and the love of learning! The changes that were supposed to reform education have come from the top, many of whom never taught in the classroom (Corporations - Federal Politicians - State Politicians - Administrators). So please, stop blaming teachers. Those at the top need to take a look in the mirror if they want to know what's wrong with education!  

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RJE
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Posts: 1369
Globaljoe, I would pay

Globaljoe, I would pay attention to the Canadian and Australian dollar as they are commodity driven, and the housing problems now imploding will cause their dollars to get slammed a bit. I would bet their printers will get fired up as well. Hey, everyone's doing it so...

Tough situation everywhere are my thoughts.

Respectfully Given

BOB

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Time2help
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joemanc's picture
joemanc
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Posts: 834
Doug wrote: Last I heard the

Doug wrote:

Last I heard the US was first in healthcare costs and 37th in healthcare results.  The entire advanced world is on socialized healthcare and provides better healthcare at lower prices.  At some point you have to deal with facts.

Doug

How much of this has to do with our extremely unhealthy diet?

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mnschur
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Posts: 1
have you gotten any response to your inquiry....

about how to acquire investments in tangibles such as livestock, timber, etc?

Doug's picture
Doug
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Posts: 2763
joemanc wrote: Doug

joemanc wrote:

Doug wrote:

Last I heard the US was first in healthcare costs and 37th in healthcare results.  The entire advanced world is on socialized healthcare and provides better healthcare at lower prices.  At some point you have to deal with facts.

Doug

How much of this has to do with our extremely unhealthy diet?

That's a good question and I have not had much success if finding an answer.  The closest I came is this article that, first, states that the US has the highest obesity rate, but then suggests that socialized systems have more leverage to persuade people to pursue more healthy lifestyles:

http://rendezvous.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/06/28/u-s-health-care-costs-more-than-socialized-european-medicine/

Quote:
It confirmed that the U.S. spends more per capita on publicly funded health care than almost every other country in the developed world. And that includes countries that provide free health care to all their citizens.

Quote:
“However, the overall level of health spending in the United States is so high that public (i.e. government) spending on health per capita is still greater than in all other O.E.C.D. countries, except Norway and the Netherlands,” according to the Paris-based organization’s Health Data 2012 report.

Combined public and private spending on health care in the U.S. came to $8,233 per person in 2010, more than twice as much as relatively rich European countries such as France, Sweden and Britain that provide universal health care.

Are Americans healthier as a result? The U.S. has fewer doctors per capita than comparable countries, and fewer hospital beds. But more is spent on advanced diagnostic equipment and health tests.

Life expectancy has risen in line with that in other developed countries, but the average American life span of 78.7 years in 2010 was below the O.E.C.D. average. Obesity in the U.S. was the highest in the 34-nation survey.

Quote:
Commenting on the latest O.E.C.D. figures, an editorial in Gannett’s The Advertiser noted: “America pays big-time money for health care and gets Third World results.”

“The greatest public good comes from universal access to care that emphasizes prevention and health education,” according to article. “The European systems, often socialized or with health insurers forced to offer basic plans to everyone, can do that. Ours doesn’t.”

I don't know how that leverage works, but it would be worthwhile finding out to see if its workable in our system and/or under Obamacare.  I doubt it.

Doug

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joemanc
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Posts: 834
Doug wrote: Quote:Commenting

Doug wrote:

Quote:
Commenting on the latest O.E.C.D. figures, an editorial in Gannett’s The Advertiser noted: “America pays big-time money for health care and gets Third World results.”

That's a humorous quote...I do believe lots of folks from around the world come to the US for various kinds of treatment. Not sure that folks would come here if we had a Third World health system...

I have read that one of the cost drivers for prescription drugs is that our drug costs are variable/free market, whereas a country like Canada keeps them capped. For example, the costs to R&D Lipitor are mostly borne by us, whereas Canada will cap what the drug companies can charge for Lipitor to their health care system. This ends up forcing the US to bear the R&D costs for the world.

Anyways, I'm not quite buying that socialized medicine is better at promoting a healthy lifestyle. I think it has more to do with our culture and lifestyle. We've become too much of a fast food, eating in a rush, cost concious society. Basically, we have become detached from our food and where it comes from. It is great to see healthier stores such as Whole Foods growing by leaps and bounds, but we've got a long ways to go. And not just here...just google 'Diabetes epidemic'. It's a worldwide problem.

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