How I lost 100% of my investment on the Corona Virus

At precisely 11am on November 11, 1918, in a nondescript railroad car in northeastern France, a group of senior military officers and government officials signed an armistice agreement that effectively ended World War 1.

The Great War had killed a staggering 9 million soldiers in four years. That’s more than nearly every major global conflict in the previous two centuries combined.

Yet right at the same time as the war ended, a mysterious new virus started spreading around the world that eventually became known as the Spanish Flu.

And in less than three years the Spanish Flu infected 500 million people and killed as many as 100 million people, roughly 5% of the entire world population at the time.

This made the Spanish Flu five times deadlier than World War 1. And that’s really scary to think about.

But let me be clear: the Coronavirus is not the Spanish Flu. Not even close.

It’s understandable and completely normal to be nervous about the Coronavirus. It’s starting to spread rapidly, infection rates are climbing, and financial markets are swooning.

But we are going to be just fine. Humanity as suffered through much worse.

Now, to shrug this off as ‘no big deal’ is frankly a bit silly. This is obviously a pretty big deal, and it’s having a major impact worldwide in some of the strangest ways.

For example, lately I have been negotiating the refinance of an approximately $8 million loan with a large European bank. But that deal has slowed to a crawl thanks to Coronavirus. (Fortunately, the loan continues to earn substantial interest, so the delay is quite profitable for us.)

In Hong Kong, I’m leading a civil lawsuit against a fraudulent investment scheme, but the courts have been closed for weeks and don’t look to be opening anytime soon.

And I expect the impact will only grow… so being a little bit nervous about this does not make you paranoid.

But just remember that, as human beings, we generally make HORRIBLE decisions when we’re emotional… especially when that emotion is FEAR.

It’s also very easy to succumb to a herd mentality at a time like this. When everyone else is freaking out and panicking, it’s even easier to freak out and panic.

So let’s step back for a moment and think rationally together about a few things:

First, don’t do anything drastic. Avoid reactionary decisions, especially related to your finances.

For example, if you’re thinking about dumping all of your stocks because of the Coronavirus, then why did you buy them in the first place?

Business is hard, and there are always going to be complications and challenges. You can’t expect everything to be smooth sailing 100% of the time.

Great businesses adapt and overcome. They thrive when others buckle, and they come out of turmoil stronger than ever.

So think twice before you follow the crowd and sell shares of a great business that’s managed by talented people of integrity.

Second– three weeks ago I wrote about the virus, saying that “It doesn’t hurt to have a Plan B. . . if the virus appears to be spreading, you can bet that there will be a run on surgical masks and potentially even food at the grocery store.”

That appears to be happening in a number of places that have heavy infection rates. And it’s very difficult to find N95 respirator masks now.

I’ll reiterate—there is no downside to stocking up on some extra food, especially non-perishables, and some medicine.

Last, I’ll tell you a quick story that you’ll hopefully find hilarious.

A few weeks ago when the virus started becoming more of a concern, I thought to myself, “if the virus really starts to spread, stock markets will take a big hit.”

So I bought some ‘out of the money’ put options on the S&P 500. If you’re not sure what that means, I was essentially betting a small amount of money that the stock market would fall. And if my prediction came true, the bet would have paid off probably 10x within 2-3 weeks.

The thing about options, though, is that they’re not open-ended. I had to bet that the market would fall by a specific date. And the date I chose was Friday, February 21st—last week.

Well, Friday February 21st came and went without any fuss whatsoever. So I lost all the money I bet.

The very next trading day, Monday morning, the market tanked. And the day after that. And the day after that. And the day after that.

So I was right that the market would plummet. But I was just barely wrong about the timing. I was wrong by literally one trading day… and as a result I lost 100% of my investment.

The good news is that the amount of money I put down was trivial, so no big deal.

But it is a nice reminder that, even when you get the trend right, it’s damn near impossible to predict the timing.

Frankly I should have just bought more gold.

Gold has surged as a result of the virus spreading around the world because it’s a safe haven asset. On top of that, gold has several supply and demand fundamentals that support higher prices.

But we’ll talk more about gold soon, and why I think it has even more room to run.

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Wells Fargo paid more in criminal penalties than it paid in interest to its depositors

Last week Wells Fargo paid the largest fine yet for one of it’s many scandals– $3 billion.

This time, the fine was for opening bank accounts under customers’ names without the customers’ knowledge or consent.

Workers at Wells Fargo did this to boost their own sales goals. They forged customers’ signatures, falsified records, and engaged in outright fraud.

This internal identity theft ended up costing customers millions of dollars in unnecessary fees and overdraft charges. And it went on for fourteen years.

This was no accident, one-off, or a case of a few bad apples. In fact, this wasn’t even close to the only scandal Wells Fargo has been fined for over the past few years.

Wells Fargo also sold customers car insurance they didn’t need, and charged erroneous fees which caused 20,000 cars to be wrongly repossessed.

A computer glitch once caused over 500 Wells Fargo customers to have their houses foreclosed on.

The bank charged 26 times the agreed price foreign currency transactions.

Wells Fargo illegally repossessed vehicles of soldiers who were deployed overseas.

They accidentally charged late fees to more than 100,000 customers when it was the bank that was at fault.

In 2016 employees were caught selling customers’ Social Security Numbers to identity thieves.

Because of all this– and sadly, I’m sure I overlooked a couple scandals– the government has fined Wells Fargo a total of $18 billion since 2012, according to data compiled by the New York Times.

What’s really remarkable about this is that, over the past decade, Wells Fargo has paid a TOTAL of just $2.03 billion in interest to its retail customers.

In other words, the fine that Wells Fargo just got hit with last week is more money than they have paid in interest to their retail checking account customers over the last ten years combined!

Oh yeah… and out of the $3 billion fine, only $500 million will be set aside for the Wells Fargo customers who actually got scammed.

The rest ($2.5 billion) goes to the government.

This pretty much tells you everything you need to know about justice in the financial system: Wells Fargo scams customers for years. Then they finally get caught… and it still takes years to sort it all out in the courts.

By the time they get slapped with the big fine, the government takes most of the money… more money, in fact, than the defrauded customers earned in interest over the previous ten years combined.

Why would any rational person continue to put their money in this system???

We stand in line at the bank to give these people our money, only to have them lie, cheat, and steal whenever they have the opportunity to do so.

They treat people, not like valued customers, but like criminal suspects and dairy cows. They gamble our savings away on whatever investment fad guarantees them fat bonuses, and when it all comes crashing down, they go to the taxpayer with hat in hand claiming that they’re too important to go out of business.

What a load of bullshit.

I’ve been saying this for years– there are alternatives.

Personally, I got so frustrated with the banking system that I started my own bank… which is a pretty great option. But I recognize that most people aren’t going to go through that much trouble.

But stepping back from the banking system is a lot easier than that.

It’s difficult to divorce yourself entirely from the banks; we all need some money in a checking account to pay the bills.

But even something as simple as physical cash can go a long way in reducing your exposure to the banks.

You don’t need to hold 100% of your savings in a bank. You can keep some physical cash in a safe at your home, and effectively become your own banker. When your bank only pays 0.02% interest anyhow, it’s not like there’s much opportunity cost in holding cash.

Cryptocurrency also still shows a lot of promise… a way to eliminate banks entirely and engage directly in peer-to-peer transactions. But we’re still several years away before this is widely adopted.

As a private store of value, gold remains an excellent option; it has a 5,000 year history of maintaining it’s value. So if you want to hold savings with no counterparty risk, put gold in a home safe.

Point is, there is no reason to continue to rely on giant bloodsuckers like Wells Fargo. They’ve proven time and time again that they cannot be trusted with our savings… they’re just foxes guarding the henhouse.

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When the world became unrecognizable in less than a decade


In the year 1520, exactly 500 years ago, a German scholar named Johan Schoner completed a map of the world that was widely considered to be humanity’s most advanced understanding of geography at that time.

To us, Schoner’s map is pretty amusing.

There’s scarcely any American continent. Instead he drew some amorphous blobs to mark Brazil and the ‘West Indies’. And there’s a very narrow body of water where the Pacific Ocean is supposed to be, separating Brazil and India.

Obviously we know this is totally wrong. But it was science’s best understanding of the world in 1520.

Then, in 1529, a Venetian named Giovanni Ramusio created an updated map based on the various explorations and discoveries throughout the 1520s.

Ramusio’s map shows the eastern coastline of North and South America, from Newfoundland to the tip of Argentina, and the west coast from Peru through Mexico, with incredible precision and accuracy.

Even by today’s standards, Ramusio’s map looks right. You can see the outline of Florida and North Carolina, the prominence of Brazil, the Gulf of Mexico, etc. almost to the same standard as a modern day map in 2020.

The difference between the two maps is extraordinary. In less than a decade, humanity’s knowledge of the world grew from an almost ‘Dark Ages’ mentality, to that of our modern world.

Their world literally became unrecognizable in less than a decade.

And this newfound scientific understanding ushered in a new era of commerce and wealth that had never been seen before.

It’s amazing when you think about it– how quickly the world can radically change… sometimes for better, sometimes for worse. We’ve seen plenty of examples in our own lifetimes.

In 1995 hardly anyone had even heard of the Internet. By 2005 it became so ubiquitous that we couldn’t imagine our lives without it.

In 2000 hardly anyone had a mobile phone. By 2010 nearly everyone had one.

At the start of 2007, no one had ever seen a touch-screen smart phone– Steve Jobs would unveil the first ever iPhone in January of that year.

And in less than a decade, our entire species has become completely zombified, swiping and scrolling our lives away while we walk, eat, and drive without ever looking up.

Just like the world maps in the 1520s, each of these trends represents a radical shift in the way we live, work, and engage with one another.

We’re living through another one right now… a powerful, dangerous social trend that’s being driven by anger and ignorance.

Think about it: 5 years ago around this time, things still felt pretty normal.

There was always political bickering and ideological conflict… but discourse was pretty civil. No one advocated for violence or called someone else a racist simply for having a different opinion.

Then all of a sudden, in late 2015, people started becoming completely unglued.

At first the madness was isolated– ultra-liberal universities, pockets of social media. We saw crybully students in California and on the east coast physically blocking certain speakers from setting foot on campus– anyone whose opinions they found ‘offensive’.

Like most movements, this one started slowly… but quickly gathered momentum.

Suddenly it became acceptable to expect everyone else to conform to your whiny sensitivities.

Terms like “safe space” entered the lexicon, and ‘social justice warriors’’ started demanding that we avoid using certain everyday words and pronouns to ensure that no one would be offended.

At the same time, socialists came out of hiding and quickly became mainstream. Some of the most popular politicians in the world now are card-carrying socialists.

Bernie Sanders is now the leading contender of a major party to become President of the United States. And a number of recent polls (CBS/YouGov) show Sanders winning the national election in November.

These people despise wealth. They hate profit. They’re mistrustful of private property. They believe that many private industries should be owned and controlled by the government.

Five years after it all started, these movements– social, economic, etc. have all merged together… and become violent.

Thugs now roam the streets of major cities, physically assaulting anyone they deem an enemy of their movement.

It’s ironic that these criminals call themselves ‘anti-fascists’ or ‘antifa’ given how similar their tactics are to Hitler’s ‘Brownshirts’ in 1920s Germany.

At one recent protest in California, a conservative politician was threatened by an antifa thug who said, “I just want you dead,” and “You’re racist… I can tell by looking at you.”

Protestors, meanwhile, held up signs like “Can’t have capitalism without racism!”

This is now considered acceptable, mainstream thinking– and not just in the Land of the Free. It’s all over the world.

This trend is a major force, like a runaway freight train. And every day they’re more emboldened, so it’s picking up speed.

One might simply hope that it all goes away… that, someday soon, people come to their senses and sanity is restored.

But as we used to say in the military, hope is not a course of action. And given a broader view of history, it’s unlikely that this trend goes gentle into that good night. In fact it’s far more likely to accelerate.

And just like other major trends, this one also stands to fundamentally transform the way we live, work, and do business.

Think about it– this movement, which grows stronger by the day, wants to seize private property, nationalize entire industries, raise taxes to sky-high levels, bankrupt the Treasury with unaffordable entitlements, label all white males as ‘racist,’ and physically assault intellectual dissenters.

It’s fair to say this -might- have a bit of an impact.

Never forget that we’re talking about people who are irrational and prone to violence.

So, if you haven’t already, I’d encourage you to start thinking about a Plan B.

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UK suspects all kids using chat app are hackers

Are you ready for this week’s absurdity? Here’s our Friday roll-up of the most ridiculous stories from around the world that are threats to your liberty, your finances, and your prosperity.

UK urges parents to report their kids to police for using normal technology

Police in the UK are distributing a flyer to teachers in public schools, to be passed on to parents.

The poster warns parents to check their children’s computers for certain technology, as it could be a sign that their child is a hacker.

The flyer names anonymous browser TOR, voice chat service Discord, computer operating system Kali Linux, and Virtual Machines used to run different operating systems on the same computer.

These are all, by the way, perfectly legal. And they are useful for plenty of activities besides hacking.

The poster says Discord is “often used to share hacking tips.” But you’re more likely to find a teen using Discord to chat while playing Fortnite.

Kali Linux is useful for penetration testing used to boost cyber security and protect against hacking threats. It should be encouraged among teens if parents want them to train for the modern economy, and protect themselves against hackers.

And worst of all, the flyer encourages parents to CALL THE POLICE on their own children, for using these perfectly legal computer programs.

Click here for the full story.

IRS warns Fortnite users to pay tax on their virtual currency

Until last week, the IRS website advised players of the video game Fortnite that their pretend money could face a real tax.

The IRS used the in-game virtual currency V-bucks as an example of a potentially taxable convertible currency.

V-bucks are purchased with real dollars but used only in the game to buy upgrades. They aren’t actually convertible back to dollars.

Now the IRS has clarified that if the money stays in the game, it is not taxable.

But if a video game currency were to leave the game, it triggers a potentially taxable event.

Just like Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies, the IRS treats all virtual currencies–including video game money– like property.

That means if you make money on the sale of the currency– or if you spend the currency after it has increased in value– that is a capital gain.

Click here for the full story.

New York Judge orders removal of 20 stories from NYC skyscraper

New York City has a lot of zoning rules, but plenty of exceptions.

For instance, builders can buy the unused zoning rights of adjacent properties.

Say the zoning laws limit a property to 20 floors, but a building is only 15 stories tall. A next-door property could buy the rights to the remaining five floors, and make their own building 25 stories.

One particular project used this loophole aggressively to gain permission to build a 51 story building. They got all the necessary permits from the city for the build.

But activists weren’t happy. They sued the builders over what they called a “gerrymandered” zoning lot. But the builders had permission, so they kept building.

Now the structure of the building is already completed, but a New York Judge just ruled for the activists.

He ordered the city to revoke the building permit, and ordered the builders to REMOVE at least 20 floors from the building.

Click here for the full story. 

5 years and $2 million later, city still hasn’t finished building a bike rack

Falls Church, Virginia planned to spend $600,000 each for covered bike racks at two of the city’s Metro stations.

The 92-bike racks were supposed to be completed in 2015.

Now, five year later, the cost of the bike racks has reached $1.9 million EACH… but they still aren’t finished.

This city spent over $20,000 per bike parking spot, and has nothing to show for it.

But we should totally trust the government with more responsibility and control over our lives.

Click here for the full story.

NYC’s ‘serial subway robber’ praises the elimination of bail

A new bail reform law in New York prevents judges from requiring bail for most misdemeanors, and some non-violent felonies.

After a suspect is processed, they are released without having to pay anything.

And it’s great to see fewer people being locked in cages for victimless crimes like smoking a plant.

But there is always someone waiting to abuse the system.

Case in point, Charles Barry has been arrested six times since the law went into effect on January 1st. He likes to hang out in the subway and snatch money from a hand, pickpocket, or pose as a subway worker.

Now every time he is arrested, Barry is quickly back on the streets to steal again.

Leaving the courthouse the last time, he praised the new law, yelling to reporters, “Bail reform, it’s lit! You can’t touch me, I can’t be stopped…I take $200, $300 a day of your money… It’s a great thing. It’s a beautiful thing.”

Barry also has a habit of missing court dates, which requiring bail is supposed to prevent.

We’re no strangers to writing about people being arrested for the most trivial reasons. So I’d rather see a few guys like Barry walk free in exchange for countless innocent people spared from sitting in a cell.

But it’s just frustrating that legislators couldn’t be bothered to insert a couple of lines of text into the bill to prevent actual criminals like Charles Barry from taking advantage of much needed reform.

Click here for the full story.

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Warren Buffett’s worst year since the stock market crashed…

Warren Buffett’s holding company, Berkshire Hathaway, didn’t outperform the S&P 500 last year.

Berkshire Hathaway grew slightly in 2019, but its performance lagged far behind the S&P 500 stock market index.

That’s an anomaly for Buffett. He’s handily outperformed the S&P 500 for decades, endearing himself to millions of investors along the way.

It’s interesting that Berkshire Hathaway typically has its worst years just before stocks crash.

In 1999, just prior to the Dot-Com Bust of 2000, the company’s book value (Buffett’s preferred measure of performance) grew just 0.5%, while the S&P grew 21%. The stock market peaked just a few months later.

Of course, the fact that Buffett’s company underperformed the market so much is not a 100% guarantee that the stock market has reached its peak.

But Buffett himself has been vocal that there are very few good deals out there.

Berkshire Hathaway has amassed a record $125 billion pile of cash based on its most recent financial statements from September– which is an obvious sign that Buffett doesn’t see much worth buying.

Of course, just because the market is already very expensive doesn’t mean it can’t keep going higher in the short term.

But there’s at least one thing you can do to reduce your risk… a way to generate virtually risk-free returns on your existing investments: smart tax planning.

Think about it like this– if you can legally slash your capital gains tax from 20% down to 0%, that would be the same as if you had earned an extra 25% investment return in the market… but without taking any additional risk.

This is a huge anomaly. EVERY investment carries risk… whether you’re stuffing cash under your mattress, buying shares of Apple, or acquiring an apartment building. There are always things that could go wrong. So smart investors weigh the potential risks against the prospective rewards.

Good tax planning is one of the ONLY ways to generate a RISK FREE return. You’re smart, you follow the law, and poof, you end up with more money in your pocket.

As I’ve written many times before– this is why I live in Puerto Rico now. The island is home to not just fantastic weather and great lifestyle, but some of the most extraordinary tax incentives in the world.

Investors who live in Puerto Rico, are approved under the incentives program, and comply with all the rules, pay literally -zero- capital gains tax on their investments. Again, it’s as if you were making an extra 25% without taking any risk.

Another extremely compelling tax strategy to consider is Opportunity Zones.

If you sell your stocks now, Uncle Sam is going to take his cut– as much as 20% capital gains tax, plus the 3.8% Obamacare surtax, plus possibly state and local tax as well.

But if you roll your capital gains into a special fund that invests in Opportunity Zones, you can defer the tax on those gains until the end of 2026.

But the biggest benefit is that any additional gains you make from your Opportunity Zone investments will be tax-free forever, as long as you hold the investment for at least 10 years.

So let’s say you invested $100,000 in Apple several years ago, and you sell it today for $300,000. You’ll have capital gains of $200,000.

If you invest that $200,000 in an Opportunity Zone fund, you won’t have to pay capital gains tax for the next several years… and anything extra you earn on that $200,000 will be tax free forever.

Your fund could invest in the next great startup that turns your $200,000 into $20 million. And you won’t pay a penny on that $20 million.

Aside from Puerto Rico’s tax incentives, I think Opportunity Zones are one of the best tax incentives in the world.

If you want to learn more about Opportunity Zones we just published a free ultimate guide to Opportunity Zones where I share my personal experience with the program.

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The US fertility rate hit another record low

Last month the US government’s National Vital Statistics System released data showing that the birth rate in the Land of the Free has dropped to -yet another- ALL TIME LOW.

It’s the FOURTH year in a row that the fertility rate has reached a record low in the US, meaning that the issue just keeps getting worse.

And it’s one that has enormous, long-term economic consequences.

If people are having fewer babies today, it means that, in the future, there will be fewer workers in the system paying taxes.

And the biggest loser in that scenario, by far, is Social Security.

The entire long-term viability of Social Security depends on having enough workers paying taxes to support the retirees who are currently receiving benefits.

They call this the worker-to-retiree ratio, and Social Security monitors this very closely.

Social Security’s administrators project that they need a worker-to-retiree ratio of at least 2.8 in order to keep the system functioning. If the ratio drops below 2.8, there simply won’t be enough workers paying taxes to support the monthly benefits for current retirees.

Clearly this system requires steadily rising population.

If you have 1 retiree today, that means there should be at least 2.8 people paying in to the system.

A generation from now, those 2.8 people will be retired, requiring at least 7.84 (2.8 * 2.8) workers paying in to the system. A generation later, those 7.84 people will be retired, requiring 21.95 (7.84 * 2.8) workers paying into the system.

It’s easy to see how this can get totally out of control within just a few generations.

This brings us back to the central problem: birth rate.

Back in the 1960s, the average woman would have nearly 4.0 children in her lifetime.

But this rate has been steadily declining for decades. By 2007 it had fallen to 2.12. And it has fallen every year since then, now down to 1.73.

A fertility rate of 1.73 is below what demographers consider the ‘population replacement level,’ meaning that there are more deaths than births.

More importantly, this long-term decline in the fertility rate has had a slow, damaging effect on the worker-to-retiree ratio.

Back in 1960 there were 5.1 workers for every retiree according to Social Security’s own data. Baby boomers were just starting to join the work force and there weren’t too many people collecting Social Security benefits yet.

By 1990 the ratio had fallen to 3.4 workers for every retiree. That was a lot lower than in 1960, but still sufficient to keep Social Security running.

By 2012, the ratio had already fallen to the minimum 2.8. And given that the US fertility rate continues to decline, the worker-to-retiree ratio is also going to keep falling.

Baby boomers are retiring by the tens of thousands. People are living longer than ever. And there are fewer people being born to pay taxes into the system in the future.

Social Security knows that the fertility rate is critical to its program, and the statistic factors heavily into their long-term projections.

According to its most recent annual report, Social Security’s ‘intermediate’ scenario (i.e. its conservative, base-case projection) assumes a fertility rate of 2.0.

Again, the actual fertility rate in the US is now just 1.73… FAR below Social Security’s assumption. Moreover, the 30 year average fertility rate in the US is around 1.9, which is still below Social Security’s assumption.

Now, you might be thinking that immigration should pick up the slack. As foreigners move to the US, they’ll join the work force and pay taxes into the system, improving the worker-to-retiree ratio.That’s true in theory. But you may be surprised to learn that the US “net migration rate” has also been falling for decades.

After peaking around 2000, net migration rate in the US has fallen by more than half.

And the Census Bureau announced in late December that just 595,000 net migrants moved to the US in 2019; that’s the fewest net migrants of the entire decade, and a continuation of this trend of declining migrants.

This is another huge problem for Social Security; the program’s base-case scenario assumes that net migration in the US will be nearly 1.3 million people each year.

Yet the average net migration over the past decade was just 840,000… and the rate continues to decline.

You can see the problem here: many of Social Security’s most critical assumptions are totally off-base.

Their assumption about the nation’s fertility rate is far rosier than reality. Their assumption about the net migration rate is far more optimistic than reality.

And with some of the most critical assumptions so off-base, it’s difficult to see how they’re going to meet their projections.

Oh, remember that Social Security’s base-case projection is that its primary trust funds will run out of money in 2035… and that the program will be underfunded by trillions of dollars.

Yet even this dismal forecast is based on highly flawed assumptions… so the reality may be even worse.

This is a global problem, by the way.

Japan and Europe are in the same boat with their fertility rates, and populations in many developed nations are declining. The median age in Japan is nearly 50, and the country sells more adult diapers than baby diapers.

In Italy, deaths exceeded births in 2019 by a whopping 212,000… the biggest figure since World War I ravaged the continent. Even the global average fertility rate has fallen by half since 1960.

These are all critical challenges for pension and social security funds.

I’ve said it before: there is no magic wand to fix this. No politician can sprinkle pixie dust on their pension programs and miraculously make them solvent again. It’s simple arithmetic.

But if you rely on yourself, you can solve this problem with a bit of discipline and planning.

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Available now: pay $2,500 to be told you’re racist

Are you ready for this week’s absurdity? Here’s our Friday roll-up of the most ridiculous stories from around the world that are threats to your liberty, your finances, and your prosperity.

You can now pay $2500 to be told you’re racist

Are you a liberal white woman who wants to pay money to be told that, deep down, you’re subconsciously racist?

If so, you’re in luck!

A new group called “Race to Dinner” is giving you the opportunity to pay $2,500 to host a dinner (you also have to provide the food), where you and your white friends will be told how racist you are.

The group’s founders (one of whom is black, the other identifies as Native American) write on their website to ALL white women: “We are talking about your complicity in upholding white supremacy and keeping Black and brown women down.”

Further, the founders refuse to ‘help’ women who voted for Trump, as they are beyond repair, as well as white men. They say, “White men are never going to change anything. If they were, they would have done it by now.”

Their website also posts videos hosted by the group’s “resident white woman” where viewers can learn how to ‘deconstruct their whiteness’.

Click here for the full story.

82 year old sentenced to nearly six months in jail for playing loud music

An 82 year old British man, Ian Trainer, likes to listen to the radio.

But he’s hard of hearing, so he turns up the volume.

A neighbor was so annoyed by this that he secured a restraining order forbidding Trainer from playing music louder than 65 decibels. (For reference, 60 decibels is considered normal for background music, and 65 decibels is about the upper reach of a loud conversation.)

But Ian Trainer kept playing his music too loud. It’s possible the hard-of-hearing man couldn’t barely hear the music otherwise. And health conditions keep him from being able to wear headphones.

For violating the conditions of his restraining order, Trainer was hauled in front of a judge and sentenced to 24 weeks– almost six months– in jail.

Click here for the full story.

42 gang members arrested in Spain for… conspiracy to recycle?

Most gangs make their money through extortion, or trafficking drugs and weapons.

But a gang in Spain has been busted for illegal recycling.

42 members of the “cardboard mafia” were arrested for taking garbage and refuse from recycling bins around Madrid, and selling the materials to recycling facilities in China and India.

After a five month investigation, the police claim the gang ‘stole’ €16 million worth of recycling materials since 2015.

In addition to stealing discarded cardboard, the gang was charged with shipping waste materials without permission.

Click here for the full story.

Chinese Province approves taking private property to fight Coronavirus

The Standing Committee of the Guangdong Provincial People’s Congress has authorized the government in the region to confiscate private property as needed to fight the Coronavirus outbreak.

Authorities can now “requisition houses, facilities, materials, etc. as an emergency epidemic prevention response when necessary.”

This is a departure from reforms which strengthened private property rights in China over the last decades.

Can’t let a good crisis go to waste.

Click here for the full story.

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Claim your “Freedom Dividend” in Puerto Rico (no voting required)

Tuesday night after the New Hampshire primary, US Presidential candidate Andrew Yang dropped out of the race due to his poor showing.

If you’re not familiar, Andrew Yang famously proposed a Universal Basic Income for all US adults: everyone would have received a “Freedom Dividend” of $1,000 a month under his plan, funded through a national sales tax.

This means that everyone would be paying more tax, but then that tax money would come back to you through this ‘freedom dividend’.

This strikes me as incredibly inefficient. Instead of taxing people and then giving them money, why not just cut their taxes and let them keep their own money?

Of course, that’s never going to happen in a Bolshevik regime. But slashing your tax bill is totally an option here in Puerto Rico.

Puerto Rico’s many generous tax incentives include a 4% corporate tax rate on qualifying business income– anything that’s considered a ‘service’ which can be ‘exported’ outside of Puerto Rico.

This includes things like telemedicine, consulting, marketing services, accounting, sales, management, and countless other activities. Just about any self-employment profession or business idea can find some element that would qualify.

You can earn unlimited business income under this incentive program, and that income is subject to just 4% profits tax (plus a small municipal tax that is practically a rounding error).

And once you pay that 4% profits tax, you can put the rest of it in your pocket TAX FREE.

This is really unusual. In the US (and most other countries), corporations first pay a corporate profits tax. This is now 21% in the Land of the Free, down from 35% a few years ago.

But after you pay that corporate tax, you then have to pay an additional dividend tax of potentially 20%, plus the 3.8% Obamacare surtax.

This makes the effective federal tax rate in the US as high as 40%. And that doesn’t even include state or local taxes.

In Puerto Rico it’s just the 4%. There is no dividends tax. So once you pay that ridiculously low corporate tax, you keep the remaining 96% tax-free.

This is interesting because, according to IRS data, the top 50% of taxpayers in the Land of the Free pay about $18,000 per year in federal tax. That works out to be $1,500 per month.

(The bottom 50% don’t really pay anything…)

But by slashing your taxes with Puerto Rico’s tax incentives, you could easily (and legally) take back a big chunk of that $1,500 per month that you’re currently paying.

This is far better than waiting for the government to pay you a Universal Basic Income. With Puerto Rico, you can make your own Freedom Dividend.

Best of all, this tax incentive is available to EVERYONE… whether you’re from the US mainland, or right here in Puerto Rico, or you were born and raised in Bangladesh. It doesn’t matter– this Puerto Rican tax incentive is available to everyone on the planet.

It’s truly equal opportunity.

Puerto Rico, of course, does have its problems… I haven’t exactly been shy talking about the island’s pitiful infrastructure.

But on the balance, the tax incentives far outweigh minor conveniences. Plus you’ll never be cold again.

If you want to learn more, we just updated our in-depth article on Puerto Rico and its tax incentives, including my own personal experience moving here. Check it out to see what’s new in 2020.

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It turns out the Bolsheviks love the top 1%

One of the really interesting things about where I live here in Puerto Rico is that my house is located within the grounds of a resort… so I bump into a fair number of tourists when I’m at the gym or walking on the beach.

People engage me in conversation a lot– they can’t imagine actually living in such a paradise, and they’re full of questions about what it’s like.

I always enjoy talking about Puerto Rico and giving visitors a candid view of the advantages and disadvantages of living here. But almost invariably as part of that conversation, someone asks:

“Yeah, but don’t you lose the right to vote when you move here?”

Yes, it’s true that Puerto Rican residents cannot vote in a national election. Puerto Rico does hold a presidential primary. But once the party nominees are decided, Puerto Ricans cannot participate in the general election in November.

And I’ve heard this dozens of times since I moved to Puerto Rico in 2018– it seems people REALLY cling to their right to vote.

My view is that it’s a completely pointless exercise, and one that I was happy to trade for Puerto Rico’s generous tax incentives.

I always respond in the same way when people bring up this issue– “Do you really think your vote actually counts?”

And what’s happened so far this month in the primary race really proves the point.

Just look at the Iowa race; the party is so hapless and incompetent that they can’t manage to properly count the votes (yet these same people want to be in charge of your healthcare and children’s education…)

And when they do count the votes, it still doesn’t seem to matter.

More people voted for Bernie Sanders in the Iowa race than for any other candidate. Yet Pete Buttigieg ‘won’ the state because he received the most delegates.

Then there are ‘superdelegates’, i.e. party elders who can choose whichever candidate they want regardless of who the voters pick.

And of course, by the time the national convention takes place this summer, it’s entirely possible that no single candidate will have won enough delegates to lock up the nomination.

At that point, all the votes will be discarded and it will be up to the party insiders– delegates and superdelegates– to decide who the nominee should be.

How can these people possibly say with a straight face that votes actually matter?

The even bigger quirk is the outsized importance of these earliest caucuses and primary races.

About 300,000 people voted yesterday in the New Hampshire primary. That’s less than 0.1% of the US population.

And yet those 300,000 New Hampshire voters have enormous influence over the entire Presidential race.

Joe Biden came in a distant 5th in yesterday’s New Hampshire primary. As a result, the media is now saying that he is no longer viable, and his former campaign donors are lining up to fund other candidates.

But in actuality the gap between Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders (who came in first place) was just 50,522 votes.

Nationwide, that’s a drop in the bucket. It’s scarcely a rounding error.

That’s 50,522 people in New Hampshire who have effectively sealed the fate of Joe Biden’s campaign.

And if he drops out in the next few weeks, it means that people who live in states that don’t hold their primaries until May or June won’t even have the opportunity to vote for Joe Biden.

Don’t get me wrong– I have no love for Joe Biden… or any of these people for that matter. I like politicians as much as I like a visit to the proctologist.

But it strikes me as a bizarre that a tiny fraction of a percent of the population has so much influence over a national race. Is this really the most advanced republican democracy in the world?

These Bolsheviks are constantly howling about economic inequality and complaining about wealthy people in the top 1%.

Well, they have managed to engineer massive electoral inequality and created a top 1% among voters.

A voter in New Hampshire has far more influence than a voter in, say, Kentucky, who won’t have the opportunity to vote until May 19th.

By then, the pool of candidates that a Kentucky voter will have to choose from in his/her primary election will be much more limited.

This is effectively a form of disenfranchisement. This idiotic system gives a handful of voters more power, and more choices, than other voters.

And I have to say, for as ‘woke’ as this Bolshevik party pretends to be, it’s certainly ironic that this top 1% voting elite happens to be in states that are predominantly white.

Try explaining to a Native American living in South Dakota whose primary isn’t until June 2nd that his/her vote counts as much as the white guy in New Hampshire.

This system is a complete farce, rampant with insider corruption, comical incompetence, and a  deliberate lack of innovation.

And I don’t exactly cry myself to sleep every night that I’m no longer able to participate… I’m more than happy to trade away my voting rights for the extraordinary 4% tax incentives of living in Puerto Rico.

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The average US couple could be facing a new tax of $180,360

Today the federal government will release a nearly $5 TRILLION annual budget proposal for Fiscal Year 2021 (which begins on October 1st of this year).

Needless to say, that’s more money than any government has ever spent in the history of the world.

And there are a few things in particular that are worth highlighting:

First– this budget proposal would create yet another trillion dollar annual deficit. And that’s simply astonishing.

Think about it: this is supposed to be the ‘everything is awesome economy’. The stock market is at a record high. Corporate profits are at record highs. Unemployment is at record lows.

If the government can’t make ends meet when the economy is this good, how many trillions will these people burn when the next economic downturn arrives?

Second– and perhaps even more importantly– the budget proposal aims to *cut* funding to Medicare and Social Security by hundreds of billions of dollars over the next decade.

Bear in mind that these programs are already insolvent, i.e. they can’t pay for the obligations they’ve already promised. AND they also lose money according to their own financial statements.

Right on page 5 of the 2019 Social Security annual report, the trustees explicitly state that “Trust Fund asset reserves become depleted and unable to pay scheduled benefits in full on a timely basis in 2035.”

And on page 2 of the report, they state that “Social Security’s cost has exceeded its non-interest income since 2010,” and that the cost of Social Security for 2019 exceeds non-interest income by $81 billion.

The Medicare annual report is even more bleak in its outlook:

“The Board projects that expenditures will increase in future years at a faster pace than either aggregate workers’ earnings or the economy overall . . .”

“[A]ny of these scenarios would substantially increase the strain on the nation’s workers, the economy, Medicare beneficiaries, and the Federal budget.”

“[T]ax income and other dedicated revenues will fall short of [program] expenditures in all future years”

“The financial projections in this report indicate a need for substantial changes to address Medicare’s financial challenges.”

They even state that the government needs to give taxpayers ample time to “adjust their expectations and behavior” to the major changes that will end up being made to the program as a result of these fiscal realities.

And they also project that Medicare’s largest trust fund will be fully depleted in 2026, just six years from now.

Again, don’t take my word for it. These are official government reports signed by (among others) the Treasury Secretary of the United States.

This is not some wild conspiracy theory. This isn’t even a political problem. It’s an arithmetic problem… and one that will never add up.

Both programs estimate their funding gap to be nearly $20 TRILLION.

This is a level that is obviously beyond the government’s capacity to bail out. The federal government loses a trillion dollars each year and is already in debt by $23.25 trillion.

(And to be clear, that is a record high amount. In other words, the federal debt level right now, today, is the highest that it has ever been in US history.)

They don’t have the money to scratch the surface of saving Social Security and Medicare, so a bail-out is not an option.

But like I said earlier– they’re actually moving in the other direction. Today’s budget proposes to CUT nearly a trillion dollars from the programs over the next decade.

So the government hastening the decline of Social Security and Medicare, not bailing them out.

Option 2 is default. And by ‘default’, I mean default on the obligations and promises they’ve made to tens of millions of taxpayers over the last 50+ years.

They have a number of ways to do this.

For example, they could push out the retirement age by 5 years or so. But this is effectively stealing retirement funds from people who have been paying into the program for their entire working lives.

Right now the average married couple receives $36,072 in Social Security benefits per year. So delaying benefits for five years means that the average couple loses more than $180,000 in retirement benefits that they’ve PAID FOR and been promised.

This is tantamount to a tax of $180,360 per couple.

Alternatively, Uncle Sam could simply cut benefits altogether. Social Security’s trustees have already indicated that a 23% cut in benefits would cover the short-term funding gap.

But based on average life expectancy in the US for seniors, this works out to be a total reduction of $160,400 per couple from the benefits they were promised… which is also tantamount to a tax.

It would also turn people’s lives upside down. Life isn’t cheap in the Land of the Free, and living on a fixed income is difficult. Slashing that income by 23% will hit a lot of people hard.

Bottom line: The government isn’t going to fix anything. According to today’s budget proposal, they’re actually making it worse. You’ll have to fix this yourself.

The good news is that there are plenty of ways to save more money, including turning your hobby into something that boosts your retirement savings.

Seriously– 15-year old kids are earning good money playing video games on Twitch. Instagram starlets make money from butt selfies. People sell homemade crafts online, rent their spare bedrooms out… I mean, there are countless ways to make extra money.

And if you’re smart about how you structure it, you can divert most of that extra cash into an inexpensive, tax-advantaged retirement account.

This will go a long way in solving an obvious problem.

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