Student Loan forgiveness

So if you pay attention to the news you know the President of the U.S. has issued an executive order to forgive up to 10K of student loan debt for U.S. tax payers who make less than 125K annually. This blog isn’t overtly political so we aren’t going down that rabbit hole here. I do however devote a portion of my blog to finance. I am a finance professional, and the finance posts I make on this blog are my opinion only, they are not financial advice.

So that out of the way, let’s say this off the bat. Reducing individual debt is the quickest way to wealth. When you aren’t sending your money to other people, you get to keep it and accumulate wealth. So that’s a net positive. There are however several issues with the loan forgiveness as announced. The first one is, the President does not have the ability to forgive debt, only congress can do that.

What that means is this will inevitably be challenged in court. A republican somewhere will file a lawsuit and if it goes to the supreme court, which it may it would likely be overturned. The other thing announced was another freeze on payments until the end of the year. Meaning you do not have to make your federal student loan payments until 2023. This has been in effect since covid lockdowns and its likely this will be extended again.

The fastest way to wealth, is being debt free

To be clear the President DOES have the authority to do this via executive order. There are all sorts of views on this issue. Some will say “why should they get a hand out and I don’t?” others will say “education is a right and it should all be free”.  The biggest issue I see here is the notion of loaning teenagers thousands of dollars in the first place. Who benefits from that exactly? An 18-year-old takes out loans to go to school, to obtain a job to pay off the loan?

I don’t want to be flippant here, education is fantastic you should pursue it. But doesn’t it seem dubious in the first place that the institutions giving the loans decides to forgive them later? Why give them in the first place? Some of these college kids are staring down hundreds of thousands of dollars in student loans. They were railroaded into the education industry and now sit on a pile of debt. Sure they will have a degree at the back end but how bitter must it be to go to work every day?

I worked full time and went to college, I cashed flowed both of my degrees. My kids each got 30K set aside for them to go to college, everything else they have to cover on their own. They chose state schools and are making it. I got the 30K for each by working, inheriting etc. and I am happy to do it. If they take a loan I expect them to pay it back. However, I would caution them both before ever taking a loan at such a young age.

Student loan forgiveness is a net positive if you are one of the lucky ones who qualify. Don’t be fooled here, this is political. The problem is all the people out there who don’t get it will be pissed off, and then there is the uncomfortable situation of “where does the debt go”? it just doesn’t evaporate, someone will have to pay it. Guess who? All of us, yes, you get to help pay off someone else’s debt.

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Justice

Politics & Anxiety: More is coming

This blog isn’t a political blog, so have no fear I am not going to go on a political rant here. We do however cover Anxiety issues a lot and in the U.S. we are entering a new political season. You could argue that politics is always in season in the U.S. As an example in the community I live in, we have people with signs in their yards regarding politics, it comes up in conversation regularly. For my non U.S. readers a quick aside so you have a more accurate picture of the political climate in the U.S.

The narrative of political divide, the splintering of the culture etc. is partially true. People here are more galvanized then ever politically but we are not at each other’s throats. The overwhelming majority of U.S. citizens are normal, quiet people who go about their business and take care of their family and friends. They aren’t light flags on fire, at protests, storming the capital. Those are the exceptions not the rule, but if you were watching news on the U.S. that’s what you would see. The U.S. is in a transition period; this has happened many times before.

Back to the anxiety. So what is happening now is you are seeing the political apparatus in the U.S. “Heat Up”. You will see more arrests, more investigations, more foreign policy moves, more scandals. This is par for the course really, our mid-term elections are coming soon and the heat will be turned way up. Soon we will know if Trump is running for President or not and that will likely make things even hotter.

Vote
Liberty is paramount

I wish I had great news for you. I wish I could say there is a remarkable candidate who will unite American’s under one platform and a reconciliation and rebirth is to follow. If I did say that I would be lying to you. I think things are going to get more stressful and anxiety is going to spike. This won’t resolve until the presidential election of 2024 and even then one side will be unhappy. Expect viral protests, some violence, gas lighting, fear mongering… Everything will be on the table.

How you deal with all of the noise is really subjective. I stopped listening myself. After 52 years on the planet I have lived through Democrat and Republican regimes neither have been great. I would encourage you to invest your time into those who are important to you first. Your civic energies should be focused on your locale. Get involved in your town or city politics, this is the most effective way to steer changes that immediately impact the people you know. National politics is theatre; dangerous theatre I concede but it’s designed to anger you to affect a specific outcome. Once that outcome is achieved, they don’t want to hear from you anymore.

You are going to be fine, things will heat up. Things will look dyer for a time. Large scale upheaval is highly unlikely its only happened a few times in U.S. history. I realize this post isn’t painting a particularly rosy picture but knowing what is coming is at least one advantage. Hopefully it helps you prepare for the inevitable. The political season in the U.S. is on its way, buckle up.

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Justice

Politics & Anxiety: More is coming

This blog isn’t a political blog, so have no fear I am not going to go on a political rant here. We do however cover Anxiety issues a lot and in the U.S. we are entering a new political season. You could argue that politics is always in season in the U.S. As an example in the community I live in, we have people with signs in their yards regarding politics, it comes up in conversation regularly. For my non U.S. readers a quick aside so you have a more accurate picture of the political climate in the U.S.

The narrative of political divide, the splintering of the culture etc. is partially true. People here are more galvanized then ever politically but we are not at each other’s throats. The overwhelming majority of U.S. citizens are normal, quiet people who go about their business and take care of their family and friends. They aren’t light flags on fire, at protests, storming the capital. Those are the exceptions not the rule, but if you were watching news on the U.S. that’s what you would see. The U.S. is in a transition period; this has happened many times before.

Back to the anxiety. So what is happening now is you are seeing the political apparatus in the U.S. “Heat Up”. You will see more arrests, more investigations, more foreign policy moves, more scandals. This is par for the course really, our mid-term elections are coming soon and the heat will be turned way up. Soon we will know if Trump is running for President or not and that will likely make things even hotter.

Vote
Liberty is paramount

I wish I had great news for you. I wish I could say there is a remarkable candidate who will unite American’s under one platform and a reconciliation and rebirth is to follow. If I did say that I would be lying to you. I think things are going to get more stressful and anxiety is going to spike. This won’t resolve until the presidential election of 2024 and even then one side will be unhappy. Expect viral protests, some violence, gas lighting, fear mongering… Everything will be on the table.

How you deal with all of the noise is really subjective. I stopped listening myself. After 52 years on the planet I have lived through Democrat and Republican regimes neither have been great. I would encourage you to invest your time into those who are important to you first. Your civic energies should be focused on your locale. Get involved in your town or city politics, this is the most effective way to steer changes that immediately impact the people you know. National politics is theatre; dangerous theatre I concede but it’s designed to anger you to affect a specific outcome. Once that outcome is achieved, they don’t want to hear from you anymore.

You are going to be fine, things will heat up. Things will look dyer for a time. Large scale upheaval is highly unlikely its only happened a few times in U.S. history. I realize this post isn’t painting a particularly rosy picture but knowing what is coming is at least one advantage. Hopefully it helps you prepare for the inevitable. The political season in the U.S. is on its way, buckle up.

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Oscar Wilde

Trusting Billionaires and Millionaires

I am continually baffled by the ever growing cult of personality we see in modern society. From politicians, to celebrities, to business moguls why is it people gravitate towards the extreme 1%? I understand there is a romantic notion out there of how cool it would be to have that kind of money etc. but have you ever taken a deep dive into how some of these people accumulated so much wealth?

We are seeing this somewhat with the Musk takeover of Twitter. As if this is some heroic attempt to further free speech on a clearly biased platform. Sure that might be a nice residual effect but you do realize that the amount of data alone he would have access too by acquiring twitter would be worth likely trillions? You think Google has a lot of tracking/resale of data? What do you think a genius entrepreneur with billions in capital is going to do with all that? Sit on it and just keep twitter open “for the good of all?”

LOL, he’s going to make it a highly profitable PRIVATE entity. That’s what Musk does, he did it with Tesla. It’s likely going to come as a surprise to a lot of you but Musk didn’t start Tesla. He did what he is doing at Twitter, he made a huge investment into the company to become a large shareholder and then changed the corporation into what it is today, nearly 2 decades later. Look I’m not saying he is a villain here but be careful whom you place on a pedestal.

Hero, Visionary, Villain ?

Same for politicians. I remember millions of people online and elsewhere shouting something like “Trump is an idiot” ya he’s so stupid he made millions in NYC real-estate, then made more millions on a successful TV show, then the buffoon was so dumb he became president of the united states. What a moron…. Look at your state senator, let me guess a multi-millionaire right? What a shocker.

Point here is folks the 1% the ultra-rich are cunning, intelligent and extremely savvy. Sure some of them are lucky but many of them play the cult of personality game very well. They are nuanced in their approaches to business, public perception etc. Yes, many of them had a leg up when they started, like Trumpy (he got money from his dad) but he took it to another level. Be careful how much power and adulation you give these individuals.

The Zuckerberg’s, the Musk’s, the Clinton’s, Trumps. They are the equivalent of your ancestor’s aristocrats. Believe me if their hold on capital, information and power is threatened (which you saw in 2020) they will do everything and anything to hold on to power. They will cancel you, lock you down, create obstacles for you to vote on and on and on. It’s about economic class, not race, not gender, not political affiliation.

The haves want to keep us at each other’s throats. If we are fighting each other over ridiculous “ists”, who is watching them?

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Enough

Anxiety issues – It’s about to start again – U.S. Politics

Many of my readers reside overseas. I can never thank you enough for your support, truly thank you. I am U.S. based and a lot of my readers are in the U.S. As many of you know the U.S. has 3 distinct branches of government, Executive, Judicial, Legislative. I’m not going to rail on and on about politics here, but there is a reality if you live in the U.S. everything is very political. It stems from the very origins of our country, it was literally a political revolution and centuries later many of us in the U.S. have very deep rooted political beliefs.

Now for those of us with anxiety? It’s another thing we have to deal with and in 2022 it’s a mine field. You see cancel culture is real, mob mentality is real, identity politics is real. It’s all abstract of course if you happen to be on the right side of the current narrative. Until you aren’t, and then it all goes to shit fast. This is why it’s an anxiety mine field because many of us, tens of millions don’t fit into a simple definition. You might be in favor of let’s say gay marriage but the notion of abortion may make your stomach turn.

Where do you fall then? There is less and less flexibility within the U.S. culture. There is extreme vitriol and empowerment to many bad actors on both sides. This is not an exclusively left or right issue. Alas those of us with anxiety, we have to navigate this mine field of correctly assessing the people in the room and what they might think if a particular issue comes up.

Vote
A two party system doesn’t have enough options

Let me give you an example. What if you are at a bar having a drink with a few friends. The place is packed, people are chatting and one of them says “So do you think Trump should run in 2024?” Or maybe you are asked “So do you think Hilary should run in 2024?”. No matter where you are now seemingly easy questions based on you personally feel can become social land mines. Your answer, depending on who hears it could result in someone physically assaulting you. It could result in people buying you a drink.

The point is politics in the U.S. has become so divisive that we are nearly (and in some cases are) at each other’s throats. So what does this have to do with now? In the U.S. we have something called the “mid-term elections” basically every 2 years we have some form of state and local elections that affect the federal landscape. The terms of our elected officials are staggered so we always have something….

In the U.S. and likely abroad you are going to start to hear more and more about these and the potential outcomes. Villains will be trotted out, Hero’s exclaimed etc. The end of the world might even make an appearance “If this many seats change hands we are doomed” (something along those lines). So for those of us with Anxiety it’s just more B.S. we have to deal with. Very little changes in a two party system anyway. Democrats and Republicans are not vastly different, if we look at the ACTUAL RESULTS PRODUCED.

What they say of course are remarkably different but really not much changes day to day for average Americans. Sure media outlets and your favorite commentators on social media will get more clicks and they make more money but hey, who said the business of politics is clean? So hang in there, it will pass but the volume will be turned up this late spring into summer. The regular shenanigans will occur, you have survived it before you will make it this time too. Just remember, do your part and vote.

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Vaccine Anxiety

So the next phase is upon us, a vaccine. Its great news for millions of vulnerable people who are susceptible to covid and its complications. It’s also great news for those who chose to live in fear for the last near year. I am not trying to minimalize the impact of covid but to say that it’s been driven by fear I don’t think is going too far out on a limb. People are free to believe whatever they want, I encourage people to question conventional narratives. I don’t think it’s ever prudent to follow blindly, I believe strongly you should always trust your instinct. My instinct? I don’t trust government and I certainly don’t trust the media.

What about you? I concede fully just because I feel a certain way that doesn’t mean I am necessarily right. Or more accurately what is good for me might not be good for you. I’m cool with that, lets meet in the middle. So we are at the great spot in this pandemic where we have a vaccine. Yes, it’s because of the government push that we are here, Trumps government to be specific. Presidents rightfully or wrongly get credit when things are good and things are bad.

I know you probably don’t want to hear that, it’s just like my conservative friends don’t want to hear that Obama is largely responsible for the U.S. increasing energy independence. I am getting side tracked here though…. So a vaccine is here, produced in record time and approved in an equally speedy way. Can you trust it? Can you trust a process funded and pushed by a government you might not believe in and a process expedited that normally takes years?

Am I contagious?
Answer = I don’t know.

How anticlimactic I know. We don’t really know what side effects (if any) might occur with this vaccine. Will we be required to take it? How will this requirement be enforced? Where will you fall in to the line of recipients? There are still a lot of unknowns and that can drive anxiety through the roof. I know some people have been feeding on the fear and anxiety for months now. Logging on every day to get their hour by hour update on covid cases, sanitizing their hands because they touched a key board that brought them to a site that discussed covid (I know its hyperbolic, forgive me….)

You are going to be fine, you will survive this and in time, if you want a vaccine you will be able to get it. It’s likely that annually you will be getting this vaccine now. Hang in there, even if you have been consumed with fear over covid, anger at others for not taking it as seriously as you do, relief is on the horizon. This should be a time for you to reflect on what you want the next 6 months of your life to look like. How will you personally come back from the covid crisis? Will this be a battle cry for you? Maybe you will start a blog about some aspect of your experience?

The vaccine is here, don’t succumb to more fear and anxiety about its availability or how many people can get it when. You can’t control that yet, and in time it will be widely available and you will be able to get it if you chose. You’ll then be in a great position to take up the banner for the next fight, should it be mandatory or not? Rest up, the covid wars aren’t over yet. The business of fear is to profitable.

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Justice

2020 Presidential Election, what the law says happens next.

There is a lot of information, misinformation rumor and innuendo right now on voter fraud, office of the president elect on and on. We all knew it was going to be a mess, and it is. Let’s take a step back from the haze, and take our fingers out of our ears as no one is shouting at you here. Let’s just look at some facts.

Below are the specifics of what happens after Election Day. Yes there is a formal legal process. This has been used before (see 2000 election). In most cases the winner is clear and the loser concedes the contest which allows us to forego the Dec 8 deadline. That hasn’t happened yet, and despite all the screaming at Trump, he is within the rules for not conceding yet.

Source: https://www.ncsl.org/research/elections-and-campaigns/the-electoral-college.aspx

  • Nov. 3, 2020: Election Day, when voters in each state will select their presidential electors. The 0presidential candidate, s/he is also casting a vote for the electors already selected by the party of that candidate. If a majority of voters in a state vote for the Republican candidate for president, the Republican slate of electors is elected. If a majority vote for the Democratic candidate, the Democratic slate of electors is chosen.

Above is one of Trump’s arguing points, we have an “election day” and the votes on that day are the only ones that can be counted (that’s the crux of his argument). Now this includes mail in ballots received on or before 11/3. Constitutionally he might have a point but I doubt highly the supreme court is going to impose a federal mandate on states here, normally they allow the states a great deal of latitude on how they handle voting.

  • Dec. 8, 2020: Deadline for Resolving Election Disputes. All state recounts and court contests over presidential election results must be completed by this date. (3 U.S.C. § 5) . For the majority of states the date of certification is the same as for all contests, but in eight states there is a deadline that either directly references 3 USC §5  or uses similar language, requiring that disputes surrounding the selection of presidential electors be resolved in time to meet the “safe harbor” deadline: Indiana, Iowa, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia. For detailed information on state post-election processes, please visit this page.

This is exactly what Gore used in 2000 and what Trump is using now. He does have the right to challenge the results if he thinks there is fraud. Of course he has to PROVE there is fraud and not just proclaim it. This is the deadline date, once we get here save for ongoing litigation state votes are certified.

Enough
Had Enough of 2020 yet?
  • Dec. 14, 2020Meeting of the Electors. The electors meet in each state and cast their ballots for president and vice president. Each elector votes on his or her own ballot and signs it. The ballots are immediately transmitted to various people: one copy goes to the president of the U.S. Senate (who is also the vice president of the United States); this is the copy that will be officially counted later. Other copies go to the state’s secretary of state, the National Archives and Records Administration, and the presiding judge in the district where the electors meet (this serves as a backup copy that would replace the official copy sent to the president of the Senate if it is lost or destroyed).
  • Dec. 23, 2020: Deadline for Receipt of Ballots. The electors’ ballots from all states must be received by the president of the Senate by this date. There is no penalty for missing this deadline.

Both the points above are essentially the same, but this is when official Electoral ballots are signed by Electors. Generally these follow along the lines of the state mandate, meaning if Biden won NH and got 4 Electoral College votes, all 4 electors for NH would vote for Biden. Now there is no federal law, or constitutional requirement that electors must follow the will of the state vote outcome. There are however STATE penalties if they do not, and generally this never happens but it can. In theory those electors can chose not to vote for Biden and instead vote for Trump or vice versa, or not vote at all.

  • Jan. 6, 2021: Counting of the Electoral Ballots. The U.S. Congress meets in joint session to count the electoral votes.

This is the end of the line, once these are counted by congress and verified by the joint session it becomes legal record. The person with 270+ wins. There is no going back, no more challenges. Now PRIOR to this the Supreme Court can order a delay if it has pending litigation pertaining to the election outcome. It’s highly unlikely but it can happen.

  • Jan. 20, 2021: Inauguration Day.  The president-elect becomes the president of the United States.

Whomever obtained the 270 is sworn in as the next president of the United States. Again this can be delayed if the counting of the Electoral Ballots was delayed. Once the ballots are verified by congress it’s usually 2 weeks after that inauguration happens.

So that is technically what we are looking at. Expect legal challenges to keep happening right until the deadline by Trump.

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Ben Franklin

Wisdom from the past – Benjamin Franklin

“Freedom of speech is a principal pillar of a free government; when this support is taken away, the constitution of a free society is dissolved, and tyranny is erected on its ruins. Republics…derive their strength and vigor from a popular examination into the action of the magistrates.” Benjamin Franklin

If you are actively trying to silence/cancel other people’s ability to speak freely you are a tyrant or the tool of a tyrant. You are without question one of the most dangerous people on the planet. You are willing to shut down others because you don’t like them, or don’t like what they have to say. I actually pity you, and when the day comes when YOU are the one silenced/canceled you will receive no quarter.

Even if you don’t like what you are hearing or reading the ability to say or write it is paramount. When we silence others, we create the conditions by which dissent festers and breeds revolt and violence. History is littered with examples of this, you shouldn’t have to be reminded.

Don’t become worse than those you dislike, you will not be able to live with yourself and no one will want to live with you.

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Vote

The other 5% – A Politics piece

As many of you know I don’t do politics often on this blog. I think this is my 5 post on politics in 2 years. I’m not going to go on and on about how bad one person is, or if another has cognitive decline or who is better etc. I am going to go talk about the other 5%. What is that? That is the average % of voters who don’t vote for Democrats or Republicans every year.

In the U.S. we have a two party system. It is corrupt and rotting in my opinion. Both the main parties have been infiltrated by corporate interests and those who do not necessarily have the voter’s interest in mind. It’s such a mess and the marketing around both parties has created an us vs them mentality to drive sentiment either way and push the consumption of the mouth pieces for either or side. I know that’s cynical, but things are bad and anyone telling you “IT’S THEM” is part of the problem, in my opinion.

The alternatives? Well there aren’t many. You see the two corporate corrupt parties have created the conditions by which they dominate election processes. Ballot access, as an example is a perplexing maze of red tape that takes decades to navigate. We have only one other party, the libertarians, that are on the ballot on all 50 states. Really? A country with 300 million + has a choice of 3 parties? The main two parties are multibillion dollar operations, good luck getting equal time with that kind of money in play.

Just Vote
Remember to Vote !

In the U.S. there are 2 major parties as discussed, a viable 3rd party that does have ballot access in all 50 states the libertarians. We also have “4th” parties that have ballot access in some states not others. They do not have enough access to win enough Electoral College votes for their candidates to win the presidency outright. Those are The Green Party, The Independent party, and The Constitution Party to name a few. The Green party has the best shot of getting ballot access to all 50 states next, we’ll see.

There are of course many other small local and state parties, but they don’t have ballot access nationally. The 3 main “4th” parties mentioned above, might have ballot access in 1-5 states. These “other” parties take approx. 5% of the vote every year (give or take). The purpose of the post today is to let you know there are alternatives. You do not have to vote for the candidates for the corporate parties. You do not have to “chose a side”, you do not have to fall in line and be a part of the “us vs them” narrative. You can chose to vote for someone else in another party.

They have ideas too, they have platforms they stand for things. Are they perfect? No but look at the mess we are in now because of the two party system. Maybe it’s time to have a 5 party system where all ideas have to be considered and discourse has to be civil because voters have viable choices outside of the multibillion dollar corporate parties currently dominating.

Okay rant over…. Thanks for hanging in there with me.

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Looting, Violence, Racism

I’m not going to go on some profound rant here. Everyone who disagrees with you is not an idiot. Everyone who agrees with you is not necessarily a good person. Just because you think something is right, doesnt mean its right. This applies to all of us, if you chose to draw a line in the sand and deal in absolutes nothing changes.

I wont take the easy way out which many do and blame the president. Im not going to take the easy way out and say everyone out there participating in the title are terrorist. I am going to say very simply, you know whats right and wrong. When you sit back and chose a side and then pile on to the other side you destroy nearly any chance of reconciliation. Opportunists will take this and run with it, sowing discord divides and conquers.

Normal well intended people with a platform will use it to push simplistic idea’s and solutions. Repeating talking points they saw or read somewhere else. Rarely do you see substance in their prose. They dont know what to do either. Shouting loudly to people who nod and agree and shout back their agreement just creates more noise. Soon, no one will be able to hear.

It’s easy to blame others, to latch on to a popular notion and run with it. You are empowered, you have other people who feel the same way you do, you are emboldened. Its sad to see what is happening out there, and I have seen it before in 1992 when Rodney King was beaten, 60+ people died. Oh sure there have been others, Furgeson, on and on. Cops killing Americans in the street is an atrocity that should be dealt with severely. A 3rd degree murder charge is ridiculous.

Racism is real, it is not exclusively owned by one race. There are people, in the U.S. who want to harm this country. Who want us to be at each others throats tearing ourselves apart from within. Will you allow it? Will you be, yet another voice that points the finger and says “IT’S THEM NOT ME!!!”

You are smarter than that, you know the problems that plaque us as humans are complex. You know this isnt simple, you know there isnt a quick fix. Be kind to people, and step outside of your comfort zone and engage someone who has a different point of view.

Otherwise this will keep happening, year after year, decade after decade, century after century. Maybe in 100 years the U.S. has dissolved. Someone else will come along, will the cycle continue? I dont know, but I do know we are better than this, all of us.