Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Congressional Mentality -- Idiots Rule

I was listening to the radio yesterday and heard that Congressman Charles Schumer is trying to get the airlines to stop their downsizing of the luggage size limits for passengers. I mentally thought it through, and realized that many passengers abuse the carry-on luggage to a ridiculous level. The airlines idea to make the luggage bags smaller would be a partial solution. But that is not the real problem.

The real problem is space per passenger. If you remember air travel 30 years ago, you had some space when you sat down and some leg room too. This “lebensraum” gave you some peace of mind and comfort. I used to be able to get up from a window seat and squeeze between the other two persons to get to the bathroom or stretch my legs. That isn't so anymore. The two passengers in your row have to get out of their seats in order for you to access the isle. God help you if the drink cart is blocking your access to the restrooms. Don't even try to use the first class rest rooms.

In today’s seating on airlines, you mentally have to discuss with yourself who has access to the arm rest next to you. Do you dare recline the seat? This invasion of your body space is very stressful. Just as a test, move real close to someone you are not familiar with and you can observe it firsthand. Violating someone’s body space (unless you are romantically involved with them) is very irritating, if not intimidating. It is this close confinement on airlines that results in a lot of bad behavior. You feel uncomfortable and claustrophobic and don’t really know why. Your perceived envelope of body space is yours alone and the airlines should understand this concepts from a physiological perspective. Airline management has to ignore that, if they are trying to pack the plane for max profit. "Sardine can" comes to mind for some reason.

Of course Congressman Schumer wants you to believe the discussion revolves around bag size, not the number of people stuffed into the airplane. Why don’t we do something different, instead of making the carry-on baggage smaller, why not lengthen the space between seats by about a foot and make the seats 3 inches wider? Guess what, you can’t fit as many people on an airliner and therefore, there is more luggage space.

Do we need Congressmen that can only think inside the box? --suitcase mentality! Or people that really understand the problem? I'd like to see standards set for airline seating space, not suitcase size. Schumer impresses me as a complete ID-10T that is 404 in the internet world. His solutions address the business world of money not the airline traveler. Give me a break, give me more leg and elbow room on my next flight.

The real question; "Are we getting more for our dollar or less?" That is what this Great Depression is all about.

Monday, June 01, 2015

Under the Mattress and Backyard Shovel Banking

Getting old and ready to retire, a lot of the benefits you receive from that point out depend on how much money you have in the bank. We are not talking safety deposit boxes, just cash in a bank account. So if you have a stroke and have 100k in the bank, and need to be parked in a rest home, that savings goes poof (rest homes costs 50k per year). Sell your home to move into a rest home, that money goes first before you can qualify for Supplementary Security Income in addition to your Social Security.

Former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert could go to jail for giving someone hush money. The funny thing is, it was his money and he earned it. It's against the law to make cash withdrawals of less than $10,000 to avoid having the banks report it. They track every cash transaction over $10,000. The government looks at large cash transactions as a sign of illegal commerce. It very well could be. But more to the point, these transactions are invisible from taxation.

Legally you can only give each of your kids $10,000 a year tax free. What is to stop you from giving them, cash? Hmmm.

I purchase gold and silver now and then to add to my retirement funds, (leaving it in the bank to collect interest is an excellent waste of time). I usually pay by cashier’s check, I feel uncomfortable carrying cash. You want to buy one million dollars of gold, go right ahead write a check, no one will question it, you are breaking no laws. I’ve seen two different people show up at one coin shop I frequent, with ledger checkbooks, writing company checks for gold around Christmas time. I could swear the one guy wrote “cleaning supplies” on the check memo.

People are shifting to cash. If you have a debt collector after you, or an ex-wife looking for alimony, you don’t want direct deposit. Your paycheck will vaporize when it hits your account. The same for student loans. If you have a part time job under the table, you’re not going to put the dollars in the bank, it will screw up any government benefits you are currently collecting. Bust your butt to earn an extra $10,000 and find out it goes into your healthcare that was free, until it showed up in your tax return.

Hurricane Katrina showed the Federal government how invisibly large the cash economy was in that city, after the disaster. All of the Federal support checks being mailed down there, all of a sudden had no valid addresses. The words fraud and abuse never surfaced, and if they had, many high up government officials would have qualified for jail time. They whistled by the graveyard on that one.

The mechanic down the street has two prices, one for credit cards and the other for cash. When the phone says press one for English, you know there are two economies, one is hidden.

So what is going on, we have an economy that is collecting less taxes and having more expenses to cover. In order to participate in this "Free lunch program," you have to be broke (excluding your Mercedes and million dollar home--they don't count against you). The new trend is to hide your assets in a safety deposit box or under the mattress. The banks don't pay any meaningful interest. $100,000 in the bank at 1% will pay $1,000 a year. Hide the dollars and get a bonus of $3,600 in food stamps an EBT debit card.

The neat thing about keeping your money out of the banking system, is that no one from Nigeria can get on the phone with you and drain your retirement account. They can’t touch your mattress or the box buried in the back yard. Home Depot has shovels on sale at $15. Tip--don't bury currency or hide it in the walls, rats love the stuff for nesting.

Another good thing, if your care taker wants to make $1,000 the hard way, you have the cash on hand (that’s when having a bad memory is a good thing). You don’t have to go shopping with the wife to have fun—you can have fun, while the wife is shopping.

Interest rates are real low and no one is borrowing, but God help you if you want to withdraw your saving in cash. Retirees have gobs of money in banks, they have monthly statements to prove it. Bernie Madoff’s problem started when people wanted their dollars back. So far, most retirees are content to play the game of “Leave it in the bank.” The problem is, low interest rates have changed the way you play the game. You get more from government, if you can prove you have nothing. What would happen if more people (who have savings) wanted their savings in cash? The government wouldn't be able to borrow those dollars, to give it to those, that have none. But while they have the dollars, get in line and make Bernie proud.