Yes Seniors, We Can Buy Prosperity

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tags: senior citizens

T.H. McGraw attended Temple University, has written for Astronomy Magazine, Stocks and Commodities Magazine and articles for The History News Network. He has traveled extensively in the U.S. and over a dozen countries including China's New Territories.

Seniors, beginning to mow their own lawns these days for economic reasons, may need renewed cautions about fueling lawn mowers just after their being run dry in hard usage. There are actually dozens of people seriously injured each year while doing so, with even some deaths reported.

With a reach, one might consider today’s amazing stock market performance as analogous to a hard-run engine in danger of exhausting its fuel at some point. Despite muddled economic times, undercurrents of easy money motivated by Quantitative Easing (QE) have prompted many investors to join the party or risk being left behind with lackluster alternate investments.

One venerated newsletter writer for over fifty years, Richard Russell of La Jolla, California writes, “One thing we can do is side with the Federal Reserve and get in the stock market with a position in the Diamonds (DIAs). Or we can buy and hold physical gold, and hide it in a very secret place. We can stay away from bonds and anything else that is extremely sensitive to interest rates. Or last and surely the easiest on our nerves, we can sit on the sidelines with Federal Reserve notes (dollars) and some gold and await developments.” He continues, “Lately, I have heard of several advisors who have given up and quit the business because they no longer trust the manipulated financial and market data. Not surprisingly, stock market studies they have depended on for years no longer work in these manipulated markets.” It does not bequeath confidence to hear advisors proffering such advice.

The Federal Reserve seems to have forestalled economic disaster for the time being with credit expansion to the large banks in an effort to repair reserve capital, but has in the process fostered large scale equity market purchases, perhaps even as an intended consequence. QE has funneled on a monthly basis over several years, somewhere almost ninety billion in bond repurchases, etc. to present a picture of prosperity to a large portion of the world. The allusion that while money can’t buy prosperity, it can and has forestalled hysteria for a time. Until now, inflation has been offset by several factors - not the least of which are the effects of deflation from world debt albeit one popular Website offers - “based on the methodology which was employed prior to 1980.” - actual CPI is seen running at over seven percentage points annually.

We live now in a world of indeterminate economic parameters. Nowhere in history has mankind ever contemplated such debt, conventional; revolving, sovereign, derivative - now extrapolated to be over a quadrillion dollars by experts. Experts themselves are in disagreement as to the outcome of such incertitude. The current evolution of circumstances seem to depict a society in which our economic “cure” enhances the price of certain assets while concurrently decreasing the availability of essential goods and services for many of the less fortunate.

“In May 2013 Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas President Richard Fisher said that cheap money has made rich people richer, but hasn't done quite as much for working Americans.” Another blog offers, “Most of the financial assets in America are owned by the wealthiest 5 percent of Americans. According to Fed data, the top 5 percent own 60 percent of the nation’s individually held financial assets. They own 82 percent of the individually held stocks and more than 90 percent of the individually held bonds.”

To the plight of our retired seniors, plans are underway to establish a so-called “chained” COLA (cost of living adjustment) for Social Security recipients by 2015. What this amounts to in brief, is that many who are now eating high-off-the-hog will have to accept cheaper cuts in order to help balance our nation’s budget by lowering SS costs. For some, that will mean a step down - from “human grade dog food” to cheaper options. Moreover, Nancy Altman, co-chair of the Strengthen Social Security Coalition says, "On average, seniors spend a higher percentage of their incomes on health care than workers or the general population, and health care costs have grown, and are projected to continue to grow, at a faster rate than other goods and services,"

One thing the writer seldom hears is a real proposal to raise the cap on Social Security contributions that those making over $113,700 now enjoy. Again please? Yes, “If you're a wage or salaried employee, you pay only half the FICA bill (In 2013, 6.2% for Social Security …), and the tax is automatically withheld.” Withheld that is, from up to $113,700 in salaries. After that, you are off the hook so to speak - rather an opposite of the progressive income tax rate the poor now enjoy. Sort of.

Certain factions in congress now press for legislation to get many of the forty some million of those on the Food Stamp program removed and “on to a more productive lifestyle.” There is now, a seething portion of our employed that cannot make ends meet, even to achieve the poverty level while working full time, much less with part-time hours that are now considered “employed” by BLS statisticians. We have before us in camouflage, a formula for social unrest whose effects may be far more disruptive than most realize. Perhaps as a result. criminal behavior today has become more prevalent despite carefully spun statistics that might claim otherwise. Author Robert Prechter Jr. wrote in his millennial expose, “Conquer the Crash”, “One reason that conflicts gain such scope in depressions is that much of the middle class gets wiped out by the financial debacle, increasing the number of people with little or nothing to lose and anger to spare.” Before regressing to appellations such as “communist’, or socialist, or alarmist here, let’s consider a larger picture unfolding. Our FED Chairman, or perhaps his successor in some faux pas, might just raise palms-upward at some point. Or any of the multiple world threats we observe today could accelerate our economic and political problems.

The shibboleth of free trade needs to undergo a re-analysis as to broader benefits in the straits of our times. Inexpensive goods from developing nations are enjoyable yes, but carry hidden costs to a way of life that seems in considerable jeopardy. Selective import tariffs should be considered. Those who are no longer “employable” at a living-wage in our society are not simply welfare recipients; they are potential miscreants who sadly, carry liabilities far beyond the common costs of incarceration.

In the aggregate, the morality of our society appears to have come under question while subjected to the politics of a duopoly fighting for acceptance of divergent political ideologies; each portraying total correctness, each obliging complete control in the times. Our greatest deficiency however, seems to be the ongoing loss of rationale as a species in that though we learn evermore of the minutiae of our universe, its “dark matter and energy”, quantum mechanics, etceteras, we cannot even begin to comprehend its origins or workings - the disregard of which we ignore to our peril.

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