I’M NOT AFRAID–I’M TERRIFIEDMonday, June 18th, 2012
Author Tony DeMaio
Folks, I just got a letter from a friend of mine. He references
where flyers from The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) ask that clerks forward information on suspicious customers to DHS. Such suspicious behavior consists of buying gold, large amounts of food (sent to a bulk food store), guns, ammunition, MREs, pays cash, etc. The flyer suggests the store demand I.D. before allowing such purchases, and forward the information to DHS.
Previous attempts to define “likely terrorist” or “suspicious persons” alluded to fingers missing, veteran, Christian, tea party member, objecting to paying taxes, critical of the government, and other such behavior/characteristics.
The latest flyer distributed to hobby shops suggests that anyone interested in radio controlled airplanes be reported as “suspicious“.
Now, folks, I don’t consider myself a “terrorist”, and I have enough of a stat/research background to know the accuracy of statistical prediction (while terrible, it is still better than “clinical” prediction–i.e. interviews.) HOWEVER, I DO pay cash, AM a Christian, have guns and ammunition, own gold, am a tea party member, and do object to paying (high) taxes (particularly when the money is wasted), have a considerable supply of food (much of it home canned), and even have a garden and fruit trees. To put the last nails in the coffin, I DO build and fly radio controlled model airplanes and have been and am “somewhat critical” of the government..
With such a profile, should I be concerned about the National Defense Authorization Act?
As many of you know, I am retired. I planned carefully for these days, sticking with a job that I hated because of other benefits (security, pension, health care, etc.)
I have several sources of income–none large, but quite diversified. I look at recent government actions/decisions, and I have become quite concerned. I have watched as each of my sources of income have become jeopardized by the actions and plans of my government. I suspect I may become a burden on my children–which will be quite difficult since I have no children, at least to speak of.
1. Consider CDs and Money Market funds: At 6%, a million dollar Vanguard money market account would pay about $5,000/mo–enough to live on. TODAY, due to the policy of keeping interest rates “low”, that same money market fund pays about $67/mo. My CDs are “worthless” in terms of cash flow–unless I withdraw principal.
2. Consider property: Due to the housing situation caused by a government that thought “everybody should own a house“, the property has been reduced in value by 40%–50%. As a hedge against inflation, it is useless; selling it would result in a loss–though it may be necessary to do so.
3. Consider PERS pensions: No problems there–YET. As is well known, most pension funds (including PERS) are seriously under funded. Due to the low interest rates, pension funds are not receiving the expected income from the fixed income part of their portfolio; the real estate part of their portfolio has been decimated; and they don‘t even talk about their stock returns.
Also well known is that California is broke(n). While courts have held that the state government has no borrowing authority against the funds and may not usurp them, it can apply pressure for the pension fund to buy California bonds at “favorable rates”. Although states cannot as yet file bankruptcy, recent actions of Congress indicate that such authorization may be forthcoming. Other public institutions (cities) have filed for bankruptcy and reduced the pensions of retirees–as have corporate entities. A bankruptcy would allow courts to “revise” ongoing pensions.
4. Consider stocks: Let’s not. Stocks have gone nowhere for the past four years. The S&P was about 1,400 four years ago and is 1,350 today. Dividends have been slashed.
5. Consider Social Security: As is well known, Social Security, like any Ponzi scheme, is not fiducially sound. As of now, outflow exceeds input, baby boomers are retiring putting a drain on the system, and the economy is such that many people are unemployed and not paying into the system. Many people who cannot find a job and have run out of unemployment insurance are filing for Social Security disability insurance–thus putting further drain on the system. About half the returning servicemen are filing for Social Security disability (e.g. PTSD). The system is broken and well on its way to being bankrupt. I expect “revisions” (e.g. means testing) to be put into effect in the near future.
6. Consider IRAs: There is over 17 trillion dollars invested in various retirement plans
The national public debt is about 15 trillion dollars. Does THAT give you any ideas of the possibilities? It certainly does give ideas to our government. Several years ago (Clinton administration) the government suggested confiscation of the retirement plans, or at least taxing them for the money that “should have been paid but was deferred”.
That idea has resurfaced as either seizing the retirement funds and combining them with Social Security (thus solving two problems), or forcing the purchase of treasury bonds/bills with all or part of the money. Given the rate of return of treasuries (the ten year bill is about 1.5%), or the rate of return on Social Security (about ten cents on the dollar), I see little hope for my personal retirement plans in the near future.
7. Then, of course, there is medical insurance. Under the old (present) medical system, I had essentially “free” medical care between the payments made by Medicare and my (secondary) pension insurance. Under the “new” system, it is highly likely that my pension insurance will be dropped and I shall have to rely on Medicare. Given the various “ethics panels” (death panels), I fear for my life in terms of obtaining medical coverage.
It should be noted that, due to the stock market performance, low (bond) interest rates, and the devastation of real estate, insurance companies are not receiving their expected rate of return and are denying claims, cutting back on payments, raising rates, and refusing coverage. Some are no longer writing certain policies.
8. In spite of government proclamations to the contrary, inflation marches on. While official government figures state inflation is 1%-2%, others put the figure at closer to 10% (e.g. Shadow Stats). To any of you folks that go to the grocery store, fill your gas tank, or pay utility bills, YOU can decide which figure YOU believe is closer to the truth. Consequently, while the income is stagnant (or decreasing), expenses are rising.
Folks, I really fear for the future–not only for the country, but for ME, and others like me that thought they were prepared for retirement.
As you can easily see, all the “traditional” investments have been corrupted and made “unsound” or “unprofitable” or “unsafe” by various government policies.
One solution is to emigrate to a country with a sound economy that is more friendly to seniors and investments. At this time, Panama appears to be a good choice.
Another option is to inform DHS of my tendency toward terrorist activities, and allow them to seize my assets (such as they are) and send me to a camp where I will be taken care of. If you think this is impossible here in this land of the free, let me introduce you to some Japanese friends who were citizens here just after December 7, 1941. Matter of fact, although not mentioned much, there are some German and Italian folks that experienced the same “hospitality”.
Finally, the possibility of throwing a brick through a shop window and being arrested and sent to prison is becoming more and more alluring.