Welcome to another rousing edition of Black Coffee, your off-beat weekly round-up of what’s been going on in the world of money and personal finance.
Let’s get right to it this week …
Credits and Debits
Debit: According to USA Today, only 1 in 8 Americans can afford the so-called American dream; that’s because their calculations show it now costs $130,357 annually. This is news?
Credit: Frankly, the real American dream was lost a long time ago. It started when Americans began discounting the importance of self-reliance and agreed to sacrifice liberty for government-provided “security” and dubious promises of cradle-to-grave protection.
Debit: Let’s face it; the United States of America is not what it used to be, folks — and the nation continues to be destroyed from within by a coalition of crony capitalists and advocates of the big-government nanny state on Capitol Hill.
Debit: In their world, up is down and black is white. For example, they are insisting that “immigration reform” is essential because businesses can’t find enough unskilled workers — even though the labor participation rate is at a 36-year low. Huh?
Credit: Here’s an idea: If US businesses are having trouble attracting employees, they can offer higher wages — and our politicians can eliminate the countless government handouts that currently permit otherwise able-bodied Americans to survive indefinitely without working.
Credit: Believe it or not, there was a time — before the US officially became a banana republic — when the federal government was honest enough to admit that uncontrolled illegal immigration only served to further depress US wages for unskilled workers and those with low-paying jobs. Not anymore.
Debit: Today, the White House says giving amnesty to millions of unskilled illegal immigrants would “strengthen the middle class.” If you believe that, you also believe that sweet is sour, and blue is red.
Debit: It’s not just the Executive branch; the Legislative branch is no better. Using the CBO’s twisted calculations, so-called “immigration reform” will reduce deficits by almost $1 trillion over the next two decades. Only in Utopia, folks.
Debit: Yes, that’s the same CBO that claimed Obamacare would miraculously reduce the federal deficit by $120 billion — despite $100-million websites and the addition of an enormous government bureaucracy. I know. Even so, that
estimate persuaded fence-sitters in Congress to ultimately vote for the disastrous bill.
Credit: For what it’s worth, the CBO, with its tail between its legs, quietly rescinded their ridiculous Obamacare claim earlier this year. Too bad the damage is done.
Credit: Did you see this? If you include liquids derived from natural gas, Saudi Arabia is no long the world’s biggest oil producer. Nope. That honor now belongs to the United States. You’d never know it though with gasoline prices still at a six-year high.
Credit: Speaking of oil … Another nail was hammered into the petrodollar’s coffin last week when the CEO for the second-largest oil producer in Europe said he believes “there is no reason to pay for oil in dollars” anymore.
Credit: Meanwhile, the French finance minister took his own shot at the US dollar when he called for “rebalancing” the currencies used for global payments. The drumbeats are getting louder, folks.
Debit: How bad is the economy? Paul Craig Roberts, who was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury under Ronald Reagan, says that if the US calculated inflation as it did in 1980 (i.e., honestly), last quarter’s GDP would officially be negative 8.5% — not the reported contraction of 2.9%.
Debit: Of course, big-government
comedians economists understand that a massive nanny state depends on politicians who lack fiscal discipline, which is why Paul Krugman is still trying to convince people that the Fed’s unrestrained money printing hasn’t resulted in any significant inflation. Apparently Paul no longer shops for groceries, gasoline, and other necessities.
Debit: Thankfully, there are a growing number of open-eyed economists and financial analysts who now see the writing on the wall: the Fed is trapped and we’ve pushed our flawed debt-based monetary system about as far as it can go.
Debit: Unfortunately for all of us, short of a sustained, but very unlikely, bout of spectacular growth — or a complete reset of the international monetary system — the only way out is via hyperinflation. The only question is the timing. Prepare accordingly.
By the Numbers
It’s almost time to pay the piper. Here’s why the US dollar — and our artificially-high standard of living — will soon be a thing of the past:
$17.59 trillion The US National Debt.
$122 trillion US unfunded liabilities (i.e., promised payouts for Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and other entitlements.)
$604 billion Money budgeted for national defense.
$1.73 trillion Combined annual Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security expenditures.
$249 billion Money budgeted for government pensions.
$226 billion Current annual interest payment on the National Debt.
0.25% Current federal funds rate established by the Fed.
20% Peak federal funds rate imposed by the Fed in June 1980 during their campaign to arrest high inflation.
$3.52 trillion Approximate annual interest payment on the current National Debt if rates were raised to 20%.
$3.52 trillion Approximate federal spending to date for the current fiscal year. (Which is why the Fed can no longer raise interest rates high enough to protect the US dollar from hyperinflation.)
Source: US Debt Clock
The Question of the Week
Last Week’s Poll Result
How many US states have you been to?
- 11 – 20 (26%)
- 21 – 30 (21%)
- 1 – 10 (21%)
- 31 – 40 (12%)
- 41 – 49 (12%)
- 0 (4%)
- 50 (4%)
Anybody who has taken a road trip from the Atlantic to Pacific oceans can appreciate just how big a country America truly is. I’ve visited 45 states during my lifetime — with only Wisconsin, North Dakota, Montana, Idaho and Alaska to go. Anyway, last week’s question came about because I was curious how much of America my readers have seen. Well … almost 500 people answered and it turns out that almost half can lay claim to setting foot in at least 21 of the 50 US states — and 1 in every 25 have hit all 50 states! I hope to reach that impressive milestone within the next couple of years; the only question is will I try to tackle it in one epic road trip — or save Alaska for a special trip unto itself.
Other Useless News
Here are the top — and bottom — five states in terms of he average number of pages viewed per visit here at Len Penzo dot Com over the past 30 days:
1. North Dakota (1.86 pages/visit)
2. Idaho (1.82)
3. Tennessee (1.78)
4. Nevada (1.70)
5. Michigan (1.69)
46. Oregon (1.32)
47. Maine (1.32)
48. Mississippi (1.26)
49. Rhode Island (1.25)
50. Vermont (1.21)
Whether you happen to enjoy what you’re reading (like North Dakota) — or not (ahem, Ben & Jerry) — please don’t forget to:
1. Click on that Like button in the sidebar to your right and become a fan of Len Penzo dot Com on Facebook!
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Ready to Be Rich – 9 Things to Tell Yourself If Your Life Is a Financial Mess
Letters, I Get Letters
Every week I feature the most interesting question or comment — assuming I get one, that is. And folks who are lucky enough to have the only question in the mailbag get their letter highlighted here whether it’s interesting or not! You can reach out to me at: Len@LenPenzo.com
Christina was wondering about something:
Len! I have a serious question. Why do you call it “Black Coffee”?
Because “Sassafras Tea” was already taken.
I’m Len Penzo and I approved this message.
Photo Credit: brendan-c