Another (Sad) Casualty Of Schwantz-Gobbling
The Market Ticker - Commentary on The Capital Markets
2017-01-09 05:00 by Karl Denninger
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Another (Sad) Casualty Of Schwantz-Gobbling
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The other day I was compelled to do something that made me rather sad -- I formally told someone who has been an associate of mine for many years to remove me from his distribution and contact lists.

The triggering event was a public, social-media statement that was predicated on (and included) a knowingly false statement of fact related to me -- which was in reply to my going after Trump and his appointment of Price for HHS.

Folks, we are where we are in this country when it comes to the impending destruction of our nation, our economy and our political system along with the federal budget and all programs funded by same as a direct result of people in this country on both sides of the aisle being willing to anoint their particular favored candidate God when he or she wins.

This in turn has allowed multiple politicians over the last couple of decades from both parties to engage in the literal******of the American people's pocketbook, wealth and future both in the areas of education, which is horribly bad, and worse in Health Care which, due to its size and government involvement threatens the future of this nation and our way of life.

We watched this with Obama, who came into office with great fanfare and expectation by half of the nation (and dislike by the other half) who then rammed Obamacare through a Congress he controlled in its entirety.  Now Trump is President and he also has a Congress he controls in its entirety.

On the educational side both parties have participated in turning college into an asset-stripping festival for both schools and lenders, destroying the personal value of an education for almost everyone -- and both parties have been equal participants.  Both parties, among other things, were involved in making student loan debt not dischargable in bankruptcy, both propped up Sallie Mae and ultimately bailed it out with even more policy changes and neither has done a thing to reverse either of those steps or the never-ending federal support of the cost-spiral and debt that has made post-secondary education a bad deal for the vast majority of young adults where it was formerly a good deal for virtually everyone.

It is one thing for an individual with no particular influence beyond their own personal friends to refuse to look at the arithmetic of a matter like this and act on it, or to dismiss one politician or party's malfeasance while aggressively disliking the other.  That's why we're in this mess but if you do that as an individual it is only through the collective acts of everyone like you that the harm occurs.

But if you are in any way involved in public life -- you're a member of the media ("organized" or "independent", doesn't matter), you've run for office or are now running for office or are in any other way in the public eye your acts are no longer simply the singular acts of an individual -- they now are intended to, and do influence others on a larger scale.  This is particularly true if you make any part of your living from those activities, and if it's your sole source of work-related funds then literally everything you gain from society is being gained due to a lie -- a lie that is screwing every American blind.

I can't sit for that nor associate with people who knowingly participate in it.  I didn't when Obama was President and I won't now that Trump will be.  I lost a bet during the campaign which I willingly and voluntarily paid off (I bet that Hillary would not be nominated, likely because she would get indicted first) and at no time did I believe she'd win (in fact I published my own expectations for the electoral college map shortly after the conventions) nor did I in any way support her personally or her candidacy.

But that does not mean that Trump gets a pass from me on this issue, which is one that has no partisan boundary to it and if not attended to will destroy our nation.  Trump's nomination of Price for HHS is proof that he has zero intention of fixing anything related to the health care mess and in fact will enable the medical industry to screw you longer and harder, giving that screwing the force of law for Seniors through what is known as "Balance Billing" -- a practice Price has not only endorsed he previously tried to get it passed into law for Medicare recipients.

I remind you that Obama managed to buy two whole years of much-slower Medicare and Medicaid spending growth with his massive changes to the medical system including trying to force everyone into the scam via Obamacare.  Two years folks -- that's all -- and in doing so he made resolution of the problem much harder.

Trump's pick for HHS, Price, has previously declared an intent to try to stave off the collapse by literally raiding the entire net worth of every Senior citizen.  I don't believe he will get more than two (additional) years out of that stunt but if he was to pull it off that might delay the detonation until Trump leaves office -- eight years hence.

The Senate is well-aware of the issue.  A few years ago I was invited to a meeting of a handful of top aides to Senators to talk about the budget trajectory and its impact.  I pointed out that on the math there was only one area of the budget that mattered -- this one.  It is clear on the basis of simple arithmetic that we are screwed unless this issue is addressed and there is only one way to do it.  The people in the room did "get it" but bemoaned the political ramifications of taking it on and they have done nothing effective since, allowing politics to win over math -- for now.  This was during the time of the "debt ceiling" debacle -- several years ago -- an event that ultimately led me to tell McMorris-Rodgers to perform an anatomically-impossible act.

Listen to what they're saying today:

"I don't think we can just repeal Obamacare and say we're going to get an answer two years from now," he said Thursday on MSNBC.

"We haven't coalesced around a solution for six years, in part because it is so complicated,” he also said. “Kicking the can down the road for a year or two years isn't going to make it any easier to solve."

With Trump as president and fellow Republicans controlling Congress, the GOP indeed finally has an opportunity to repeal the law.

But nothing about revamping the nation's $3 trillion-a-year health care system will come easy, with congressional Democrats vowing the stop Republicans at essentially every step.  

The solution is to take that $3 trillion a year system and make it a $1 trillion a year system.  Doing that will resolve the entire federal budget deficit and debt problem, it will resolve all of the state and local pension issues related to retiree health expenses (that's most of it) and it will permanently end the depreciation of our currency, which screws everyone.  It will also make America far more competitive as a place to do business and thus attract jobs and firms here from other nations, going a long way toward addressing both offshoring of labor and our trade balance.

It is not only possible to do this it can be done, for the most part, using existing law.

There has been zero discussion or statements made about doing the one thing that will actually fix the problem: Enforcing 15 United States Code against all medical and health-insurance related firms.  We could start by enforcing Robinson-Patman, which federally bans price discrimination for buyers of like kind and quantity, against pharma firms and hospitals.  We could enforce the anti-collusion components of Sherman and Clayton against everyone, and indicting anyone who won't post a price and charge the same price to everyone without regard to how they pay. In short we could take the monopolists in both insurance and medicine out back behind the woodshed and offer them a choice -- either cut it out, right now, or go to prison under 100+ year old already-existing law and have your corporation ruined with $100 million per-count fines, and remind them that we will tally every person that gets screwed as a separate and unique count.

I remind you that Obama doesn't care that Obamacare is detonating because it is happening after he leaves office and likewise Trump will not give a good damn what happens after he leaves office -- even if it's only by a month or two!  I correctly forecast, on the math, that Obamacare would detonate and it is no surprise to me whatsoever that it is doing so now as he is on the verge of leaving office.

Why hasn't anyone from the Senate, including so-called "libertarian" Rand Paul, raised and pressed this?  Because doing so will mightily******off a whole bunch of K-street lobbyists and people in the "industry" that have been running federally-enforced financial******rooms for everyone in this country for the last 30 years.  Dismantling the screwing they have forced Americans into will mean many of those people lose their jobs, many more will see their incomes cut to a monstrous degree and in the short term a 12-15% hit to GDP will take place.  It won't last long because that output will be redirected into other, more-productive pursuits, but the short-term pain and blaring of "Recession!" in all the major media, along with a massive downward stroke in the stock price of every firm related to this scheme carries political risk that none of these people will take -- even if not doing so will destroy America financially and they all know damn well that it will with absolute mathematical certainty.

If my refusal to shut up about this issue and "give Trump a pass" means I wind up being labeled Deplorable, Irredeemable and all the Trump schwantz-gobblers attack me as well because I will not fall to my knees and take a turn on the Presidential knob then I guess I'll have to settle for a purring cat, my (now adult) kid and leaves on trees in the woods as my list of "friends."

So be it.

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User Info Another (Sad) Casualty Of Schwantz-Gobbling in forum [Market-Ticker]
Ktrosper
Posts: 3206
Incept: 2010-04-06

ft collins co
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Thanks KD. There's an awful lot of cheering going on by those on the right. It's more or less, "WOOOHOO! OUR GUY GOT IN! EVERYTHING IS GOING TO BE AWESOME NOW!" while the $3 Trillion dollar elephant is still in the room...

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The unexamined life is not worth living.-Socrates
The only stable state is the one in which all men are equal before the law.-Aristotle
Liberty exists now in the spaces government has not yet chosen to occupy.-Doc Zero
I anticipate that 10 Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders will blow me this evening.-K.D
Vernonb
Posts: 1707
Incept: 2009-06-03

East of Sheol
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Yep. Every time I hear the term "bipartisan" support I know its going to be another DP fest on the taxpayer pocket book.

These people have absolutely no ethics and absolutely no sense of shame. They are all about trying to find ways to legalize theft for their advantage.


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"Mass intelligence does not mean intelligent masses."
Tickerguy
Posts: 147632
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A True American Patriot!
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The problem with such a scheme is that we are rapidly running out of money to steal.

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Winding it down.
Themortgagedude
Posts: 10110
Incept: 2007-12-17

saint louis
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He's gotta do it. If he's smart enough to do the math he will realize he has no other options. If he doesn't it blows up his Presidency.

We will know in about a month. Does he do it with Twitter? Just a tweet is all he needs. Hey everyone we will now enforce Robinson Patman on healthcare providers. Post your prices or go to jail.

My good natured pissing match with you Kd - it all comes down to is Donald reading the writing on the wall. If he hasn't read it we're ****ed. But surely if he knows the math he didnt volunteer to be sacrificed.

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I think its time we ask ourselves if we still know the freedoms that our founding fathers intended for us. Ronald Reagan 1964
Tickerguy
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Quote:
He's gotta do it. If he's smart enough to do the math he will realize he has no other options. If he doesn't it blows up his Presidency.

He's NOT going to do it TMD.

What he WILL do is try to buy another couple of years -- the "Balance Billing" fiasco, along with block-granting Medicaid might get him enough time to get out office before it blows. That's what Price and the "Ryan Wing" of the party have been trying to do now for more than 10 years.

But in doing so he will literally destroy the economy and federal funding model along with the budget of EVERY state -- permanently and irrevocably, and in the interim it will fiscally destroy every person who is older than 55 along with killing EVERY person on Medicaid who actually requires medical support, starting in the next few years and expanding through his second term. It will probably not get bad enough before he is re-elected to derail his obtaining a second term -- that's the only gambit here.

If this is allowed to happen by the people of this country then we are sealing our own fate. You may as well prepare to blow your own brains out in 10 years because whatever is left of this country 10 years hence won't be worth living in.

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Winding it down.

Randyvw
Posts: 103
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hesperia ca
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as the stock market ticks higher. SOMEbody's going to be mighty disappointed. they've made it impossible to "invest" any money in markets.

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Remember what Mark Twain said...If you don't read the internet, you're uninformed. If you DO read the internet, you're MISINFORMED.
Azbob
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Tx
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Quote:
Does he do it with Twitter?


Once he is in I think he will wear out the press corps.
Zappafan
Posts: 2823
Incept: 2007-11-30

Atlanta
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A couple quick points:

1. I've been saying for several years that taking the bait of "Medicaid expansion" by states is the equivalent of drinking rat poison. Sure the Feds promised to fund it (with your tax dollars, of course) for the first few years, but this proposal for block grants sounds like the states are about to start feeling the poison hitting their bloodstream real soon. Those states that resisted the siren song will be grateful. At any rate, there is no such thing as a free lunch.

2. Anyone else catch this?

http://jamiedupree.blog.ajc.com/2017/01/....

Making employee health benefits taxable would be one way to accomplish a "DP fest" on the tax payers. However, there are limits to that approach. Many folks would go to the cheaper high-deductible plans if that happened, or go without health care insurance entirely if the insurance mandate gets repealed along with Obamacare. So I question how much time that would end up buying Trump. With all the boomers now heading off to retirement (and taking Medicare) over the next 8 years, the chances that this thing doesn't blow before Trump leaves office seem remote, at best.

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Ich bin der Tankendau!
Flappingeagle
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I see Donald Trump as the ultimate wildcard. I have no idea what he will do unlike Hillary who I had a lot of confidence in what she would do.

Some people will predict correctly what DT does but they will just be lucky.

Flap

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Here are my predictions for everyone to see:
S&P 500 at 320, DOW at 2200, Gold $300/oz, and Corn $2/bu.
No sign that housing, equities, or farmland are in a bubble- Yellen 11/14/13
Trying to leave the Rat Race to the rats...
Tickerguy
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I would have gone with that on this issue right up until he nominated Price.

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Winding it down.

Aztrader
Posts: 7682
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Scottsdale, AZ
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They set the ACA up to suck up as many people as possible by cancelling their old policies and forcing people into Obamacare. They literally raped them financially by doing this and then giving them crap coverage with an insane deductible making this nothing but a massive tax called healthcare.
We are now hearing that if they repeal even the mandate tax, then the whole thing will implode. SO WHAT! The people that elected Trump are the ones that are paying the premiums. The people that will get axed the quickest are the Medicaid leeches that were added to the system. Our extreme premiums go to subsidize them and all the other BS coverage that we are forced to buy as universal coverage for all. You can't fix this monstrosity, but must start over. Costs will never come down as long as they don't stop the monopolies from running the system.
If the GOP tries to back paddle on revoking this piece of crap, then the voters won't have much patience past the first quarter of this year. We have put up with the Obama BS for 8 long years and need real change. Our deficit is exploding right now and odds are it's because of the healthcare costs that are out of control. I just got done paying my $2250 premium for 3 months and am really getting sick of this. January 20th can't come too soon and then Trump either has to make things happen.
Zappafan
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Atlanta
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Price is especially problematic because it has come out that he traded medical stocks heavily while in Congress, including doubling his money on an obscure Australian bio-medical firm. I live in his district and have written him many letters over the years, lately on the TPP. I did not detect much in the way of actual listening in any of his responses.

I wanted to like Price (he voted against TARP back in '08) but I have come to the conclusion that he has been corrupted. Hopefully some hard questions will get asked in his confirmation hearing, and he won't get confirmed.

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Ich bin der Tankendau!
Tickerguy
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Congress will likely repeal the mandate and probably the subsidies (which they can force through reconciliation.) They can't do one without the other because if you get rid of the subsidies then most people under $50k/year in income are exempt anyway (due to the cap on income .vs. insurance price before you're exempt) so both will go at once.

However, once that happens then the system collapses instantly, because everyone like me who is willing to pay 50 cents/month for what amounts to cat insurance that we never use for anything (other than in the event we're hit by a bus) drop our policies instantly. I won't pay $400+/month for that but the $400/mo subsidy in fact winds up paying a crack-head's medical bill, since I use zero. Without the subsidy going from those of us who use zero (and pay near or actual zero) to those who use a lot but can't pay the entire rape-the-public system blows up in an afternoon.

The "answer" to this will be to block-grant Medicaid (to stop the detonation on the federal balance sheet from poor people) and balance-billing (to steal half a trillion a year from Seniors who have 401ks and IRAs.) Price has tried to get this through in the past; his appointment by Trump guarantees that this will be the approach, as Trump is well-aware of his legislative record.

People like myself will go naked and take our chances with being able to employ medical tourism if we need to, accepting that in an acute situation we're gonna die. I'm ok with that. Many others will not be. But that's the new paradigm you better be prepared for, and if you currently NEED medical care (or drugs, etc) on a daily, weekly or monthly basis YOU ARE RAT****ED HERE AND NOW -- you just don't know it yet.

Whether that will be enough to prevent the detonation of the budget for a few years is an open question, but it might shift the problem BY A LITTLE WHILE. In other words it might buy another 2-3 years of "moderate" growth in federal expense much like Obamacare did for 2 years before the former 9%ish compound rate of expansion resumed.

The problem is that in doing so it will destroy one of the few remaining capital bases in the economy -- retiree savings and portfolios, and at the same time it will force States to either literally condemn Medicaid patients to die for lack of money or bankrupt themselves trying to accommodate 9%+ expansions annually in the cost of the program. Treasury counted on tax-deferred assets being taxable in retirement "as spent" for its future projections, which is why the Roth has limits on it (otherwise everyone would have gone that route and paid up front, then been exempt on the back end.) With that gone as a revenue source federal funding will collapse a few years down the road both for government and private industry capital formation at roughly the same time a million Medicaid patients per year will get shoved in the hole.

IMHO my best guess on timeline for the detonation being apparent given that set of changes is ~4-5 years hence, which puts us past the next election -- just long enough. If Trump manages to blame the Democrats in the states where most of the deaths will occur during his second term, and he probably WILL get away with this (California, Illinois, New York and New Jersey to name four) then he gets through his second term before the FEDERAL budget detonates -- maybe.

It's the same gambit, more-or-less, that Obama ran with Obamacare -- except this time we've expanded the sphere of the explosion from the federal budget to ALL of the states and ALL private capital formation at the same time. That's how exponential expansion works -- you stave off what you need to do by dicking around and the harm expands EXPONENTIALLY as well.

I'm going to enjoy the last few years of reasonably-normal conditions in this country. Eight years hence you won't recognize the United States, if we get lucky. One policy mistake in the middle, however, and it'll be three or four years before it all goes to **** -- and the odds of not making a policy mistake for that long, or just the business cycle turning and a recession showing up, aren't real good.

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Winding it down.

Db465
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So you spend more time with a purring cat, a daughter and nature. Sounds like an uptick in your quality of life.
Themortgagedude
Posts: 10110
Incept: 2007-12-17

saint louis
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Should have been someone else for sure. Price makes me think you're right. But there's a chance that Team Trump has it figured out and will give Price his marching orders. Nominating someone for that job who had openly stated the Tickerguy wisdom would have got all the lobbyists set in motion. Price will be approved easily.

But really you could leave most of the ACA in place and fix healthcare from the AG office. Sessions is really far more important here than Price.

Even if Trump does the right thing I won't say I told you so. Because I'm not thinking the odds are good of him doing it. But like Winston Churchill said - You can always count on Americans to do the right thing - after they've tried everything else.

Well Mr. Churchill the time is now.

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I think its time we ask ourselves if we still know the freedoms that our founding fathers intended for us. Ronald Reagan 1964
Zappafan
Posts: 2823
Incept: 2007-11-30

Atlanta
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Karl, would "block granting" Medicaid mean that the states get a fixed amount from the Feds, to use as they see fit, and any additional Medicaid spending that exceeds those amounts (on a statewide basis) has to be made up from the state budget?

If so I can see the shell game they're playing. However, ultimately states have to have balanced budgets, unlike the Feds who can run deficits indefinitely. Hence, poor people counting on Medicaid simply die when states can't fund the gap.

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Ich bin der Tankendau!
Tickerguy
Posts: 147632
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Quote:
Karl, would "block granting" Medicaid mean that the states get a fixed amount from the Feds, to use as they see fit, and any additional Medicaid spending that exceeds those amounts (on a statewide basis) has to be made up from the state budget?

Exactly.
Quote:
If so I can see the shell game they're playing. However, ultimately states have to have balanced budgets, unlike the Feds who can run deficits indefinitely. Hence, poor people counting on Medicaid simply die when states can't fund the gap.

EXACTLY.

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Winding it down.

Max_planck
Posts: 2
Incept: 2017-01-09

Southern Arizona
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I'm going to miss my $69 per month 2017 Silver Plan with $5 Individual and $10 Family Annual Deductible, which has a monthly $1,447 Advance Premium Tax Credit. Of course we have to report almost exactly $22K of taxable income to get that, any less and we fall into AZ Medicaid. Mrs. Planck and I are pretty healthy, I have not been to the doctor for other than an annual physical for a dozen years (and that was to treat a fracture from an unfortunate motorcycle incident). So our $828 annual premium plus our annual $17,364 tax credit that go to Health Net AZ take care of some of the unhealthy. Doing my part.
Zappafan
Posts: 2823
Incept: 2007-11-30

Atlanta
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Thanks Karl.

And everyone, don't forget that anyone who falls into Medicaid is subject to assets getting clawed back from their "estate" after death. That includes your family home. Many folks may not be aware of this or figure they make so little money that it doesn't matter.

This is going to get ugly. Better "die broke."

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Ich bin der Tankendau!
Goforbroke
Posts: 6842
Incept: 2007-11-30
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Drain the Swamp!
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Wasn't it five or so years back when people on TF were talking about going after a huge potential source of funds, namely peoples' 401(k)s and IRAs? This would accomplish just that.

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Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our Light, and not our Darkness, that most frightens us. -- Marianne Williamson
Lobo
Posts: 353
Incept: 2013-12-25

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@Goforbroke, the total value of 401(k)'s in 2013 was 4.2 trillion. Confiscating all of that would buy us some time. Same thing with eating the 1%. It buys some time. The problem with all of that is you pretty much guarantee that no one would put another dime in a 401(k) or IRA or amass a fortune that could be plundered. Capital flight would become a big problem. People flight would probably be next. And all those people who were zeroed out by the confiscation would be applying for Medicare or SS. Who knows how long the fuse is, now that it is in the box, but confiscating that money would be putting the barrel in their mouth and pulling the trigger.
Lobo
Posts: 353
Incept: 2013-12-25

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From what I can see, lots of people from Obummer & Trump down to the guy next door are thinking that they will sell just before the peak, get out of town just before the collapse, finish their bunker just before the zombie apocalypse, etc. The "greater fool" theory is visible everywhere.

This [****storm] will be epic.
Ckaminski
Posts: 3924
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Mass-Hole!
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That **** has been floated every year since the real estate bubble collapsed.

And it's getting mighty noisome.
Little_eddie
Posts: 996
Incept: 2009-04-30

Delaware
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What if it doesn't matter?

What if we are all being detracted from the real problem?

As Karl says, this can all be fixed with just a change of how we do things. So all of these problems are just man made and can be fixed.

You may want to take a look at the problems that man can't fix, like we live on this planet called earth, it's the only one we have.

I watch energy, mostly oil and at the current price almost no one is out looking for new supplies. Current supplies are depleting at about 5% a year and are not being replaced.

Have a drink, enjoy yourself, life's short and we are going to be dead for a long time.

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Banks and governments depends on the real producers of the economythe people (workers) and the industrial corporations. IF these stop producing, both the banks and governments fall flat. (Gail Tverberg)
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