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The Only Way to Get Ahead Now Is Crazy-Risky Speculation

Summary:
It’s all so pathetic, isn’t it? The only way left to get ahead in America is to leverage up the riskiest gambles. It’s painfully obvious that the only way left to get ahead in America is crazy-risky speculation, but nobody seems to even notice this stark and stunning reality. Why are people piling into crazy-risky bets on speculative vehicles like Gamestop and Dogecoin? The obvious answer is because others have reaped a decade or two of wages in a few weeks, and skimming a couple hundred thousand dollars in a few weeks or months is the only way an average wage earner is going to be able to buy a house, fund a retirement account, afford to have a family, etc. Look at the reality of wage stagnation: I made an hour in 1986, and

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It’s all so pathetic, isn’t it? The only way left to get ahead in America is to leverage up the riskiest gambles.

It’s painfully obvious that the only way left to get ahead in America is crazy-risky speculation, but nobody seems to even notice this stark and stunning reality. Why are people piling into crazy-risky bets on speculative vehicles like Gamestop and Dogecoin? The obvious answer is because others have reaped a decade or two of wages in a few weeks, and skimming a couple hundred thousand dollars in a few weeks or months is the only way an average wage earner is going to be able to buy a house, fund a retirement account, afford to have a family, etc.

Look at the reality of wage stagnation: I made $12 an hour in 1986, and I wasn’t some highly paid techno-guru or Wall Street shill. $12 an hour was an OK wage in 1986 but it wasn’t fantastic. Now 35 years later, $12 is still an OK wage. A lot of people make less than $12/hour.

But what happened to the cost of healthcare, housing, childcare and everything else required to have a family in those 35 years? These costs have exploded higher. It was already a stretch to buy a house in 1986 making $12/hour, but now–are you joking? Depending on the region, the cost of a modest house has tripled or gone up five-fold or even ten-fold in the past 35 years.

As for getting ahead by starting your own business–that’s another bitter joke. In 1986 I was able to provide our single employees decent healthcare insurance for $50 each and those with families for about $150 per month. Our employees did not pay a dime for this coverage. We (the employers) paid all the healthcare insurance costs as well as workers compensation, liability insurance and unemployment insurance (federal and state).

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the consumer price index (CPI) has risen such that what $1 bought in 1986 now costs $2.40. Try buying real healthcare insurance for an employee today for $50 X 2.4 = $120 per month. The CPI is a pathetic joke when it comes to housing, childcare, healthcare, higher education and all the other big-ticket expenses of having a family.

All the expenses of operating a business have soared even as liability exposure, compliance costs and junk fees have skyrocketed. And by definition, you’re “rich,” even if you’re losing money, because you’re a business owner, so there’s a tax target on your back as state and local governments jack up junk fees, penalties, fines and taxes on everything that isn’t already overtaxed.

As for getting a graduate degree to place yourself above the competition–credential inflation is even worse than price inflation. There are 100 other equally credentialed candidates for every high-paying slot, and if you (foolishly) accept the big-bucks job, your life outside of work is over. You are essentially a well-compensated indentured servant of your Corporate America masters.

And now that you’re “rich,” you’re also a Tax Donkey, paying between 40% and 50% of your earnings in taxes. The billionaires and their corporations pay little or nothing, as they’ve got the tax dodges (philanthro-capitalist foundations, offshore tax gimmicks, subsidies enacted by cheaply-bought politicians, etc.), but you, indentured servant of Corporate America–you’re “rich” and should pay more.

So please work harder and make even more income, and if you’re lucky we’ll let you keep a slice of the higher earnings. But maybe not, because, well, you’re “rich.” You don’t own anything and can barely afford a family, but you’re “rich” in terms of earnings, and that’s what counts.

Charles Hugh Smith
Charles Hugh Smith is an American writer and blogger. He is the chief writer for the site "Of Two Minds". Started in 2005, this site has been listed No. 7 in CNBC's top alternative financial sites. His commentary is featured on a number of sites including: Zerohedge.com., The American Conservative and Peak Prosperity. He graduated from the University of Hawaii, Manoa in Honolulu. Charles Hugh Smith currently resides in Berkeley, California and Hilo, Hawaii.

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