Why Are We Being Such Dumbasses? Literally The Stupidest Use Of Taxpayers Money Possible

They are bigger and currently badder than we want to be. Is is really this dystopian?

California Humor

Here is a little Friday humor, inspired by all the recent going’s on in the news about housing prices, immigration, pot, high taxes, overburdensome government regulation and the usual stuff you read about.

1. Your coworker has 8 body piercings and none are visible.
2. You make over $300,000 and still can’t afford a house.
3. You take a bus and are shocked at two people carrying on a conversation in English.
4. Your child’s 3rd-grade teacher has purple hair, a nose ring, and is named Flower.
5. You can’t remember . . . is pot illegal?
6. You’ve been to a baby shower that has two mothers and a sperm donor.
7. You have a very strong opinion about where your coffee beans are grown, and you can taste the difference between Sumatran and Ethiopian.
8. You can’t remember . . . . is pot illegal?
9. A really great parking space can totally move you to tears.
10. Gas costs $1.00 per gallon more than anywhere else in the U.S.
11. Unlike back home, the guy at 8:30 am at Starbucks wearing a baseball cap and sunglasses who looks like George Clooney really IS George Clooney.
12. Your car insurance costs as much as your house payment.
13. You can’t remember . . . .is pot illegal?
14. It’s barely sprinkling rain and there’s a report on every news station: “STORM WATCH.”
15. You pass an elementary school playground and the children are all busy with their cell phones.
16. Or it’s barely sprinkling rain outside, so you leave for work an hour early to avoid all the weather-related accidents.
17. HEY!!!! Is pot illegal????
18. Both you AND your dog have therapists, psychics, personal trainers and cosmetic surgeons.
19 The Terminator was your governor.
20. If you drive illegally, they take your driver’s license. If you’re here illegally, they want to give you one.

Hat tip to American Digest for this one.

How Much Income Tax Warren Buffet Pays

Despite his request to pay more taxes and that the rich do not do their fair share, it appears that Mr. Buffet has reduced his tax burden.  While you read the story below, consider if there is a double standard.

From Thomas Stanley, Ph.D.

Warren Buffett is the best of the best at transforming income into wealth.    How did he do it?  Wise investing, you say.  Combine this with his reputation for having enormous integrity and his well publicized frugal lifestyle.  When it comes to consumption he seems to possess traditional midwestern values.  In spite of his substantial wealth he lives in a relatively modest home and drives American makes of cars.  Ah , but there is something else.  As I stated in The Millionaire Next Door,

Millionaires know that the more they spend, the more income they must realize.  The more they realize, the more they must allocate for income taxes.  So . . . adhere to an important rule:  To build wealth, minimize your realized (taxable) income and maximize your unrealized income (wealth/capital appreciation without a cash flow).

You may recall from an earlier blog that the typical millionaire next door has a realized income that is equivalent to only 8.2% of his wealth [median].  But Mr. Buffett is much better at miniziming his income as a function of net worth.  According to the 2012 Forbes 400 list, Mr. Buffett has a net worth of $46 billion.  CNN Money reported that “his taxable income was $39,814,784” in 2010.  That is the equivalent of only 0.087% of his net worth! Translated, the typical millionaire next door’s percentage of realized income to his net worth (8.2%) is nearly 95 times higher than Mr. Buffett’s (8.2%/0.087%).

Also consider something else in this equation:  income tax as a function of net worth.  The typical millionaire next door pays the equivalent of approximately 2% (median) of his net worth in income tax annually.  But here again Mr. Buffett is far, far better in minimizing his income tax.  According to Reuter’s, “[Warren Buffett] paid only $6.9 million in federal income taxes in 2010.”

In a nominal sense, $6.9 million in income tax might appear to be a significant amount of money.  But look at Mr. Buffett’s tax bill as a function of his net worth, that is $6.9 million as a percentage of his $46 billion in wealth.  At this rate he is paying the equivalent of only 0.015% of his net worth.  Compare this with the 2% paid by the millionaire next door.  This rate is more than 133 times greater than Mr. Buffett’s.  In fact, if Mr. Buffett was taxed at the same rate (2%) he would owe the Treasury Department $920,000,000 or nearly $1 billion.  You might say that it is unAmerican not to pay your fair share.  But Mr. Buffett gets special dispensation regarding this topic.  Why?  He has pledged to leave the vast majority of his estate to noble causes.  And according to Forbes, he has already demonstrated considerable generosity.  “He gave $1.5 billion to the Gates Foundation in July, bringing his total giving to $17.5 billion. . . in August he pledged $3 billion of stock to his children’s foundations.

Who is more likely to do an efficient job distributing money from your estate, the government or enlightened eleemosynary organizations?  You know the answer and apparently so does Mr. Buffett.

Student Loan Debt Clock Passes $1 Trillion

Instead of leaving the country in better shape as every generation until now has done, debt is weighing on us like a herd of elephants.  The taxpayers, likely the next generation will be taxed ad infinitum.

For example, here is the Student Loan Debt Clock

France Rejects 75% Tax on Millionaires (Socialism fails again)

Once again, the rich like their money.  Once again, Socialism doesn’t work because growing an economy is the way out of a deficit rather than taxing your way out.  So Hollande’s premise during his campaign, like in the US is a facade.

As Frank Zappa said: Communism doesn’t work because people like to own stuff.

Margaret Thatcher noted that socialism doesn’t work because sooner or later you run out of other people’s money.

Read the whole article here:

France’s Constitutional Council on Saturday rejected a 75 percent upper income tax rate to be introduced in 2013 in a setback to Socialist President Francois Hollande’s push to make the rich contribute more to cutting the public deficit.

The Council ruled that the planned 75 percent tax on annual income above 1 million euros ($1.32 million) – a flagship measure of Hollande’s election campaign – was unfair in the way it would be applied to different households.

Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said the government would redraft the upper tax rate proposal to answer the Council’s concerns and resubmit it in a new budget law, meaning Saturday’s decision could only amount to a temporary political blow.

While the tax plan was largely symbolic and would only have affected a few thousand people, it has infuriated high earners in France, prompting some such as actor Gerard Depardieu to flee abroad. The message it sent also shocked entrepreneurs and foreign investors, who accuse Hollande of being anti-business.

Should You Pay Off Your Mortgage?

This goes with my series of “How and average Joe can become a Millionaire”.

I am not the author, but this is one of the most important financial decisions you’ll make (the other is tithing) The whole article can be found here:

One of my good friends, “Judge Rob,” is a local, elected judge who also owns a small family business. Judge Rob paraphrased Warren Buffett when we were discussing mortgages over a recent breakfast, saying, “If I knew where I was going to live for the next decade or so, I would buy a house with a long-term mortgage.” The idea is that a mortgage is a good hedge against inflation because you pay it off with much cheaper dollars down the road.

Today, many pundits point to low interest rates and encourage people to borrow as much as they can while interest rates are low. While they do have a good point, deciding when to pay off my own mortgage caused a great deal of conflict between the logical and emotional parts of my brain.

In the early days of black-and-white television, much of the programming was old, silent movies. Who can forget the little old widow, confronted by the evil, rich banker, who licked his chops at the opportunity to throw her out as her mortgage payment came due? As the deadline got closer, the piano would bang louder and faster, and somehow Widow Nell would make her payment in the nick of time. Was I programmed by my generation’s version of Sesame Street?

There’s Something to Being “Old School”

I spent a good bit of my breakfast with Judge Rob in “Yes, but!” mode. Here’s why.

When I was contemplating paying off my mortgage, I spoke with a CPA who also happened to be a financial advisor recommended by a good friend. I explained that I was self-employed, so my income fluctuated, and my mortgage was my largest monthly bill. I suggested that there could be some emotional benefit to paying it off. Less stress perhaps?

He insisted that I could invest and out-earn the cost of my first mortgage. He pooh-poohed the idea of paying it off to calm my nerves, and kept repeating that I could easily invest my money and earn more after taxes than the cost of the first mortgage.

When I asked if his mortgage was paid off, he responded with, “Oh, hell yes!” I was flabbergasted. How could he advise me to do one thing when he’d done the exact opposite? He explained that his wife was from Germany – the old school where you pay your bills, don’t borrow money, and stay out of debt.

Then I asked him, “Once you paid off your mortgage, did you sleep better at night?” He pondered a bit and said, “Yeah, I guess I did. I no longer worried about it. No matter how bad things got, we would still have a roof over our heads.”

When I asked Vedran Vuk, our senior research analyst, about when to pay off a first mortgage, he made some excellent points. First, you should no longer view your house as an investment that’s going to rapidly appreciate as it did in the past. A house is a home, and you should look at it that way. Second, right now a mortgage can make sense from an investment perspective. If you can borrow money at 3.5%, invest it, and earn a guaranteed higher return on it, you’ll come out ahead.

The real question becomes: where can you find a guaranteed greater return, even with the low mortgage rates available today? The government is committed to keeping interest rates artificially low for the foreseeable future. Yields on CDs and high-quality bonds are pathetic.

I just checked my brokerage account, and the longest CD they have available is a five-year CD paying 1.15%. A 30-year Treasury bond will pay 2.8%. Neither holds any appeal for me, particularly if I were investing with borrowed money.

If you’ve found an investment that’s a lead-pipe cinch – one that’s absolutely, positively going to pay off – and a low mortgage rate, you may want to roll the dice. However, I want to add one more note of caution.

The upcoming issue of Money Forever‘s premium subscription, which we’re releasing on December 18, takes an in-depth look at reverse mortgages, one of the most controversial ways to help fund your retirement. Our team will explain reverse mortgages in easily understood terms, highlight pitfalls to avoid, and explain how a reverse mortgage is a good way for some (but not all) folks to fund their retirement and maintain their lifestyle.

Before obtaining a reverse mortgage you must go through HUD counseling. While researching our upcoming report, I came across a study of over 20,000 people who had been through HUD counseling between September 2010 and November 2010. A few statistics really jumped off the page!

In 2000, the average age of people receiving reverse mortgages was 73 years old. By November 2010, the average age had dropped to 71.5, and it’s continuing to decline. In other words, retirees are tapping into their home equity at an increasingly younger age, many because they have no other choice.

It was also interesting to learn why these folks wanted a reverse mortgage. In the 70-and-older group, 38% still had mortgage debt. Seventy-one percent owed 25% or more on the current value of their home, and 33% had a mortgage in excess of 50% of the value of their home. Many wanted a reverse mortgage because they could not service their existing debt. A reverse mortgage is based on the net equity in your home. If their homes were paid for, meaning no huge house payment, perhaps they could have put off the reverse mortgage for a few more years. The older the applicant, the higher monthly payment they receive.

I wonder how many of these folks lost money betting on their lead-pipe cinch investment because they had been nudged along by their CPA.

My point is simple. For most baby boomers and retirees, their home is their largest asset. You don’t want to live like the little old widow in a black-and-white film, worrying about getting thrown out of your home, particularly if you’re no longer working.

Nevertheless, if you had a mortgage with a 3.5% interest rate and we were still living in a world where a top-quality bond or CD would pay you 5% or more, it could make sense to take advantage of it. But that’s not the world of today.

Ideally, you would pay off your mortgage and then use the money you’d been setting aside for payments to build a nice portfolio. For many folks, home equity is like a security blanket – and a potential source of income for when they may really need it.

The Judge’s Word Isn’t Always Law

As I left our breakfast meeting, I shared a few parting comments with Judge Rob. The mortgage conundrum has both financial and emotional factors. Paying off your mortgage is a milestone; it really does change your life. I certainly sleep better, and my blood pressure probably dropped ten points. It was the point when my wife and I actually started accumulating true wealth.

Once I paid off my mortgage, I never looked back.

France’s Rich Jumping Ship To Switzerland. The Effect of Raising Taxes

THE CAUSE – VIA USA TODAY

Recently elected President Francois Hollande’s Socialist government introduced France’s 2013 budget with steep tax increases on the rich that include a 75% tax rate on those earning more than $1.28 million for two years and a new 45% rate for revenues of more than $193,000. Higher taxes on businesses are proposed as well.

THE RESULT

“In the north, we are hearing that more and more people are preparing to leave the country,” said Sebastien Huyghe, a conservative UMP lawmaker. “This autumn, a number of people may make their arrangements.

“The 75% tax will not fill the country’s coffers; instead, it sends a strong signal that will both scare away those who have the means to create jobs, and prevent others from coming and investing in France,” he said.

Economists and analysts say the super-tax is more symbolic than effective, saying it would affect only 2,000 to 3,000 French households while adding little to state revenue.

“From a strictly budgetary and economic point of view, the impact will be marginal, but the Socialists expect a political effect, and they are right,” said Thierry Pech, editor-in-chief of Alternative Économiques monthly magazine. “There is a deep resentment (by the public) against the ultra-rich, one that could feed populism.”

Many French say these super-rich must contribute more, and those seeking tax exile betray the very country that gave them the savoir-faire that led to their international success, a sort of French version of the “You didn’t build that” claim that President Obama leveled against successful businesspeople in America.

“Has (Arnault) thought about all the help he has received from French investors and from the French state itself to make it where he is now?” asks French taxpayer Olivier Weber in Paris.

Last year, 16 business tycoons and other holders of French fortunes wrote an open letter in the French weekly magazine Le Nouvel Observateur with the title “Tax us!”, saying that after benefiting from the “French model,” they were willing to pay more in times of crisis. But that was before a super-tax.

Many of them have changed their minds, such as Jean-Paul Agon, the chief executive of L’Oréal, the biggest cosmetics company in the world.

“If there is such a new tax rule, it’s going to be very, very difficult to attract talent to work in France, almost impossible at a certain level,” he told The Financial Times.

Even Stéphane Richard, CEO of telecom company Orange , who is close to the Socialist party, is worried about the “accumulation” of taxes and the impact on the French economy.

“I’m worried that we start by taxing the rich, and that’s it,” he told French daily Le Monde. “It’s one thing to call on economic patriotism, it’s another to organize a looting (of the rich) that will turn on the tax exile machine.”

Some French shrug their shoulders with typical Gallic distaste

“It’s normal to pay your taxes — it’s important — it means you belong to a community,” said Christine Templier, 38.

IS THE USA GOING DOWN THIS PATH?

Share the wealth has been the mantra of the current government.   Current policies emulate France, Greece and the PIIGS.  Based on our tax system, we certainly seem to be headed in the direction of not having enough taxpayers to pay for the entitlements.

It is said that the 1% need to pay more.  In fact, if you confiscated 100% of their wealth, it wouldn’t make a dent in the deficit.  It causes division and class warfare.  It clearly defies the history of success where “a rising tide raises all boats”. 

SO WHAT IS THE ANSWER?

Besides the obvious of spending less, which congress does not have the ability on either side to do, grow the base of taxpayers and more revenue will come in.  JFK and Reagan (and other Presidents) proved this so we have history to support this.  In fact, the largest year of tax revenue ever by the government was 2007.   There are far more complex economic theories, but increase a tax base who are not afraid to spend more, and tax revenue will rise.

CONCLUSION

I don’t think Zuckerberg, Gates and Buffet will leave America if they raise taxes, but many are leaving California (at 2000 per week).  If you look at history, we can do more by having an economy that is growing for everyone.  By not singling out a specific group, we get the rising tide and an economy shift with more jobs and more tax revenue.

As for the rich French, many are now in Switzerland. 

Maybe there will be a lesson in here for them and they can get their tax base back.

The Guarantee of Hyperinflation

Economist John Williams of Watchdog.com describes why we will suffer from hyperinflation that will begin no later than 2014 and why.

Open ended QE will cause treasury debt which leads to long range insolvancy of the US Government.  If they had to report income under GAAP (Generally Accepted Accounting Principles)  rules, we are losing $5 trillion annually.   Taking 100% of peoples income would still not pay for this debt.

We are broke.

Government has been kicking the bucket down the road and the result will be inflation.

The global loss of confidence in the dollar happened with the raising of the debt ceiling last year.

The Fed’s primary goal is to keep the banking system solvent.  They haven’t done anything to stimulate the economy.

More evidence that inflation is just around the corner from the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.