Getting the last word in

A while back I was a rep for an investment company. We’d schedule appointments and meet with people to try to get them to buy our stuff. I did this for about six months. We had a script we’d run through, and sort of adapt to the person we were talking to. The schpiel took about two hours. Early on, they’d pair us up with a more experienced coworker to go out to our appointments. Sometimes we’d get the sale. A lot of the time we didn’t.

One of the guys I worked with was good at talking with people, but his “confidence” out-paced his impulse control sometimes. He didn’t do this on any of my appointments, but I heard about him getting frustrated with a prospective client and telling the man, “You’re gonna die broke!”

I remember being rather puzzled at that. We’ve all heard the phrase, ‘You can’t take it with you.’ It was a stupid thing to say. Maybe on a rare occasion a broker might be able to insult their way into a sale by guilting a client, who’d said no, into investing. I doubt it happens very often. The statement is usually a “last word” dropped by someone who can’t accept their own failure at an encounter.

But what does that mean, to ‘die broke?’ It sounds like another idle phrase that people throw around that goes unexamined, like the way people talk about someone not having a ‘pot to piss in.’

In our post-modern times of finance and accounts, and everything having a price tag, it could mean that the client won’t be leaving anything to family. It could also mean that the client won’t have enough savings to pay for their final arrangements. This is what happens quite often.

But let’s look into it’s possible history. The other phrase I mentioned, about people being so poor they didn’t have a pot to piss in goes back centuries to the time when people collected urine to sell to the tanner. Urine was used to tan leather. It had value. It was worth not just spilling on the ground. If you didn’t even have that much means you were in a pretty bad place in the culture.

Dying broke may have meant that you had nothing to give to the ferryman, Charon. Those who cared for the dead placed a coin on the eyes or mouth of the deceased as payment for their passage across the rivers of the underworld to Hades.

I’m the one who thinks of this stuff. I doubt my boisterous and loud former colleague, from several presidents back, had any idea that this was an implication of what he was saying.

One microstep towards honesty about the National Debt perhaps


The Federal Reserve will end its program of buying $600 billion in Treasury bonds in June as originally planned, the Fed’s policy committee said Wednesday after a two-day meeting.

The thing is more complicated than my headline. For decades, every dollar printed is borrowed from the Federal Reserve at interest. That is a large portion of the National Debt. In addition the government has borrowed money through the issuance of Treasury Bills, Treasury Notes and Treasury Bonds. Individuals and institutions have been able to purchase and trade these and the government (read Tax Payers) has been liable for the payment of principal and interest on these debt securities. Other nations, most importantly China, buy the securities as well. Recently the Federal Reserve has been buying the bonds, creating a sort of double whammy since we’re still paying interest on the paper money in circulation. This is going to make it harder for the system to stay afloat as the dollar will lose value after these purchases stop in June.

It needs to crash. And when it does we need to develop a new system independent of the World Bank and IMF and the Federal Reserve.

What a Trillion really means

A trillion is a lot of money. Spending $1 Trillion at $1/sec. would take one person 31,709 years, 289 days, 1 hour, 46 min and 40 seconds to accomplish. It would take the two houses of Congress working jointly 59 years, 98 days, 18 hours, 47 minutes and 58 seconds. Maybe if they did that they wouldn’t have time to think of new ways to spend what isn’t theirs.

Trillion BucksThat’s counting the stuff. Let’s look at how much space it would take up: One trillion dollars in $100 bills would take up 10,000 pallets, double stacked and cover over an acre and a half.

Now people may read this and say well it’s all in computers and we would never see that much cash in one place. True. And that’s the problem. Because we’ve never really had a clear picture of it, Because we’ve spent our way up there without a real understanding of the scope of what we’ve been doing, We’re in debt such that we can never pay it off.

Eventually it will fail. And after that, the people making decisions and signing trillions into existence with a penstroke will have to be replaced with other people who understand what should be a simple principle, that we cannot consume more than we’ve produced.