Wednesday, August 30, 2023

"$10 Trillion Stolen Right Under Our Noses"

You know the line Rahm Emanuel* appropriated** when he was Barack Obama's Chief of Staff during the Great Financial Crisis?

"You never let a serious crisis go to waste. 
And what I mean by that it's an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before." 


From The Brownstone Institute, August 28:

In 1983, I had an apartment on Martin Luther King Blvd. in Newark, New Jersey’s Central Ward. I looked out of place in the neighborhood. But the rent was affordable and I worked within walking distance.

Though in that “Brick City” of 325,000 there were at that time zero grocery stores, there was a bodega half a block from my steep stone stoop. I used to go there to buy milk and those tasty cellophane-wrapped FrozFruit coconut ice pops. I became friendly with the store’s owner, an amiable, diminutive, mustachioed Puerto Rican gentleman in his forties who often wore a Guayabera shirt.

When I approached the counter one summer Saturday morning, the owner seemed uncharacteristically glum. I said, “Hey, what’s up? Is something bothering you?” 

He frowned and said, “Last night, when I was closing, I put all my money for the week, $7,000, in the backseat of my car. But I couldn’t remember if I switched on my burglar alarm, so I went back inside to check. When I came back out, my cash box was gone. It took two minutes.” 

Stunned, I offered, “Maybe they’ll catch the guys and you’ll get the money back.”

He frowned at my naive optimism. (I didn’t actually believe what I had said. I was just trying to cheer him up). He replied, with dismissive resignation, “Nah, it’s like you, brother. When you’re gone, you’re gone and you ain’t coming back.” 

When one experiences theft directly—even if it’s just the contents of one’s purse or wallet—s/he feels indignation and anger and thinks that those who robbed them deserve punishment. People feel the same, strongly negative emotion when someone deceives them in a business transaction. The amount of money involved doesn’t even have to be very high. 

Over $10 trillion was foolishly spent on the Corona overreaction. Extremely out of his depth, both scientifically and economically, Trump irresponsibly sponsored $6 trillion of CARES Act giveaways. His terrible judgment during this period, and his continuing vaxx promotion, must never be forgotten. 

Biden & Company stacked $4 trillion more of debt/contrived money on top of that, plus he mandated the jabs. Neither he nor Trump should ever again hold public office. 

But most people didn’t think twice about these potlatches. They were too busy washing their hands, ordering DoorDash, buying masks and waiting in lines for 40 cycle PCR tests. To many, the government’s panicked and politically-motivated spending sprees didn’t register; they seemed unreal and diffuse. The funds were created and distributed electronically. Besides, most of us got, and many were mollified and distracted by, seemingly free money via “stimulus checks.” 

Nearly 90 percent of the $800 billion of PPP “loans” were never repaid; nor were these vast sums ever expected to be. Additionally, at least $600 billion of “Covid relief” money was stolen via fraud or embezzlement. Most of those who sneakily dipped their buckets into this Amazon-at-flood-stage river of dollars will never be caught or prosecuted. Like the Newark merchant’s cash box, the missing money won’t ever be recovered.

The giveaways continue. For example, there’s still a widely-advertised tax credit for Covid employee retention. This scheme, which was estimated, in March, 2020, to cost the US Treasury $50 billion, had, by May, 2023, already cost $152 billion. And counting. Almost no one knows this is happening; they only notice when their own taxes increase. 

All of the “Covid Relief” numbers are far too big to understand unless one has a good numbers sense and sits quietly in a room with some blank paper and does some ciphering. People thought it was a good idea to spend limitlessly and futilely on Grandma without considering the costs to her adult children and grandkids. Hey, Grandma used to make us cookies; she’s worth whatever we’ve got. And even what we don’t got. Even if we can’t, through the full range of “mitigation,” keep her alive for another two months in a nursing home, where she’s seldom visited. If she has to live in isolation and die alone to “stop the spread,” so be it.

But the effects of these giveaways are real, profound, and lasting. Some entities and people made nearly incomprehensible sums. Forbes reported that a record 493 new billionaires were created in 2020-21. Despite being semi-mothballed for an extended period, hospitals made record profits of $20 billion from Covid relief. Pharma companies have made at least $100 billion from the failed vaxxes. And Gates-owned Gilead, which made the Remdesivir that many blame for hospital deaths, cashed in big time. So did Zoom, Amazon and Netflix et al. Over 40 new shot, mask or test makers became billionaires, even though the masks and tests were scams and the shots flopped and killed or injured many. 

The government’s issuance of all that fiat money has made you significantly poorer. There are five times as many dollars in the money supply now than there were in January, 2020. Thus, you’re paying 18 percent more for the things you buy today than you did in March, 2020. It’s also harder than ever to buy a first home. Those who can afford a down payment will pay far more mortgage interest for decades. They’ll/you’ll also pay more in taxes, in perpetuity.

And if you didn’t already own an inflation hedge, such as real estate, stocks, or metals—the prices of which have increased because all of that printed money had to go somewhere—you’ve missed out on a wave of profit-taking that better-capitalized people have caught. Inflation has devalued trillions of dollars of aggregate household savings. The relatively few rich got richer and the more numerous un-rich became noticeably poorer....

Also economist Paul Romer talking to venture capitalists in 2004.
**The antecedent of Emanuel's line is from another member of the Chicago mob, Saul Alinsky in Rules for Radicals, page 89:

"in the arena of action, a threat or a crisis becomes almost a precondition to communication" 

If interested see August 15's Rules For Radicals: "....The thirteenth rule: Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.":

You won't be disappointed if you approach this stuff thinking "People will do whatever they think they can get away with" China will invade Taiwan when then think they can get away with it. The corollary is also true: Guys don't attack the world heavyweight boxing champion, they think they won't get away with it.

And if you find someone not pushing their advantage to dominate and hurt others rejoice in tiny treasures and simple pleasures.

Rules for Radicals was originally conceived by Saul Alinsky as part of a larger war against politicians who got in his way, the tactics and techniques have been formalized and disseminated in colleges and universities and are now used against pretty much anyone that one disagrees with....