My opinion on digital currency

When you own a digital currency, what do you own? You own a digital certificate, no different than a piece of paper. There is nothing preventing there from being more made. Yes, I know that the largest of the digital currencies- Bitcoin- has a limit of 21 million units.

With that being said, here are the reasons why digital currency is a bad idea:

  • It has no intrinsic value. You can’t eat it, wear it, or heat your house with it. Unlike gold — which at least feels nice and looks shiny on your spouse’s ring finger — you can’t even see Bitcoin.
  • It is not a productive asset. It’s not a factory that produces an item. It’s not a field that produces cucumbers. It’s not a firm that offers a service. It contributes nothing to society.
  • It has zero underlying value. None. It’s not backed by land or commodities or — as with national currencies like USD or GBP — the threat of violence
  • It has minimal utility. Because the price fluctuates so wildly (what healthy currency doubles in a month?), it’s virtually ineffective as a safe representation of value or means of trade.
  • Its value is solely derived from the trust that the price will continue to rise indefinitely. That there will always be new investors to buy out the old ones.

This makes it no better than owning paper gold. It’s mathematically impossible for Bitcoin to grow forever, this can only have one final outcome: A Black Swan event causes its demise as an investment. Perhaps a superior cryptocurrency makes Bitcoin as irrelevant as the Model T versus a Tesla. Perhaps nations or groups of nations make a concerted effort to destroy Bitcoin, or more likely, Bitcoin owners. Or maybe Bitcoin simply levels out when it reaches max coinage, shedding its identity as an investment and becoming a stable trust-based currency. In doing so, it will drive away all the exuberant speculators who are currently propping up its inflated price. No matter how it happens, at some point, millions of Bitcoin investors are going to lose billions of dollars.

The real minimum wage is zero.

The picture below is of the new self-service checkout registers at my local Publix supermarket. They went online yesterday. There are six of these registers, staffed by one employee. For those of you unfamiliar with Publix, this is huge. Publix is known for service. Its employees are not permitted to accept tips. This is obviously intended to cut costs at the expense of reduced customer service.

This is what happens when the voters approve a near doubling of the minimum wage. At some point, it becomes cheaper to buy automation than it does to pay for more labor. The real minimum wage is zero. How many jobs will this eliminate? How many employee hours were eliminated?

Congratulations, you just voted yourself out of a job.

Let the games begin

My tax records have all been sent to the accountant. Let me say that I am against the stimulus checks. With that being said, no one is listening, so my goal is to maximize my chances of receiving whatever they are going to hand out. So that is the instruction that my accountant has been given:

Find a way for us to legally get as much of that money as we can while limiting our tax exposure. If that means that I have to claim all of the income from our business ventures and investments, and then we file separately so at least one of us gets the money, then so be it.

So the accountant tells me that she will run different scenarios to see which way and what deductions will result in the best financial situation. That is why we pay her, after all.

You get what you pay for

Democrats’ latest tax borrow print and spend idea is to pay people to have children. They are going to send out checks to the parents of every child (as long as the parent makes below a certain amount of money) in the amount of $3600 a year PER KID.

Let’s use my home state as an example: Florida’s minimum wage is $8.65 an hour. That means that a person making minimum wage earns $17,992 a year. SNAP is limited to those who earn no more than 130% of the Federal poverty line. That means that a family of three is considered to be SNAP eligible if they are earning about $26,000 a year or less.

Let’s use that as our example: A single mother of two, ages 10 and 6, who is earning minimum wage. She would receive $500 a month in SNAP benefits. That same woman would get $6,600 a year in Earned Income Credit. There are other aid programs out there that will get her more benefits, but let’s concentrate just on this for now.

Adding up all of her benefits, a woman making minimum wage has an annual income of nearly $45,000 a year, and the only taxes she pays is Social Security and Medicare at $1,350 for the year. Her effective income when adjusting for the taxes not being paid on her handouts? She is making the equivalent of $65,000 a year.

The most lucrative job to have is making more ‘poor’ people, who will grow up and vote for more handouts.

Your fault

There is a New York Times story that talks about how some Texas utility consumers faced 5 digit bills during the recent storm. They are painting the utility as being greedy, and the state government as inept, because of the steep rise in costs.

Of course, I have a different opinion. The culprit here is consumers and their lack of understanding of fundamental economics. Texas has a largely unregulated, pure supply and demand system. One provider, Gridly, charges consumers a flat $9.99 monthly fee and allows consumers to pay the wholesale rate for electricity. This results in cheap electric bills in normal times.

During abnormal times, like a blizzard or hurricane, wholesale prices skyrocket as utility providers shutdown because of the disaster and what power is left comes at higher prices due to its scarcity. That is supply and demand at work. Gridly even warned its customers that the prices were going to increase, and advised them to switch to another provider.

Many didn’t, for whatever reason. The power for them stayed on, but at prices that were up to 100 times more than normal. They claim that they could see the bill climbing, but could do nothing about it. Bullshit.

Turn off the breakers.

You ALWAYS have choices. You were told to switch providers, and you didn’t. You knew the prices were climbing, and knew you could turn off the power, but you didn’t.

Instead, you complain about “price gouging” AFTER the fact, and demand that mommy and daddy government come bail you out of the results of your own bad choices. Everyone warned you, and you ignored the warnings.

So now the government will likely pass laws preventing this from happening again. All this means is that companies like Gridly who were able to keep the lights on during a disaster, thus giving people an option (admittedly a higher priced option), will not be there next time.

Flyover economics

One of my favorite things to do is travel. I do a lot of it. By road, air, or cruise ship, I love it all. In the seven years my wife and I have been together, we have been to 48 states and 16 foreign countries. We typically take no fewer than 2 plane trips, 4 cruises, and 10 road trips a year. This allows me to compare travel from before COVID to travel now. Let’s take a look at the economics (or lack thereof) in “flyover country,” as the elites are find of calling the areas that are not NYC, DC, or LA.

Starting with my favorite city to visit: Las Vegas. There is something in Vegas for everyone: eco-tours, gambling, the club scene, fabulous restaurants, people watching, and the incredible spectacles of the mega-casinos. We ended 2019 there. We went back in July of 2020. In the intervening 7 months, I can tell you- Las Vegas is dying. It’s being killed by this COVID panic. If you read today’s wire story, you will see that things are not looking any better. Tourism year to date for Las Vegas is down 55%, tourism for 2020 was down 64%.

Orlando is hurting as well. The year 2020 saw a 34% reduction in tourism for the entire state, even though our governor is doing all that he can to keep the state open for business. The tourist areas of Orlando are a ghost town. That isn’t being helped by the left wing county mayor, who has a ‘strike team’ of jack booted thugs travelling the county in search of businesses that are not following his dictates. Most of the hotels in the tourist corridor are empty, with the exception of the national guard troops being housed near the convention center to help run the vaccine center. Most eateries are closed. It frankly was depressing the last time we were there in September.

We visited Savannah, Georgia the week before Thanksgiving. We are familiar with the city. Since it is a 4 hour drive from here, it is closer even than Miami and great for weekend getaways.

Unfortunately, it is a college town and therefore run by a Democrat mayor who is an absolute nut when it comes to mask mandates. Ghost tours, bus tours, walking tours, all of them were at reduced capacity. The restaurants where we love to dine have far fewer customers, and the hotels are not running nearly as full. Even tourism sites are a bit stupid about it.

We also went to Biloxi, MS in July. There isn’t much to do there at the best of times. Certainly not now. The only good thing that can be said is that the pool at the casino resorts isn’t very crowded.

So there is a quick look at the nation. In short, the government and the restrictions they are imposing are what is killing America, not COVID.

Support animal tenant scam

I am a landlord. I allow my tenants to have pets, but they must pay an extra, nonrefundable, one-time cleaning fee of $250 when they move in, and I charge an extra $50 a month. This is because pets cause me extra expenses. My insurance costs are higher because of the risk of a dog biting someone. It costs more to clean a home after animals have lived there, and that doesn’t mention the added risks of damage to the property.

I cannot do that any longer. The reason for that is because of people like my sister. My sister has gone online and gotten her pet certified as an emotional support animal. It costs $129 online to get a letter from a licensed therapist, certifying that you are disabled and have a disability requiring that landlords let you keep your pet, and preventing them from charging you extra. (I was going to provide a link, but I decided not to drive business their way)

Last year, Florida passed a law allowing landlords to demand a letter from a licensed healthcare provider, and requiring the provider to have seen the tenant in person at least once. I could do that, but it entails a lot of risk on my part- you see, the law is a minefield. Play it wrong, use the wrong wording, and you get sued under the Fair Housing Act.

So instead, I will simply price that risk into everyone’s lease. I will charge more for a security deposit for everyone. I will charge more in rent for everyone.

A few scammers make it more expensive for everyone.

Your bad choices aren’t my problem

Here is an article from CNBC that is an attempt to make the reader feel sorry for people who made bad choices. The article focuses on how people with large student loan balances should have the loans forgiven.

The story starts by introducing us to Sanders Fabares. Here is what the article had to say:

Even after years of paying $1,000 a month toward his student loans and his wife’s, their balance hadn’t decreased by much. They still owed around $80,000, down from the $90,000 they’d originally borrowed.

“I started trying to understand what we were doing wrong,” Fabares, 41, said.

His research quickly moved away from his own loan statements and to the larger student debt system. The Lakeside, California, resident read about the millions of borrowers in default, and how many people’s monthly payments were only going to the interest on their debt, meaning their balances weren’t dropping either.

At $1,000 a month, I knew that the loan had to be quite large. I took out a $12,000 student loan for my Master’s degree, and the payment was less than $100 a month. So I decided to do some digging. Here is what I found (pdf alert).

It turns out that he and his wife attended a private arts college and were taking classes in photography and drawing. They racked up $96,000 in debt before graduating in 2006. After 13 years of paying the minimum payments, they had paid down a third of their debt before deciding to quit.

In other words, he chose an expensive education in a field that doesn’t pay enough to cover the cost of his degree, and didn’t know how loans and compound interest work. His solution to this was to join a group that refuses to pay their loans while demanding that the Government do so.

After quotes from one of the communist founders of “The Debt Collective,” the CNBC article moves on to the story of Jenny Lezan, who ended up attending Benedictine University and the Art Institute of Illinois. There, she racked up $170,000 earning a degree in art, so she could secure a job paying $28,000 a year. Here is a link to her freelancing webpage. She blames her bad luck on racism and sexism:

A well-paying job has been hard to find. Last year, working as an adjunct professor and freelancer, she made $28,000. “Being Hispanic and a woman, I’m up against additional obstacles,” she said.

Sorry, but a $170k degree in a field that only pays $28k a year is just a bad choice. You should have either not gone to school, or picked a major where you can actually make money. You could make a little extra if you did some Internet porn for onlyFans, maybe.

Then the CNBC article moves on to Rebekah Valorn, a woman from Salem, Oregon who ran up over $200,000 in student loans getting a law degree. A law degree is certainly a great choice of major, so what happened? Her mother got sick, and Rebekah never took the Bar exam. She was working for the state of Nevada, where she was making about $19,000 a year, when she declared Chapter 7 Bankruptcy in 2019. Why Bankruptcy? To get rid of her $20,000 or more in credit card debt, but still owes on her student loans. Sad story, but I don’t see how that is anyone’s fault but your own.

My Dad died while I was in college. I made due. Life happens. That doesn’t make it anyone else’s fault. Who does she blame for this? The school:

“It’s been transformative being in this group and knowing we don’t have anything to be ashamed of,” Valorn said. “An education shouldn’t cost a quarter of a million dollars.”

You took out a loan for an education that would pay you millions of dollars. It was a great choice. The only problem was that the bet you made was in a person with no follow through, a person who couldn’t overcome adversity and just gave up when things got challenging, so you lost the bet.

That doesn’t make it society’s fault, nor should that mean that the rest of us should pay for it.

National debt

We are printing money as fast as we can, which considering that most money isn’t printed, it’s created by computers, is pretty fast.

Trump increased the National Debt by 141% from $19.6 to $27.7 trillion in four years.

President Obama increased the debt by 185%- to $19.57 Trillion.

President George W Bush borrowed $5 trillion in 8 years, increasing the national debt by 187%.

It took President Clinton 3 and a half years to borrow his first trillion dollars. All told, he borrowed $1.2 trillion in his first term, and $600 billion in his second. He increased the national debt by 140% in eight years.

George HW Bush borrowed his first trillion in 3 years, and he increased the National debt by 170% in four years.

Reagan borrowed his first trillion in 6 years, and doubled the National debt during his eight years in the White House.

Carter increased the National debt by 150%, but “only” borrowed $300 billion in 4 years. I guess that was when $1 Billion was real money.

Ford increased the debt by 147% in 3 years., Nixon by 135% in 5 years, Johnson by 116% in 6 years, Kennedy by 106% in 2 years, Eisenhower by 108% in eight years.

Note that we weren’t really allowed to increase the debt until we divorced from the gold standard during the Nixon administration. Ever since then, spend, spend, spend.