This problem is 10,000 times bigger than the border wall

We are in the midst of the longest government shutdown in history.

Don’t get me wrong, I like having the government shut down. As I’ve said before, I believe it is my moral duty to pay as little taxes as possible.

The government does some really stupid things with your tax dollars. I’d rather not pay for a $2 billion Obamacare website that doesn’t work, or to defend Congressmen against sexual assault allegations.

So, by starving the beast, I at least ensure they’re not squandering my money.

But I think it’s ridiculous that this government posturing is financially crippling the 800,000 government workers (and millions of contractors) who are now out of work – or being forced to work without pay. To be fair, last night the president signed a law guaranteeing they would be paid for past work – a month into this fiasco. It’s a step in the right direction, as there’s a word for forcing people to work without pay – slavery.

That’s why I offered to pay the rent of any government workers hurt by the shutdown. I am using my tax savings to bail out some of these government workers the feds left high and dry.

But at its core, this whole shutdown comes down to a disagreement over $5 billion. That is how much money Trump wants to build the border wall between the US and Mexico. And Congress refuses to fund it.

Granted, that’s a lot of money to you and me. And it should be a lot of money to the government, too.

But the government is almost $22 TRILLION in debt and adding another trillion every single year.

We are talking about a fight over an expenditure that amounts to .02% of the total national debt.

Social Security is $50 TRILLION underfunded by the government’s own estimates. Tens of millions of Americans are relying on Social Security for retirement.

How is that going to be funded? That’s a problem 10,000 times bigger than this fight over funding a border wall.

But does Congress shut down the government to solve that? Do they refuse to budge until the Americans that have spent their lives paying into a broken pension system are made whole?

No.

But they’ll put millions of people out of work in the blink of an eye over a comparably tiny sum.

And then the politicians have the nerve to get on a high horse and fake moral superiority while it plays out.

I hate that the government spends money so callously and recklessly. And I really don’t care much whether the wall gets built or not… Taking advantage of Puerto Rico’s tax laws, I won’t be paying for it either way.

If the government had any respect for the taxpayers, they would pinch every single penny. That’s obviously not the case.

They clearly don’t care about their employees, either. Otherwise, they wouldn’t let $5 billion stand in the way of millions of paychecks that these people depend on to pay their rent.

And don’t fool yourself. This shutdown isn’t about money. It is an ideological fight with both sides digging their heels in.

The politicians dragging the shutdown on are showing their true colors. This dysfunction is a tiny preview of what will happen when the real problems come home to roost.

So here’s the truth: they are building a wall. And every single member of Congress is helping. But it’s not the wall you think…

Behind that wall, the government is hiding the real crisis.

Forget the $5 whatever billion dollars the government wants for the border wall.

Instead, you should focus on the national debt – which is a problem 4,400 times bigger than the wall.

And the collapse of Social Security is a problem 10,000 times bigger than the funding needed for the wall.

So don’t be fooled by this dummy crisis the government is conjuring. That’s what they want.

Just remember, if you rely on the government for anything, they’ll happily throw you under the bus to further their own agenda.

The real power is with the individual. You have the tools and resources to solve these issues for yourself.

For example, you could consider a retirement structure like a Solo 401(k) or self-directed SEP IRA that allows you a greater breadth of investment options– everything from real estate to crypto to private equity.

Meanwhile, the guy living in Puerto Rico and not paying any taxes is happy to pitch in to help his fellow man.

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Potential US presidential contender thinks YOUR money is in the “wrong hands”

Grab your wallets. Bill de Blasio, the Mayor of New York City, may be lining up a presidential run. And in his State of the City speech last Thursday, he gave us a peak of what the future could have in store…

“Here’s the truth. Brothers and sisters, there’s plenty of money in the world. There’s plenty of money in this city. It’s just in the wrong hands.”

Brothers and sisters? In the wrong hands? REALLY, comrade de Blasio?!

The Mayor of New York City doesn’t think the people who earn the money should get to keep it.

For the time being, New York City is still the financial capital of the world, despite Bill de Blasio’s best efforts to change that.

This guy is as far left as they come. And he doesn’t try to hide it.

He traveled to Nicaragua to support the socialist Sandinistas back in1988. (The same socialist leader, Danny Ortega, is still in power and currently on a mass killing spree).

De Blasio wants to guarantee health care for everyone in New York City, including illegal immigrants.

He even wants to seize buildings from bad landlords (if we took property away from every landlord that had a complaint filed against them, I don’t think we’d have any left).

In a 2017 interview, he told New York Magazine:

What’s been hardest is the way our legal system is structured to favor private property. I think people all over this city, of every background, would like to have the city government be able to determine which building goes where, how high it will be, who gets to live in it, what the rent will be.

I think there’s a socialistic impulse, which I hear every day, in every kind of community, that they would like things to be planned in accordance to their needs. And I would, too.

De Blasio believes in a top down centrally planned society from the bottom of his heart. He thinks every facet of life should be regulated and controlled by the government.

He was mayor while New York City outlawed common “gravity knives” used in construction work.

He signed a bill that forces Airbnb to hand over information on every host and every transaction. Already NYC is one of the most restrictive places in the country when it comes to Airbnb, and the city spends up to $7 million per year enforcing these rules.

Plus New York City residents are already paying one of the highest tax rates in the country. In addition to federal and (high) state taxes, they owe a city wide income tax. In the end, over half of their money already gets confiscated by various governments.

But that’s not enough for Bill. And that’s no surprise given the agendas he’s pushing forward like free healthcare. The question remains the same… who is going to pay for all of this?

Maybe he wants a 70% tax rate like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Maybe it’s 90% like back in the days of FDR.

But before he tries to squeeze more blood from the stone, Bill should look across the river to New Jersey.

Jersey has some of the highest income, property, and inheritance tax rates in the country. And its residents are already fleeing, including the billionaire hedge fund manager David Tepper, who moved himself and his business to Florida.

Just this one guy leaving means the state of New Jersey lost hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenue – he almost singlehandedly threw the state into crisis.

And Tepper isn’t alone in fleeing to a friendlier tax state. Two million residents left New Jersey between 2005 and 2014. 60% of them went to Florida, taking with them their combined $18 billion of income.

New York is in the same boat. In the 12 months ending July 2017, the State of New York lost a net 190,508 residents (bringing the total loss to 1 million people since 2010 – the largest of any state). Guess where they’re headed… states with friendlier tax regimes.

So what exactly does de Blasio think this kind of rhetoric is going to do for NYC’s tax revenue?

He doesn’t care. Because this speech wasn’t really aimed at New Yorkers. It was aimed at the entire nation.

Bill de Blasio is one of the cadre of rising socialists who is considering throwing their hat in the ring for a 2020 Democratic nomination.

If Trump was the answer to politically correct, cry-baby social justice warriors, just imagine who will come to power when the pendulum swings back the other way. We saw a preview with Bernie Sanders in 2016… Elizabeth “you didn’t build that” Warren echoes his economic illiteracy.

Message received loud and clear Comrade Bill. Wealthy people are the enemy… and their money should be in the “right” hands (presumably the not-so-invisible hands of government).

This pretty much captures it all: they want your money. It’s not even your money. You earned it… but they have a right to take it.

This is an important, and growing, trend in the Land of the Free. And you need to pay attention.

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Yet another MAJOR reason to buy gold

For almost a year now, I’ve been advising you that gold production is plunging…

By itself, declining gold production isn’t a huge deal.

It takes hundreds of millions of years for minerals to form deep in the earth’s crust… but humans only need a few decades to extract it.

That’s why mining companies need to constantly explore for new deposits.

And that’s where the problem comes in… mining companies haven’t been exploring.

Large mining companies have been cutting their exploration budgets for years. By the end of 2016, exploration budgets hit an 11-year low.

Part of the reason for the decline in exploration has been the stagnant gold price and general, investor disinterest toward the gold mining sector.

If you look at a chart of the Gold Miners ETF (GDX), the price hasn’t gone anywhere for five years.

And gold prices have likewise languished; today’s price of $1,290 per ounce is down 30% from the 2011.

To fight the tough times, miners slashed their exploration budgets.

That means, when the demand for gold picks up again (which I think we’re starting to see now), there won’t be enough gold supply.

You don’t have to just take my word for it…

Pierre Lassonde, the billionaire founder of gold royalty giant Franco-Nevada and former head of Newmont Mining –

If you look back to the 70s, 80s and 90s, in every one of those decades, the industry found at least one 50+ million-ounce gold deposit, at least ten 30+ million ounce deposits, and countless 5 to 10 million ounce deposits.

But if you look at the last 15 years, we found no 50-million-ounce deposit, no 30 million ounce deposit and only very few 15 million ounce deposits.

So where are those great big deposits we found in the past? How are they going to be replaced? We don’t know.

Lassonde isn’t the big gold player warning about the falling gold production. You can read some other warnings in this piece I wrote in July of last year.

One of the legends we quoted was Ian Telfer, chairman of Goldcorp, who told the Financial Post:

“If I could give one sentence about the gold mining business … it’s that in my life, gold produced from mines has gone up pretty steadily for 40 years. Well, either this year it starts to go down, or next year it starts to go down, or it’s already going down… We’re right at peak gold here.

If gold production is peaking, and the mining companies aren’t spending money to find new deposits, that means one thing… when demand picks up, we’ll see a wave of consolidation in the industry.

Mining companies will be forced to acquire one another in order increase their production and meet a rising gold demand.

These consolidations are already happening. Literally just today, Telfer’s $8.5 billion Goldcorp was acquired by Newmont Mining for $10 billion.

This isn’t the first deal like this: back in September, Barrick Gold bought Randgold Resources in a $6 billion deal.

This is exactly what you’d expect to see in an era where gold miners are acquiring each other and consolidating their production.

And all of this should be quite favorable for gold prices over the long-term.

Now, at least for me, gold has never really been an investment. I don’t trade paper currency for gold, hoping to trade gold back for more paper currency down the road.

Instead, gold for me has always been always a hedge against all the risks in the world that just don’t make sense.

And there are plenty of those:

The US debt is now nearly $22 trillion and growing at more than $1 trillion a year.

Interest rates across the world’s other largest economies– Europe and Japan– are still negative. China is rapidly slowing.

Governments around the world, it seems, are in a coordinated effort to destroy paper money and inflate their massive debts away.

Meanwhile, interest rates are slowly rising from the bottom, putting the huge stock and bond rally of the past decade at risk.

All of these are very prudent reasons to own gold.

And with today’s news, we’ve now seen several of the largest gold miners in the world spending a combined $16 billion to increase their gold reserves. They’re admitting there’s a big shortage of the metal. And this trend is just getting started.

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Man bills the US government for his Corvette. This is how they responded…

Last week I decided to use my tax savings to pay the rent for US government workers affected by the shut down. Emails keep coming in from furloughed federal employees having a tough time. And money keeps going out.

As I’ve been highlighting over the past week, the government shutdown affects many more people than the 800,000 furloughed government workers. Some contractors and subcontractors might not even know their salary ultimately stems from government funding.

So it’s really millions who aren’t receiving a paycheck.

This obviously isn’t the first time the government has shut down. And it won’t be the last either.

With the national debt just shy of $22 trillion, there are going to be more shutdowns due to statutory borrowing limitations, something that’s commonly called the ‘debt ceiling’.

So the next shutdown could come as early as August… which is pretty ridiculous. I mean, the US is really starting to look like a banana republic.

Well, one enterprising American named Gunther Glaub got sick of all this fiscal irresponsibility.

He figured that if the government could spend a bunch of money it doesn’t have and stick taxpayers with the bill, that he should get to spend a bunch of money HE doesn’t have, and stick the government with the bill.

So he went out and bought a new Corvette… and sent an invoice to the US Department of Agriculture to pay for it.

I mean hey, $100,000 doesn’t even move the needle on the government debt. And since they already bailed out the car-makers, why not the car-buyers too?

Along with his bills and wire transfer instructions, he included a note that said, “Thank you for paying this debt.”

I won’t lie, here at Sovereign Man we thought this was hilarious. I mean, the government has definitely wasted money in worse ways than buying Gunther a new sports car.

Uncle Sam blew $2 billion on the Obamacare website that didn’t even work.

And taxpayers forked over half a million dollars to cover the legal costs of defending members of Congress from sexual harassment claims.

But go figure, the USDA didn’t think it was so funny…

When the USDA got the bill, they didn’t have a good laugh like us. Nor did they simply shake their heads at Gunther Glaub’s antics, and throw the request in the trash.

Nope. These USDA employees– who we are guessing are a whole lot of fun at parties– actually reported Gunther to federal prosecutors.

And the Justice Department actually charged and CONVICTED Gunther with criminal fraud under the False Claims Act.

This is pretty nuts given that Gunther faced 25 years in prison.

Given that the cost of incarceration is $32,000 per inmate in US federal prisons, Gunther’s prison sentence could have costed taxpayers $800,000… to punish him for asking the government to buy him a $100,000 car.

Obviously we don’t think that the taxpayers should have to buy Gunther a new car. (And the guy has got to be half crazy for poking the bear like that).

But it does send a clear message: YOU the citizen are responsible for the government’s debts. Yet if you try to reverse the roles, even as a joke, they throw your ass in jail.

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The rise of Socialism: Standing on the shoulders of morons

I’ve spent the last several days in this quaint Colombian city near the Venezuelan border (though I’m presently at the airport, en route to Chile for a board meeting).

As I’ve discussed several times in the past, Colombia is great. It’s naturally gorgeous, incredibly cheap, and full of interesting opportunities.

The country has recently emerged from decades of civil war. And the rebuilding efforts will have a profound impact on the economy… most notably is the national infrastructure.

Colombia’s highways are pitiful.

The distance from here to Bogota is barely 400 kilometers– it shouldn’t be more than a 3-4 hour drive. But it takes almost nine hours thanks to the terrible highways.

Railways, ports, even digital infrastructure are all lacking in Colombia, in large part because of the decades-long war against the FARC. For years the government didn’t want to build more railways if the guerrillas were just going to destroy it.

With the war over, they’re dumping an enormous amount of money into modernizing the country, which invariably brings interesting opportunities.

Colombia is still cheap today.

I spent the weekend in the mountains outside of Bucaramanga looking at real estate projects where, for example, a plush family home on more than an acre lot in an upscale community ran less than USD $70,000.

That’s cheap. My rule of thumb is that anything less than $1,000 per square meter for good quality residential housing (about $92 per square foot) is a great deal.

I also saw a huge, stately home with a grand, Spanish colonial interior courtyard, plus several acres of land, for less than $200,000.

That’s a hell of a bargain for a country with such a bright future.

One of the most noticeable things about this town, though, is the presence of so many Venezuelan refugees.

Bucaramanga is very close to the border, so it’s a natural migration point for Venezuelans fleeing their country. They’re EVERYWHERE.

Talking to these people, it’s apparent that the conditions are far worse than generally reported in the media. I’ve been to Venezuela several times myself, and I’ve seen firsthand the lack of food, medicine, etc.

It’s incredible that a country like Venezuela that’s rich in so many resources is in such a desperate situation.

Venezuela is legendary for its world-class oil and mineral deposits. But more than that, Venezuela boasts incredibly talented entrepreneurs and skilled labor, plus plenty of port facilities, arable land, etc.

This place SHOULD be an economic powerhouse. And decades ago it used to be.

But today Venezuela is one of the world’s most impoverished nations.

How did it all go wrong?

It’s all due to the rise of corrupt socialism.

You know the story: about 20 years ago, Hugo Chavez took control of Venezuela and engaged in radical economic and political reforms that awarded supreme power to the government (specifically to Chavez) while doling out crippling socialist programs that the country couldn’t afford.

When the price of oil was at an all-time high, they were able to limp along.

But when oil prices fell, Venezuela’s government went broke.

They tried to make up for it by nationalizing and expropriating everything that wasn’t nailed down– businesses, private land, etc. But that made matters worse.

They also borrowed heavily, burned through their international reserves, and printed an unbelievable amount of money. The currency quickly went into free-fall.

When I first went to Caracas several years ago, the exchange rate was about 8 bolivares per US dollar. A few months later when I returned, it was 50. My next trip was 500.

Soon a single US $100 bill would buy me literally stacks of Venezuelan bolivares; and by the time they finally capitulated and took the money out of circulation, it took over 4 million bolivares to buy a single US dollar.

(Since August 2018 the Venezuelan government started issuing new currency, which is basically the old currency minus a few zeros…)

All of this began with a premise that the government could centrally plan prosperity– that a tiny political elite could engineer wealth and efficient productivity while simultaneously providing an endless supply of free benefits to the constituents who keep them in power.

This experiment in central planning has notoriously failed throughout history (and it bankrupted Venezuela in less than two decades).

Yet we invariably see it rear its ugly head over and over again despite such a dismal track record… especially in times when wealth and income inequality rise.

Every time people feel like they’re getting screwed by the system… every time they feel like someone else has an unfair advantage, there are cries to seize assets, confiscate wealth, and centrally plan prosperity.

We’re starting to see those calls rise again in the Land of the Free, where a whole spate of socialist-leaning candidates are coming out of the woodwork… including some presidential contenders.

There are now 40 socialists in Congress, including the infamous 29-year old Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who think it’s a great idea to centrally plan the economy, jack up tax rates to confiscatory levels and even nationalize certain private industries.

Their desires are echoed by Nobel Laureate Paul Krugman who believes that 70%+ would be the best tax rate for maximum economic efficiency.

It’s even more interesting to note that, according to a recent Gallup poll, more younger Americans (18-29) now identify with Socialism than Capitalism – 51% vs. 45%. That’s a 12-point decline in a positive view toward capitalism in just the past two years… back in 2010, 68% of young Americans viewed capitalism favorably.

To borrow from Isaac Newton, they seem to be standing on the shoulders of morons.

And yet membership in the Democratic Socialists of America has swelled 7x just in the last two years.

This is all really alarming.

I’m not saying the US is going to become Venezuela in 20 years. But the Land of the Free is rapidly going down the same destructive path.

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Debt, dope and casinos: Chicago is circling the drain

While the federal government is slowly careening toward permanent, fiscal disaster, many state governments (which don’t have the power of the printing press) are already staring into the abyss…

Take Illinois, for example. It’s the most broke state in the US with nearly $250 billion in debt. And it only brings in enough in taxes each year to cover 92% of its expenses… so the problem is getting worse.

Good thing Rahm “you never want a serious crisis to go to waste” Emmanuel is the current Mayor of Chicago. You may remember, the above quote was from Rahm’s days as Obama’s Chief of Staff, as told to the Wall Street Journal during the depths of the Great Financial Crisis…

What followed was the greatest monetary experiment known to man.

Now Rahm has another crisis on his hands – Chicago’s woefully underfunded pension. And he’s reaching into his old bag of tricks.

Governments can only kick the can down the road for so long. Eventually, they’ve got to make some tough decisions – like who they’re going to default on. Despite the promises made by certain political representatives, it’s impossible for everyone to have everything…

And today, Rahm must choose…

Either Chicago defaults on the pension promises it’s made to city workers or it defaults on its massive debt. It’s simple arithmetic.

Rahm, it seems, has chosen the latter.

Chicago’s pension funds are only 26% funded (meaning it only has enough cash to pay out a pathetic 26% of what’s promised). And with the city’s dismal fiscal situation, that hole isn’t getting plugged on its own.

So Rahm proposed issuing $10 billion of debt to shore up the city’s pensions. The only government solution for debt problems today, it seems, is still more debt…

But even with that extra $10 billion, the city’s pensions will only be 50% funded.

Let me be clear… when you’ve got to take on debt for a chance of paying 50% of your pension obligations… you’re in default.

It gets better…

Rahm is pressuring the city to act quickly before interest rates increase more, which would make it more expensive for the city to finance its new debt.

So he’s essentially admitting the city couldn’t afford this new debt if rates increase 50 or 100 basis points. This is desperation.

OK… If interest states stay low, and Rahm can afford to issue these bonds, now we’ve only got to worry about future pension returns.

And Rahm says they can afford to issue the debt because the city’s pension funds have never seen an annualized return of lower than 8% for any 30-year period.

Most pension funds are grasping to that “magic” 8% number based on the past. But as we’ve written before, making those returns today is no easy feat. We’re at the tail end of 40 years of falling interest rates, which caused an insane bull market in stocks. It’s not likely the next 40 years will be as generous.

Already, at a market peak, pension funds are investing in riskier assets in hopes of achieving their break even returns.

If every single, little thing goes just perfect for the next 30 years, Chicago’s pensions may squeak by for awhile. What’s the likelihood of that happening? About zero.

Remember, a massive, 10-year bull market in stocks is nearing its end.

But desperate times call for desperate measures. And Rahm is out the door in May… so he won’t be around when the city has to default on its debt.

The federal government can still conjure money out of thin air. Cities and states don’t have that luxury. And like Chicago is doing today, we’ll see more of these tough decisions being made in the near future – the decision of who to default on.

There is one bright spot.

When discussing the bonds, Rahm did mention he supports legalizing marijuana and bringing casinos back to Chicago.

So if the pensions don’t work out, we’ve always pot and gambling to restore our country to the glory days.

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The government shutdown is far worse than we even imagined

Last Thursday, I published a Notes article saying I would use five-to-six figures of the money I saved last year in taxes to pay rent for furloughed government employees.

And so far, the response has been amazing.

We’ve already sent money out the door to help these people during the government shutdown.

And we’ve also received some interesting feedback that gives us a bit more insight into what’s happening to the 800,000+ government employees affected by the shutdown.

First, as a requirement to receive funds, we asked for people to email us from their “.gov” email addresses.

Well, one woman who works for a federal agency reminded us that it’s illegal – at least for her department – to send non-work related emails from a .gov address (unless of course you’re Hillary Clinton).

We also learned the shutdown, now in its third week, is hurting FAR MORE than the 800,000-person figure the media is stating…

The federal government employs around 2.7 million people (not including non-civilian military, which is another million plus folks).

And there are another four million or so people that work as government contractors… everyone from partners at major consulting firms to the person mopping the floor at the Pentagon.

Several contractors wrote us to ask for help. And these people are getting severely screwed.

One reader works as an academic at a major university for $11/hour ($10 after paying for parking on campus). This person doesn’t receive any benefits. And it’s questionable if they’ll be reimbursed for lost work.

Another contractor that provides services to the government said they haven’t worked since December 21 and have lost out on around $800 (a large sum for this person that they depend on for rent). And this person will not be reimbursed for lost wages.

So millions of people (and their families) are being hurt financially by the government shutdown… which shows you just how far the government has slithered into every facet of our lives.

The government is spending money it doesn’t have (a trillion dollars more each year than it earns in tax revenue). And millions upon millions of people depend on that “funny money” to survive. It’s not sustainable. And it will only get worse.

Eventually this will all come to an end. And millions of people’s lives will be turned upside down. At that point, no act of Congress of signature from POTUS will do the trick… because the money simply will not be there.

This isn’t a political or philosophical debate. And we’re not discussing whether or not government workers are important, or if their jobs are even necessary.

The problem is simple arithmetic.

The scariest part is there are people connected to this who don’t even realize it. You might be a subcontractor and not even realize the government is your ultimate client. And if that’s the case, you’re out in the cold, too.

Later this week, we’ll give you an example of a state government that is already facing this issue… and the only decision they can make now is who to default on first.

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The SIX dumbest and most absurd stories of 2018

Every week we send out an alert to our premium subscribers highlighting important news that often goes overlooked…

We scour through recent court cases, laws moving through congress, whispers in the government and various, international news sites to find the latest things happening that could infringe upon your freedom… or that just make us laugh and cringe due to the never-ending stupidity of governments around the world.

If we had to pick one, dominant trend for 2018, it would be the rise of the “snowflake.”

It seems last year, everyone was a victim… and if you had an opinion on anything, you risked “triggering” huge amounts of people who would then retaliate your horrible offense with a social-media lambast.

We’ve compiled six of the most ridiculous stories we encountered in 2018.

Ironically, while humor seems to be dead in greater society, these stories are damn hilarious, and some are outright absurd.

Let’s get started…

1. Is Vegan a religion?

A British vegan man expressed concerns that the company he worked for invested money from its pension funds in non-vegan companies.

Then he was fired.

He sued, and now, a British court will decide if vegans should have protection, just like religions, for their beliefs.

If the court rules in his favor, British vegans will be protected by law against workplace discrimination based on their “beliefs.”

The further we go on with this whiny, victim mentality trend, the more claims anyone could have to consider themselves discriminated against.

Fired for being too short, old, fat, bald or sexy.

The company said they didn’t fire him because he’s a vegan…

You know, there’s always the chance he’s just an incompetent dolt.

2. Climate Activists did only what was necessary to save us all

If you broke into a home to save a child from a raging fire, you probably wouldn’t face any criminal charges.

But if you did, you could use the “necessity defense.” It was necessary to break the law to save the child. The emergency made the law unnecessary under the circumstances.

Climate activists tried to use that same defense.

They trespassed on private property and tampered with an oil pipeline. The emergency they say is global warming.

Using the emergency shut off valve on the pipeline was necessary to stop climate change, they argued.

An appeals court agreed and said the activists could use the “necessity” defense.

But the tactic never got tested in court.

In October, charges were suddenly dropped against the activists. This actually upset some activists who hoped that the case would set a precedent for future “necessity defenses.”

Just cutting the carbon footprint. It’s an emergency.

So luckily they haven’t yet legalized destroying cars, raising cattle, cutting power lines, and murdering countless people in the name of stopping climate change.

3. Scotland Cracks Down on the Right to Peel Potatoes

Things might be different if William Wallace had prevailed…

Scottish Police arrested a man for possession of a dangerous weapon in public. He was carrying a potato peeler.

Being “in possession of an object which had a blade or was sharply pointed,” carries up to four years in prison as Great Britain cracks down on a rash of knife violence.

But guys with potato peelers probably aren’t the main source of knife crimes in the UK.

Now who’s going to make all the chips?

4. Charleston Teen Arrested for Hard Work and Entrepreneurship

He wasn’t selling drugs on the corner. This Charleston teen was selling palmetto roses: handcrafted souvenir roses woven from palms.

And Police actually arrested the teen for this unauthorized entrepreneurship.

See, the city of Charleston runs the Palmetto Artisan Program. The program is meant to teach entrepreneurship skills to 9 to 16 year-olds. It is illegal for nonparticipating youth to sell palmetto roses within the city.

Adults over the age of 18 in the city are free to craft and sell their own palmetto roses.

Apparently there is no legal way for a 17-year-old to sell palmetto roses in Charleston.

But this teen and many others consider the Palmetto Artisan Program too restrictive.

It requires youth to waste a full week “training” for something they already know how to do.

God forbid they make more money selling the roses on their own.

So Charleston isn’t really teaching a lesson in entrepreneurship. It’s a lesson in cronyism and overregulation. Get the government to arrest your competition, and it’s easy street!

Great job, Charleston. You really taught this teen a valuable lesson about the sorry state of American entrepreneurship.

5. France Outlawed Vegan Lies Meat Terms for Veggie Products

How many times have you gone to the grocery store looking to purchase something that has been brutally slaughtered, only to be tricked into buying a soy substitute?

The French parliament had enough, the great patrons of steak and béarnaise sauce, and criminalized using meat terms to describe non-meat products.

For instance, a company that describes their flattened bean and tofu patties as veggie-burgers will be fined $300,000.

The same goes for calling non-animal products milk. Do almonds have udders? No. That is nut protein dissolved in water.

The French government was concerned that shoppers were being misled by terms like “vegan-bacon” and “meat-free-sausage.”

It might not surprise you that the law was crafted by a cattle-farmer. Just get rid of that pesky free speech and he can sell more meat!

Since 2013, the European Union has required all products with traditional dairy names to come from “normal mammary secretion.” They grandfathered products like coconut milk and peanut butter.

Meanwhile in the US, you can still call your pureed-veggie-tubes meat-free hot dogs.

A similar class action lawsuit was dismissed in US courts. Judges said that no reasonable consumer would be misled by terms like almond milk.

6. Jail Time for Plastic Straws

California was all set to slap the cuffs on that poor teen just trying to make a living waiting tables.

In early 2018, California lawmaker Ian Calderon introduced state legislation that would have made it illegal for a waiter to bring a customer a plastic straw unless specifically requested.

Wait staff who dropped an unrequested straw on the table could have faced up to six months in jail, and a $1,000 fine.

Calderon said that the excessive penalties automatically apply to any new misdemeanor.

So no matter how trivial the rule, boom, maximum fine and maximum prison time.

That exact bill never passed. But a different California law went into effect January 1, 2019 banning plastic straws in some restaurants. The new version only carries a fine to the restaurant of up to $25 per day, maxing out at $300 per year.

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There you have it. Six of the most absurd stories we encountered in 2018.

From a teenager getting arrested for working hard making palm roses to veganism being considered a religious belief.

If you’ve ever wondered what you’re government has been up to… here’s a brief snapshot.

Also, we’d love your feedback on today’s Notes… would you like to see more content like this in the future? Let us know at admin@sovereignman.com

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I’m personally paying rent for furloughed gov’t employees. Here’s how to apply…

If you’ve been reading Notes from the Field for any period of time, you know I don’t like paying taxes. That’s why I’m living in Puerto Rico today paying almost nothing.

And no, it’s not because I’m doing anything illegal.

Puerto Rico is one of the most incredible LEGAL tax havens in the world; under special incentive laws that were passed by the government several years ago, it’s possible to pay just 4% on corporate profits, and 0% tax on investment income like dividends or capital gains.

Don’t get me wrong– the lifestyle here is REALLY nice. The beaches are exceptional, the weather is great, and I’ve been hanging out with a lot of interesting people who are down here doing the same thing.

But I’m not here for the lifestyle. I’m here because I believe I have a moral obligation to pay as little tax as possible.

People in the west are fed a line of garbage that if you don’t agree with your government, you make your opinion heard at the voting booth.

That’s a bunch of bullshit.

Voting accomplishes nothing; it doesn’t change the corrupt game, merely the players.

The far more powerful way to affect change is to use every legal means at your disposal to stop giving them your money. Starve the beast.

So the next time they waste billions of dollars on a website that doesn’t work, they won’t be doing it with your money.

Instead, you will be free to spend your own savings on what YOU believe is important.

For example, there are several people here that I’ve recently met who are privately funding a safe house for abused children here in Puerto Rico; I’ll be committing quite heavily to this.

Every year I use my tax savings to fund worthy causes that are either ignored or totally bungled by the government.

A few years ago in Nepal I paid for food and medicine to be delivered by helicopter to remote mountain villages, and to have the sick and elderly evacuated… because the government had totally screwed up their aid.

I even funded a new, prosthetic leg for a veteran whose treatment had been rejected by the Department of Veteran’s Affairs on the grounds that the procedure wasn’t FDA approved.

Now the guy is out competing in 5K races and even danced at his own wedding.

Today I’ve found another worthy cause to invest my tax savings: government employees.

Yes I’m serious.

The government shutdown is now in its 13th day. And to be clear, I LIKE government shutdowns. I think it’s great when the big giant bureaucracy closes its doors.

But I also recognize there are literally hundreds of thousands of government employees and members of the military who are having a tough time making the rent as a result of this.

I read that there are 380,000 government employees who have been furloughed.

And another 420,000 are working without pay (they’re currently suing the government because forcing employees to work without pay is illegal – even for the Uncle Sam).

All these folks are having trouble paying their bills.

So I thought I’d use my tax savings to help furloughed government employees pay their rent.

Relish the irony…

So if you’re a US federal government employee who has either been furloughed or is working without pay, and you’re falling behind on expenses, here’s what you need to do:

  • Send an email to bailout@sovereignman.com from your official .gov email address.
  • Provide a copy of your lease or mortgage that clearly indicates your current monthly payment
  • Provide a recent paystub

I’m 100% serious about this.

 And while I can’t infinitely fund all 800,000 people, I’m ponying up 5-6 figures to help out. And I’m even reaching out to friends to see if they’ll match my contribution.

On a final note… if you work for the NSA or you’re a member of Congress, don’t bother applying.

Happy New Year.

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Your tax dollars at work: Govt officially forgiving student debt

When all the tribes of Israel still lived in their holy land, they practiced something called the Jubilee.

According to the Book of Leviticus, the Jubilee existed because the Israeli land actually belonged to their god Yahweh…. and the current owners were just borrowing it (sounds like land ownership today – try not paying your property taxes and see who really owns your land).

So every 49 years, the Israelites would celebrate by freeing slaves, redistributing property and forgiving debts.

Of course, a 49-year cycle where debt is forgiven and land is returned to previous owners is ridiculous… markets can’t function under this system. Imagine buying a piece of land and not knowing if you have to give it back down the road… or lending someone money with the possibility that those debts just disappear and you get nothing back for the risk you took.

The Jubilee originated sometime around 1406 BC, so you would think it’s ancient history.

Fast forward 3500 years…

The US government is a record $21 trillion in debt and running $1 trillion annual deficits.

US corporations have a record $9 trillion in debt – with nearly half of that debt maturing in the next five years (meaning the businesses either have to roll that debt into a new loan or pay it back).

Consumer debt – which includes credit card debt, auto loans and student debt – is already at a record high and should pass $4 trillion in 2019.

But the largest portion of consumer debt is student debt. Yes, Americans have borrowed $1.5 TRILLION to earn degrees of questionable use.

As I wrote in a previous Notes:

According to the latest stats, the average student loan debt in the US is nearly $40,000.

But that’s just average…

There are more than two million former students in the Land of the Free with more than $100,000 of debt… around 415,000 people have more than $200,000 of student debt.

And the US Department of Education guarantees 90% of that debt. Which means you, the taxpayer, guarantee that debt. If the borrower defaults, YOU’RE on the hook.

 What are the chances millennials will make good on the debt? Not great…

According to a recent Fed study, millennials are much poorer and indebted than previous generations.

Even if they are financially able to repay student loans, you then have to question their will to do so when you can do so many other cool things with the money…

Like this  YouTube bro  who made a video bragging about using his financial aid money to take his girlfriend on a trip to Thailand.

Already we’re seeing student loan defaults creep up…

Loans issued in 2012 are defaulting at a faster rate than ever before. Interest rates are only rising.

Over 44 million Americans owe student loans, and according to the Federal Reserve, 11.2% of them are delinquent (at least 90 days late) or in default.

It’s hard enough to pay back your loans if you study medicine to become a doctor, or something else that could lead to a relatively high paying career.

But now 22-year olds are graduating with $200,000 of debt, and all they have to show for it is an undergraduate degree in underwater basket weaving.

No direction. No plan. Just a useless degree.

Then there’s the adults who are still swimming in student debt…

There are even almost 2 million Americans over the age of 62 who still owe a combined $62 billion in student loans. That’s over 32 grand per borrower over 62.

I don’t think Social Security is going to cover that… even if by some miracle it stays solvent.

Given these headwinds, we’ve been wondering how on earth this crushing student debt load will ever be paid back.

And I think we just got our answer.

This month, Secretary of Education Betsy Davos agreed to forgive $150 million worth of student debt.

It’s a mini Jubilee.

Here’s the thing… Betsy Davos did NOT want to forgive this debt. She fought to change the rules, but an Obama era forgiveness policy was enforced by the courts.

So if one of the meanest women in government can’t stop this debt from being forgiven… just imagine if we had someone like Bernie Sanders or Kamala Harris steering the ship.

And who do you think is going to come after Trump?

Trump was America’s response to Obama. And the next pendulum swing will be even greater to the left.

So we just saw the first $150 million… and there’s another $1.465 trillion to go in the debt jubilee.

If you ever wondered why I think it’s a moral obligation to pay as little taxes as possible, this is it.

If you want to give the government your dollars to fund YouTube bro to go to Thailand, go ahead.

I’ll be in Puerto Rico, paying a 4% corporate tax rate and 0% capital gains.

Maybe I’ll see you down here.

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