An Open Letter to Credit Card Companies

I have a way that I save money. My wife and I have four different cashback credit cards that we use on a daily basis. Each one gives us great terms. One gives us 5% cashback on fuel and groceries. Another, 5% cashback on Amazon. A third is 5% on dining out, and the fourth is 5% on travel and hotel stays. There are other deals. All in all, we probably spend $50k a year on those cards. We pay the cards off every month. It’s like giving yourself a raise. I get money, the issuing bank for the credit card makes money, the processor makes money.

Why is this important? Because Giffords is pressuring banks to flag and prevent credit cards from being used to buy guns and ammunition. That kind of shit has been tried before. When Citibank did a similar thing back in 2018, I immediately canceled by credit card with them. The company that the card was for was Best Buy. I haven’t bought anything from them since, nor have I done any business with Citibank.

So here is my announcement: You aren’t going to stop me from buying guns and ammo. You are just going to stop yourself from making money on the deal. I won’t hesitate to cancel every credit card that I have with your company. Someone will make money on the deal, it just won’t be you, and I will still have my guns and ammo. So die on that hill, and see what happens.

I know that $50k a year doesn’t seem like a lot, but there are millions of people who buy guns every year. Now imagine that you not only lose the processing fees from those sales, but losing the fees from every purchase those people would have made. Now it’s billions of dollars in lost business. Every. Single. Year.

Go ahead, FAFO.

Warning Signs

A couple of alarming news pieces came to my attention. The first is that American homeowners lost more than $1.5 trillion in home equity in the past six months. The reason for this is that most people can no longer afford mortgage payments, so the buying of homes has cooled. The monthly payment on the average home, with a 20% down payment on a mortgage, is up nearly $1,000 since the start of the year.

The second major warning sign is coupled to that- borrowing. Mortgage debt rose by $1 trillion from a year ago, to $11.7 trillion. Mortgage and home-equity debt combined are up by $2 trillion since the pandemic began. In fact, the Wall Street Journal reports that Home-equity lines of credit were up 40% in the second quarter from a year earlier. Overall, Americans are carrying a record amount of debt. It isn’t just mortgages, either: Credit-card debt also increased by the most in 20 years, with balances rising by 15% from a year earlier. The surge comes as the average interest-rates on card borrowing has climbed above 19%, the highest in data going back to the mid-1980s. Auto loan balances rose by $22 billion in the third quarter and are now above $1.5 trillion, roughly double the figure a decade ago.

With all of this debt, along with declining equity, the American economy is still rolling solely because Americans are borrowing from their future retirement. People are continuing to spend and maintain a standard of living that their income no longer can support. They are doing it by borrowing more than they can repay and doing it at sky high interest rates. Sooner or later, these debts will need to be paid. Remember- all debts are always paid by someone, if not the borrower or the lender, someone will have to pay the bills.

Social Credit, Digital Money

Imagine if you will, some faceless government bureaucrat sees that you made a comment that was unflattering to his daughter. With the click of a button, you are made penniless.

Or perhaps they are just keeping an eye on you. So they log into the central dollar database to see where you are spending your money, and what you are buying.

A system like a social credit score could allow the government to control everything you do and say, upon penalty of being made a financial pariah.

It’s easy when the US has an all digital currency, which the US Federal reserve and some major banks just began testing.

Orlando Area Voters Approve Rent Control

Voters in Orange County, Florida, the county where Orlando is located, approved a rent control ordinance during the November 8 election. The full text of the ordinance can be found here, but the relevant part of it reads:

(a) No landlord shall demand, charge, or accept from a tenant a rent increase for a residential rental unit more than once in a 12month period.

(b) No landlord shall demand, charge, or accept from a tenant a rent increase that is in excess of the existing rent multiplied by the Consumer Price Index for any residential rental unit except as otherwise allowed under section 25-388 of this ordinance.

This ordinance’s limitations on rent increases shall apply regardless of change of occupancy in a residential rental unit except as otherwise allowed under section 25-388 of this ordinance.

For now, the law can’t go into effect because there is pending litigation. If the court allows this law to go forward, there are some real issues here.

Are We Stupid?

The government is telling us that year over year inflation was 7.7% for October 2022. That is something that Biden is celebrating. Meanwhile, a dozen eggs in my neck of the woods costs $4.49, stew meat is $6.99 a pound, and ground chuck is selling at $7.99. The same week last year, eggs were $2.99, stew meat was $3.99, and ground chuck was $4.99. That is an increase of 50%, 75.1%, and 60.1%, respectively. Perhaps that is why they don’t include food when they are calculating the rate of inflation.

You will note that I didn’t include the cost of gasoline. The reason is that the oil market is being deliberately manipulated by the sale of oil from the SPR.

People are being fooled into thinking that increased prices=inflation. That isn’t the case. Inflation is caused by a currency losing value. This is reflected in higher prices, but the higher prices themselves are not inflation, they are merely a symptom of it. I expect that, now that the election is over, fuel prices will return to their true price. Still, many Americans are stupid enough not to know the difference and to continue voting for the same old people.

Warehousing

The leftists in NY state are blaming landlords for refusing to rent out apartments under the terms of rent control, and when they do rent them out, they fail to pay to maintain and renovate them. Landlords claim that the 2019 rent restrictions make it more cost-effective to keep an apartment vacant by keeping rents too low to cover the cost of repairs.

When a government enacts any sort of price control, they are setting the price at which a given product or service must be sold. If that price isn’t high enough to entice those who provide the product or service to sell, then there won’t be any available at that price. That’s why price controls don’t work.

That is true for anything that can be bought or sold- whether it’s widgets, oil, generators, or even housing. That’s what rent is- a person who can afford to purchase residential property buys that property, then rents it out at a profit to someone who can’t afford to purchase that property for whatever reason.

If a local government then sets the rent that may be charged for a residential property and that price is not sufficient to cover the cost of purchasing, maintaining, and administering the property, then there is no point in renting it out. This article paints landlords to look like they are hoarding because they are refusing to rent out apartments at the same rates that they were rented out for 20 years ago. It also attempts to blame landlords for not maintaining the apartments at these absurdly low rates.

Normally I wouldn’t care what happens in New York. They made the mess, they can deal with it. The problem here is that the idea is gaining traction in Central Florida. The Orlando area has managed to put rent control on the ballot. While I am not in the area affected by this measure, there are indications that it may catch on.

Food Deserts are Racist

So-called food deserts. The Democrat claim is that low income neighborhoods have few places to buy food, and this is because stores are racist. Of course, that is complete bullshit. The real problem looks just like this:

Higher income neighborhoods don’t do this. White neighborhoods largely don’t do this (exceptions being places like California and other liberal strongholds that have decriminalized theft). If you are stealing the food markets blind, they will have no choice but to close.

Shortages

Last month, I mentioned that the hospital where I work is bringing Philippino nurses in to fill vacant positions for less money than hiring Americans. There is more news on that front.

We have been short staffed for nearly three years. They have made up the shortfall by paying huge bonuses to get nurses to work extra shifts. They tried foreign workers. Still, they don’t have enough. Determined to save money now that the COVID funding has dried up, hospital administration announced on Saturday that there will be no more bonuses offered. Once the shifts that are already promised bonuses are paid out, they will be no more. Nurses who were making $2500 a day for working a 12 hour over time shift are now being asked to work the same overtime hours, but for $600-$900 each 12 hour shift.

I know that I was working 60 hours or more a week. I was making good money to do that, but now that the money has dried up, I am not working those kinds of hours for a fraction of the pay. No one that I know is willing to do that.

So now the entire staff of the ED is not taking any extra shifts. They are working their contracted hours, and that is it. Me? My contract says that I have to work 4 shifts a month. That is all I am doing. Everyone else is doing the same. So now the hospital is even more short handed.

Here is what was texted out to us this morning by the ED department head:

Hello team
We know this week has definitely had its ups and downs already and we appreciate all the hard work done by everyone. While we all fight this same battle we still have patients who are expecting the best care we can provide.
Starting tonight through the weekend we could use anyone on any shift to assist your fellow team and patients.
Please any help is appreciated.

As if guilt tripping us will get us to work all of those extra hours for a third of what we were making before. I want to help my patients and coworkers, but at the end of the day, this is a financial arrangement. It’s business.

So now the hospital is getting desperate. A third of the ED beds were shut down today for lack of staff.

The hospital where I work can only fill itself to somewhere near 60% capacity because they don’t have enough nurses, and that was when people were working extra shifts for bonus money. That means that patients often stay in the ED until there is an open bed on the inpatient floors. Our ED is frequently more than half filled with patients on “admission holds” awaiting beds. Couple that with the fact that the ED is also short nurses, and you have a problem.

Picture a 50 bed emergency room. To staff a 50 bed ED takes 14 nurses, 4 paramedics, 4 general technicians, 3 doctors, a nurse practitioner or PA, a respiratory therapist, secretary, three registration clerks, two lab technicians, three radiology techs, and two janitors. Every shift.

Now picture that you only have enough nurses for 10 per shift. Now you can only handle 40 patients at a time instead of 50. Now also picture that you have 30 admit holds, taking up beds and waiting for an inpatient bed- some for more than 48 hours. Now you can only handle 10 patients because your staff is busy caring for holds. So the waiting room backs up.

This means you have people sitting in the waiting room for 4, 5, or even 6 hours as they wait for treatment. And all of that was happening before you cut off the bonus money.

Now instead of 60% staffed, you are more like 45% staffed. Instead of 10 nurses, you only have 7. Now picture that across the entire hospital. A 600 bed hospital with a 50 bed ED requires 100 nurses or more each shift. You only have 50 or 60. Now what do you do? There aren’t enough foreign workers to fill that many spots.

My hospital can’t be alone in this. Here is the warning: there is a potential collapse of health care coming. It takes 3 to 4 years to train a nurse to the point where they are licensed, and another 2 years or so for that nurse to be proficient enough in their job to staff an ED, even longer for places like the ICU.