Don’t Vote: You Have Better Things to Do

--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.”

Surprise.

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.”

Yes sir…

--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.

Looking for Alpha Chart

And take a look at this chart from The Economist, dating back even further.

Beat you in the lobby chart

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.

[FLASHBACK TIME!]

“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.”

[END]

--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.

Any.

See for yourself.

Without further ado, here’s Dan.

Enjoy…

The ROI of Political Atheism — 71 Investments that Beat the Presidential Election

Nobody for President

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.

Sorry.

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)

18. Take up running

19. Try your hand at beekeeping

20. Write/draw obscene things on bathroom mirrors with lipstick

21. Lean the official rules and scoring of Olympic Curling

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

Better Homes and Gardens

Image: WebDesignDepot.com

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.]

Until tomorrow,

Chris Campbell
Managing editor, Laissez Faire Today

P.S. Have something to say? Say it! Chris@lfb.org.

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