Category Archives: Flaws in the Economy

The Value Of Hard Work In America

I recently received an E-mail from a Wise Sloth fan who identified with my criticisms of America’s predatory economy and needed to vent about their experiences. The letter was so poignant, I asked if I could post it, and they gave me permission. Enjoy and tremble:

 

“I thought I had a secret weapon to make it in this predatory economic system where others went under. How wrong I was. I’m half-Japanese (my mom is Caucasian), and my Asian father raised me with a strong work ethic. In no way do I think this makes me better than the average American. Asians are batshit crazy, and there’s a reason Japan has one of the highest suicide rates in the world. I disagree with the people who think Americans should try to be more like the Chinese or Japanese, because it comes at a price that I don’t believe is worth it. I don’t think that level of discipline is healthy. I think it can be mental illness.

 

 

But anyway, every job I did, I took joy in finding ways to do everything twice as fast as everyone else, and I usually did the work of two people in one shift. I took (an asshole-ish) pride in it. I was still well-aware I was at a disadvantage because of not having a college degree, and I knew the jobs I was at took advantage of workers. I knew the level of output I produced was not worth the pay. But I thought it was worth it because I’d get promoted above the others, because the “lazy Americans” complained about so many things, whereas I “cheated” by working off of the clock. My father does the same thing. Not really “sneaking,” because they know we do it. In Japan, this is culturally a commonplace thing to do. How could they compete with that? It’s unheard of here. Of COURSE I would be promoted when they saw how dedicated I was!

I worked at one job as a middle manager, making $9 an hour, at a franchise store that sells glasses and contact lenses. Overtime was forbidden; they were always cutting payroll. The problem was I would be blamed if the store didn’t run properly, and it was impossible to keep the store in order only working 40 hours. So I worked 60 hours, only clocking in for 40. I can’t sue because I signed the time sheets every week. I’d lose my job if I didn’t. They wouldn’t “tell” you to work off the clock. They’d just make sure to give you an amount of work that was logistically impossible to complete in 40 hours a week, and they knew you’d be afraid of losing your job if you didn’t get it done and that you’d do whatever it took to keep your job.

To add insult to injury, even though I regularly worked 60 hours a week while only being paid for 40, when they had to cut hours, they would often send me home early, meaning some weeks I’d only be paid for 30 or 35, despite the fact the previous day I may have worked a 14-hour day and they owed me for hundreds of hours I would never be paid for. My boss constantly promised he’d look out for me and help me get a promotion, which was why I did this. Later I found out the district manager recommended me a for a general manager position at another store, and he told her no. He couldn’t afford to lose me because I did the work of two people. It would cost him too much payroll to replace me.

Soon after, I ended up in the hospital. The doctor kept increasing the antidepressants and anxiety meds that allowed me to cope with the insane pace of the job, because they’d stop working, until I developed potentially-fatal serotonin syndrome. Then I had to quit the job, so it was all for nothing. My manager was fired soon after that.

A relative of mine got a job at Walmart as a cashier. He outworked everyone else and worked his way up to general manager, making six figures. But they worked him so hard, 70 to 80 hours a week, giving him unrealistic numbers to meet, he developed high blood pressure at the age of 28. Doctors tried everything and couldn’t bring it down; medication wasn’t working. He started having panic attacks and had to go on medication. He finally quit. His blood pressure returned to normal a week later.

(Side note: I used to work for an insurance company, and the Walmart insurance plan was so bad it had its own dedicated department. You had to have special training to learn to work those claims with their special rules, and anytime anyone mentioned the name “Walmart” around the company, people would laugh. It was a running joke, like, “Those poor bastards.”)

After that, I was hired at a franchise convenience store. I didn’t know they’d recently been in the news for a class-action lawsuit for forcing employees to work off the clock. I was hired as a stocker, but after completing training and transferring to my permanent store, I was promoted to a manager my second day on the job because of how fast I worked. Same story again – the workload was impossible. The problem was, at this job, I couldn’t sneak and work off the clock to complete my work. Since the franchise had just lost a class action lawsuit and they used video cameras, if I got caught working off the clock, it would have gotten my manager in trouble; she was just as much a victim as the rest of us. I was the only worker who could complete the nightly duties because I worked at an insane pace; I had to. I had expensive medications to pay for, and I couldn’t risk losing my job.

One day they left me to run the entire store alone on the day we received our truck shipment. This meant I had to be in the front to ring all the customers, but also be in the back stockroom at the same time to receive the truck, which was absolutely insane, for 12 hours, completely alone, on a Friday, the busiest day of the week. I was proud of myself for how well I held it all together, but as soon as I clocked out and got in the car, something came over me. I’d been running off pure adrenaline, but it suddenly caught up with me, and I began to have a panic attack and cry hysterically. I knew I couldn’t go back to work, that if this level of stress continued, I’d end up in the hospital again, but if I didn’t, I wouldn’t be able to afford my very expensive medications and would become a burden to my struggling family.

I went home and attempted suicide by swallowing an entire bottle of phenobarbital, and anxiety med. I woke up in the ICU unit of the hospital, and then they transferred me to the psych ward. When I got out, my doctor cut me off of all my anxiety medications to make sure I couldn’t hurt myself with them, which meant going back to work wasn’t even an option. I’ve been turned down twice for disability, both times due to ridiculous reasons that were simple clerical errors on their part, but they succeeded in dragging the time frame out so long that now they say I’m no longer eligible because of the length of time, even though I applied well in advance of the time frame.

As I’ve mentioned in an email, I now work for less than minimum wage doing transcriptions. Despite all this, I have high hopes for the future. My success in consistently winning Pictofact contests for Cracked.com has given me hope. The point of this message isn’t to be depressing. It’s actually because I thought it might be interesting to illustrate what happens when you combine American predatory capitalism with the insane work ethic of an Asian.

American Conservatives LOVE to preach about how hard work always pays off, and poor people are lazy. But, if anything, my insane work ethic held me back because it made me unpromotable past a certain point – they couldn’t afford to replace me. It made me a scapegoat, because they began expecting more of me than the others, so when things went wrong, I’d get blamed for not saving the day. The others were expected to screw up, so it was my fault for not going above and beyond as always. Finally, the harder I worked, the less others did because they expected me to pick up the slack, so it was bad for productivity all-around.

It also taught me to get off my high horse. I was stupid to think I was better because I was willing to kill myself harder than everybody else for next-to-no pay. I thought my coworkers were lazy because they didn’t work as hard as I did, but now they still have jobs because they didn’t work themselves into a psych ward, maybe because they realized they didn’t get paid enough to do that to themselves. I realize these Americans aren’t lazy. They just realize they’re worth more than poverty-level wages. But my story should be a cautionary tale to anyone who thinks you can beat the system by working hard enough. Sorry this was so long, and thanks for listening, and thanks for all you do.

 

If you enjoyed this post, you’ll also like these:

 

Predatory Capitalism Creates Poverty
Socialism and Communism
The Life of the Rich
The Life of the Poor
Oppression in the Workplace
Success and Retirement
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Healthcare in America
The Stock Market
Banks
Taxes
Cryptocurrency
Fixing the Economy
My Tweets About Economics

The Housing Market Is A Crime Against Humanity

 

The legal process of buying a house has been made so complicated that you have to hire a licensed professional who has taken a course on real estate laws to help you buy your home. During the process of buying a house your real estate agent will introduce you to a long line of fees that you won’t understand, don’t agree with, and in many cases, are completely unnecessary. You’ll be forced to lock in an interest rate that changes daily for no other reason than it can. By the time you close the deal on your house you’ll have signed so many papers your hand will hurt.

The justification for all of this is to protect you, but after all the charges have been tallied up, your 30 year mortgage will cost you twice the price your house was advertised at, but you won’t know that until after your charismatic real estate agent has made your head spin with 300 pages of legal jargon and schmoozed you into signing your future away so they can get their cut of the closing costs.

The justification for charging you twice what your house is worth is because the bank takes a risk. That excuse is overdramatized to the point of being a lie. In fact, the more your bank overcharges you and the less upfront it is about those charges the more likely you are to default on your loan. Your lending institution will also deflect the blame by saying a lot of the cost is taxes, which only proves the government is complicit in overcharging you for your house. The government doesn’t have to tax you to death on your home. It doesn’t have to make it hard for your family to own your own house. They just do it because that’s the way it’s always been done, and the reason it’s always been done like that it because there’s money to be made in it.

The immediate consequences of this system are obvious: home buyers get screwed out of their money and are set up to default on their loans, but the problem is worse than that. Since there’s so much money to be made selling overpriced houses to suckers, the rich (who can build houses cheaply or buy existing ones with cash so they don’t get screwed on a 30 year mortgage) have a lot of incentive to buy up as much land as they can and build houses as cheaply as possible. This results in cities full of dilapidated houses that require constant repairs being sold at astronomical prices.

If it weren’t so easy to screw over the little guy, property values wouldn’t be so inflated. If property values weren’t so inflated people could afford to pay off their houses and wouldn’t default on their loans. Then lending institutions would not go bankrupt, and governments wouldn’t have to “bail out” lending institutions.

But the system is designed to screw over the little guy, and that causes housing bubbles, which result in millions of people losing their homes and even more never being able to buy one in the first place. And even after the American taxpayers bailed out the lending institutions that screwed them in the first place…the process of buying a house is still exactly the same as it was before. The little guy is still getting systematically ripped off in the exact same ways, and the consequences will continue to remain the same until the fundamentals of the housing market are changed.

If the government was the sole lending institution through which all property purchases were financed it could set low, stable interest rates and eliminate all the predatory fees banks throw into the process just because they can. If the government collected the interest on housing loans it wouldn’t need to impose such oppressive property taxes on homeowners. Those taxes could be slashed or eliminated, increasing the working class’s ability to pay off their mortgages. Real estate agents could still assist home buyers, but they should have a fixed wage set, say $1000 per house. Period. This is a generous sum of money for what’s often less than a week’s worth of work, and it doesn’t incentivize overpricing houses to pump up the realtor’s commission. Building codes should have higher standards. This won’t lower the cost to buy a house, but it will lower the cost to maintain a house, which will increase the likelihood that a home buyer will be able to pay off their mortgage in the long run.

Finally, how much land does one person need? Why does one person need to own 10,000 acres? The more land one person owns the less land there is for everyone else. You can argue that everyone has a right to own as much land as they want, but when there’s no land left for the poor, the effect is the same as denying the poor the right to own land. If a law were put in place limiting the amount of land someone can own or the frequency with which they could flip their property it would prevent housing bubbles. This would kill the big business surrounding the housing market, but that business needs to be killed. It doesn’t benefit society in any way. It’s a drain on society, and when you consider that every dollar a home buyer spends on their mortgage is equal to time spent at work, you ultimately pay for your house with your life. As it stands, the exploitative nature of the housing market steals people’s short, irreplaceable lives. I won’t hesitate to say that it’s a crime against humanity. If all of this money weren’t tied up in the fake fees business it could be released into the economy to stimulate actual businesses that have a real-world benefit to humanity.

But your dearly beloved politicians aren’t talking about that, and they’re not going to, and you should be asking why.

 

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Socialism and Communism
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The Life of the Poor
Oppression in the Workplace
Success and Retirement
The Housing Market
Healthcare in America
The Stock Market
Banks
Taxes
Cryptocurrency
Fixing the Economy
My Tweets About Economics

(Comic) How The Economy Works

(Comic) How The Economy Works

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Near an apple orchard, a little boy riding a tricycle is talking to a man in a business suit. 

Man #1: Hey, kid.

Boy: What’s up, mister?

Man #1: I’ll pay you $1 if you pick me 10 bushels of apples.

Boy: Awesome! I’ll be Oprah rich!

Man #1: But first you’ll have to pay my friend here $300 to go to apple picking school.

Just then, another man walks up.

Boy: I can’t wait to learn about apples.

Man #2: You’ll probably learn more about your teachers’ lives… that and how to be poor. The second part will be surprisingly useful.

Boy: But I don’t have $300 to pay for apple picking school.

Just then, another man walks up.

Man #2: Don’t worry. My friend here likes to do favors for poor people. He can give you a loan.

Man #3: I don’t actually have $300 either, but I can create it out of thin air and let you “borrow” it. After interest, you’ll only owe me $700 of actual money that you actually have to work to make.

Years later…

Boy: Here’s your 10 bushels of apples. It took half my life to gather. In that time I’ve watched seasons pass, friends die and nations fall. Yet I’m no closer to my dreams than when I started.

Man #1: Now pick me 11 bushels, and do it twice as fast or I’m only giving you 90 cents. I’m going to sell these for $100 a bushel to a country that doesn’t have apple trees. I’ll be so rich I’ll buy shit I don’t need just because I’m bored.

Boy: My rent is 95 cents. Fuck my life.

EPILOGUE

Boy: My retirement plan is death.

Man #2 and #3: Until then you’ll work for our friend and sign your paychecks over to us.

Man #1: Just be glad you didn’t take out a mortgage.

THE END

 


(Comic) How The Housing Market Works

(Comic) How The Housing Market Works

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TRANSCRIPT

 

Every scene in the comic uses the same picture of a young, scrawny white hipster and a well-dressed businessman standing across from each other in a bland office. There’s nothing on the walls, and the only piece of furniture is a bland, wooden desk between them.

Man: How can I help you?

Hipster: I just turned 18, and my parents kicked me out of my home that I’ve lived my entire sheltered life in.

Man: So you need to rent an apartment then?

Hipster: I’d rather buy than rent. I’ve been saving all the money I made working at my high school job. You can run my credit check.

Man: That won’t be necessary. I can tell you right now that you can’t afford to buy property. Your only two choices in life are renting and dying homeless in the streets.

Hipster: Those are my only choices in life?

Man: Well, no. You could go to jail or join the military. Both are very popular choices for people like you.

Hipster: I guess I’ll rent. How much does that cost?

Man: It costs as much as possible.

Hipster: I can only afford $100 per month. What can I get for that?

Man: You can’t rent a parking spot in the city for $100 per month.

Hipster: So how do I survive?

Man: Not that anyone cares, but you could rent a room from someone who can’t afford their mortgage and has been forced to sublet.

Hipster: That sounds confusing. Which government office handles that?

Man: It doesn’t really work that way. You just have to look in the classifieds.

Hipster: What if I’m not good at this?

Man: Then you deserve to die in the streets.

Hipster: Well, I’d rather have my own place anyway so I can live by my own rules and establish my own space in the world. I don’t want to live with psychotic strangers. Isn’t there some kind of low cost government-owned young professionals dorms I can live in? I don’t need a space bigger or fancier than a prison cell.

Man: You mean like projects for white people? No, that doesn’t exist, and even if it did I’d sponsor a politician’s career and get him to privatize it.

Hipster: Why would a politician privatize a social service?

Man: Because he owes his career to me. Of course, he’ll tell the voters who think he represents them that I’ll be able to provide a better product at a cheaper price.

Hipster: Will you?

Man: Of course not! There’d be no point. I’d charge the highest price possible for the cheapest product.

Hipster: Why?

Man: Obviously, so I can keep as much money as possible for myself personally.

Hipster: Huh. I guess it’s a good thing the government doesn’t offer affordable housing to young professionals.

Man: Come to think of it, maybe I should get my representatives to have taxpayers build those so they could privatize them and then sell them to me for pennies on the dollar….hmmmm.

Hipster: At least if you ran a slumy privatized young professionals dormitory then I’d be guaranteed to have a place to live.

Man: No, you’d still be in the same position you are today because I can’t get exorbitantly rich without charging exorbitant rent.

Hipster: But you won’t get any of my money if I can’t afford rent.

Man: But I’ll get more from the people who can pay. So the cost/benefit analysis adds up.

Hipster: I’ll just rent from someone else.

Man: Everyone charges as much as possible.

Hipster: What the hell? Is everyone evil?

Man: Most property owners have to take out a 30-year loan. So if you’re renting from someone you’re probably paying their mortgage. And the banks have set the interest rates, taxes and meaningless add-on fees for buying a house so high that everyone ends up paying twice what their property is worth in the current housing bubble.

Hipster: So since everyone got charged twice what their stuff was worth they have to charge twice what it’s worth when they sell or rent it.

Man: …to break even, but it’s standard procedure to try to make a profit.

Hipster: So the system is designed so that everybody has to shank their neighbors just to get by?

Man: See? It’s nothing personal. Your land lord’s not evil, just stupid.

Hipster: Now that that’s settled, you mentioned earlier that we always pay twice what a house is worth in the current housing bubble.

Man: If you take out a standard 30-year mortgage, yes.

Hipster: But what do you mean current housing bubble?

Man: Nothing costs as much as its worth. Everything costs as much as people will pay for it. So as long as you’re living anywhere worth living you’ll pay more than what your property is worth.

Hipster: Why does this process have to be so confusing and complicated?

Man: Businesses exist to make money. Banks are businesses. The only way banks make money is by taking it from their customers. So it’s in their best interest to take as much money from their customers as possible. That’s why it’s so hard to buy property.

Hipster: How do banks get away with that?

Man: Because that’s the way the entire economy works. Every time you open your wallet to take money out or put money in someone is going to take as much of it from you as they can.

Hipster: That sounds like a recipe for poverty and homelessness.

Man: Well, you don’t become the richest man in the world by factoring that into the cost/benefit analysis of your actions.

Hipster: What about Bill Gates? He’s like the richest man in the world, and he cares about people.

Man: Well, after I earn my first $70,000,000,000 selling the cheapest product for the highest price while paying my workers as little as the market will allow I’ll give away a few billion I’d never have used anyway to buy my way into Heaven too.

Hipster: With that much money you could sponsor every politician’s career in the country.

Man: With that much money I’d be above the law and wouldn’t care what politicians do, but yes. If the need ever arose I could make the government dance.

Hipster: I guess I won’t hold my breath on getting those government-owned low-cost young professionals dorms.

Man: Well, if you can’t afford to rent in my economy then you can count on going to jail. So in the end, you’ll get a room after all.

Hipster: At least you won’t make any money off of me.

Man: Actually, I own the prison, and the company I own it through is traded on the stock market. So the government pays me for every person I have in prison, and the more people I have in prison the more my stocks go up. It’s a win/win situation!

Hipster: The prison system is a privatized social service? Does that mean you provide the cheapest product at the highest cost?

Man: Let me put it this way. There aren’t enough vitamins in a prison meal to keep a sea monkey alive, but my kids eat steak and lobster twice a week.

Hipster: At least when the police send me to your human kennel I won’t have to work 40+ hours at an unfulfilling job I hate for minimum wage.

Man: Actually, I got your political representatives to waive the basic human rights of prisoners. So inmates work in sweatshop conditions that would otherwise be illegal.

Hipster: I don’t remember voting on that.

Man: Why would I put that up for a vote? That’s not in my best interest.

Hipster: Well, I’m not going to work in your sweatshop. It’s not like I’ll need money in prison.

Man: You’d think that, but I’ve made it pretty damned hard to live without money…even in my prisons.

Hipster: So it’s even expensive to live in a prison?

Man: …as expensive as it can be.

Hipster: Damn. How much does it cost to die?

Man: Ha. Ha. It’s like anything else, as expensive as it can be.

Hipster: Can I ask you one more question.

Man: Sure, but if this takes much longer I’m going to start charging you. Ha. Ha.

Hipster: What do you think the meaning of life is?

Man: It’s like anything else…

Hipster: …to pay as much as possible because life is as expensive as it can be?

Man: Ha. Ha. Well put, but I was just going to say, “Fuck you.”

The End


(Comic) How The Stock Market Works

(Comic) How The Stock Market Works

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(Comic) How Bank Greeters Work

(Comic) How Bank Greeters Work

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TRANSCRIPT

 

Banker: Hello, Buddy. Welcome to the bank that loves you. How are you doing today?

Customer: Not too good, I’m afraid.

Banker: Really? What’s wrong, friend?

Customer: Well, I just hate coming to your bank, because I know I’m going to have to exchange cheerful greetings with four employees not doing any work before I even get to the counter. Then your receptionist is going to ask about my day and try to make small talk.

Banker: Whoa there, Negative Nacy. We’re just being friendly because we love you so much. Don’t blame me because your daddy didn’t love you.

Customer: If you look at the bigger picture, you may be surprised by how logical it is for me to be nauseated by your behavior. For starters, what if I don’t feel like conversing? I can’t walk past for people and dismiss them without looking like an asshole.

Banker: Well, why not just be a nice person and return their greeting?

Customer: The thing about that is, it’s not your place to ask. But every time I come into this bank, I have to act how you want me to or else I’ll look like an asshole. You set me up to look like an asshole… for not doing something I don’t want to do. Which is why I always just return your exaggerated greetings. But that just means you’ve succeeded at manipulating me into acting fake.

Banker: I’m sorry you feel that way, but I’m not going to apologize for expressing my love for you.

Customer: Then apologize for lying to my face. Did every single employee here independently come up with the idea to get in customers’ faces and pry into their personal lives?

Banker: Heck, no. Everyone is ordered to be aggressively friendly. It discourages bank robbers, and it makes most customers feel important.

Customer: And what happens if your employees aren’t aggressively friendly?

Banker: They get in trouble, and we threaten to fire them. If they don’t conform their behavior, we throw them out in the street to starve to death.

Customer: The fact that you force your employees to act like impossibly happy cult members makes me not want to say hi to you.

Banker: But all businesses do that. So it must be okay.

Customer: By the way, how profitable is this business, and how does it make money?

Banker: This bank is extremely profitable, and we make all of our money by taking it away from our customers through ATM fees, late fees, hidden fees, etc. We even charge customers for not having enough money. But the big profits come from high-interest rates. And the poorer you are, the more you’re going to pay for everything.

Customer: So basically, every time I come here, you lie to my face and force me to kiss you on the cheek before you fuck me in the ass. How on Earth can you not understand why I’m underwhelmed with you?

Banker: Oh, I’m totally with you on this. I hate my job too, but I’m a slave to money just like everyone else. So, we do what the master tells us and find our own way to cope with living in an Orwellian world where money is more important than people.

Customer: Hmmm. Now I kind of do feel like an asshole for rubbing the cold reality of your hollow existence in your face like that.

Banker: Nah, I deserved it.

THE END


(Comic) How Becoming A Billionaire Works

(Comic) How Becoming A Billionaire Works

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Loki and a friend taunt the dead at the Pearly Gates to the Underworld

 

TRANSCRIPT

 

The scene is of a rich businessman and his son standing in a fancy office with a large window overlooking skyscrapers in the heart of a major city.

Father: Son, today I’m going to teach you my secret 7 steps to success.

Son: Okay, but talk to me like I’m an adult. I want the full, uncensored version.

Father: You asked for it. Here we go. Step 1. Inherit a fortune.

Son: I already will, but what if I didn’t?

Father: Then it would suck to be you. Everything is as expensive as it can be, especially the training and education necessary to move up the caste system.

Son: So if you can’t pay up front for life you’re pretty much doomed to tread water half your life?

Father: Some more than others. Now, step 2. Own your own business.

Son: Good thing I’m going to inherit a business and grow up receiving personal training in how to run it. What if I weren’t?

Father: Then start one at all costs because there are only two kinds of people in this world. Those who work for other people and those who have other people work for them.

Son: That makes sense. If you work for someone else then you only have one income stream, but everyone who works for you is another source of income for you.

Father: Good, let’s move on. Step 3: Minimize cost, and maximize profit. This means paying as little as possible to anyone for the things you need from them and charge everyone as much as possible for the things they need from you.

Son: You could have just said, Pay your workers as little as possible and charge your customers as much as possible.

Father: That brings us to step 4. Use slaves.

Son: But slavery is illegal.

Father: Phrase it however you want as long as they do all the work and you keep all the money.

Son: Slavery is usually considered black and white, but I guess it really is a spectrum of degrees.

Father: And you can legally push your workers to the far end, especially if you outsource your jobs to sweatshops, which you should be doing anyway. Now, step 5. Pay as few taxes as possible.

Son: If there are tax havens and loopholes then why not use them?

Father: And how! Now, step 6. Buy influence. Sometimes the law can stand between you and more money, but there’s nothing but formalities standing between you and a politician’s bank account.

Son: The more they rely on your money the more you can rely on them, which means that if they rely on you totally…

Father: Bingo.

Son: That’s a pretty brazen plan. Does your last step address the fact that your heartless grab for money at the expense of human decency will raise eyebrows eventually?

Father: It sure does. Let’s go outside and I’ll demonstrate this one first hand.

The father and son go outside. They are standing in front of an expensive office building where a crowd of protesters is gathered.

Father: Those are protesters over there, and they’ve figured out the secret to our success.

Son: …but instead of using it themselves like they should be, they’re mad that we’re using it!?!?! But these are our workers! Does this mean our time as the foxes of the hen house are over?

Father: Step 7. Always keep an ace in the hole.

Just then a young female wearing baggy clothing and carrying a backpack shouts at the father

Female Protester: Hey Billionaire, you can’t keep drinking our blood forever!

Father: Wait for it…

Just then a chubby, middle age man shouts at the female.

Fat Man: Shut up, commulist hippie! This man is a job creator! Why don’t you go get a job? If you’re unhappy then the problem is you!

Female Protester: You realize you’re part of the 99% we’re trying to help and he’s trying to hurt, right?

Father: Don’t bother, miss. I employed award-winning professional psychologists to design the propaganda this man has been exposing himself to. The techniques we’ve perfected were originally invented by cults, religions, and militaries. I could explain the whole thing to his face and he’d still defend me to the death.

The son looks up to the father.

Son: I want to be just like you when I grow up.

Female Protester: Wow. Just wow.

THE END


(Comic) How Government Hand-Outs Work

(Comic) How Government Hand-Outs Work

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Loki and a friend taunt the dead at the Pearly Gates to the Underworld

TRANSCRIPT

 

Every panel shows the same picture of a wealthy businessman and his son standing near an expensive Ferrari sports car.

Father: “Congratulations on graduating from my Ivy League alma mater, son. After paying all your tuition and living expenses through school I bought you this Ferrari for your graduation present.”

Son: “Wow. Thanks, Dad!”

Father: “Thank the taxpayers. I bought ten of these with the bonus I got after the government gave my company all that bailout money.”

Son: “Let’s drive down to your office and show the car to your coworkers.”

Father: “We’ll have to do that another time. The streets to the office are blocked by vagrant protesters.”

Son: “What do the protesters want?”

Father: Oh, they’re just a bunch of spoiled kids looking for a handout.”

Son: “They sound like a bunch of douche bags.”

THE END


(Comic) How Healthcare Works

(Comic) How Healthcare Works

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TRANSCRIPT

 

A woman walks into a hospital and approaches the nurse at the front desk.

Patient: Nurse! Nurse! Help me! I’ve got a horrible pain in my stomach. I think it might be cancer from eating all the processed, chemical-injected food they sell at every grocery store!

Nurse: Oh no! Quick, give me your health insurance card!

Patient: I don’t have health insurance because I can’t afford it. Is that going to be a problem?

Nurse: It is for you. We can’t treat you unless you have insurance.

Patient: You can’t help me, or you won’t help me?

Nurse: Technically we could, but we won’t, because you won’t pay your bills afterward. After all, you can’t even afford insurance.

Patient: I promise I’ll pay my bills. And look at it this way, you’ll never get anything from me if I die.

Nurse: Seriously, our prices are so high there’s no way you’ll be able to afford them without insurance. There’s really no point wasting our time with you. You’d go bankrupt, and again, you wouldn’t ever be able to pay. So we’re just going to let you die.

Patient: But that’s not fair! why do you have to charge so much? Is it really that expensive to provide health care?

Nurse: Technically, no, but we raise the price and pass on the cost to the insurance companies. And insurance companies are evil. So nobody cares if they get overcharged.

Patient: But don’t the insurance companies just pass on the cost to their customers in the form of higher plans?

Nurse: They also reduce their loss by setting ridiculous co-pay thresholds. So you still have to pay thousands of dollars out of pocket even if you already spend hundreds of dollars on insurance each month. And they deny coverage for pre-existing conditions… at least, they did before Obamacare forced them to stop.

Patient: So are insurance companies losing a lot of profits now because they’re being forced to do what they exist to do?

Nurse: They’re making up the losses by forcing every American to have to buy insurance or get fined.

Patient: Isn’t forcing people to buy insurance, socialism?

Nurse: No. Socialism would be if the hospital and insurance companies were owned by the employees or they at least all got an equal cut of the profit. When a company bribes and coerces politicians to pass laws that force people to give them money, that’s just plain old simple extortion and corruption.

Patient: How am I supposed to afford to buy Obamacare? Like I already told you, I can’t afford any insurance.

Nurse: And like I already told you, now you’re going to have to find a way to pay your fine for not having insurance.

Patient: Can’t you just offer affordable prices for your vital services?

Nurse: No, because that’s not how supply and demand works. You see, the more vital something is, the more people will pay for it.

Patient: Who cares!? You make it sound like you have to extort people just because you can.

Nurse: Uh, yeah. That’s like the fundamental tenet of capitalism. Kill or be killed.

Patient: This entire system is completely immoral. Didn’t you take the Hippocratic Oath?

Nurse: Those are just empty words to make you feel better, like when we tell you that you’re a valued customer… or at least we would tell you that if you had insurance. As it stands, I’m just going to tell you to leave before I call the police and have you arrested for loitering.

Patient: Fine. I’m taking a bus to Mexico. I’ll see a doctor there.

Nurse: Drats. You found a loophole. I swear someday we’re going to make it illegal to do that. At least you can’t bring any medicine back.

THE END


Why Do So Many Small Businesses Fail?

I keep seeing politicians come on the television and say they’re going to fix the economy, create jobs and raise wages. I’ve been listening to the same promises my entire adulthood while simultaneously staring at a fundamental flaw in the economy that no politician is talking about. If they do talk about it, it’s just long enough to acknowledge a problem exists before changing the conversation back to meaningless talking points.

The problem is that it’s really, really, really, really hard to start a small business. Over half of all small businesses fail within their first year. Politicians have said that much, but they never sink their teeth into why. People don’t fail at businesses because it’s so hard to provide someone else a product or service and then take their money from them. The hardest part about running a small business, the part that trips so many people up, is that the government will send you to jail and fine you into poverty if you can’t flawlessly navigate 10,000 miles of legal bureaucracy.

If you want to succeed in business, you basically need an associate’s degree in economics. If you don’t believe me, go get a tax number, file your small business name, write a business plan, and pick a piece of accounting software to help you organize your taxes. Most people won’t make it that far.

You may be shouting, ” But that’s how business works! If you can’t do that much, then you’re too stupid to be in business!” The thing about that is, it doesn’t have to be so hard to start a business. Our predecessors just went out of their way to make it that hard. I’m sure they had good intentions and reasons that sounded reasonable on paper, but the end result is they’ve created a very narrow bottleneck to owning/operating a small, private business that excludes the poor and uneducated.

 

 

I don’t know or care if there’s a conspiracy theory behind this or if it’s just the cumulative effect of millions of stupid decisions. I just care that the deck has been stacked against the poor and uneducated. If all humans are equal then all humans should have an equal chance at an education and owning their own business. Even if a human is stupid…why would we punish them for that? And if all they’re trying to do is sell oranges on the side of the road, why do we need to bring mind-bending bureaucracy into their life at all?

The reason why is because the American tax code assumes every transaction that can possibly be taxed must be tracked and taxed. I believe the I.R.S.’s philosophy does more harm than good, and I base that opinion on the fact that every night the news says the economy is terrible. The reason it’s terrible is because we’re doing something terribly wrong. Obviously, the economy has more problems than just this, but I suspect that as long as we keep assuming that every transaction which could possibly be taxed must be tracked and taxed then the economy will continue to be terrible, especially for the poorest, most uneducated human beings living on earth.

Other than “Tiger Mom,” I’ve never heard of a book on success or leadership that advocates micromanaging. In fact, everything I’ve ever read said it’s the most stifling, soul-destroying approach you can take to accomplish anything. So… if we apply that same principle to the tax code, it points to the conclusion that maybe we should lighten up there.

If people can make money, they’re going to spend it. It’s going to get caught in the tax net somewhere. If people just didn’t have to file anything or pay any taxes for small businesses that make less than $10,000 per year, then people will have the breathing room to establish their small businesses before leaping into the realm of completely retarded bureaucracy. That wouldn’t threaten big businesses’ effective monopolies. It would just give human beings some breathing room.

If the I.R.S. ever wanted to help the nation out a little more they could automatically assign everyone with a business tax id number and generic business license so nobody has to apply for anything when they start operating their small business. They just operate under the codes they were born with.

If the I.R.S. ever wanted to help the nation out a little more they could automate their personal income tax system a little better. Maybe the smart folks at N.A.S.A. can help them. If N.A.S.A. can figure out how to land a cyborg on Mars remotely they can probably figure out a way to automate everyone’s yearly income taxes so we don’t all get sent calculus riddles by snail mail that we have to pay a seasonal accountant $300 to solve just so they can tell us a random amount we have to pay on top of that.

 

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