Were You Coerced?
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2023-01-16 07:00 by Karl Denninger
in Musings , 665 references Ignore this thread
Were You Coerced?
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You know what I'm talking about.

Now think about why it was able to be applied to you.

Let's have some honest reflection.

Did you have a crushingly-expensive mortgage, a couple of nasty car payments and no reserves?  Well, you knew that was stupid, right?  How many people have told you over the years that six months of reserves is a reasonable amount and three is an absolute minimum?  Plenty.  Every single piece of financial education related to personal life has put that metric on the table.  You ignored it, deliberately.  Who's responsible for that?

Did you really think there were no replacement jobs?  You know full well that's BS; there was never a time in the last three years where "no job available, no unemployment, no income" was on the table.  Maybe not as much as you were making but again, your "monthly nut" is almost all under your control.  Its easy to say "well, that $100 bottle of scotch isn't getting bought this week or next"; not so easy to say "that $3,000 mortgage payment is optional", is it?  The fact is that in the first few months when people got laid off the government was handing out unemployment "boosts" and outright cash; you got it, I got it, we all got it.  After the first few months, and well before any sort of "mandate" there were (and are today) a crap-ton of jobs so there was no risk of you not being able to go work and do something for money.

Have you structured your life around that which in truth you can't really afford?  If you have a lifestyle that requires a six-figure income what leads you to believe you'll always have it, and in what sort of sane world would you not expect to have to fund that for at least a year without income at all?  Its a basic fact that the further to the right of the median you go the fewer people there are and thus if you're making that sort of money and something happens to your job (your fault or not) there are a lot fewer people and jobs on the right side of where you are on the bell curve than to the left.

The more-extreme your income compared to the median the more conservative you have to be on reserves and spending as a percentage of said income for given things simply because you're stupid to do otherwise!  There are 159 million, more or less, employed people in this country today.  The median household income is just over $78,000 and median personal income is $37,500.  If you make double that personal income then you're well beyond the peak of the bell curve, or if you already have some sort of disability, no matter what it is, you had better be a heck of a lot more-conservative than the "general rules" because there are far fewer replacement jobs you can do that pay more than those that pay less.

Let me put it succinctly: If you can't make it on materially less than the median personal income where the greater count of potential jobs in terms of pay if you lose your current gig is to the right of you on the curve rather than to the left -- that is, despite your outsized income you have insufficient reserves to cleanly bail out of there and decamp to a much smaller required monthly "nut" before they run out -- you have nobody to complain to when it happens.  This is always a choice.

Who's responsibility is it to take care of yourself and your family?  By what sort of wild-eyed crazy did you think you could buck the odds forever and not get nailed?  Are you really crazy enough to believe you'll never roll a "1"?

I've lived in every economic strata except the crazy-rich where you literally don't care what things cost.  Yes, I did say every and I mean it; I've literally been homeless before.  Never was I under more sleep-losing stress than when I "purchased" a townhouse and vehicles (yes, married at the time) that was well into the "you can afford this but not a huge amount more" ratios that all the banks use to approve same, but didn't have the ability to fund that for at least a year and I was well beyond the median income for where I was living at the time.  I knew damn well that if my firm had failed during that period due to either my own stupidity as a CEO or an act of God entirely beyond my control I was screwed and the odds I could unscrew myself by going to work for someone else before I ran out of reserves at a sufficient salary to keep my head above water approached zero.

Years earlier when I was renting a clean but rather plain and small apartment and had an old, crappy car I was earning below median personal income and thus knew that if push came to shove and I lost my job for any reason I'd be ok.  I'd not be going to the bar chasing skirts on Friday night but the rent could be covered along with the power bill and food; there was basically no way I couldn't find enough employment, save nuclear holocaust (in which case I don't care, obviously) to be able to meet the monthly minimums and thus although I didn't have a big stack of cash that was ok because my income was almost-immediately replaceable save being entirely disabled or dead.  I slept like a baby.

You don't want to read things like Steve Kirsh's substack if you got coerced.  Really, you don't.  There's almost-certainly nothing you can do now to make things better if you put yourself in that position.  You're going to have to live with the insult, whatever it may be, that you imposed on yourself.  But do not kid yourself; you could not have been coerced without being financially irresponsible and ignoring basic facts beforehand.

Nobody owes you a thing if you put yourself in that position.  The responsibility is yours and, if you have family that depends on you, that responsibility is owed to them as well -- by you and you alone.  Everyone else in society and government owes you nothing.

This will not be the last time around.  It never is.  Who's responsibility was it back in 2006 when people were taking out Option ARM loans to buy houses that were interest-only (or even negative amortization!) for the first couple of years and thus had tiny payments predicated on the price going up by at least 20% in those two years and thus you could refinance and do it again?  Basically everyone who did that couldn't pay the full amortization at the start and the more "turns" on that you saw from the so-called price appreciation the worse it got because the principle amount increased with each twist of the crank.  What could possibly lead you to believe that in two years your income would go up by more than 20% plus however much more was required to make an amortizing payment because if it didn't and for any reason you couldn't roll the loan you were going to get foreclosed on and thrown into the street!

If you didn't learn from that after seeing the carnage and foreclosure signs everywhere and didn't take the intervening 13 years to get out of that hole yourself then why are you complaining this time about being "coerced"?  You weren't coerced -- you deliberately dug the hole you found yourself in, got in said hole, kept shoveling more and deeper until you were fully underground and then want people to feel sorry for you!

You had more than a decade to resolve that after you watched others get whacked over the head with a clue-by-four and didn't remedy your personal level of risk and behavior.

Learn from this folks because there will be a next time.  I don't know when the next time will happen or what form it will take but it will happen.  In my adult life I've lived through a bunch of them and although most did not get me personally they did get others and I saw what it did to them.  The late '70s/early 80s, the early 1990 recession, the blow-up in 2000 and then the so-called "great financial crisis" in 2008.

That looks like about once every ten years doesn't it?  Yeah, it does, and it holds over my entire life with the particular insult changing from event to event but the next one always comes.

If you took physical damage its yours and there is nothing you can do about it.  Whatever limitations it places on your life from here forward are yours.  If you boxed yourself in and then got coerced you had better figure out how to move down below the center of personal median income and be ok because given what we now know the odds are dangerously high you're going to find yourself with a serious income problem in the next five to ten years.  That's what history and the odds tell you.

If this means you live well below your means and sock back that capital or get out of a high-cost area and move to a low-cost one and accept whatever lifestyle changes that means you better do it now, on your own terms.  Exactly where you choose to do that is up to you of course and there are many criteria that ought to go into that decision but chief among them needs to be that you will be ok with an income below the median personal level unless you have a large capital reserve you can live off in your current lifestyle if something goes wrong at your current cost of living, plus inflation which, as you've seen, isn't going to be zero any time soon.

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Annwitty 1 posts, incept 2022-12-29
2023-01-16 08:41:02

Spot on. To this day I dont know what I would have done if covid had happened when I was a high-earning single parent. Chances are I would have buckled under the stress and gotten the vaccine even though I know based on past vaccine injury experience it would have very likely killed me.

I had done everything youre talking about, plenty of reserves, the ability to downsize etc. But the fear of not being able to put food on the table for my kids I would have panicked.

That, and the fact It is almost impossible to get off the work/earn/live treadmill when youre on it.
Workerbee 5k posts, incept 2009-03-18
2023-01-16 08:41:02


By the grace of God I could not be coerced.
The thought of losing the house was a concern.
We decided we would NEVER allow ourselves to be in that situation again.

We are now 100% debt free.

Fuck You money.

Thank you again Sir!

'Keep pushing fuckers, you'll find the trip wire eventually'
~ Quik49

'This is the part where you find out who you are'
Cmoledor 1k posts, incept 2021-04-13
2023-01-16 08:41:02

What else need be said??

The whole world is one big fucking scam
Why are you giving a vulgarity warning here? Our genial host is an advocate of both skullfucking and sodomy via rusty chainsaw. Credit to Rollformer
Kcforreal 43 posts, incept 2021-09-27
2023-01-16 08:41:02

My brother's doctor at the VA really encouraged my brother to get jabbed several times during his first routine visit post-'vaccine' rollout. But I had already changed his mind, sending him reams of information about all the crimes that the harmaceutical companies have committed for decades, the fact that this could alter your DNA and have side effects unknown since it was brand new, the fact that previous mRNA trials were never successful and that it appeared that the whole Covid panic was total manufactured bullshit by TPTB and discretion is the better part of valor.

So, coached by me, he said 'no' nicely but firmly and would not engage the doctor on the merits. On subsquent routine visits the doctor never asked again.

We were both fortunate in being retired and living well below our means but sometimes I wish I had still been working so I could give the person demanding I get jabbed the middle finger and force them to fire me after which I'd sue the shit out of them as they legally cannot force someone to take an experimental (remember the EUA??) shot. The other sick thing they did was deny people the ability to drawn unemployment (I think I remember them doing that).

I can only hope those bastards who wielded that power got all the shots and the boosters themselves.

"Most people are not just comfortable in their ignorance, but hostile to anyone who points it out." - Plato, The Allegory of the Cave
Boredfree 1k posts, incept 2021-09-15
2023-01-16 08:41:02

There are a lot of people who need to point their thumb towards the person responsible for their suffering.

Too many people are paper rich. They look at their stock portfolio and feel all smug when the market is winning. That smugness wears off quickly when these investments lose money.

I watched my first and only 401k melt into nothing during the early 90's and I knew then stocks weren't for me.

I learned to embrace poverty. Being financially poor doesn't mean you have to live like a pauper. Rather you learn to make due, you learn to fix things yourself and you find ways to entertain yourself without spending money.

I'll admit it was easier for me than some because I grew up poor. I was used to doing without luxuries and my family never pressured me to be financially 'successful'. My parents only required me to find happiness and they have been supportive of my weird life choices.

I understand many have been pushed by their families to live beyond their means as a way to prove their success. It sucks for you if this is how you've lived. I feel for you.

These days I make really good money when I work. Rather than work more, and make more money, I work less and have even more free time to spend on my projects. I'm filthy rich with free time.

At the end of our life we don't long for more money but more time. I don't want to feel I cheated myself selling too much of my life to an employer.

The problem is most people want to point a finger rather than their thumb when dealing with challenges.
Tsdj86 52 posts, incept 2022-12-06
2023-01-16 08:41:02

Every word that you wrote today is 100% true. Its very difficult for the average American to come to terms with many of life's basic realities.

In general the average American lives far far beyond their means if they had to live a cash existence without credit at their beckon call. Immediate available credit has been a huge driving force in the nations general wealth dynamics and characteristics.

If the average person forced themselves to live within their means and pay as they go, or have ample saving limiting many of life's unnecessary lavish goodies, the nation would look very different, but also a much more sound footing financially and the ability to tell tyrants FU, I do not consent.

Jesjohn94 1k posts, incept 2019-05-07
2023-01-16 08:41:02

There are many reasons people got coerced into taking the jabs and not all of them financial. Elon Musk appears to have been jabbed despite not being convinced they are effective and he is quite wealthy. I think a lot of people just can't believe the entire western world would encourage everyone to be jabbed by something dangerous. What isn't in doubt is that many tens of millions of people were coerced globally. If it ever comes into the open how dangerous the jabs are it will be interesting how that plays out.
Handyone55 402 posts, incept 2010-07-06
2023-01-16 08:41:02

Some people get resourceful when the SHTF. I live in a fairly rural area which is thankfully low on code inspectors and professional complainers. . One day I noticed a large travel trailer in my neighbors back yard. The travel trailer has skirting installed to keep the floor warm and an extension cord running from the main house. The trailer people are polite, quiet, and keep to themselves. They have lived there about 3 months. They can live there for the next two years for all I care. In the local dialect They aint botherin me none

I have also been in hundreds of off the books basement rentals in inner city Wilmington Delaware. Take an unfinished basement in a 100 plus year old townhouse. Add a bed, dresser, lamp, chair and a TV. You now have affordable housing. Never mind the only access is a rickety basement stair and the place is a fire death trap. Beats sleeping in a snow drift.

Iou 1k posts, incept 2009-03-16
2023-01-16 08:41:02

Karl Denninger wrote..
What happens when you refuse to take on debt - of any sort? TPTB lose their ability to manipulate you!

Words I live by. Thanks Karl for opening my eyes all those years ago. It feels so good to be in the "Fuck You" camp. I sleep real good...

"When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men living together in society, they create for themselves, in the course of time, a legal system that authorizes it and a moral code that glorifies
Sraven 88 posts, incept 2010-07-29
2023-01-16 08:41:02

That post is right on the money.

My personal experience with it began in December 2000 when I found myself unemployed with $5000/month in debt to pay and zero reserves. I committed to fixing it.
In 10 years, I paid off the debt, including the mortgage and built up reserves.

And with Judge Roberts decision on Obamacare in July, 2012. I found that I could not be coerced into buying Obamacare. If you did not have income, they could not force you to purchase health insurance. And if my lifestyle did not require income or health insurance, I did not have to work.

And the lockdown, mask up, eviction moratorium, stop working, Vax mandate, and everything else . . . none of it applied.

Not working is everything I always hoped it would be.
Flappingeagle 5k posts, incept 2011-04-14
2023-01-16 09:14:39

Who's responsibility is it to take care of yourselfand your family?By what sort of wild-eyed crazy did you think you could buck the oddsforeverand not get nailed? Are you really crazy enough to believe you'llneverroll a "1"?

People go sky diving all the time and it is apparently very safe to do so. However, periodically you hear about someone's parachute not opening...

On a more direct note, this is one of your best Ticker's ever. You do a great job of explaining why you should live on less than you earn, ESPECIALLY if you are making more than average. I know we have all heard stories about someone losing a high-income job and having to take a much lower income job and then taking several years to get back to where they were. If that person had savings and a constrained life-style they could get through without losing everything. If they were maxing out their life-style then they lost everything. Make no mistake about it when it comes to finances, the last thing you want to have happen is to lose everything and have to start over at zero.

This is a place where reality seems backward to many people. The more you make, the more you should live below your means.

One more thing, you are right about a crisis/big downturn every 10 to 15 years. Somewhere I have a list of them saved and it is quite eye opening. Here's somewhat of a list: https://www.investopedia.com/timeline-of....

Once again, GREAT JOB!


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
Greenacr 732 posts, incept 2016-03-15
2023-01-16 09:20:43

Great Post Karl.

I too have lived in most income brackets (call it under $200K) but my journey was like a roller coaster in the first 30 years due to significant and costly medical problems for my first born, a decision to fund my children's education and stupid financial decisions.

My friends and family laugh because I pick up any spare change on the street, at Aldis, wherever. I also try to pay cash for a lot of incidental items and NEVER spend any change as I sort it and put into to 5-gallon jars. I do this because when we were really scraping by, I was only able to buy groceries for my family because I had money in that change jar.

It was only after having done that for a while that I changed my finacial approach and paid off debt and built reserves. Now with retirement in sight I will be able to live comfortably by living below my means.

But I still pick up and save every scrap of change I come across........
Zk118 50 posts, incept 2016-09-28
2023-01-16 09:21:03

And on top of it all, I bet most blew their "free" lockdown money on useless shit and even got further into debt. I have seen it countless times with friends and relatives.

I love being totally debt free with plenty of reserves and not having to worry about that 10 year cycle. I picked up on it in my mid 20's and always saved for the downturns to be able to weather the temporary storm. I'm 53 this month and looking forward to the upcoming opportunities that I positioned myself for.

Ocdawg 418 posts, incept 2019-03-14
2023-01-16 09:22:21

Spot on

3 years ago we were looking at moving back to the south but over-leveraged. 2 years ago, COVID was full throttle and FL housing went to the moon. Now, plenty in reserve and we'll re-assess after the carnage shakes out. Sitting out at least 2 more years.

Bottom line- we sleep very well

"When you're born into this world, you're given a ticket to the freak show. If you're born in America you get a front row seat."- George Carlin
USA= smiley
Bodhi 5k posts, incept 2008-02-23
2023-01-16 09:39:19

Workerbee wrote..

By the grace of God I could not be coerced.
The thought of losing the house was a concern.
We decided we would NEVER allow ourselves to be in that situation again.

We are now 100% debt free.

Fuck You money.

Thank you again Sir!

Getting completely out of debt was the best thing I ever did. It's not only the feeling of freedom, I came to realize it's that "they" now had little control over me. A lot fewer ways to coerce me into things I didn't want to do.

The next best thing was starting my own business. So I've always had a job (and income) through thick and thin. The uncertainty of income taught me to live within my means.

At 70, I am now semi-retired, although I still dabble in the telecom industry. It brings in enough to pay for groceries and allows me to easily get by on SS without touching my savings.

My son is 41 and recently got off the corporate merry-go-round. He has bought a local deli (for cash) in the small NY town he lives in and is preparing to live life as a business owner. I haven't seen him so enthused in many years.

I was 31 when I took a buy-out and left AT&T after the breakup of Ma Bell. I used the money to go to computer school and start my first business. It wasn't easy, but I have zero regrets.

Be so subtle that you are invisible.
Be so mysterious that you are intangible.
Then you will control your rivals' fate.
~Sun Tzu, The Art of War
Kf7psm 68 posts, incept 2021-09-12
2023-01-16 09:57:13

Karl, this is an excellent piece. I hope some people have learned. "you could not have been coerced without being financially irresponsible and ignoring basic facts beforehand." In that situation you are practically owned.
Flappingeagle 5k posts, incept 2011-04-14
2023-01-16 10:01:21

Its not called "debt-slavery" for no reason.


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
Shouldhave 12 posts, incept 2011-02-16
2023-01-16 10:19:54

Karl, another great article. When I was house shopping for my first house in 1980, I thought it was hilarious on the amount of money/mortgage the bank would approve. The 28% rule is the start of the coercion. Finances where not taught in High School nor discussed in the family growing up. I observed our family was frugal growing up and watched my father being a master jack of all trades.
Im guessing I learned from family experience and made sure I didnt over extend myself financially. Paid my credit cards off monthly, keep my vehicles until the wheels fell off and didnt need the feel to keep up with the Joness.
Im proud that the above rubbed off on both of my boys. They may have complained a lot growing up that they where the last on the block to get that toy. But I was able to put them both through college and buy them new vehicle for high school graduation. I was able to do this by not over extending my mortgage along with paying it off early to pay/fund their college education.
Both boys,40 & 38, have thanked me numerous times for making them save their money, invest in the stock market and try to be a do it your self fixer upper. Both of them are way more finically in depended at their age them me at that age.
I never got coerced in the Covid shot but unfortunately my kids fell hook line and sinker that the shot was needed but not for financial reasons. Tif I had to guess, the oldest logic was so they could continue their nice lifestyle of travel/vacation and the youngest held out for a while until his girlfriend coerced him. ☹
Shadowmask 4k posts, incept 2021-05-24
2023-01-16 10:21:20

Rent is insane in much of the county. Going cheap is way, way, way easier for us older folks than the kids starting out. Many of us outright own our houses or have a very cheap mortgage.

Unfortunately, it's even more crucial for kids to live as cheaply as possible simply because they don't have any reserves yet!

It's a really tough roe to hoe for them.

Sportsball Team A: 3 Sportsball Team B: 3
Clot Shot: 0
Tickerguy 192k posts, incept 2007-06-26
2023-01-16 10:21:07

My daughter loves to travel, including internationally. She has more uses on her Passport in that regard than I do. However, she was (wisely) unwilling to compromise her health on a permanent basis to continue doing it while the stupid was going on.

The difference between "kill" and "murder" is that murder, as a subset of kill, is undeserved by the deceased.
Tonythetiger 794 posts, incept 2019-01-27
2023-01-16 10:33:24

Bravo TG! A most worthy topic and one that needs to be widely understood if we hope to continue building civilization going forward, rather than tearing it down.

TG's words are as true today as when Shakespeare wrote Hamlet 400+ years ago:

Polonius wrote..
Neither a borrower nor a lender be;
For loan oft loses both itself and friend,
And borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry.

FWIW, it would take a heap of sharpening to bring the public's 'edge of husbandry' up to the level of a butter knife these days. A truly sad state of affairs.

This is a lesson I learned in the early 90s when I was unexpectedly laid off from my engineering job. I had a house payment (~$1,000/month) and a car payment (~$250/month) and my unemployment paid me $800/month. Yikes!!

Thankfully I had stashed away $10,000 or so in cash. I was able to make ends meet for the 3 months it took to find a new job, in a distant town, paying 25% less than my prior job.

But beggars can't be choosers, and that was the only offer I had, so I took it. Put the house up for sale, packed up, and moved. Paid both rent and a mortgage for the 9 months it took to sell the house. Wasn't easy, but I managed.

From that day forward, I arranged my affairs so that I would never find myself in that corner again. Since then, I've quit one job and been laid off another, but each time I was financially prepared to deal with it, even if it meant living on fiscal fumes.

The recent Coof nonsense and the home owners insurance racket spurred me to re-arrange my affairs so that I'm now completely debt free, and as TG explains, that lever can no longer be applied to me.

My focus now is to put my excess cash into investments that pay a solid income, hopefully through thick and thin. My goal is to generate a passive income that will amply cover my cost of living ... ideally forever. Not there yet, but I keep getting closer every paycheck.

Those out there who are reading Karl's words of wisdom would be well served to take these lessons to heart. One day you will be able to look back and realize it saved your bacon and gave you a leg up when everyone else was sinking in financial quicksand.

"War is when the Government tells you who the bad guy is. Revolution is when you decide that for yourself." - Benjamin Franklin
T2 649 posts, incept 2008-11-17
2023-01-16 10:34:10

I told my wife that if my company mandated jabs that I would quit my job, and I meant it. She was a little taken back by that comment, but me saying it really drove the point home that I wasnt getting jabbed, no matter what. It was an easy decision after reading Tickers for the past year plus on the topic, but what really made me resolute and not lose sleep over the potential loss of income, and my house isnt the cheapest one to run, was knowing I had a years worth of reserves, and thats if I just sat on my ass and didnt even look.

So yeah, dont over-extend yourself. You never know when the shit might hit the fan.


In California, no one can hear you scream.
Tappedout 232 posts, incept 2020-09-21
2023-01-16 10:34:24

"But do not kid yourself; you could not have been coerced without being financially irresponsible and ignoring basic facts beforehand."

Some people were coerced/acquiesced without being financially irresponsible and ignoring "basic" facts.

They simply ran a faulty cost/risk vs benefit analysis.

Most of those people were either not very smart, lemmings/gullible, or biased in wanting to believe that the shot "couldn't be that bad/how bad can it be", or some combination of those. Many mistakenly relied on people who held themselves out to be authorities, academics, experts, and leaders to assist in providing input for their analysis.

Unlike me, all of the people I know who refused the shot risked nothing. Some ran the faulty analysis and regrettably took part. But I know some otherwise intelligent people who were at no financial risk, but still took it.

I agree with everything else you wrote.

My vitriol is reserved for those who decided to take it and coerced others, everyone engaged in the fear propaganda and mandates, and most of all: The medical/pharma cartel.

No one group is more to blame than physicians. They have always cultivated the "Pray at the hem of my white coat" mentality, and they have been found wanting, yet again.

People would have been better off with blood letting and leeches.
Tickerguy 192k posts, incept 2007-06-26
2023-01-16 10:36:03

@Tappedout -
They simply ran a faulty cost/risk vs benefit analysis.

That's not coercion. People do that every day and its never coerced. "Do I have another beer?" Well, there's an analysis there; if it puts you over the DUI threshold and you get caught that was a $10,000 beer you just drank.

But you weren't coerced.

The difference between "kill" and "murder" is that murder, as a subset of kill, is undeserved by the deceased.
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