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2019-04-12 07:00 by Karl Denninger
in Musings , 2773 references Ignore this thread
Cut The Crap
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Let me point out a few things.

1. I have in front of me my Social Security "benefits and wage record" statement.  It says I have qualified for disability, because I have worked enough credits through my life.  Were I to be able to claim to be disabled right here and now I would get $2,342.00 a month for life -- that is, $28,104 a year tax free.

2. Two years after the date they deem me "disabled" I qualify for Medicare (irrespective of my age) and since I have no other outside income I would pay next to zero for Medicare.  Now I have "free" public health care.

3. Being "low income" and "disabled" I would also qualify for Section 8 housing.  Provided I was willing to move to somewhere there were open slots (typically you have to move to a county outside of the major metro areas to not have to contend with a long waiting list) the government would also give me northward of $500 a month -- or another $6,000 a year -- of housing assistance.

In other words all I have to do is be able to claim I cannot work due to some "disability" and I magically get $34,000 a year, or somewhere north of $20/hour (since there are no taxes withheld from that, but there are from wage income.)  Forever.

If I am an entrepreneur and gross $25,000 a year or less (note -- far less than this disability income) I can have "health insurance" for almost nothing.  In fact I currently pay about $15/month.  Note, however, that this is gross income -- on which I must pay taxes, most-particularly FICA and Medicare tax from the first dollar onward.

That Obamacare subsidy completely evaporates by the time I make less than double that, about $42,000 -- and the monthly charge for that "insurance" is nearly $900 a month, or $9,600 a year -- which I must pay, on top of FICA, Medicare (combined 15.3% of gross) and whatever federal income tax liability (~10% bracket, roughly) is.  In other words out of that $17,000 in additional income from $25,000 to $42,000 I must pay $9,600 + $2,601 + $1,700 = $13,901 plus any state income tax owed.

That is a tax rate of 82% on that $17,000 in earnings before state income taxes. I get to keep nearly nothing of that money but I have to work for all of it.

So I actually have $28,099 (not including the FICA and Medicare tax on the original $25,000) by working hard at trying to build a new business while if I claim to be disabled I have roughly 30% more and I get to sit on my ass and drink beer or (if I live in the right state) smoke weed all day for the rest of my life.

Further, if and when I destroy my health doing that all the medical care I need as a result I don't have to pay for either.  But if I wreck my health by burning the candle at all ends at once (and getting about 4 hours of sleep -- maybe -- a night), as I did for over a decade being an entrepreneur I am entitled to..... nothing.

500,000 fewer small businesses exist now than did a year ago.

Do you now understand one of the major reasons why?

In the mid 1980s I took a salaried job that made $18,000 a year.  It was challenging on a technical and "skill" basis, but miserable in terms of working conditions.  It was several years before I cracked the $40,000 a year barrier in gross earnings.  During all of those years, none of which provided me a nickel in overtime pay I was expected routinely as a professional (coder) to work in many cases as much as 80 hours a week, whether for someone else or self-employed.  With that quite-modest salary and no overtime I managed to provide myself with a modest (1 bedroom) but clean, comfortable and livable apartment, a vehicle, sufficient food (I never went hungry), electric, water, garbage service, phone and similar.  I managed to save enough money to pay for (with cash) a decent TV and stereo.  I did not have much extra money at the end of the month but I received zero government benefits or subsidies, nor did I receive any benefit, subsidy or gift from anyone else either.  I had plenty to eat, enough money to enjoy a night out at the local bar once in a while and enough money to take women out on dates on occasion -- and I was able to afford a place to live by myself, not needing to have a roommate or live with my parents who in fact lived in a different state.

Car insurance was a fraction of what it costs now.

Food was a fraction of what it costs now.

Health insurance was a fraction of what it costs now.

Utilities were much cheaper.

Rent was less than half what it costs now in the same building.

You could actually obtain $500 cars from ads in the paper and they ran perfectly well.  They looked like crap and were old, but were functional to get you to and from work.  When they broke down and required something expensive to fix them another one was available on a trivial basis and the title and tag fees were much smaller than they are today too, so transferring from one to the other was cheap.

All of this happened inside and just outside of Chicago -- a major city -- in the immediate metro area, not somewhere in the sticks.

A few years prior to that it was routinely possible to spin (or deliver) pizzas and make enough to go to college -- room, board, tuition and books.  Again, you wouldn't have a lot of money at the end of the month but you could make it.  You can't today; it's impossible.

The problem isn't income.

It's expenses.

The alleged "no inflation" world we have lived in is a lie.

The solution to the problem cannot be to lift wages because if you do not address the cost problem prices will rise faster than wages since nobody works for free and every increase in wages means more than one person touches the money before the employee gets it.  Such an attempt therefore will always screw the people at the bottom the most and those in the middle of the transactions will skim off a piece for themselves, making the people at the top richer!  The paradox is that if you lift the minimum wage from $10 -> $15 some number of people will get zero instead of $10 (they'll be unemployed as they're replaced by a robot, an order kiosk or similar) but even those who get $15 will see their cost of living and taxes, both direct and indirect, go up by enough that they will actually lose standard of living even though in dollars they make more.

This has happened every single time through American history.

It will happen again.

It is regressive enough, and punishing enough, that there is no way I will stand up a company in this environment.  In addition to that the lack of Rule of Law means that if some rich billionaire *******, whether it be Beelzebezos, Zucker****er or other lies, cheats, or even outright steals what I produce I will not able to stop him, sue him and he won't go to prison.  If I try to use the very same tactics these bastards use I will either be sued into bankruptcy or prosecuted and imprisoned, so even if I'm willing to be an unprincipled prick the odds of my getting away with it and succeeding are nearly zero.

We either fix this, starting with the medical scam as I've outlined before, or this nation and its financial future are finished.  Further, unless we fix this intelligent people will not choose to have children since they cannot get ahead of the tax leech that claims disability and sucks off all their money while slugging down beer and drugs by the truckload.

Time's up folks.

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Posts: 507
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Suprise! We already have universal basic income. It's called SSI disability. It's called welfare. It's called free public education. It's all of the dozens of government programs that add up to universal basic income --- only it's not "basic".

Really what it is is universal comprehensive income, aka lots of free ****. All you have to do is know how to game the system. It's easy. So easy even a low IQ illegal can do it...

But if you really want to game the system big time, then you have to use Robert Kiyosaki's outline, "Rich Dad, Poor Dad".

Karl is describing the poor dad, the sucker, the guy who plays by the rules and busts his ass working 80 hrs per week so that the U.S. government can tax him and the other suckers and redistribute wealth to tens of millions of useless eaters in the form of universal comprehensive income...

Call it welfare, call it SSI, call it Food Stamps, call it public education, call it what you will, but I call it what it is: collectism, statism, theft, ****ting on the Constitution.

Aztrader
Posts: 8289
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Scottsdale, AZ
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Just look under the budget outgoing and see how much money is being spent in SSDI. It's fairly substantial and betting that a nice portion is fraud. Claiming disability for a sore neck, sore back, sore knees, or whatever they claim is total BS. Being disabled should mean that you can't ride an 800 pound motorcycle or play 18 holes of golf. Claiming that they don't have the ability to work should actually mean that they are too disabled to do anything. If you are 40 years old and start collecting, it's like getting your social security at that age and as Karl as pointed out, free medicare. Once Obamacare went live, people started realizing that working was for idiots when they could get almost free or free medical from dollar one while the fools that worked had to pay massive premiums for no coverage. If you are single and have an income of $50,000 a year and pay $10k a year in premiums, just do the math. If something happens and you need the insurance, cough up another $5k-10k in deductibles.
It almost seems that the ACA was designed to wipe out small business owners who all have to buy their own coverage. The numbers that Karl quotes of businesses that no longer exist proves the point.
This system is so broken when it benefits the leech class so much. All these programs have destroyed our desire to work, take risks and be productive.
Wa9jml
Posts: 364
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DeKalb, Illinois
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I wish I had saved the Com-ed bills when I had my trackside apartment here in DeKalb. I recall one that was for $7.56! I have a house now, and my bills run anywhere from $75.00 to $90.00. But of course, there is no inflation!

I also wish that I had saved my tuition and fees statements from my once beloved university. The kids now are getting raped, but I was able to work my way through between my jobs as an electronics tech, and the GI Bill. And, of course there is no inflation!
Aquapura
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South of Canada
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This will be the downfall of the nation and I liken it to people that win the lottery. Granted the welfare isn't a financial windfall but unearned income is still unearned income. Most lottery winners blow their wad and end up bankrupt, depressed and generally worse off before they won. Think it's any different for the folks getting SSDI? Only difference is the amount of $$$.

I have my own family SSDI story. I'll spare the details but he qualified when he was mid-30's and by 40 he managed to kill himself. I haven't seen the toxicology but everyone assumes it was an OD. Now I don't think he was lazy per-se, but when he did work it was bouncing around low paying jobs without any real prospect of getting out of a poverty trap. SSDI was certainly easier for far more. It's not human nature to feel good about being a sloth, therefore if you already have an issue with self-control adding in a lot of free time is a ticking time bomb.

Working the assembly line wasn't glamorous back in the day but it gave men worth and was enough scratch to buy a house and raise a family. We've replaced that with a handout. Goodbye America.
Asimov
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East Tennessee Eastern Time
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Quote:
This system is so broken when it benefits the leech class so much.


Yea, but it's working exactly as planned, by soaking the middle class to pay for it.

How else can you get people to pay *HUGE* taxes like this? Even after a few generations of dumbing down with public schools, something like this has to be implemented with care so as to not cause a revolution lost votes in an election.

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It's justifiably immoral to deal morally with an immoral entity.

Festina lente.
Gauntlet33
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I previously said that I didn't believe there would be a civil war and that instead we would have lots of smaller riots...

Since then I've changed my mind...if the financial mess is as bad as portrayed (and I believe it will be around the year 2024 as Karl suggests), then I do think we'll have a civil war...not sure how it will turn out exactly...could be Republicans v. Democrats, could be a racial issue of minorities v. whites, but my guess is that it will be the "haves" v. the "have nots".

My guess is that the poor, homeless, uneducated, and unemployed will be invading the homes of those they perceive to have money. But once they get inside, they may realize that all that's inside is clothes and food and not the riches they were hoping to pawn off.

Things will get ugly...but I'm hoping that in the end the heads are cut off all the snakes who started this mess, but then that would be like believing in unicorns and magical fairies.
Aquapura
Posts: 848
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South of Canada
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Quote:
I also wish that I had saved my tuition and fees statements from my once beloved university.


I have some of my tuition statements. Fall semester 1999 was about $1600 for full time in-state tuition (12+ credits) at a Midwestern state school. Any credits over 12 was the same rate so I'd do 20+ credits at that price. There were some student fees so total bill was $1900 and change.

You don't need to go back very far to see the inflation.
Aztrader
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Scottsdale, AZ
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When they deem that being a drug addict or drunk are disabilities, then we have a problem...
Village-idjit
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B'ham WA
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Good Ticker! One example comes to mind... at pilot training in Eastern Washington in the mid 1970's, tuition for the Beechcraft "Musketeer" was $13.50 PER HOUR! That INCLUDED the airplane, fuel, maintenance, AND your instructor!
Comrader
Posts: 367
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pa
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in the last 10 years i can point to at least 6 of my employees that quit and took the disability route. these people all made at least $15 per hr. and had a large part of their health insurance paid. when you have 1 person that understands how the system works the rest catch on quick. i was so discussed that i limited the amount of business that i do and now have just 1 employee. i will never hire another person.
Asimov
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Quote:
When they deem that being a drug addict or drunk are disabilities, then we have a problem...


I'm pretty sure that happened decades ago. Even overeating can be a disability now.

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It's justifiably immoral to deal morally with an immoral entity.

Festina lente.
Redjack
Posts: 138
Incept: 2018-01-29

Iowa
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When I got my first engineering job in 1997, i made around $49K. Kids today are making $60K for that same job.

My rent was $450 a month, and a payment on a used Blazer of $200. So for $650 I had housing and transportation taken care of. Another $250 for student loans, and the rest was skittles and beer. I bought a LOT of stupid crap that first 6 months. Stereo, books, camping equipment, etc.

Today, that same apartment is about $900 to $1000 a month (I checked). Car payments will be up to $400, and God knows what a student loan will be.

On the floor, we start at $16 an hour and top out at $20.

Now this is in eastern Iowa. It is much worse in the big cities. I would not have been able to do what I did starting out today. I currently live in a older house that was a "Starter" neighborhood not that long ago. I paid $140K for the house. Now you can't touch it for under $170k.

Wages are stagnant, and my company is worried about being able to pay the cost of materials, let along workers. The green tractor company in town is paying LESS than we are.

We are much closer to a crash than people want to admit.
Wa9jml
Posts: 364
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DeKalb, Illinois
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For pretty obvious reasons taxes are not counted in the bogus inflation statistics. When I bought my house in 1987, I paid about $900 in property taxes. Now, with 3 exemptions, I pay about $3500. My neighbors next door, who are not senior citizens, pay about $4500 in taxes on the same house, less the garage. The school district managed to lie their way into a huge Chicago Suburban Class High School, and so far they have only been paying the interest on the bonds they let out. Now, they will have to start paying back the principal. They got a state grant for about $25 million, and instead of paying down the bonds with that, they built a football stadium, that was supposed to be paid for with voluntary donations. The schools are far worse than they were in 1987, and I have never had a kid in them, and will never have a kid in them. So, why should I be paying through the nose for inferior quality education? The city services have also deteriorated, and I have to support that, too.

I don't know how kids graduating from college can make it with all of these boondoggles vacuuming up their modest wages and salaries. So, most of them obviously cannot make ends meet, and wind up in their parents' basement. This is going to cause a lot of strife.
Kareninca
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I have an idea for a business. Of course, the issues that Karl lists could make it pointless for any given individual to start it, but maybe there would be someone for whom it would work. I have loads of ideas for businesses that I hope someone will want to start. I could be missing something in this case; maybe it exists already but I haven't come across it; maybe there would be some other problem.

So - there are lots of articles online - on NBC, on CNN, and so on - that don't have comment sections. And now the WSJ has essentially gotten rid of its comment sections; they are only allowing comments on a very few articles at a time, and of course only the ones on which they think they'll like the comments they get. Since our Overlords really hated the WSJ comments. The commenters are a bunch of old, socially conservative business dudes, who would constantly call out BS. The WSJ thought they would be able to stop this by requiring commenters to comment under their own names, but that didn't do the trick - these guys (and some women) were self-confident and self-sufficient enough to comment anyway. So, the comment sections have been killed.

There needs to be a website where people can comment on any article online. So if you read an annoying NBC article, for instance, you could go to the new site and start a comment thread on it. For articles behind paywalls, perhaps only people who subscribed to the periodical would be able to read it to comment on it (although someone could post a summary). The site could have a name like "CommentHere".

This would drive the mainstream media insane. Right now they can put out some crap article and no-one can comment on it. It can just sit out there, as a bit of unquestioned propaganda.

I think that this could make some money from advertising. I do think it could be popular. If there were links to the relevant articles (rather than copies of them), I don't think there would be an intellectual property problem, but that would have to be checked.
Aztrader
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Scottsdale, AZ
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From 2015, but still shows what a waste the system is:

https://muslimstatistics.wordpress.com/2....
Tsherry
Posts: 1772
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Spokane WA
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Agreed completely with the disability comments. Spot on. I know several people who have been pulling this **** for years.

each of them drives nicer vehicles than I do. Funny thing, that.

Interestingly, My SSA benefit amounts on my annual statement are about a pound of bacon away from Karl's. I'm a few years older and still working.

Four years at Washington State University, Fall 1978 to Spring, 1982, cost me about $12,500. That much these days buys A SEMESTER, a 752% increase in price (and certainly not in value).

Our home, bought in 1986 for a little more than 50K, had taxes of about $450/year at that point in time. They're now about $2500. The house and property probably would be in the range of $350K, mostly because they'd subdivide it and put in a bunch of **** homes crammed together and rented or leased out for $1500/mo. A similar property up the street from us, a little bigger, put eight duplexes up on the property last year and is now for sale for an investor to the tune of the low seven figures. WTF?

We don't have state income tax in WA, but our fuel tax is $0.494/gallon, gas or diesel, No. 3 in the nation. They're currently trying to figure out how to screw electric car users, bicycles, etc. to pay their fair shares as well.

I've got lots of ideas and capability and stuff needed to start and operate several different kinds of businesses if I were of a mind to; yes, it would take time away from family and sleep and I could make a lot more money. No point in it though when it's stolen. Ditto in owning rental properties. The amount of time and money people I know invest in these, only to be dicked by assessments, permits, ****-for-brains tenants, insurance jus' ain't worth it.

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Omne mendacium est.
Tickerguy
Posts: 156867
Incept: 2007-06-26
A True American Patriot!
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I thinking of almost-literally decamping to the bush.

And I do mean it. If I do, odds are this place goes offline as while it's running on cloud I'll almost-certainly lose the reasonably-high-speed access that I have now at the house, and I NEED that to be able to keep things up to snuff (never mind backing them up.)

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Winding it down.
Drifter
Posts: 252
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Pacific Northwest
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The working stiffs in this country are rapidly becoming voluntary indentured servants. What a single income could provide in the 70's requires dual income; that is until Barry ****stain got into office, and now a dual income isn't enough.

In addition to his full time job, my brother rents out a bedroom and delivers meals on weekends. I know guys who gave up their small business and now work for Walmart or Autozone, because health care. Well, one just got fired from Autozone-- the company has decided a cute face with perky***** sells parts for half the salary of guys who actually know vehicle repair, and no benefits required. 1/2 the local store got laid off for cheaper labor-- and seriously, they don't know a spark plug from an air cleaner.

Meanwhile, lets let in millions of people who will tax the system of its limited resources and put immense downward pressure on wages.

The country has lost its roots, and I'm afraid the next revolution will be carrying flags without the white and the blue.

Asimov
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East Tennessee Eastern Time
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Karl: I'll be happy to do anything I can to help in respect of keeping this place running, if you don't end up somewhere the coop here is.

Not sure what I could do, but I'm willing.

----------
It's justifiably immoral to deal morally with an immoral entity.

Festina lente.
Lobo
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Gauntlet33 wrote..
not sure how it will turn out exactly...could be Republicans v. Democrats, could be a racial issue of minorities v. whites, but my guess is that it will be the "haves" v. the "have nots".


You missed the obvious answer: all of the above.

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Village Idiot
Raftermanfmj
Posts: 4817
Incept: 2010-09-06

USA
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Yup.

I lose my current gig - Im done with the long hours and effort

Averaged 73 hours per work week last year - and 83.7 in the last quarter of 2018 and Im done with a capital D.

Our contract is up and Im disinterested in if we sign, strike or get locked out.

They say if you give a man a fish, he'll eat for a day, but if you teach a man to fish.... then he's gotta get a fishing license, but he doesn't have any money. So he's got to get a job and get into the Social Security system and pay taxes, and now you're gonna audit the poor **********, 'cause he's not really good with math.

So he'll pull the IRS van up to your house, and he'll take all your ****. He'll take your black velvet Elvis and your Batman toothbrush, and your penis pump, and that all goes up for auction with the burden of proof on you because you forgot to carry the one, 'cause you were just worried about eating a ******* fish, and you couldn't even cook the fish 'cause you needed a permit for an open flame.

Then the Health Department is going to start asking you a lot of questions about where are you going to dump the scales and the guts. 'This is not a sanitary environment', and ladies and gentlemen if you get sick of it all at the end of the day... not even legal to kill yourself in this country

Thanks again, John Ashcroft, you weird bible addict, can't even handle your own drug. You were born free, you got ****** out of half of it, and you wave a flag celebrating it.

The only true freedom you find, is when you realize and come to terms with the fact that you are completely and unapologetically ****ed, and then you are free to float around the system

- Doug Stanhope

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I have never wished to cater to the crowd; for what I know they do not approve, and what they approve I do not know. - Epicurus
Oderint dum metuant - Caligula & Police State USA
Radiosity
Posts: 192
Incept: 2009-03-05

Sunny UK
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@Kareninca

Go look up Gab's Dissenter. It's exactly what you describe. And yes, the legacy media ****ing HATE it, lol. The usual 'alt-right' and other stupid labels are being flung around to try and smear it, because it's a comment system they can't control.
Tonythetiger
Posts: 9
Incept: 2019-01-27

Fort Walton
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We don't need to compare past costs to current costs in the medical field to show the impact of graft and corruption. Just look at the prices charged for medical devices vs. the cost for the same item elsewhere.

Case in point based on actual events, for the exact same product.

See neck brace here:

https://sportsbraces.com/products/aspen-....

For the low cost of $86 + taxes you can have it shipped (free) to your home.

Actual billed cost from a doctor: $3,985.32
BCBS negotiated 'discount': $3,210.88

Net cost via insurance system: $774.44
(Fully covered by insurance.)

Patient cost: $0.00

So a great deal for the patient taken in a small world sense, but imagine what that does to the premiums necessary to support paying 9x the over-the-counter cost of such devices.

Great deal for the doctor too. $680+ of pure profit for writing a prescription.

Not such a great deal for those who have to cover the ever-rising premiums for insurance.

Nor for anyone who can't afford/doesn't have insurance. They get stuck with a bill for $3,895.32 or do without.

How on earth can anyone keep a straight face when they price something at 45x the cost it can be had online and without the prescription?

I'm thinking the whole "Do no harm" oath doesn't apply to financial******such as this these days. What is our world coming to?
Tickerguy
Posts: 156867
Incept: 2007-06-26
A True American Patriot!
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@Tonythetiger - Exactly.

Now explain why it is that the hospitals, doctors offices, insurance companies and everyone who works at any of them are able to walk around our nice town and have a great evening without anything bad happening (like getting the middle finger in their face -- no need for violence or illegal acts) or -- much worse?

Never mind that our own County Commission last year approved a HUGE property tax hike because these same dickheads did the same thing with some prisoners up in the county jail who needed treatment. Guess how many people showed up at their public hearing to raise hell about that?

ONE.

ME, to be specific. For that I was personally insulted and called a "fat cat" because I was "able to afford it." On the record and in session, no less.

Yes, after raising said hell they voted for said tax increase. Why not? There certainly wasn't any threat from the people who live here -- all 202,000 of them -- to make the commissioner's lives a LIVING but LEGAL HELL for doing so. They're supposed to give a **** when ONE dude out of over TWO HUNDRED ****ING THOUSAND PEOPLE bother to raise a stink?

Why not **** us and give their "friends" over at the local hospital ANOTHER big chunk of OUR money -- shoving a ****ing gun up our noses to get it? It's not they FEAR the 200,000+ people deciding they've had enough of that ****, right?

Am I supposed to be impressed by the "wonderful" people in this country? The only difference between******and sex is CONSENT!

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Winding it down.

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