Why US Voters Are Angry, And Why The Economy Is Stagnant

I did a little web search. Terms were “total us wages graph”. It gives some nice enlightening pages and graphs that illustrate what I’ve said before in words. We The People are not out spending and getting the economy going again because WE don’t have the money. This stagnation will continue as long as the Real Economy is in that state of funk. No amount of “Monetary Policy” can fix it, as it is based on bad Fiscal Policy, bad Regulatory Policy, and bad laws (“treaties” exporting our jobs and factories to ‘free trade zone’ areas) that destroy economic gain for the bulk of us to the benefit of a very few very rich.

I am, at my core, a Libertarian Free Market Capitalist. I’m happy with competition and free markets.

I’m very much NOT happy with “Socialism For The Rich” and they get bailouts while we get screwed.

I’m very much NOT happy with “All The Laws You Can Buy” and they get sweetheart laws while we get jail time for a joint or a few drinks too many.

In a nutshell, that’s why BOTH Bernie and Trump are pulling in the crowds. It is just two sides of the same coin. The “Enough Already, screw them all” vote. “If I can’t win, I can at least screw them.” directed at the Powers That Be. Frankly, I’d love to see a Trump / Bernie ticket. You’d get about 60% of the voters in one go. (Some 30% from each end of the “Just Screw You” voters).

That is also why voters are staying away in droves from Establishment Candidates like Jeb Bush and why Cruz has some traction (despite being sort of inside the political game).

So with that preamble, lets look at some data and charts (shamelessly lifted from their author sites, with attribution, as Political Fair Use speech):

http://www.epi.org/publication/charting-wage-stagnation/

Wage Stagnation in Nine Charts
By Lawrence Mishel, Elise Gould, and Josh Bivens | January 6, 2015

Our country has suffered from rising income inequality and chronically slow growth in the living standards of low- and moderate-income Americans. This disappointing living-standards growth—which was in fact caused by rising income inequality—preceded the Great Recession and continues to this day. Fortunately, income inequality and middle-class living standards are now squarely on the political agenda. But despite their increasing salience, these issues are too often discussed in abstract terms. Ignored is the easy-to-understand root of rising income inequality, slow living-standards growth, and a host of other key economic challenges: the near stagnation of hourly wage growth for the vast majority of American workers over the past generation. Countering that by generating broad-based wage growth is our core economic policy challenge.

With a group of simple charts, this paper brings the challenge we face into sharp focus, and lends clarity to the steps we must take to meet it.

I’m particularly fond of this one:

EPI Wage Stagnation

Which is the direct and proximal cause of this one:

EPI Wage Growth

EPI Wage Growth

Now the first whack with the Clue Stick comes when you realize that the poor spend all they have. Look at that bottom line. The poor are now spending 5% LESS than they did before simply because they don’t have it. There are far more low wage earners than high wage earners.

So where did all those “productivity gains” go? NOT to the people who spend money. Very Rich folks don’t spend as much of their income as the poor. This is the fundamental basis of capitalism driven growth. As anyone gets rich, they invest more and consume less AS A PERCENTAGE of their income. Make more of us all rich, you get ever more investment and ever more economic growth.

Yet that economic escalator of Capitalism has been strangled by Crony Capitalists (or more accurately, Crony “Third Way” Socialists) lifting a ton of favors from Big Government via things like “To Big To Fail” and bank bailouts. (Why else would the To Big To Fail banks have been “cured” by making them bigger and driving out their competition with strangling regulations?)

Then there’s that flood of H1B Visas. Nice way to force down wages in those areas where We The People had a job making decent pay. (AND why I can’t fully support Rubio. I like a lot of what he says, but his advocacy for more low wage pressure via importing tens of thousands from the “3rd World” is NOT good for the economy.)

So look at the middle line. 6% growth over 25 years of the graph. And dropping in the last half dozen years. Now add in the huge loss of savings and wealth during the (government induced) Housing Bubble and Burst, and that 6% “more” is clearly not enough to even cover the higher cost of food and make up the the artificially buggered (low) inflation numbers. We’re going nowhere, folks, and we know it.

Finally, that top 10% of wages goes to the top tier of the well connected. Washington Lawyers. Corporate Cronies. Lobbyists and Media Stars. You get the picture: Not US.

And that is why 90% of the Electorate is “Mad as Hell and not going to take it anymore”.
And that is why despite massive “stimulus”, folks are not out “buying”.

There can not be a consumer lead “recovery” when the consumer is already spending all they have.

The Fed, flooding the banking world with liquidity and driving interest rates to zero, but then via Dodd-Frank and similar regulatory overburden, forcing that money to sit in bank vaults or only be loaned to mega-corporations does nothing at all to increase liquidity for The Average Joe and Jane, nor does it let them buy more, recover their Bubble Busted wealth (what little they had), pay off their kids college debt, nor let them even sleep well at night.

It just puts a ton of cash in bank vaults and drives “paper assets” like the stock market up, for a few years. So a literal TON of wealth is accumulated by the Wealth Class who own almost all the assets of the nation.

Now that makes THEM feel all warm and happy, but it does NOT stimulate the general economy. It doesn’t make jobs, it doesn’t raise wages, and it doesn’t let consumers consume more. When you have fewer folks employed, making less stuff, and consuming less, that’s a recession. It does not go away if Jimmy Diamond gets a $10,000,000 bonus or if Citi Bank has a massive reserves increase. It does not fix OUR economy if Warren Buffet buys a giant factory in Mexico.

What “stimulus” giveth, regulation, inflation, NAFTA and taxation taketh away.

But what about The Future? We’ve “invested” massive amounts of (borrowed) money into Higher Education. Surely that will pay off in lots of highly paid highly educated workers? Well, no. It mostly paid off in lots of overpaid college professors and administrators getting the better part of $1/2 Million a year to “be in charge”. (My Public Alma Mater pays their President somewhere over $400,000 last time I checked)

http://www.capoliticalreview.com/blog/uc-president-napolitano-to-receive-570k-base-salary/

UC President Napolitano to Receive $570k Base Salary
July 20, 2013 By Josephine Djuhana 1

It’s official.
Janet Napolitano Homeland Security SecretaryJanet Napolitano is now the new president of the University of California system, despite her lackluster track record as the secretary of Homeland Security and the glaring fact that she has virtually no educational experience under her belt whatsoever.

Nice work if you can get it.
No experience? No Problem! Starter wage of over $1/2 Million / year…

THAT is what Johnny is in debt for.

So how’s that wages angle working out for our kids?

EPI College Grads Wages

EPI College Grads Wages

The heading says falling since 2000, but to me the peak looks to have been about 1997 and downhill for almost 20 years now.

Oh, and realize that at a Federal Minimum Wage of $7.25 that bottom tier is about double minimum wages and the top is not quite 3 x minimum. I suppose it is better than flipping burgers, but it isn’t going to be paying for that new BMW… $32,000 / year is ALMOST enough to pay for an apartment, food, TV, and mass transit to work in most of our big cities (where most people live).

So just who has benefited from all those Student Loans? The student who has to find a way to get $100,000 out of a bit over minimum wage, or the “Inexperienced Executive” being gifted $1/2 Million for being Politically Correct? Hmmm?

Thus the students saying “Bernie! He’ll dump our debt!!” in droves. With professors in the UC System now hauling down over $100k / year too, hey, how about we just put a special tax on higher education salaries and use THAT to pay off the student debt of anyone who can’t get a job paying over 4 x minimum WITH the provided degree? A little “pay for performance” adjustment on the advisers who said “sure a degree in Social Justice Warrior Ethics is a ticket to success” and the Sociology Professors who were lavishly rewarded for teaching it? Sounds good to me.

(Of course, since the Engineering Department and the Business Department graduates are making decent money, their Professors ought to be measured against their work product of Makers…)

There’s a lot more at that link, including the erosion of benefits packages (like dumping health care coverage now that Obama has “fixed” it). But just to show it’s not just one article:

http://www.advisorperspectives.com/dshort/updates/Household-Income-Distribution.php

U.S. Household Incomes: A 47-Year Perspective
September 17, 2015
by Doug Short

Nominal Mean Incomes

The next chart adjusts for inflation in chained 2014 dollars based on a research variant of the Consumer Price Index, the CPI-U-RS. In other words, the incomes in earlier years have been adjusted upward to the purchasing power of the most recent year in the series. We’ve also highlighted recessions to show the correlation of household incomes to the business cycle.

Adviser Perspectives Real Income

Adviser Perspectives Real Income

Look carefully at those lower lines. EVERYONE below $100,000 / year is dropping. Yes, it’s slow. Yet since about 1997, there’s been LESS each year in real terms for “most of us” to spend. We just can’t go buy more cars, shoes, whatever. We must buy less.

Personally, I’ve done a LOT more shopping at Walmart over the last decade than before, simply in an attempt to keep the basics more or less unchanged. It is now a rare treat to buy groceries at the regular Safeway or Lucky’s and even more rare to go to Whole Foods. That is “coping”, it is not “growth”. And I’m not alone in it. All the rest of us are doing the same, to greater or lesser degree.

At that $200,000 line, things are roughly stable. The $350,000 line is a little droopier and a lot more volatile (bonuses, don’t you know) but no great shakes. So who is to do the buying?

The money flow of all that stimulus and printing and spending and all has been entirely consumed by mega-corporations and the super rich. THAT is why the economy is no great shakes. It is also why We The People are increasingly P.O.ed at BOTH major parties and their constantly growing Lap Dog of Government Lackeys sucking at the money tit of the Federal Budget (please pardon my obscenity of saying “Federal Budget”…)

Essentially, if YOU are not pulling down $1 Million or more / year, then YOU are a LOSER in this rigged game.

Thus the anger at large this political year.

In Conclusion

I could put up more links showing the same data from other sites. I’ll leave that for you all to explore as you like.

https://www.google.com/#q=total+US+wages+graph

The key ‘takeaways’ for me are pretty simple:

1) The Game is very very rigged when Banks and GM get bailouts, and We The People pay for it, despite having been fleeced. Bernie taps into that.

2) The Game is NOT working for me when my wages drop for a decade and / or I’m unemployed. Trump taps into that.

3) The Game is strongly against me when Fed Agencies and Regulations destroy my job (coal miners anyone?) and put business out of business, and / or reward Friends Of The Clintons and Friends Of Obama (or in the past, Friends Of Bush) with big gains and mandated “must buy” rules; or subsidize their friends crazy ideas (Solindra anyone?) at my expense on my diminishing real wages. BOTH Trump and Bernie tap into this one.

4) When Over Regulation and regulatory burden destroy wealth and wealth creation, and when massive spending by The Federal Government drives debt up by $Trillions in a couple of years; that prevents monetary policy from doing any good at all. There is only about a 3% increase in our technical ability to produce, per year. That’s IT. ANYTHING that results in a dead weight loss of more than that per year will result in negative real growth. This is just reality. Technology and “know how” only advance slowly and that’s the limit. Waste ANY of it, we are all made more poor. That is the message of those wage graphs. The FED fails to recognize this (as is true of all the Central Banks for Europe, Japan, etc…) This is why The Fed can print all it wants, and the economy stays stagnant. The money doesn’t get to “We The People”, it gets diverted into Crony Socialist Schemes and that is NOT where that 3% of new advance is to be found and nurtured. Few folks recognize this; though the Conservative Candidates at least have clue that too much regulation is a bad thing. (They still ‘need work’ on that whole “crony capitalism is bad” angle just like the Socialists need some help understanding “crony socialism is bad”…)

5) When wages at all levels are stagnant or dropping in real terms, bringing in a flood of illegal immigrants, and a flood of H1B Visa workers does NOT improve things. Tell me you are for MORE H1B visas, I hear “I want to destroy your job, cut YOUR wages, and assure that no child wants to study that area in school as the jobs won’t be there when they graduate.” Economic Law is NOT subject to rulings or edicts or any other act of man. More supply WILL drive down wages and it WILL result in folks going into other fields. I advised my son (Honors Math…) to avoid I.T. work and instead go into a non-I.T. field precisely because of the H1B Visa issue. MORE H1B Visas will result in FEWER home grown I.T. folks. It already has. Rubio ought to stop listening to his Establishment Friends demanding more of them and instead start listening to the voters who are out of work.

http://hotair.com/archives/2016/01/26/disney-accused-of-misusing-h-1b-visa-program-to-boot-american-workers/

Disney accused of misusing H-1B visa program to boot American workers
POSTED AT 4:01 PM ON JANUARY 26, 2016 BY JAZZ SHAW

Things are not quite so chipper in the Land of the Mouse these days. A number of workers in the Disney empire lost their jobs and they’re none too happy about it. In the current economy that’s not much of a shocker, but these folks seem to have a very specific complaint. According to the the allegations heading to court, Disney got rid of a number of American workers in order to replace them with lower cost foreign workers using the H-1B visa program to get into the country. (Orlando Sentinel)

When Disney is doing it, you can be sure that others less moral have been doing it for a lot longer and a lot more…

So the bottom line is just that We The People are not so dumb that we can’t tell that the grocery basket is no longer full when we spend $100, and that we have fewer of those bills to spend. ( I used to fill the cart at the Name Store for $100. Then at Walmart. Now, even at Walmart, it’s about 3/4 full at $100…) We are not so dumb as to not notice that Washington is awash in OUR money, and that their Corporate and Collegiate Friends are rolling in the stuff too. We may grit our teeth and mutter about it; things hard to see from D.C.; but that doesn’t mean we have not noticed.

Now along comes The Burn(ie) and The Donald (Trump) and we have a choice. A “Screw you!” candidate, or the Same Old Same Old. We’ll take “Screw You!” (of either stripe).

Run Bernie Sanders against The Crony Republican, I’m voting for Bernie.
Run The Donald against Hillary, I’m voting for Trump
Run Jeb (in many ways the best Governor running) against Sanders, I’ll toss a coin between reason and anger.
Run Hillary The Liar In Chief against Jeb! the competent, I’ll likely vote Jeb!, but might write in Trump…

What has been done for the last 1/4 Century doesn’t work. It puts too much power in the hands of too few, rolls all the money up hill, and screws over We The People. Call it Crony Capitalism, Crony Socialism, “Third Way” Economics, whatever. It’s ALL the same scam.

Money and power belongs in a much larger swath of society. Either that happens, or the economy will grind to a halt. (See Greece as just one example. Or most of Latin America. Or much of the rest of Europe for that matter). No amount of Central Banking Games can fix it if you have the wrong tax policies (too much going to D.C. from We The People) and the wrong Fiscal Policies (spending a $Trillion here and a $Trillion there to benefit your friends and ‘donors’ and putting it on The People’s Credit Card).

The end game is pretty simple. We Just Stop. We “Go Galt”. College kids going to the beach instead of to work. Collapse of your loverly tax base as small and medium businesses go out of business. Stop buying the products of your Mega Corporations as we don’t bother with the money economy (not having much anyway). It all starts that spiral decay into Revolution. While Socialists and Communists just love that final “workers revolution”, I’d much rather not “go there”. Greece has not been pretty. Egypt was a mess. Spain isn’t any great shakes either, but not quite in a disaster yet. We won’t talk about Cypress…

The Better Way is well known.

A) MASSIVELY reduce government intrusion at all levels into our lives. We can do just fine without it, thanks. Chuck whole agencies if possible. ( I got a much better education PRIOR to the existence of a Federal Department of Education than anything done since, as one example.) Gut regulations that only benefit mega-corps and that crush medium and small businesses. This lets the economic engine run and all the wages and jobs follow. Small and medium businesses will start to grow again.

B) MASSIVELY cut taxes and the Federal Budget. Anything over about 15% of GDP is obscene and starts to cause the spiral decay cycle. Yes, cut them both. None of this lie of not raising taxes a LOT and calling a smaller increase a ‘cut’. None of the lie of spending like crazy on an out of control budget and saying “Look, we’re just borrowing the money!”… Reality does not care about nor know about your lies. ALL that matters is that too much in government hands causes the economy to stagnate. Monetary policy can NOT fix broken Fiscal Policy (too much spending and too much debt). Cutting taxes will have all sorts of folks deciding it is ‘worth it’ to start a business and try to grow things. Taxed as we are now, mega-corps are even packing up and leaving.

C) Stop Screwing Around with the money supply. Keynes works for very short (2 years or less) periods and ONLY if during good times you run a budget surplus to offset the deficit in bad times. Since NOBODY will do that, just stop the whole damn charade. You want 2% inflation “on average” to keep things out of deflation land? OK, have the Treasury print 2% of the money supply each year as Treasury Notes and spend them. Other than that, leave the damn money supply alone. The Fed mostly just results in acting cyclically (rather than the Keynesian counter cyclical actions) due to the inability to run a surplus in good times AND NOT SPEND IT. So just stop it. Better to not have the Fed driven bubble and burst cycles than to have them.

In short: Just get the hell out of the way and stop sucking our blood.

Failure to do so is likely to result in a Socialist States Of America or a New Imperial President cramming things down your throats. Or a “Gone Galt” economy with little blood left for you to suck. Your choice…

Me? I’m holding out a bit of hope that I can find an I.T. contract somewhere (though the flood of H1B folks has made that hard…) and maybe work for a living for the next few years. But if not, well, I’m ready to buy an old Caravan and spend my remaining years on The Dole (aka Social Security) and fishing. Hell, IF I don’t produce anything, nobody will be taking it away from me…

And that’s the basic problem right now. Loads of folks facing the desire to be productive but without the means, and willing to be NINIs in the Spanish model. Get The Government out of our way, we will build businesses and wealth and jobs (the Trump approach), don’t do that, we’ll stop producing and hop in the wagon (pulled by whom?…) and enjoy the Bernie Lifestyle. Thus the two blocks of Angry Voters.

So just don’t tell me that the Same Old Same Old is going to fix it, “this time for sure!”. We’re over that lie.

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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20 Responses to Why US Voters Are Angry, And Why The Economy Is Stagnant

  1. omanuel says:

    World leader united the nations in 1945 to hide the source of energy that sustains our lives, just as popes tried to hide this same information 400 hundred years earlier when Copernicus reported the Earth orbits the Sun, rather than visa versa.

    https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/10640850/Solar_Energy.pdf

  2. M Simon says:

    I used to have a Libertarian hatred of the dole. Now? I’m just sucking up as much as I can get.

  3. Larry Ledwick says:

    Average consumers are at peak debt and have near zero real disposable income. Useless to save at current interest rates, high speed trading has made a mockery of invest for the long term. In short they have slowly closed every escape route or squeezed it down so that very few can preserve any wealth, and are slowly approaching the point that they can only cover daily needs and various minor emergency expenditures like new tires and such. They have milked the system out of all of its resilience, and most are just treading water as best they can, and trying to find something to hang on to — ” Wilson!! ”

    This last retail Christmas season was a disaster people really cut back their discretionary spending.

    In real dollars I am making almost exactly the same wages as I was 17 years ago, the younger guys I work with by and large are looking at a life time of student loan payments. That is not the prescription for a vibrant economy when everyone is just hanging on or making only the slowest minimal progress.

    Makes you wonder what the final straw will be that capsizes the boat as it is sitting very low in the water and waves are lapping at the gunnels, one bad move or unanticipated wave will swamp the boat.

  4. p.g.sharrow says:

    Unfortunately the number one cause of local business stagnation is the local zoning and planning department. With a secondary set of roadblockers at the state level. For small business startups, these are an even more difficult obstacle to overcome then the Federal regulators. Taxes are of little importance if you are locked out of creating a startup.
    We are being regulated to death. Only big business can fund the requirements to be in business. They can afford to hire the talent to avoid the high tax rates. With the low or inverse interest rates it maybe time to resurrect the concept of Credit Unions or Co-ops. Something that became important the last time the Feds ruined the Local economic banking system…pg

  5. erl happ says:

    Chiefo: Great post. Nails it comprehensively. Its the 1920’s all over again as documented in JK Galbraith’s ‘The Great Crash’. Too much of the proceeds in too few hands.

    PG, I am with you on over-regulation by zoning and planning departments. This is the most insidious source of stagnation. I own a rural property zoned for subdivision as ‘rural residential’ in 2 hectare lots. Too big, too expensive and there is insufficient demand for the castles that are built on these lots by cashed up retirees. In any case I want to keep my vineyard in production. I want to build a cheap house to rent using a shipping container. Just a ‘tiny house’ that is economical in its use of resources, bush fire tolerant and can be lifted in with a minimum of site works. I need to be registered as an owner builder……live in the house and not start another for years. To site a cheap house for rental on a rural property I need planning permission…..its verboten. So, home seekers are locked into a situation where they must sign up for a home built to standard and size by the big project builders on ever smaller parcels of urban land in a blighted landscape with nary a tree in sight.

    Planners……watch out. Its interesting that the youth and the have nots are now being offered radical choices. Is there a revolution at hand?

  6. JP Miller says:

    The most significant root causes of all the economic pain we have been having are two-fold. Almost all of what you describe (except Gov’t regulations), are effects. The causes: (1) Asia’s entry into the world economy, starting with Japan in the 1970’s, then including Taiwan, South Korea, India, the Philippines, and, most significantly, China. THEY have taken our jobs: low level mfg., high level mfg., and all the Mgmnt and small business infrastructure that supported it. Nothing much we could do. Erect trade barriers? Evidence suggests that’s a problematic long-term solution. (2) Spending trillions of our wealth on foreign oil. Now THAT is something we might have done something about with decent economic policy, but we blinked.

  7. Sandy McClintock says:

    Considering that workers in ‘developed’ countries are competing with low-wage workers in ‘less-developed’ countries, it’s a surprise that the situation is not even more disastrous. Free-trade agreements must surely be expected to have this effect where there is a disparity in wage-rates.

  8. Another Ian says:

    E.M.

    Thanks.

    Spreading this.

  9. John F. Hultquist says:

    Lots of stuff you have put together. I’ll be short.

    You did not mention, by name, the “velocity of money” – – Wikipedia page has a nice chart that has inflection points in the late 1990s.

    “erosion of benefits packages”
    As corporate and public sector pensions go away, folks use (401-k & 403-b) plans. Unless the full amount of the employer input previous to the pension is then given to the worker, and invested, the worker loses. The smart worker has to learn and navigate investments. Most will navigate to index funds (massive growth of Vanguard). Admittedly, this is a middle and upper-middle issue. Lower paid folks have to spend their money on current needs. Still, those funding their own retirement will – mostly – have less to spend now. (A developed world problem.)

    taxes
    Someone put together a list of highly paid NFL players with respect to taxes paid. The big names pay about 45% +/- about 3%. Likely, other big earners pay at these rates also. The smart ones get advice. The not so smart ones get into tax trouble and go broke.

    low wages = low SS payout
    Many, many folks fail to grasp the intent of Social Security. Bernie Sanders seems to be in this category. All the low wage earners paying into SS will get something but that will not provide for retirement needs above the poverty level.

  10. Go Galt? We won’t have a choice. No jobs, No income. No opportunity. What else is there?

    If you are a maker in a land of takers and destroyers, your ultimate choice will be as follows:

    1. If you don’t have it, they can’t steal it.
    2. If you don’t produce it, they can’t tax it.
    3. If you aren’t there, they can’t find you.

    The reason that this will work is that the takers can only take and the destroyers can only destroy. Neither can produce the values necessary to sustain their own lives. They
    depend upon the makers continuing to make to stay alive. At the same time, they increasingly
    make it impossible for the makers to continue to make. The only reasonable conclusion is that
    it isn’t that they want to live at your expense, they simply want you to die. Hence, don’t have it, don’t make it, and don’t be where they can find you and they will soon cease to be a bother.

    It may be a bit tough for a while but would it be worse than being enslaved to a bunch of takers and destroyers? I think not. “Live free or die” once had a very powerful personal meaning. Looks to me it is regaining its original power.

  11. E.M.Smith says:

    @John F. Hultquist:

    Yes, V. I’ve talked about it before. Most folks seem to glaze over… The whole basis of Keynesian Economics is the notion that as recession hits, the V drops (people hoard money) and the Government can make up the QV ( quantity of money x velocity ) back to the desired value by pumping out more Q. Yet the flipside is that that as V increases again, the government needs to REDUCE Q, and they don’t. Oh Well.

    @Lionell Griffith:

    My Dad taught me that about 50 years ago. Talked to me about The Great Depression and how as long as you could keep your head down and make your own food you were OK. Made sure I knew how to run a garden and grow small meat animals. Fish and hunt (despite not really liking to hunt). Rebuild a barn, garage, or house (including MAKING nails…). Do electrical wiring and plumbing. Essentially, how to just DIY for everything you need if a SHTF moment came again.

    Mom taught me to knit and sew, cook and bake. And on it goes. (Yes, I know how to knit a sweater and make a shirt, though it’s been a while… and I sew my own buttons back on some times… I still have a half dozen shirts she made for me in the closet. Mementos now.)

    Part of the desire for an RV / Caravan is just that is isn’t always where you expect it might be… Go ahead, Google my address… hope you like the view of the Post Office…

    Not QUITE to that point YET, but leaning that way. (Spouse not so much or I’d already be there).

    Now I’m a LONG ways above the AwShit line. I really do wonder some times about those a bit further down the money ladder than me. I’ve known some of them, and how they are still holding it together escapes me. As that AwShit line rises into the middle class, we’re seeing more folks getting grumpy about how things are going and The Powers That Be. Thus, this election…

    If it ends up with HilLIARy in the White House, I’m getting a couple of hard to reach rain fed acres and an RV, pronto…

  12. gallopingcamel says:

    Unlike the citizens of East Germany, Americans can still vote with their feet and do so without financial penalty. Bill Clinton’s idea of imposing an “Exit Tax” failed.

    For ten years I have been visiting places that might offer a better life for retired people. After visiting a dozen countries I am down to a short list of two, specifically the southern coast of Spain between Malaga and Gibraltar and Llano Grande, Colombia.

    I hope some of the thoughtful people here will offer their ideas as I will have time to visit two more countries before leaving the USA in the fall of 2017.

  13. E.M.Smith says:

    @G.C.:

    Panama has been advocated with some good arguments before.
    Caymans for the rich… and IIRC some of the other islands had features too.

    Personally, I liked New Zealand a lot 30 years ago, but not kept up on changes since.

    IIRC expats get something like $70k per year of income tax avoidance in any case, so only local taxes matter to most of us.

    I’d also look at Belize as English speaking if that’s an issue.

  14. Pingback: Gold vs Silver vs US Stocks vs EU and Emerging Markets | Musings from the Chiefio

  15. Custis says:

    The statistic that brings the whole US economic malaise into focus is that China puts on line a new coal fired power plant approximately every two weeks.

    Those new major megawatt power plants are built to support manufacturing (read, loss of American jobs en masse).

    The USA used to lead the world in innovation being the first mover on almost everything invented. By the time the copycat nations caught up the USA was on to something bigger and better, no one could keep up, until now it seems.

    Color me an angry pessimist, but this country appears doomed.
    Kyle Bass the man who made billions shorting the housing boom is so pessimistic about America’s future that he recommends buying gold and guns (the guns are to protect the gold).

    An old timer that weathered the great depression once told me that the next economic collapse on that scale the USA will come out of it as a dictatorship. Sure glad to be old, perhaps I won’t have to endure it.

  16. Larry Ledwick says:

    Interesting read related to Wall Street and the mood of the country. One take on what is broken in the current system and how to fix it.
    http://www.csmonitor.com/Business/2016/0223/Tear-down-Wall-Street-Actually-change-is-happening-slowly

  17. p.g.sharrow says:

    After the Great Deceiver comes the Beast. No doubt that Obama is the Great Deceiver, A honey tongued devil, who after losing popular support will attempt to rule by decree. His 7 years on the world stage is over as he becomes surpurposeless to events. The Beast will use an economic Pax in his attempt to rule over the world, Sound like The Donald TRUMP? Well, at least the Muslim world will destroy it’s self and the resurgent Russia will become exhausted by it’s meager attempt to act as a world power. and the beat goes on, the beat goes on…pg.

  18. p.g.sharrow says:

    This argument over the”BIG BANKS” of New York manipulating the economy of the country for their benefit is nearly as old as the Republic. Andrew Jackson got elected by a populist message bashing the big banks. When Elected he closed the first, Federal Bank of the United States.
    Wall Street has been causing “Panics” with stock market manipulations longer then the Republic has existed. Chaos in the market results in profits from the churn that they cause as well as wider margins created by the manipulations.

    Banks that are too big to fail should be broken up, as they are too big a risk to the country’s well being. They are also too powerful and endanger the freedom of the citizens to conduct their business.

    Wall Street operators that manipulate the rules to enrich themselves are committing Fraud upon the wealth creators to collect wealth unearned. The worst are those that sell “naked” shorts to drive down the value of ownership of the wealth creators so that the sellers of something that they don’t own can actually buy the sold thing and more at a cheaper price. The IRS and the Banks work with the manipulators to force those write downs. The resulting “panic” causes major economic down turns for everyone else, while the manipulators get more wealthy due to their Fraud.

    The worst of the manipulators such as Milken and Buffet used leveraged buyouts to gain control of well run and capitalized companies. stripped them of their assets, overloaded them with debit and then directed the management and employees to sink or swim, Repay the loans or be bankrupt. They called this “creative destruction”, but it is really legal stealing from the wealth creators. If the management and employees manage to keep the enterprise running and repay the loans, the company is sold to the next manipulator. The wealth created constantly being skimmed by those that are just building their personal holdings as a way to aggrandize themselves and their standing with their peers. Well paid lobbyists and politicians constantly rewriting the laws and regulations to give the manipulators advantage over the rest of us.

    The American Civil war was caused by the manipulation of New York lobbyists and politicians changing the Federal laws over shipping and made the Southern States, colonies of the New England shipping and trading firms. The American Navy was used to blockade all southern ports so only New England shippers could move goods in and out of southern ports. This precipitated the armed rebellion of the southern states . .. pg

  19. Larry Ledwick says:

    The one weakness of capitalism —
    There is no negative feedback that keeps companies from growing so big they threaten an entire industry. Like Standard Oil they are typically only broken up by government action when they get so abusive the people demand a remedy to the monopoly behavior. As corporations go international it only gets worse because foreign owners are beyond the reach of any single countries government.

    I have recently started thinking of two separate classes of capitalists, predatory capitalists, like the traders who intentionally create churn in the markets to get fees for moving money around and accomplishing nothing beneficial for their clients who they don’t see as their customers but their sheep to be sheared.

    The other class would be honest capitalists who want to make a fair profit providing a needed product or service for a win win relationship with their customers and their stock holders.

    Inevitably the second type slowly morphs into the first type as the ethical constraints of the founder slowly get diluted by those of more predatory disposition as the company gets older or bigger or both.

    It is only through the power of government or consumer boycott that the predatory can be pushed back toward the ethical honest capitalist.

    Unions are touted as a controlling influence but they generally are as predatory as the owners they are trying to manipulate, and they also see their workers as useful fools (sheep) to be sheared.

    The only real control is social pressure for ethical business behavior and that seldom rises to the challenge once the company gets dominant status. Easy for that sort of pressure to make a difference for a small business in a small town, but much more difficult for a large customer base to get aroused enough to confront a large corporation, and even then they honest protests get co-opted by those with other agendas (see Walmart and other high profile controversial large employers).

    Some businesses and associations (Consumer Reports, Better Business Bureau etc.) on the surface try to provide public pressure to restrain unethical behavior but they also get co-opted and eventually like Chamber of Commerce and many regulatory agencies become sock puppets of the organizations they are nominally supposed to restrain and hold accountable. Once the media is in the bag there is very little that the average consumer an do to restrain predatory capitalism short of some horrific incident that mobilizes the public like the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in 1911 which resulted in major pressure to change work rules and fire safety rules.

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