We write to you from the plane, en route to Acapulco with some important news about the election.
(More on why we’re in Mexico in tomorrow’s episode.)
“Democrat front-runner Hillary Clinton,” Bill Bonner announced in his Diary last week, “is the Deep State’s top choice for president.”
How does one procure such seemingly-sensitive information, you ask?
Well, there’s no need to pull any “favors” out of the golden rolodex, nor chum it up with any hairy loudmouths in a sauna.
All Bonner had to do, in fact, was simply follow the money.
“She has already received $21 million from Wall Street for her campaign,” he wrote. “That’s 280 times more than Bernie Sanders.”
Unfortunately for the elites, syphilis, according to one well-watched Youtube video, is more popular than Hillary. So they have their work cut out for them.
But we’re not writing to you today to talk about syphilis. Or Hillary, for that matter.
Sure, Hillary’s Wall Street dollars deserve more attention. Yet, they are only the microcosm of what’s fiendishly allowed in broad daylight… spread bald eagle… in Washington.
“You can’t take a congressman to lunch for $25 and buy him a steak,” former lobbyist Jack Abramoff said. “But, you can take him to a fundraising lunch and not only buy him that steak, but give him $25,000 extra and call it a fundraiser.”
These “fundraisers” are, without a doubt the best, most reliable and lucrative investments money can buy:
One recent study published in the Journal of Law and Politics revealed that a company, on average, receives $220 in tax savings for every single dollar spent lobbying.
That’s a whopping 22,000% return on investment. For proof of just how lucrative lobbying can be, simply take a peek at the Lobbying Index — which measures stock performance of the top 50 corporate lobbyist powerhouses.
And take a look at this chart from The Economist, dating back even further.
Not bad, right?
This is, of course, what happens when companies are given free rein to write laws in their favor.
(There’s a word for that. It starts with an “f” and rhymes with cashism.)
As a result, more resources and energy are spent on magnetizing corporate welfare than on innovating and providing value and employment.
Why compete, so says the crony, when you can just buy a moat?
One example we think you’ll get a kick out of was buried inside the 2014 omnibus budget deal: “Congress used the deal to secretly put taxpayers back on the hook for bank bailouts,” Mansur Gidfar writes for anti-lobbying activist group Represent.us. “That’s right — in 2014, our representatives repealed a law that prevented the American people from bailing out big banks that engage in risky derivatives trading.”
Of course, in a saner world, you wouldn’t have to worry about such nonsensical laws because the government wouldn’t wield such power in the first place. Alas…
What’s worse is, according to the New York Times, 70 of the 85 lines in the bill came from legislation drafted directly by… guess who… lobbyists from Citigroup.
Yeah… that bank.
“The federal government agreed Sunday night,” the Wall Street Journal reported on Nov. 24, 2008, “to rescue Citigroup Inc. by helping to absorb potentially hundreds of billions of dollars in losses on toxic assets on its balance sheet and injecting fresh capital into the troubled financial giant.”
So, in the end, hands are shook, money is sent and laws are written. Then, the cherry on the whip cream… the customary offer:
“When you’re done working on the Hill, we’d very much like you to consider coming to work for us.”
Boom. Punted. Perfect kick.
“The moment I said that,” says Abramoff, “we owned them. And what does that mean? Every request from our office, every request of our clients, everything that we want, they’re gonna’ do.”
Why, you look surprised.
The ‘revolving door,’ you must know, is business-as-usual: “In the 1970s,” Gidfar points out, “less than 5% of retiring legislators went on to become lobbyists. Now, half of retiring senators and a third of retiring house members do.
“It’s hard to overemphasize how tempting a revolving door gig can be. Congressmen who go on to become lobbyists get, on average, a 1,452% raise. Small wonder they’re willing to throw a few votes the lobbyists’ way with that kind of money on the line.”
And that’s not even counting the so-called “shadow lobbyists.”
“Researchers estimate,” Gidfar adds, “that there’s actually twice as much lobbying as what’s publicly disclosed — making the business of influencing politicians a $7 billion industry.”
The worst part? Crony capitalists get to have all the fun while we, the peons, get a limp-wristed vote in the booth.
Our ROI is embarrassingly flaccid compared to the cronyists. Embarrassingly.
For this reason, in our humble opinion, there are an infinite number of ways you could use your time more wisely than to get sucked, once again, into the political mousewheel.
In fact, today, you’re going to see 71 better investments of your time, provided by LFT friend Dan Carpenter from the The Daily Prep blog.
Pick one action item from the list below and, using the amount of time other people spend debating, fist-pumping and voting, invest your time in this instead.
If you do so, here’s a personal guarantee…
You’ll bear far more fruit than you would pulling your hair out over who is Mr(s). Popularity and taking the time to vote.
See for yourself.
Without further ado, here’s Dan.
The ROI of Political Atheism — 71 Investments that Beat the Presidential Election
Image Source: NobodyForPresident.org
If presidential elections were an investment, I couldn’t be a bigger bear.
That may not come as a surprise, because as a self-declared “political atheist”, I’m bearish on a lot of things that some people can’t seem to understand. But Presidential Elections are a particularly wretched form of scum and villainy.
Think about it: For roughly 12 months out of every four years, the United States presidential race hijacks the airwaves and water cooler conversations throughout the entire country.
As if by some divine duty, otherwise sane and rational people will drop what they’re doing to post infuriating comments to strangers on Facebook. Athletes, actors, and other pop culture icons will suddenly become geniuses on the role of government (one of my favorite phenomenons).
People invest hours, days, months into this contest of contests. Watching news coverage. Live debates. In some cases people spend time making phone calls or going door to door for their candidate of choice.
And yet, if you’re honest with yourself, will anything about your life fundamentally change on November 8th, no matter who gets elected?
Will you have a new job? A new house? Will your kids love you more? Will you be in better health? Have a different set of hobbies? New friends? Will you stop liking Mexican food? Will you suddenly become a billionaire?
No. Your candidate either wins, or loses. The End.
I hate to break it to you, but the tax breaks, the bread and circuses, the troops coming home, and a million other things are not tied to the outcome of the election. Your candidate is not going to “save” America. You’re not getting a shout out. You’re not going to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. for dinner.
So, in what world is the time that you spent worrying about it a good investment?
<cue the crickets>
Fortunately, in an attempt to remind you to spend your time more wisely, I’ve put together this handy “quick reference guide” of things that will yield you a better ROI on your time than the presidential elections (feel free to forward to any wayward souls).
71 Time Investments Better Than The Presidential Elections
1. Bang the chalk dust out of erasers
2. Iron all of your T-shirts
3. Watch Full House re-runs
4. Throw paper airplanes off something high
5. Organize your baseball cards by RBI average
6. Build a business
7. Talk about building a business
8. Think about talking about building a business
9. Troll YouTube
10. Read the signatures in your old yearbooks
11. Host a meatloaf sampling party
12. Enroll in Rex Kwon Do
13. Volunteer to clean toilets for free
14. Watch obscure sports on ESPN 9
15. Spend time with your kids
16. Contemplate your belly button
17. Schedule a bunch more meetings (like, a lot more)
21. Lean the official rules and scoring of Olympic Curling
Image: ABC News
22. Train a puppy
23. Train another puppy
24. Volunteer for a non-profit
25. Read War and Peace like 3-7 times
26. Clean gum out of cracks in the sidewalk
27. Put in overtime
28. Walk backwards for a week
29. Call up old friends
30. Learn a language
31. Go skateboarding
32. Take a night class
33. Have a loogie spitting contest with your friends
34. Work on your genealogy
35. Finally beat the entire HALO series
36. Make a paper mache sombrero
37. Plant a garden
38. Road trip to Plano, TX
39. Learn about alternative energy
40. Restring all your shoelaces like the cool kids do
41. Get a second job flipping burgers
42. Text everybody in your phone “how’s it going?”
43. Form a shell corporation (no clue why, but sounds sweet right?)
44. Restore a ‘66 Mustang
45. Check your Twitter feed
46. Light your farts on fire
47. Make finger puppets and put on a show
48. Watch all the James Bond movies in order
49. Do some math
50. Read The Constitution
51. Work on your book idea
52. Say overdue “I love you’s”
53. Clean out the car
54. Go camping with the family
55. Move your retirement accounts offshore
56. Articulate to your kids the difference between “lay” and “lie”
57. Collect back issues of Better Homes and Gardens
58. Hit every 7-11 in a 100 mile radius
59. Learn who your city and state officials are
60. Go to a badass monster truck rally
61. Buy and sell things on Ebay
62. Attend a themed movie party
63. Assemble a vehicle survival kit
64. Hit up a Boston concert
65. Learn how to make eggnog
66. Power wash your driveway
67. Take up Yoga
68. Climb a tree
69. Learn to type in Dvorak layout
70. Drive for Uber as a side gig
71. Set a Guinness record for most T-shirts worn at once.
There you have it. You’re welcome.
A little slapstick? Guilty. But the message is plain.
There are still 265 days until the presidential elections in November. The media, the pundits, and your well-meaning neighbors will doubtless have plenty to say. But while everybody else is spending their time “feelin the Bern”, or talking about what a monster Trump is, do something that actually yields a positive ROI with yours.
[Ed. note: We met Dan last year in Lithuania. Since 2010, he’s published over 400 videos teaching people how to be self-sufficient on his site THE DAILY PREP. He is a Certified Permaculture Designer, and a major proponent of grid independent housing and internationalization. When he’s not helping people with self-sufficiency, you can find him eating some BBQ, reading a good book, or enjoying the mountains in Salt Lake City, UT.]
Managing editor, Laissez Faire Today
P.S. Have something to say? Say it! Chris@lfb.org.