Financial Independence

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My favorite definition of Financial Independence is: When monthly passive or portfolio income exceeds monthly expenses. There seems to be only a few ways to do this. Paper assets like dividend-paying stocks or bonds, real estate assets like rental properties or mineral rights, owning a business, or a large online vlog/blog.finance image

I think that most of the people on ericpetersautos.com are fairly frugal, and don’t have a spending problem. I think we would all appreciate more income, though. And I know for a fact that all of you are at least above average on wisdom and intelligence. That’s why I want to ask this question here and not on the various finance blogs I also frequent.

Short of inheriting or winning a large amount of money, is it even possible to achieve financial independence as defined above (in a lifetime)? Am I wasting my time reading all the books, going to all the sites and listening to all the podcasts? It seems it’s pretty easy to achieve financial independence when you’re already rich. I don’t have $250,000 to invest, so I can’t be an accredited investor, so I can’t do what they do. The more I learn, the more I subscribe to the notion that the rich get richer and the poor stay poor. I don’t want anyone to think I’m a socialist. It’s just, very very hard to change classes isn’t it?

Thanks for reading.

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99 COMMENTS

  1. There can be no real security. Even accredited investors lose money at times, and I expect the bubble to finally collapse soon. GM Bondholders had passive income but the bankruptcy was overridden. MF Global stole clients money to speculate.
    There’s real-estate, and you can get some on credit, but it needs to be maintained and you might have to evict tenants. Even if you had wealth, you might have your parents get ill and have to take care of them, (you’ve not mentioned you are married).

    In order to build up a nest egg it works best in a low tax state. And one with low regulations. You are in Virginia where if you go 81 you commit a misdemeanor, the cost of living is higher, as are the taxes. I’m in Wyoming where the speed limits are 70/80 (same as MT), wide open spaces that aren’t patrolled heavily, 4% sales tax (Amazon does not collect), no income tax, low cost of living. Most of the high planes states are like that. There are two sides to the equation – income and expenses. I can meet my expenses with a minimum wage job here and I’m a highly paid engineer. I had problems saving much even while getting high wages in San Diego and Seattle. I voted with my feet. (I also have craft beer in walking distance and gigabit internet and lots of local, natural food so it isn’t backward, though there’s less big-city entertainment). It extends to regulation if I want to start a business. Being frugal in a high cost area is different than being frugal in a low cost area. You can vote with your feet. You may wish to remain in Virginia, or maybe somewhere else might be good (Detroit exburb?).

    To apply philosophy, Libertarianism is based on voluntary exchange. At its root, you wish to get an income without exchanging anything in return. Why would I voluntarily give you money? What do I get in exchange? What “passive income” is giving out part of your money because to someone with a different time preference with the PROMISE you will get more back than you gave out. Sometimes promises aren’t kept, so you need to charge both time interest and a risk premium. Or that wealth is a house people will pay so much a month to stay in.

    If you have a pile of gold, you can simply treat it as an annuity so you expect to live 50 more years, the pile must be 50x the yearly income you want. Securities – stocks and bonds – can go up or down, and worry about a bail-in even for your bank account. What of those who were wealthy with passive income in Greece or Venezuela? The zero and negative interest rates are unnatural. You aren’t going to get a passive income easily in this environment (except maybe locking in low mortgages for rental property – but you have to hope people will be there to rent it out at a profit). But that’s still leverage and if you can’t find renters you go bankrupt.

    If you have skills and can increase them, you can increase the hourly return so you won’t have to work as hard. And most skills have tutorials on the internet now.

    There is one final bit of advice. You love doing certain things. Find a way to monetize what you want to do on a constant basis. You like driving 8 hours a day? Maybe you could not merely review but test cars over the long haul (I knew some engineers when I was working at Ford and Chrysler that would drive through Minnesota and North Dakota to test winter performance). There is probably something you enjoy doing so much you don’t think of it as work, but that someone will pay you adequately for. Tom Woods apparently has succeeded in creating a site that generates income, and Stefan Molyneaux does so entirely with donations.

    I’m employed as an engineer, but if that came to an end I already have several parachutes ready. But a lot of that is made much easier with the low expenses. And it isn’t just the statistical “10 cheapest places to live” – everyone is different. Some want nicer housing, some want better food, some want better social events.

    Maybe your situation is optimal or there is a reason you are bound to your location (I was when I had to be there for my parents). But if not, see if you can find your best situation geographically, and based on where people pay you for doing what you want to do anyway.

    • Hi Tz,

      I like the idea of Wyoming … but it’s too late for that for me. I’d have to start from scratch in middle age; leave behind everything – including my friends. I just haven’t got the gumption for that anymore.

      If I were 30 or so … it’d be different.

      On the rest: I’m a writer; I don’t know how to “monetize” a web site. Another thing to learn and become good at. It’s just getting to be too damned much.

      • Eric, I know it is a pain in the ass, and takes a long time, but moving might be the change you need to renew your perspective on things. It will at least give you something to look forward to.

        • Hi Brandon,

          That’s what some say, but I’m past that time in life. If I were 28 or 30 or even 35, I’d seriously consider Argentina and starting over. But I don’t have the 20-plus years it takes to get back to where I am now. If I could even do that – which is not likely. Changing careers and where you live is viable when you’re in your 20s and 30s… in your 40s and 50s, forget about it.

    • Tz, thanks for the advice. More on low cost of living state, and real assets. Land and gold are good. And as far as voting. Voting with where you move and where you spend your money are arguably the only two ways you can actually vote in this world.

  2. I think being a psychopath is your best option.
    I draw attention to this article as explanation. It’s public so far as I know.

    Uncommon Sense: How Brexit and the Loss of Free Trade Could Cost the Middle Class

    Find it at:
    http://blog.spdrs.com/

    This is one of the bigwigs at a certain financial institution (ranked #3 on “companies which could destroy the world” type of list.)
    Apparently, looking to a world where countries are unique and manage their own shit is immoral and idiocy, and following the logical precepts that created the middle class, will destroy the middle class.

    It’s a simple example; there’s a follow up to it on the blog, too, “Brexit Fallout: Market Reaction and Emerging Pockets of Opportunity.”
    Note that Brexit didn’t destroy the markets as TPTB had suggested (still hasn’t. But the predictions of an immediate Market Tank were untrue, and so far it looks like it’s not going according to TPTB’s wants; Tank economies and clean up on shorts and options.)

    IF – AND ONLY IF – the spdrs blog URL works, here’s a direct link to that entry:
    http://blog.spdrs.com/post/uncommon-sense-how-brexit-and-the-loss-of-free-trade-could-cost-the-middle-class

    Again, SHOULD be public (Found it via Google), but don’t want to get fired for posting “private” things… Which are public… So let’s not draw attention to this. First to check, please reply and confirm it’s public. 🙂

    • Jean, thanks for the comment. I was able to click and view the link no problem. The media’s and TPTB objective is obvious. They’re telling us what we should think. They want us to be against brexit and for globalism. I’m sure we could find the exact same article in 10 different places on the Internet. They’re all working together in an effort to shape public opinion. Have you heard of #Gamergate? Multiple gaming news agencies colluded and agreed to post similar stories to create a narrative. It was so obvious and in such a short time span, though, that there was a backlash. Thankfully, Gawker media (one of the colluding agencies) and their founder are now bankrupt.

      • Yep…

        Return of Kings had a lot on Gamergate.
        Also, some interesting side notes from Hawaiian Libertarian, Keoni Galt.
        http://hawaiianlibertarian.blogspot.com/2016/07/getting-paid-to-deny-disrupt-degrade.html

        Yes, they are all working together. We need to damage them… By any means necessary, at all costs, even.
        I cannot stomach what these animals are doing. They’re worse than the inner city issue, because they’re smart enough to exploit others (Read: Hide their mess), and they think because they’re not washing their hands literally, they’re clean.
        It’s what I spoke of elsewhere, about the pollution of the soul.

        I’m almost out of here, I realized I’m doing the work of three people – and not receiving the pay any more.

  3. As I mentioned in my post about Roths, reaching FI could be done at one time. It probably can now if one is (a) fortunate and (b) keeps his eye on the ball from 18 until retirement. Yeah, sure…… easy for me to say……

    I posted this separately since I know some don’t like long posts.

    I’m 77 and retired at 55 on the first day I could get any sort of settlement from my current employer. I have not once said “Gee, I wish I were back in the office today!”. I loved my work, but hated the conditions under which I had to do it. Nothing will make you hate work more than lying, cheating corporate management. So every time I had an offer to join them, I changed jobs. (a), above, had something to do with being able to do that as I was early, and therefore scarce, in the computer generation. And by the time all the schools were cranking out CS majors, I was talented enough to fix the crap they produced, so still valuable.

    Some of the things I had going for me are harder to do/find now, but many of the basics are still sound. Don’t buy anything you really don’t need. If possible, pay for everything up front. Debt is the biggest killer of independence. Don’t waste anything you have already bought. Try to fix everything that breaks if you possible can. I bought my automotive tools at 16 and, as I have mentioned in other posts, the box wrenches are kind of round now. If you have the space, keep all the broken stuff. You might want to do something with the pieces some day.

    Don’t chase 50% returns, look for good solid 5% returns and stick with them. Avoid “trading”. In the long run, the broker does the best on most of those deals. I have some AT&T, Southern, Detroit Edison, etc., in my IRA which I have owned for 20 years. The AT&T has appreciated an annualized 8% not including dividends. It currently yields 7.5% on my initial investment on top of that. (My savings accounts currently yield 0.1%)

    Take advantage of every tax sheltered opportunity, even if it means not having a new TV or any of the latest-and-greatest anything. Essentially all my working life, I sheltered about 10% of my income in employer plans or an IRA [(a), again]. They are getting a piece of that now, but I was able to use all my investment capital instead of sharing it with them for 50 years or so.

    Move to a state with lower living costs and less regulation. The best move we ever made was get out of The Soviet State of New Jersey in 1964. Now you can’t even do that without paying an “Exit Tax”! You will make less, but keep more.

    We built our (nice) house in north Alabama before any inspection except septic tank and electrical connection to my meter panel were required. Except for the foundation, we did it with our own hands, buying materials on the amount of credit card debt we could pay off each month. We moved in with only insulation for ceilings and only partial interior walls. (Can’t do that even in North Alabama now, but I bet there are still pockets of freedom in the U. S. where you can.) Oh yeah, use the credit card companies’ money, preferably with a cash-back plan (Cap1 pays 1 1/2% on every purchase) but pay it off in full each month.

    There is stuff that is gone or going fast. Some of the stuff has already been listed above, so, sorry, you missed it. I got my engineering degree when tuition was $1000/year! I co-oped, as did both my daughters. That worked for us as well as it did for them. Neither they nor we had any college debt (see above comment on debt). It takes a year or so longer, but if you have any talent at all, you will have at least an entry-level job when you are done, and probably little debt even at today’s tuition levels.

    That 55 year-old retirement included a small subsidy for health care. Even 22 years later, I get $4300 toward the supplemental insurance my wife and I purchase. It covers about 75% of our annual premiums. I bet that is rare now.

    But you know, even with all that, the debtors may do best in the long run. When the inevitable total collapse of the U. S. of A. comes, or the nukes fly, they will at least have “lived in style” and their debts will be gone along with their assets. So much for good advice.

    • Oh, yeah, I took my small pension as a lump-sum. (Remember, I changed jobs to avoid becoming management on average of every 5 years.) I figured I could manage it better than they could. And in line with my comment on lying/cheating corporate management, they paid those lump-sum payments at the wrong annuity value for years. They admitted it when caught, but dragged paying it off through the courts for years. When they finally did run out of courts, they paid, but the lawyers got most of the money. If you think that was a small theft, some of the retirees got over $100,000 even with the money being burned up by legal fees! We have no idea what the final terms were as they were kept confidential as part of the settlement. (Fortunately, I was only with those crooks for 10 years, and I wound up with about $1500 more.)

    • Good post. Only thing I would ask is “Why wait until 18 to start?” A good home school student will be able to start either a part time job or a small business while keeping up w/studies. They can also use CLEP, for example, to begin their college transcript. Any classes that cannot be tested for, as above, but available at the local community college should be taken there, especially English Comp and similar ‘washout’ courses. There is no reason, no advantage, to borrowing money to leave home for college. Unless you are majoring in parties. And that’s even assuming you really need a degree.

      • Agreed, Phillip –

        I’d give (and have given) any young person interested in writing – whether it’s journalism or otherwise – the advice to skip the four year degree unless they have the money and time to piss away. A reasonably bright kid should have acquired all the essential tools – basic literacy – by the time they are 15 or so. I learned absolutely nothing that bears on my ability as a writer today during the four years I spent in college.

        But, I went to college because in those days (late 1980s) it was necessary. Not to do the work of a reporter or editor. But to get the job interview. A BA was mandatory, just to be considered. But it is no longer necessary – because there are virtually no jobs in newspaper journalism. If you want to write – just write.

        You might not make any money, but if you are a writer, the compulsion to write can’t be denied.

        • Yes, if you want to learn anything, especially something like writing, do it! If you find you need to know more, educate yourself. No ‘paid professional’ educator, especially gunvermin employed, can do it better. Especially in the age of the internet.

        • My uninformed opinion of writing is that unless grade and high school failed someone all it takes beyond that is doing. Practice. In school writing something was painful and took a lot of time. Today in five minutes I can write a comment better and longer than any essay I wrote in school.

          As to degrees that’s exactly it. The degree is required to be considered. This is true of so many fields including my own.

    • Arylioa, thanks for the story about your experiences and advice. When you say 5% return, are you talking about yields or capital appreciation? Tough to find 5% yields. What would your opinion be on a portfolio consisting of only the dividend aristocrats (have paid and raised dividends every year for at least 25 years)?

      I would argue the entire North East and West coasts are consumed by the clover mindset. While invaders from the south will turn certain southern states into de-facto Mexican states. And clovers from the aforementioned areas continue to invade the well-off lands that remain. Soon there may be nowhere to hide.

      • Basically a long-term investor with a split between Widow’s and Orphan’s stuff and growth firms. For instance, my IRA currently has CAG, COP, CVX, D, DTE, DUK, GPC (which I have held for at least 30 years, talk about growth!), K, KMI (currently at a loss), MOCO, MRO, NEM, PSX, SO, T, UGI, WM.

        After investing for nearly 50 years I recently bought my first speculative stock. Elio Motors. How’s that for this site? But I don’t have enough to get Eric his test ride on my own.

        I have had two perfectly sound companies go to 0. Allis Chalmers and Eagle Computer.

        You asked yield or appreciation. Example: I bought AT&T in 2003 for $24.20. Today it is $43.08. That annualized return is about 3.75%. But currently the dividend is 0.48 per quarter. That present-yield-on-investment is 7.75%. Not too shabby. Obviously the stock did not yield that over the entire period, and obviously, the return is inflated dollars. But like I said, my savings account currently pays 0.1%.

        Obviously, I rode that through the “Big One”. We have seen some of our holdings at 40-50% of what I paid during periods like that. Generally, we have sat tight (after the first one or two of those, my wife has relaxed a bit). Maybe even bought a bit more. Sure, it is easy to say “If I had just….”. Funny, I am impatient in every aspect of my life except investing.

        I have figures of all our capital gains and dividends for our entire experience with securities. Our earnings in dividends are 129% of our earnings from capital gains. The long-haul type of portfolio has worked for us. With no salary for 22 years, we stay ahead of our expenses, at least on paper.

        • ARYLIOA, thanks for the insight. Is there a reason you choose individual stocks over ETFs and Mutual Funds? I would prefer to have control over my portfolio, and choose the stocks I want. But paying ~$8 a trade is pretty expensive when I can only invest a little at a time. What brokerage do you use, if you don’t mind?

          I see you have a lot of energy companies mentioned. I like your strategy. I like utilites. You didn’t mention Microsoft, which came up in our other conversation. It is an Aristocrat, but one of my occasional criteria for investing is that I have to like the company or use their products before I invest in them. 😛

          • We use Schwab. We have my IRA and joint brokerage accounts, and Schwab Bank checking and savings accounts. Moving money around is all done electronically, including having my big pension (one I couldn’t take as a lump-sum) of $87.06 a month auto deposited in the checking account. You can set up money-link transfers to/from other institutions. For instance to/from a local bank where you might maintain a working-funds checking account. You can set up autopay for things like mortgage payments or credit card balances. They are extremely flexible.

            I have owned Microsoft, McDonalds (wish I still had that one), Intel, etc., at one time or another. I did not “trade” in them, but did watch the business cycle and deal with them as I thought best.

            Schwab does have a small family of their own ETFs which trade without commission, and also commission-free trading in some by other firms. Some mutual funds trade without a fee. There are hundreds of CDs which also trade without commission and I have parked some of the funds from the recent sales there, albeit at what I consider terrible rates. At one time or another, I have used all three of those possibilities.

            It might pay for you to at least check out the possibilities. You can find out most of the info on-line without having to have an account. We have been with Schwab for a long time and don’t hesitate in the least to recommend them. I am sure there are other brokerages which can do much of the same. We have been with Schwab for a long time and don’t hesitate in the least to recommend them.

  4. Let’s see…. I’ve had two employer pension plans shutdown on me because they canceled them and I didn’t have enough time in so mine were liquidated. I’ve survived two stock market crashes (one because I was in the right things 401K wise for the first, the other because I pulled everything out of stocks before the bottom fell out) but never went back in to try and ride the bubble and survive a third. I’ve worked for companies that collapsed taking the employee stock funds with them. Unless the market crashes, I get back in at the bottom and learn to ride these waves there will be no retirement for me. That’s the game we have today. You either play it and win or you lose. Even if you don’t play you lose because of ZIRP.

    There seem to be retail funds available to everyone which are skimmed and gamed and then other funds in which make good money that require a six figure investment or at minimum a very high income. I’ve come across a couple only to find if one’s income level wasn’t very high, say 200K/yr they wouldn’t allow the investment even if one wanted to put in 1/4 million. It’s a pretty clear set up to keep the riff raff out. Even heavy-duty savers can’t buy in because they won’t meet the income threshold.

    • Brent, thanks for the comment and your experiences. Sounds like you’ve had some pretty bad luck in this game. I’m sorry to hear that. These cycles last about 8 years, historically. (Dot com crash of 00, financial crash of 08, xx crash of 16, etc.) Of course, we can’t allow a crash right now because we need Hillary elected. If a crash happens before November, that will help Trump significantly.

      The 200K income limitation ensures that only the rich can play the good game on the winning team. Can’t have the regulars trying to leave for the greener pastures. Must keep the machine at work. The system really is beautifully designed.

  5. When you consider that 40% of Americans make less then twenty thousand a year and over half make less the thirty thousand you know that most will never be comfortable financially, let alone stable, forget about being independent.

    Is it possible to be financially independent anymore? Of course it is. If you have the will, you probably will make it at some point.

    But its way harder then it used to be.

    It was never “easy” but in the past, the deck wasn’t stacked up against the average person as badly as it is today.

    The problem with financially security for the majority of us, is that wealthy people don’t need the government for the basics. But if your in the half of American’s making under thirty grand, its near impossible to not be part of some “program”.

    • Rich, thanks for the comment. Not only do the rich not need the government, they don’t pay taxes either. The tax laws are written by the rich for the rich. The average American spends more in taxes as a % of income than millionaire investors. They can afford to pay lawyers to legally comply with and manage the tax loopholes that us proles cannot.

      • The rich need and want taxes.

        What they DON’T want, is to PAY taxes. That’s for us little people.

        GE got negative taxation last year.
        And I paid more than Al Gore.

        If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention.
        Problem is, many minds wish to remain asleep.

  6. Hi Brandonjin,
    I just turned 70 and having been retired a few years I had thought by now I would be financially independent, which I would define as having enough cash to eat out when I felt like it, travel occasionally (nothing exotic), and not have to worry about the regular monthly bills. I’m fortunate enough to have a decent pension having worked as a troubleshooter for the local electric utility for 42 years. I know I’m a dinosaur since all the younger people I talk with a) don’t have pensions and b) never worked for the same company for more than ten years or so; even my old company no longer has a pension plan, 401k’s for all…..except the executives of course. They get multi-million dollar bonuses in addition to their humongous salaries, which cash probably comes from what they didn’t spend on maintenance over the past few years.
    My house is paid for but as Eric has pointed out I don’t “own” it since I have to pay property tax for the privilege of living here, which takes more than half of my Social Insecurity check. Which is another screwing by the Feds since the money stolen from me for all those years is taxed again every year on my federal income tax form, even my home state of Taxachusetts doesn’t do that.
    I also thought by now I’d have a nice supplemental income from my savings and IRA, a safe 5% or so return that would let me sleep nights but thanks to the Fed’s make life easy for the banksters zero interest policy that’s a nonstarter. I refuse to take the bait and “invest” in the stock market having gone through the crash in 1987 that wiped out almost half my 401k at the time I can see they’re setting everyone up for another one, frankly surprised it hasn’t happened yet.
    My house is probably the most valuable asset, but that’s it’s own catch-22, since we have to live somewhere and I like my present location and how everything is set up, having had 40 years to set it up. At some point not to much farther in the future the costs and hassle will be too much for us old farts to keep up with so at that point selling the house will provide a nice cash cushion when we follow my sister’s lead and move to Florida.
    Sadly it appears my generation will be the last to have any kind of retirement anyway since Uncle is grinding away what’s left of the middle class; the 1% will own everything and the rest of us will be allowed just enough to keep everyone in line, kind of like “Wayward Pines”.

    • Mike, thank you for the long comment and your experiences. Very sad that this is what things have come to. The switch from pensions to 401ks is unsurprising. One requires paying employees for their service after they retire. The other simply requires 3% of the employee’s puny paycheck… after 1 year of employment… managed by a company with 3.5% in expenses and fees. It also puts the burden of saving for retirement on the masses, and frees up money for the golden parachutes. Only government organizations and a few big companies like Coca Cola still offer pensions.

      I think you’ll enjoy Florida and its low taxes. Unfortunately, they make up for it with police state revenue. But that’s another rant.

      • Interestingly enough, there’s more coming.
        Social Security is the example, but – State Street recently posted an open letter to Congress. The VP or C-level wrote how Americans don’t save enough for retirement – and so should be forced to set aside some of their earnings in retirement accounts…
        Just like Social InSecurity.

        So, like O-Care: You can’t afford insurance, so we’re going to mandate you buy insurance….
        Actually getting care is a secondary thought at best.

        Note, there are people out there who think O-Care was a GOOD thing. They don’t seem to understand it didn’t work…
        And they cite such things as this gem:
        http://obamacarefacts.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/rising-cost-of-premiums.gif

        No bias in THAT link… Not a chance! 😛 /sarcasm

        “Freedom of choice is what you got;
        Freedom from choice is what you want…”

        But we’ve been over that many times.
        I think there’s a way to do it with an LLC corp, but I never saw a purpose to it. Now maybe I’m getting older and wiser; if I “pay” myself a pittance, maybe I can get somewhere. I own the stock, the stock pays no dividends, the corporation is solely owned by me… Maybe I could shelter things until the end of my work time, and avoid paying taxes? The old A+L=OE equation might work. (Assets + Liabilities = Owner’s Equity.) I’m just concerned that the FedGov will decide that I’m not being paid “appropriately,” per my “market value” – and so they’d decide I owe more taxes, and the business owes me compensation, plus the back taxes, plus penalties (which can be 150%, maybe more.)

        Ultimately, I think Mao was correct: All political power flows from the barrel of a gun. TPTB are willing to shoot us as examples… Keeps the herd in line.
        We are more refined and polite, and we are actually on the line – so they use it against us. We (1) don’t want to engage in violence, (2) MUST do things ourselves if things need to be done. TPTB send someone else to kill us, and think nothing of either their assassin or us. So they sleep very well at night, and Piggy Piggy is just their bagman.

        We are our own mastermind, and “employee”, and bagman, and assassin, and still need to hold down a day job…

        We’re outnumbered and outgunned before we start…

        • RE: retirement. Up until Socialist Insecurity was instituted, no one retired unless they could afford it. It was not considered automatic.
          In addition to being a Ponzi scheme from the beginning, and being sold to the sheeple as an insurance program (which they admitted to the Supreme Court that it was not, because they knew that would be unconstitutional) rather than the ‘entitlement’ it actually is, I remember reading somewhere that the whole motivation was screwed up. Someone in the FDR administration decided that there weren’t enough jobs to go around, so they should encourage the older men to retire and make the jobs available to younger men with families who needed them worse. And at that time the average life expectancy was not much beyond the proposed 65 year ‘retirement’ age.
          I know some of you are not interested in my Biblical viewpoint, but God created Man (Adam, in Hebrew) to work. To tend the garden. Nowhere in the Bible is retirement remotely referred except that the priests were not to actively take part in service at the Temple after the age of 50.
          Abraham was 140 years old when Isaac got married. He turned the family business and fortune over to him, then moved away, remarried, and started another family.
          It’s one thing if you are unable, either physically or mentally, to work and earn. It’s another if you just quit and ‘rest on your laurels.’

          • Hi Phillip,

            Speaking just for me, “retirement” doesn’t mean I stop working. I means not having to work. I’d like, for instance, to write just for the pleasure it gives me, without having to write what earns a buck. It’d be nice to be free to do that at some point before I die – and ideally, before I get too old to do more than lie in bed and wait to die.

            • What about “automotive fiction” books?
              Mad Max, maybe?
              Only, written with more about the vehicles – why they survived, why the others didn’t.

              “Deathrace 2000” comes to mind, too.

              • Yeah, I’d love to… but the book deals have dried up. Because “free” everything online. I stopped working on Doomed. I’m sick of working for freeeeeeeee.

                I’ve had two invitations in just the past three weeks to “contribute” articles … for freeeeeeeeeeee!

                I get asked to do radio interviews every week… also for freeeeeeeee!

                It’s just incredible to me that writers are expected to work for freeeeeeeee!

                  • That’s another work-for-freeeeeeeee model. Like their “partner” program. Like Goo-guhl and its “click” advertising program. The producer/creator gets half a cent or so for every dollar earned.

                    Why bother?

                    Fucking Internet. I have a love-hate relationship with it. Yes, it’s a wonderful means of getting – and spreading – information and entertainment. But it has probably unemployed two-thirds of the people who produce the information and entertainment, while the remainder (most of them) work for peanuts.

                    This site, for example, has as many readers as a successful mid-tier/regional magazine or newspaper had in the ’80s. And the mag/newspaper had a full-time/paid staff of people producing it. Guess why? Because people paid to read the thing. Others paid to advertise in it. Today?

                    It’s all freeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!

                    Well, for those who “consume” the work produced.

                    My last two books (early 2000s) earned me low five figure advances; sounds like a pile, but keep in mind it takes six months of steady full-time work to write/edit a book; sometimes, longer. Anyhow, the time it takes to put together a book is the same but now there are no advances. Well, not unless you are an already famous politician or celebrity – in which case you get a six or seven figure advance and someone else ghostwrites the thing for you.

                    So, you work six months, maybe a year writing a book and self-publish it (an additional layer of work; you get no help editing or formatting; you’re also now in charge of marketing it, using your resources) and earn a couple hundred bucks if you’re lucky. Because once it’s online, anyone can read it for freeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee – so of course, few pay to do so.

                    It sucks pustulated bunghole.

                    I had to put Doomed aside (it’s 80 percent finished as far as the text) because I just don’t have the time to work for freeeeeeeeeeee anymore.

                    I’m barely managing as it is.

                    Honestly, it is tempting to just give up – become a Republican – and get rich. I could have – and sometimes (again, honestly) I regret that I did not sell out and join their got-damned club. Become a predator, as they are.

                    Hannity and Beck and Rush… I guess they’re smarter than me. They don’t have to sweat a $1,200 Urgent Care bill for a chainsaw injury. They decided to cash in. And have more cash than they can spend.

                    Maybe it’s the thing to do.

                    In my darker moments, I have such thoughts.

                    • Ah, didn’t realize that Amazon made such a mess of things…
                      For what it’s worth, we’re all in the same boat. 🙁

                    • Hi Jean,

                      “For what it’s worth, we’re all in the same boat.”

                      Unless you work for the government. Or for some “business” that works with it.

                      Or, in my field, become a whore for Team Red or Team Blue.

                      That oily little WOG Dinesh D’Souza comes to mind. Or Anne Coulter.

                      As damaged as I am, I still have a conscience and can’t bring myself to do it.

                      So I keep on doing this… for however much longer I’m able to.

                      $39 for the month so far.

            • I frequently write software at home in my favorite language, Pascal, instead of Ada, which was mandated in aerospace. Some of it is to just make a few jobs easier on my computers, some of it to help manage my investments.

              Opinion: Ada kind of took a good thing (Pascal) and ruined it. No wonder government mandated it.

              And I am the only lying/cheating management I have to deal with. And the only crappy software I have to fix is my own.

              Except, of course, Microsoft (who has hired many of those CS majors I mentioned in my tome) helped burn a lot of my “idle time” lately by “giving me” Windows 10. I have had a year of “fun and excitement” beating that beast into shape. So yesterday, they released the “Anniversary Update” which undid most of what I had done in the last year. Who in Redmond cares if they overwrite most of my settings and system changes? Microsoft knows best!

              I will spend the next day or so putting it all back like I had it. Even with my 17 pages of notes (I kid you not, and they will be longer after today) three computers will require at least that much time.

              • Mandates are always a problem. One of my brothers, not as old as you but a Math major because CS was not yet an option (at least at his school) got a gunvermin IT job. His department wrote several specialized apps for OS/2 (you will recognize that this was several years ago). The state leg, with its usual infinite wisdom, mandated that all state agencies must standardize on MSWindows, so they had to rewrite all their custom apps.

              • Arylioa, Windows 10 is the biggest pile of garbage I’ve ever used. Other than Windows 8. Why bother with it? I really don’t know what I’m going to do in 2020 when they stop supporting Windows 7, which has got to be one of the best OS’s for me.

                • I wanted to dual boot to have windows 10 but MS set up it so with the ‘free’ upgrade you had to burn your bridge behind you after 30 days.

                    • I abandoned Microsoft products and have been running Linux as my primary operating system since the late 1990s and haven’t looked back.

                      Windows 10 is pernicious. “Windows as a service” is the new mantra. This means that Microsoft treats your computer as a terminal on their network. They control your PC, and de facto own it along with your data. Read the EULA and weep.

                      It also means they ultimately want to rent Windows to users to give themselves a continuous revenue stream. Microsoft is tired of people buying a computer and using it for years without sending a nickel back to the mother ship.

                      With the anniversary release they are already stripping features out of the Pro version that at least gave you a modicum of control. If you want that back you need to lease Windows 10 Enterprise. That’ll be $7 (to start) per seat per month in perpetuity, thank you. Aimed at businesses now, but I have no doubt it they’ll be gunning for home users as well when the company believes they can get away with it.

                      There’s nothing I need from Microsoft. Actually it’s only on the traditional desktop that the world runs on Windows. Linux owns the embedded space and a huge chunk of the server market. (Then there’s Android, but I stay away from Google products as well.)

                    • When I get a free weekend, I try to install Ubuntu on a spare hard drive I have. It never works. I’m terrible with computers and everything, so linux in general is pretty tough for me. I did get mint to install with little issue though. I would like to give ubuntu a try, because I think it might be easier to use than mint.

                      Jason, your angle on Microsoft is spot on. They keep trying to push me away. In fact, all companies are looking for a way to implement a perpetual revenue/rent model. Brent mentioned this a while ago. This unlimited cash flow will be great for the majority stakeholders and executives at the company, while ensuring the permanent slavery of the proles. This is why we must save all of the old reliable products we have. Not just cars. Everything old is a treasure. The 7 year old printer I have, for example. If it breaks, I will find a way to repair it. I will try not to buy a printer that has “planned obsolescence” built into it. The office chair I have is not perfect, but it has maintained its padding after all these years. My dresser too. I have a GE lamp that was built in 1993 and it still works. You never know what will be cheap and shitty in the future.

                      Back to Microsoft… unfortunately, a lot of software can only be used with windows. I know, though, that as time goes on, this becomes less and less the case. I guess it is one thing to actually look forward to in the future!

                    • Ubuntu went the way of Microsoft some time ago.
                      Best bet, run it from a disk or thumb drive, using TOR and other secured browser systems.
                      It runs on boot, and given a few tweaks to an image, you should be able to make it fudge the ethernet MAC address (Supposed to be unique, but I know it has been fudged.)
                      Best to hide all you can.

                      They say if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to worry about. Then they invent ex post facto crimes (E.G., Massholetusetts and the “assault rifle” ban, which turned people into felons overnight by “reinterpreting” a law. Somehow the dumb AG cunt is still wasting good oxygen. Not an ounce of sense or defiance in these domesticated humans.)

                    • Shows the way the wind blows and how it can build the dune so high you can’t get across it.

                      I started on Apples in the early ’80s but switched to “IBM compatibles” because of their open hardware architecture. Then Windows appeared and I accumulated and wrote more and more software which ran under that OS. Right now, it appears that I am not only hooked, but gaffed.

                      I have tried several flavors of Linux over the last 5 years, trying to break the chains. Right now, I have two killers to keep me from switching. My Delphi (Pascal) software with which I have created much of my working software. And my Access data bases.

                      Free Pascal/Lazarus just requires too much rewrite (I have thousands of lines of code) in addition to my finding it to be a bit too “fragile”.

                      Open Office/LibreOffice can convert the data bases, but cannot convert the reporting from those on which I rely. I am not even sure they could reproduce all of it even if I started from scratch.

                      Resolve those, and I’m gone. But I really don’t see that happening in my lifetime.

                      I am certain that at some point I will be truly screwed as MS starts removing old capabilities from Windows. I have seen most of my MS-DOS stuff drop out and know eventually the software/hardware advances will kill much of my older Windows applications, starting with device drivers for my “classic” hardware.

                • All this will sound like a major business operation, but is just a retired computer weenie doing his thing. I was involved with software development for essentially all my working years.

                  For my personal use, primarily record keeping and calculations, and browsing The Internet, Windows 10 is the worst version of Windows by far. I started with the first, and the only one I missed is W8, so I pretty much feel confident in my evaluation.

                  It cannot do things properly with my network of three computers and three network storage devices which were a piece of cake for W7. That’s Progress.

                  I just got the wonderful Anniversary Update. I have spent a full day (probably 10 hours, and I use notes) bringing my settings and configurations back where I had them on all three computers. Microsoft knows best, don’t you know? “You have WHAT for your settings? That can’t be right. Let us fix them for you? And how did you find out how to disable Cortana?”

                  I back up full images of all my computers a couple times a month. In a fit of idiocy, after getting W10 somewhat beaten down in about November of last year, I deleted all the W7 images I had. Otherwise I would be back on W7. I have a lot of installed software, so creating a full system takes about 2 days for each computer.

                  I do love poking around in software, and working with W10 has kept me out the bars and the casinos, so……… wait a minute!

          • (1) I know plenty of people who “rest on their laurels.” AND they’re drawing a paycheck. 😛
            (2) I think the artificial nature of our world here is part of our problem. We don’t NEED to retire if we still have energy and vitality. But the modern world – being no garden – stinks. We’re drained as quickly as TPTB can do it. (Hence, more and more radiation. Shortened lifespan and increased cancer is merely a side benefit, from their view. Enhanced propaganda is also great…)

            There were no priests in the time of Adam, either. Not even a concept of Hay, for that matter.
            But as hunter-gatherers, we probably lived far healthier lives as well. (I wouldn’t place much stock in the ages, actually, as age has importance in “older” civilizations, but our “advanced” era ignores the old as stupid and irrelevant. BUT: a leader, in those societies, would gain elan and position by being “104” or such. If you Google, there’s a scene in “Eat Pray Love” – lousy film, but this scene was good… Talking to the Guru, she asks how old he really is, He replies, “103. {smiles} Or maybe … 62.} And goes off for his nap… 🙂

            His age was a selling point. Our age routine is reversed, we worship youth; the show is “Younger.”
            (Never watched the show, I just know the tagline.)

            I think we should handle things differently.
            Old age doesn’t mean infirmity, nor mental incompetence.
            Youth conveys little more than naivete and easy recovery/higher survivability of injuries.

            • Jean, I’ve never met an old man who couldn’t teach me something. When an old man dies, a library burns. I didn’t know modern society worshiped youth, I thought it was just celebrities.

          • I’ve never seen retirement as not doing anything. I’ve seen it as to stop doing things I don’t want to do.

            Mike Rohe has a good piece about ‘follow your passion’ and what BS it is. You do what is economically viable, sustaining for you.

            Retirement is when you have the resources to do something else you like even if it can’t produce the income needed to live.

            Then there are the barriers in the economy. Deliberately put there by the way. You pick a career at 17 years old and you become stuck with it in most cases. No matter what skills you teach yourself the odds of being hired to do that at anything close to the wage you’ve become accustomed to is near nil. Being hired at all is unlikely unless you’ll work cheaper than anyone else doing it. I am a self taught in so many fields it’s absurd, but there’s only one I am employable in. Retirement drops those barriers. Because the income level maintenance isn’t required.

            • Hi Brent,

              “Being hired at all is unlikely unless you’ll work cheaper than anyone else doing it. I am a self taught in so many fields it’s absurd, but there’s only one I am employable in.”

              Yup, exactly.

              I’m in the same boat. Middle-aged, spent all my working life up to now in journalism, as either a reporter or an editor or (as now) a columnist. What lateral move could I make? Realistically, I’m too old to go back to school and get an entirely new set of credentials and then the work experience/contacts needed to begin a second career. Fifteen years ago, it might have been doable. Not now. Unless I am willing to compete with people half my age and even if I could, I’m too old to move up the ladder. My age is a limiting factor. A 25 year old has 25 years to invest. I don’t have 25 years to invest.

              It’s all pretty demoralizing.

              • When I was living in Dallas I worked for a small, independent company that made oilfield control valves – not the big Christmas tree stuff, but the little things on and around the control panel that operated them. The owner/founder had a degree in Petroleum Engineering. His assistant/right hand man started straight out of high school as a draftsman. By the time Larry passed away, Ricky was the virtual equivalent of a PE. But he had no credentials, so he was SOL.

    • Mike – I’m in almost the exact same position as you. Spent my whole life in taxachusetts, 35 years with the phone company. Decent pension, saved a modest amount in 401k and we lived a fairly frugal lifestyle so we could pay off the mortgage, cars, etc. and send the kids to college. The only difference is that we did make that move to Florida, and I’m here to tell ya you want to think long and hard about that. The summer heat and humidity are brutal and endless, the traffic is a nightmare and then some (especially in winter when the snow birds are here), the crime is unbelievable, and I don’t mean run of the mill car theft and such, I’m talkin’ weird shit like people lighting dogs on fire, home invasions, you name it. There are some good things too. Cost of living, especially taxes, is much lower. Better gun laws, less restriction on what you can do to your car (no inspections, nobody cares about exhaust mods, tinted windows, etc.). Just realize that after a couple of months of dealing with a MA winter, a trip to FL seems like paradise, but actually living here is a whole ‘nother story. We’ll probably move back up north in the next couple of years. I doubt that we’ll go back to taxachusetts, but Floriduh isn’t the place to be either.

      • Vzguy- thanks for the insight on living in Floriduh (even my mom called it that when she lived there), I admit to looking thru rose colored glasses after the past few winters up here. I have spent a month or 2 in past years as a snowbird since my sister had a few spare bedrooms and invited us down; traffic really does suck big time, at least here you can get around outside commuting hours, there it was gridlock all day long. I do like the inexpensive meals and happy hours, along with no car inspections – can’t allow any of that stuff here in the Puritan nanny state! I was there once for a week in August, family wedding or something, and the heat/humidity was a killer. At least here when it gets into the 90’s it only lasts for a few days at a time, can’t imagine having that for months on end.
        Ideally we could find an out of the way rental and be snowbirds for January and February but that might be more hassle than it’s worth, my cats don’t travel well and there’s always the possibility of damage to the house here from big snowstorms. Wish I could cash out of this house but like I said, I like my location and you have to live somewhere, hopefully down the road we can find someplace outside Taxachusetts with similar amenities but no hassles if such a place even exists ????.
        Good luck on your move back north!

        • Hi Mike,

          On cats… I’ve been dealing with a Flea Explosion… seven cats… you can imagine. I literally washed out the garage with gasoline. I was that desperate.

          I feel like the Wehrmacht in January of ’45, facing the Red Army across the Seelow Heights…

          • Hi Eric – Wow that sucks a rock, I’ve been lucky in that dept., my girls are strictly indoor (3 of them) and the one time they did get fleas was probably because I tracked them in. That stuff you put as drops on the back of their neck seemed to work ok but it did give one of them a dime sized welt and the hair fell out where applied; healed up ok though.
            Not sure what you can do, especially since you need to treat them all more or less at once or they’ll just pass the little buggers back and forth.
            Good luck, hoping for the best!
            Mike

            • Diatomaceous Earth is a good, safe treatment for fleas. You can even make a ‘pit’ for them to roll in themselves.

          • There is a Sevin dust made for cats that works wonders. You can cover them with it during a petting session and they don’t mind at all. I believe the last we had was Hartz Mountain. You can cover your house and everything else with it and vacuum it up after a few days. I’d look around somewhere close to the house for a big colony of them. We have 30+ cats that go in and out and rarely a flea. We had a spate of ticks but cats can get them off almost anywhere on their body. One of their favorite ways is to get close to you and the tick will wander to you. I haven’t had a tick get dug in on me this year and spring was pretty ticky. It’s rare for us to have a tick get on us and not feel it. Having one of those soft rug type mats at the doors loaded with tick and flea powder is a good thing when they’re bad. PtB said it well though, diatomaceous earth

            Our bane for the past couple years has been ant infestations. We’ve bought every type of ant killer you can imagine including diatomaceous earth and had very little success. My wife kept trying to kill a huge red ant(harvester ant, big bad-ass biting SOB’s) in the driveway behind the barn. Various types of really strong stuff didn’t kill them out permanently. They’d be virtually gone and then a big resurgence. She had the mound surrounded by the stuff and nothing so she took some used motor oil and poured on the poison and down the hole. First time that bed has been dead in years.

        • That would be the way to go if you can swing it, Mike. Really wish that we stayed in Mass and come down to FL for 6 or 8 weeks in the winter. I can’t tell you how much I hate the bullshit laws and regulations in MA, especially regarding guns and cars, and the taxes and expenses, but home is still home. Can’t stand what the liberal gov’t has done to that state, but it’s still where my heart belongs. Winter weather in FL is awesome, but otherwise this place sucks! Can’t wait to get out. Believe it or not, as bad as you think taxachusetts is, it’s better than Floriduh!

  7. You have to use your mind to come up with a really great idea, then you can make millions…
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xRxqY4wuTHw

    Hang out and network in a poor neighborhood around welfare check day. Charge ’em $50-100 a pop helping them pick up their “prescriptions”, visit homies, get groceries, hit wallyworld, etc. Helps if you speak latino and ebonics and don’t recoil in horror from their “diversities”.
    http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=284_1470090520

    Added bucks available if you can get their electronic presence established. They appreciate help buying hardware, apps to get, social media setups, posting things on craigslist for them, whatever.

    Don’t know what you’re looking for, but I scraped and extra $5k-$10k a year or so doing this kinda thing. But then again, I’m probably some kind of white hat sociopath, YMMV.

    • Tor, thanks for the comment and interesting ideas. I think you should consider offering a class on how exactly to market and serve this demographic. Seriously. Even if it was just a joke Youtube channel I think you could make some money with the audience you’d draw. And probably a lot of hate mail.

      Office Space is a great movie, one many of us can relate to. Although they had no idea how good they had it back in the 90s, or at least, how bad it would get in the following two decades. I thought the plot idea that software engineers being laid off/unemployed during that .com/internet boom was a little far fetched. But I wasn’t paying attention back then. It makes for fine entertainment, and many would argue it is one of the few mainstream red-pill movies.

      • “Office Space is a great movie, one many of us can relate to. Although they had no idea how good they had it back in the 90s, or at least, how bad it would get in the following two decades. I thought the plot idea that software engineers being laid off/unemployed during that .com/internet boom was a little far fetched. But I wasn’t paying attention back then. It makes for fine entertainment, and many would argue it is one of the few mainstream red-pill movies.”

        Office Space was accurate, really.
        I was in the business, while the consultant bit may not have happened (for us), there were frequent layoffs… “Right-sizing,” “Outsourcing,” “Insourcing,” RIF (Reduction in force)… It’s all about squeezing the most possible out of the fewest people possible. It’s not done yet. It’s not even the old joke about, putting two women on a baby and getting it in 4.5 months. They now want to put one woman on the task, and make her work 9 times as hard, to get that baby in 1 month…

        For example, we had people “refining the process” of testing… It went to automating the automation (a disaster) – but the responsible party, who sold the idea, left for the next company before it even got off the ground – leaving other people to try to make the idea a reality, and leaving them holding the bag when it failed (which some of us knew it would do from the start.)

        And the company decided to do housecleaning and got rid of the automation team.

        • Don’t get me started Jean. In the 1990s what I do was done by three people. This is becoming the standard. Companies want one man engineering teams. ONE man to do everything from leading and managing the projects all the way down to the drawing for a washer or label. In some cases it’s moving towards one man engineering departments. It would be somewhat acceptable if it came with a director’s or even manager’s salary and title…. but no, this is now the job title of ‘senior engineer’.

          • Been there, done that. 😉
            ADP, Inc.
            Circa June 2006.
            I was looking already. But told my boss, it was only fair – there were two of us. That was the performance team for our project.
            He found a better job first – so I did the work from about July to October. Made improvements, fixed our environment to actually run. (IBM machines in rack units – they looked like a frickin’ Christmas tree, all lit up with warnings. Bad disks, bad memory, etc.)

            First fix is a Cisco switch – $10,000 each. MUST be shut down via software. We came in one day, it just didn’t work. Anyway… Fix that, and the rest of the environment, and get our testing underway (1 month.)
            We get to the next major release. Version 17, I think. We’re doing destructive testing – turn off the Sunfire V550 box, see if the failover works. Failover worked – but the box was toast.
            Rebuild THAT database. And make it so the imports aren’t needed so often (so we could utilize offshore resources for two test cycles per day.) LOTS – I mean SHITLOADS – of calls from the India team at 3 AM, “The database is down.”
            I’m managing, mind – and complaining, but managing. Documenting. Acting as a team lead, with no team. Doing my boss’s job – the exact job he HAD NOT been doing, WRT maintaining the environment. (I guess that cost too much.)
            I’m doing 60-80 hours a week now, 6 hours sleep, for three months… And the entire database gets corrupted. As in, all the client records are toast. Test machines, fortunately, but still! Scuttlebut is, they’re setting me up to fail. I’d been there for 9 years, did they think what was said did not get back to me? ANYONE the boss told, anyone who overheard, it got back to me.

            Long story short, I left.
            Took vacation I’d stored, and from home that Monday, sent an email “I quit.”
            The EMC cluster was hosed, that’s a fiber-channel monster database backup. It had hosed the client database. We had been limping along with the system database running in single-server mode (invalidates the test, but the V550 wasn’t back yet.)
            They’d set the boss’s job of “Team lead” as a Tech-2 or Manager 2 level – they were going to skip me up from Performance engineer to Tech-1. But they wanted to have two other people to work with me… Doing the same job.

            So I left. I was in charge of the code deployment (as in, when to deploy, not the actual mechanics), the India testers, the database refreshes, the maintenance, the scripting (coding), the release planning…

            Came to find out later…. The substation outside the building was going down every night. For MONTHS. And they wanted to blame me for all their problems.

            FT and may they CHOKE TO DEATH on fish heads.
            And the place I’m at now is worse in some ways. 6 projects I’m working (The India people help us, but are basically doing 1 each. My boss is the Face man for the group. His boss likely doesn’t know what’s going on.)

            “Senior Engineer” is a promotion for us… 😛

            Now, here, they’ve outsourced most of our operations side. So, we used to walk across the floor, ask the DBA to do something, and submit a ticket afterwards for backfill. Completed issue in a few minutes.
            Now Big Blueshit handles all of that. Submit a ticket, and HOPE it gets done… Eventually. 6 months to PURCHASE – not even prepare, just PURCHASE – a machine. Longer for the hardening and prep work. Request a database operation? Need at least a day. Monitoring (essential for our line of work)? Well, they delayed for about 6 months, and no longer support our tool – NO deployments to happen. WTF?
            And this is after a contract negotiation. I swear like a sailor, and I sound like a nun compared to the upper management people when it comes to our support contract – and the business RENEWED it for another 5 YEARS.

            Most of our problems are best solved with a knife, and frequent violence. It’s honest by comparison. And the blood washes off… Unlike the bullshit, which muddies the soul.
            BTW, at ADP….? There was an intern-turned-associate (good guy in terms of ability) – the VP (who had been force-promoted, he was a joke to the entire organization, except the boss/BOB) was working to get him moved higher… Meeting relayed to me, “That one will fail, we’ll give that to [Jean], this one will pass, let Urvish run that one.”
            Urvish wasn’t on my team… Why he was in my environment, I don’t know – but it was a serious WTF? Maybe it had something to do with how and why I left…?

            If you are an honest man, you WILL be burned in this world. If you use them as if you’re a psychopath, you’ll be fine (except, well, psychopathic.)

            The only sane response to an insane situation – is insanity.

        • Jean and Brent, I was under the impression that the 90s were a good time to be in tech/software. However, I know the game is to always have the lowest paid employee do the work of the fired coworkers. Or in other words, see how many jobs you can fit onto one person. When that person’s overloaded workload causes a delay or error, blame them for not doing their job, fire them, and then hire someone else, cheaper. Like you say, this is becoming the norm.

          When I worked in a kitchen, on slow days, they would send my 2-3 coworkers home and leave me alone in the kitchen. Why? Labor costs for the hour were approaching 10%. So when the rush came it was me doing it all. And it was my fault when the food took too long to make.

          And then there’s the employees who flick orders and yell at other coworkers, pretending to be in charge. Unfortunately, management sees this as “taking initiative” and promotes that person.

          • “And then there’s the employees who flick orders and yell at other coworkers, pretending to be in charge. Unfortunately, management sees this as “taking initiative” and promotes that person.”

            Yup – and those people are just as often wrong.
            But it’s more important to “act and be wrong” (Actually from Patton) than to wait and get it right.

            Patton would be appalled, as it’s taken out of context. The quote is, “A violent plan executed now beats a perfect plan executed in two weeks.” Meaning, better to act and keep the opponent RE-acting, retreating, trying to understand just WTF has happened, and get back in front of the 8-ball, than wait until everything is perfect and the stars align.
            That DOES NOT mean, “CHARGE DOWN THE MACHINE GUNS!” It doesn’t mean “any decision is a good one.” It means you make a decision based on limited information, and adjust as things progress, trying to keep the opponents guessing.

            In business, we’re supposed to be on the same team.
            Development without QA is a MESS. QA without development has no purpose. Parts of the whole.
            But the ones shouting the orders, they just want RESULTS, RESULTS, RESULTS!!!! those results being, generally, a means to secure more prestige and power for themselves. So a person who waits five minutes for the details to become clear, is berated. And the person who sends information first, and goes in the wrong direction? Well, it MUST have been someone else’s fault.

            Examples abound, I’ve worked with a bunch. You get some who have REALLY good memories, like my current boss. But he can’t do what I can do… We make a decent team that way, but guess who gives the orders…?

            I don’t see a reason to work for 6 months to get a tool approved (since there’s an additional 6 months to one year lead time to get things underway – 18 – 24 months, to get approval for freeware? WTF? ) So I’m not a “leader.” And we’re putting out fires every day, and half of the To Do list doesn’t get started. (Example, we have a script we should have completed for a project back in June. Script not yet completed. But when The Boss has a question, I have to drop everything and get him answers. Despite his memory. So – they’re going live in a week, and we have no script, had to do manual testing. And it broke. I put in an hour here, an hour there, and… the system was down half the time anyway, plus three Production issues. Yes, I sound like I’m making excuses – but I’m not putting in 60 hours a week any more, and getting paid for 40. There’s no value in it for ME. I don’t get a bonus, I don’t get a promotion, I don’t get a raise. To my knowledge, neither does he, so WTF should I care? We’re part of the NWO, truly, but – a man’s got to eat. If they didn’t shit on us so much, I wouldn’t mind, but I spend as much time fighting the company as I do working on the software. It’s like we MUST use a metric socket set – on an Imperial system engine. And all I ask for, is the Imperial socket wrench set, and I’m told GFYS. (Go F Your Self.)

            NO ONE here takes initiative, BTW. so an example of our “planning” is: We are upgrading our infrastructure of necessity: No support come October 1. 60+ applications must migrate, as in – software won’t work. We’ve migrated a total of MAYBE 10 so far. Tested about 7.
            Does no one realize it’s AUGUST?
            Then, there’s the Windows side: Servers to be upgraded, new OS – Windows 2003 is obsolete.
            The database is changing, from Oracle 11 to Exadata (Oracle product).
            Sybase is changing, too.
            Monitoring tools are being changed, from BMC to Tivoli (IBM offering). (We don’t have access to Tivoli. BMC isn’t being installed any more. Who the F made that decision? It’s only OUR JOB to monitor while testing!)
            Meantime, we can’t even get the latest testing software installed without an act of Congress, AND a Supreme Court confirmation. (Seriously, we have to upgrade to Loadrunner 12.53 – we’re AT 12.5. We’d need to download it – which is grounds for termination, basically. Then we need to get some dupe at helpdesk to enable the install. Also grounds for termination – for both of us. THEN, we’ll need to get it packaged. THEN, we can get it rolled out to our servers, all 13 of them, EVENTUALLY. AND, we’ll have to test it on a VM that can’t run the software, and confirm it works. AND, we have to proof it against their user access control software, another major operation. But I digress…)
            There’s an Autosys (mainframe job scheduler) update happening, too.
            All in 2016. NO upgrades in 2015… Or 2014, I understand. (That went to updating to Windows 7. Cutting edge, I tell you. And those steps I outlined? We had to do those for all our software.)

            But change is bad, change is risk, it’s a disturbance in the Schwartz…

            Flicking orders…
            And a million people die of starvation in India, but the stock went up $0.001 cent per share, so our portfolios are 1.5 BILLION richer.
            They wonder why I drink…

            • The ones want something done now and blather about taking risks are the same ones who go on about how you can’t succeed if you don’t fail and then punish failure. And by punish failure I mean find whatever you did that didn’t work out perfectly or whatever you did that wasn’t perfect or just plain exploit whatever flaws or weaknesses you may have as a reason to say you weren’t successful enough.

  8. Being an employee has never been the road to financial independence. Most people will need to work 40 hours a week for someone else to pay the bills, then work another 20 or more for themselves in some business of their own, until they can swing the switch and leave ’employment’ behind. Of course, the advantage of owning your own business is that you can choose which 70 hours a week you work. (h/t Gary North)
    The Fed has destroyed ‘savings’ as a viable path, even to retirement, let alone ‘financial independence.’ And they are blowing bubbles in the stock market. Real estate is still an option, if you know what you are doing and are careful – either rental properties or ‘flipping.’

    • Hey Phillip, thanks for the comment.

      I agree about the retirement thing. I wonder if I should even bother contributing anymore to my Roth. Why tie up money that could be used to buy/leverage a rental property. I’m not into flipping really. I’m subscribed to the cash-flow school of thought, not capital gains. If I could eventually make 2 grand a month I’d be so happy. Until it gets inflated away. But that’s why we never truly stop working.

      • That Roth thing is just another con. Plus, it’s infantalizing. You put “your” money in it and all of a sudden it’s no longer yours to do with as you wish.

        I stick with cash – and physical property at least nominally under my control.

        • That’s a good idea Eric. I don’t have much in it, so no big loss. I stopped contributing 3 months ago due to a loss of steady income. Not sure when/if I’ll start throwing any more into it.

        • Roth is just pay the taxes now instead of later. How they get you is company match. Either put the money in the 401K or not get part of your salary. Of course the company match is a poor substitution for a pension.

          • Hi Brent,

            Roth and 401s also sequester capital – you can’t use it to build wealth under your control; meanwhile, the Wall Street shysters use it to build their wealth to further control you.

            “Contributing” also assumes a higher return than inflation and that the government won’t simply seize the principal whenever it decides it requires the “revenue.”

            Inconceivable?

            Obamacare was exactly such a thing a mere 20 or so years ago.

            • I understand fully what it is, but not doing it gives up salary in the form of the match.

              Corporations these days typically have around a 6% match these day. If you put in zero the company doesn’t put in 6%. They put in zero. If you do 1% the company does 1%.

              The whole idea of passing up the match seems worse than the government restrictions.

          • I have done well with a conventional IRA and careful investing in securities from the first year IRAs were established. There are other reasons, like building a house in the woods with our own 4 hands, but I have been retired for 22 years, and most years have had more (admittedly inflated) net worth than the previous. So I can’t really complain about any tax-sheltered contrivance. It at least gives you “breathing room”. Even a Roth does that.

            But unexpected danger lurks in a Roth that likely will bite folks in the butt. Eventually The State will impose a consumption tax. Think of what happens to your Roth money when something like the (un)Fair Tax is imposed…… it gets heavily taxed when you spend it. And the “starting rate” is proposed at 23%!

            Don’t get me started on the (un)Fair Tax though…… your Roth will not be the only thing that will suffer, particularly if you are retired. Think of all those payroll taxes you paid, for which you got a “Paid in Full” receipt on retirement day. You are forced to pay them all over again every time you buy something. Great plan. For The State.

            I have my own set of rules under which I believe I would support a consumption tax, but they would never pass muster in a meeting of politicians and bureaucrats.

            • Income taxes are likely to go higher too biting the traditional 401K. For those of us that started in the 90s 401K’s are rough road in general. I simply split the difference between roth and traditional. 50/50 in an effort not to get hurt too bad no matter what the government does tax wise. That is if they just don’t steal the 401K wealth outright.

        • Which also leaves a back door to gun confiscation, see Obama’s order that seniors who have managed portfolios are not competent, so cannot own guns.

      • Where I am there are all sorts of laws applied to renting property. They give renters a lot of leverage. The worst law is that if a section 8 wants to rent from you and meets your minimum criteria you can’t say no. Never mind that section 8 puts a number of burdens on you to take training classes and such. Which probably aren’t free. I don’t remember. All in all those laws are great for corporations for the individual not really.

        • That must be a local law for section 8. Its not a federal rule, yet. Give it time, I am sure it will eventually go nationwide. The way to side step that one is to have rentals too expensive for section 8.

          But if you are going to do residential rental properties avoid places with rent control, high property taxes, towns with their own housing courts. That means avoiding most major cities, which are usually way more expensive to buy in to begin with.

          Real estate is still a good bet for wealth generation. However with the amount of government meddling lately, its declined a bit. I am guessing that meddling will continue until real estate is destroyed like everything else.

          • Actually, it’s already being done in MA. 25% of any new development MUST be Section 8. And the big O-hole has plans to make it nationwide. We must ALL be in “vibrant” communities. (Sorry for the WN slang, but… If the foo shits. Guaran-damn-tee they won’t be on Martha’s vineyard, though! )
            Short version is, you CANNOT make it “too expensive.” Section 8 just mandates you’ll rent for “$X”….

            We’re going to become Babylon AD. (Think Globalism, BTW, it’s the same thing. CAFE mandates the US auto market, right…? Originally CARB, right…?)

            Think it through, WE will live in Megacity1 (2, 3, etc). THEY will live in Aspen, where no new development is allowed, and everything is white, except for Token Black. But since he’s there, TPTB will think ALL blacks are urbane, intelligent, well-spoken – and we’ll only be whiny little children, complaining about how there’s crime (which will be “whitewashed” to show equal numbers of criminals, whites MUST be half the criminal class, etc.)

            A boot, smashing the human face, forever…

            • Hi Jean,

              Yes. I’ve read about this. They are determined to create a Hapsburg Empire here; a polyglot mix of ethnicities and so on that can be kept docile or at least under control by the old rule of divide and conquer. Also, by dumbing down. The “American” IQ of circa 1969 was probably 20 points higher than it is today.

              • “a Hapsburg Empire here” – where the ruling class was so inbred that there were identifiable physical features attributed to it, e.g., ‘the Hapsburg lip.’ No polyglotism for them.

              • There are now kids scoring 2200-2300 on the SAT (out of a possible 2400). Back when I took it, 1600 was a perfect score. So my score, which looked pretty good at the time, is pretty mediocre now. Talk about inflation.

                • Phillip, now, kids are given the test before test day, so they can study the test and memorize the answers, without actually knowing how to do the material. So while they may score well on these tests, do they actually know anything? Most don’t.

            • There are ways for large corporate managed complexes and other corporate rental operations to deal with section 8. On place I lived 20 years ago effectively handled the section 8 problem by clumping them in certain areas of the complex.

              The problem is that the individual landlord incurs considerable risk and burden. Some like it because the government side of the rent is reliable. And of course if you get a good one you’re fine. But if you get a bad one….

            • Hi Jean,
              I love that they mandate 10% of each town’s housing is supposed to be “affordable”, which begs the question is the other 90% unaffordable? We bought this house in 1974 so I couldn’t afford to buy my own house today at it’s present assessed value, never mind market value. As you pointed out TPTB wants “diversity” except in their enclaves like Martha’s Vineyard, Nantucket, or Aspen. That whole chapter 40b BS that lets developers ram thru a gigantic housing complex despite local zoning as long as 25% of the units are set aside as “affordable” is their way of ensuring the rest of us property taxpayers pick up the tab.

        • Yup. And Section 8 means a much higher chance that your renter will be a scumbag. Not all people on government assistance are bad people. But a lot of them are.

          Freedom of association was one of the first things we lost. The rest naturally follows.

          • eric, the chance of people NOT being scumbags on govt. asst. grows every day. People are losing their means to make a living by a great deal every day. The people with jobs who can put food on the table and pay taxes continues to drop like the proverbial rock.

            One thing I noticed over a decade ago was how there were no full-time jobs in Mexico. Someone gets to work 3-4 hrs a day and then another person takes over that job even if it’s 24 hr work. It was mainly govt.(cops, soldiers)who had full time jobs and those jobs weren’t always full time either. The only people I knew for sure who worked full-time were Japanese working in the patch and the geo-thermal field.

            My first night in Mexico I stayed in a hotel/fortress on a bay near Tampico. The tall wall that armed guards walked at night was a give-away that the tranquility of the fishermen in the bay was only a part of the culture. The next day visiting the family we lived behind tall locked gates around a walled compound. As I visited people I immediately noticed you’re not going to kick in a door in Mexico since they’re steel anchored into concrete.

  9. Eric,

    No sure way to get financially independent but just some thoughts.

    Besides being fortunate and picking the right paper assists, I think that it takes frugal spending and time to become financially independent. If one has a decent paying career/job it can help one become financially independent sooner through more disposable income that can be used to funds one’s financial independence.

    Near zero interest rates do not help if one wishes to be conservative in their investing.

    Real estate can be one venue for one to get assests in a relatively quick manner, but there are some caveats with this.
    — It helps to know what you are doing. If you do not you can literally lose everything.
    — The real estate market can make it difficult to move properties at an appropriate price when you are ready. (A large sum of cash can be tied up in the properties leaving you cash poor until you can move — sell — your properties.
    — Need to keep up with current building codes, so you do not run afoul of local gov’t regulations.

    If you have a skill that people are willing to buy, that can be very useful.
    –If you can fix/build things (cars, lawn mowers, computers, bicycles, motorcycles, etc.) or restore things (furniture, wood work, etc.)

    People might prefer to spend some bucks to get something fixed/restored instead of junking the item and spending top dollar on new items.

    • Hi Mith,

      This was Brandon’s post – not mine!

      I think he’s right. I think that – with a few exceptions here and there (as when lightning strikes) it is virtually impossible to achieve financial independence unless you’re already flush with cash.

      Mostly, financial independence is a realistic prospect only for the speculator/politically connected class. The middle class jobs that used to be readily available – which made it possible to accrue wealth by living modestly and saving the surplus – are vastly fewer today than before the labor arbitrage/vulture capitalism of “free” trade (GATT, NAFTA) forced the American worker into “competition” with the slave labor of Asia. So that capped-tooth fuckfaces like Mittens Romney could pocket another $20 million this quarter.

      My generation – Gen X – was probably the last generation that had a shot. Meaning, most people who were reasonably bright and willing to work could achieve a stable, middle class life.

      Today, a tiny handful of very lucky people become Instant Millionaires (or more) while most everyone else works like… a Chinese coolie/debt slave, for the benefit of the big corporations and money interests that control the country.

      There is – quite literally – almost no middle ground any longer. You’re either rich – or you’re poor.

      As an example, consider me:

      There are virtually no salaried/staff jobs for writers/editors any longer. Or graphic designers, copy desk people and so on.

      You can scrabble out a bare-bones existence (maybe) if you’re someone like me, with the fumes of my prior reputation and “brand” equity pulling for me. But I currently make a fraction of what I used to make. Working much harder and much longer.

      One day, lightning might strike – and some corporate/CIA entity might offer me a massive buy-out, just to shut me up. I’d be a millionaire overnight – like the guy who sold “Jump the Shark” to TV Guide.

      And – god help me – I’d be tempted.

      I’m not 35 anymore and I’m fucking tired.

      • Eric,

        Oops. 😮 Although I still stand by my points.

        It also does not help when uncle (all versions) mandate difference different programs that people must buy for their own good. This is money and resources that one could use to help themselves become financially independent.

        Another thing that one could do is live in a healthy manner. (Minimize the harm from preventable causes) If one is healthy, then they will not need to spend money/resources on various cures and treatments.

      • eric, let a guy who went from doing fairly well to barely doing. If you’re going to sit at home and day trade stocks, be sure and hang a sign or something. But that’s not really the issue so let me digress since it refers to regressing…..in my case.

        Before I was robbed of practically everything by the state, I had money, not a lot, but enough to play with if I worked my butt off every day and could keep all those figures in my head. Yes, you can make lists and and that helps but you have to be able to collate a great many factors in your mind and keep them there for years as you gain insight into other things and collate them and then collate all those things to the big scene.

        I don’t know if I could do that now since the crash of ’08. There were some stocks making a lot of money you could find that were cheap enough for a guy like me to buy and occasionally sell when something better came along. I’m not sure with negative interest rates investing in anything but volatile stocks and only occasionally losing on one could result in any profit that made a damn.

        But, at one time I had offers that were supposedly guaranteed to yield a ten fold profit. I never had a financial lawyer look any of these over but they only came along after I’d made enough to be able to invest that sort of money(ostensibly,since the rule of thumb is never invest more than you can stand to lose).

        Those ten fold profits actually always were for people who could invest at least six figures or politicians taking graft that fairly much describes Wall Street.

        Before the .com crash of 2000 there really were some great investments to be made……and even after that to a lesser extent. I don’t see them now. I don’t think even working people who have built up high five or low six figure savings could play that money into anything significant now. The big banks make all the big money and the small banks make the rest.

        Now if you could have just been born the son of a subsidy farmer, you’d find life is a pretty easy street. The bigger, the better.

    • Hey Mith, thank you for the comment. This was actually my question, Eric has allowed it to be posted to his site and readers so I can get some good answers.

      “If one has a decent paying career/job it can help one become financially independent sooner through more disposable income that can be used to funds one’s financial independence.”

      This is one of the major obstacles. The other is that I need to move to get a good job, need a good job to move.

      So I’m in the self-education mode and hoping that things get better in the future, and by then, maybe I’ll have the knowledge to act on opportunities when I see them… Including Real Estate Investing, which looks like my best bet.

      As for (barterable) skills, I don’t have any that could make me money, or qualify me for a better than average job to facilitate achieving FI. That’s why I feel the only path for now is self-education… which may be a waste of time too. Might as well enjoy the now if there’s no chance for the future right?

      But this is why I ask.

      Eric, thank you for the comment and perspective. It must be a great time to be alive for that tiny handful of people. Learning about history through this site and other sources shows that everything on this planet is trying to eat each other. In one way or another. Doesn’t inspire confidence. Is this a zero-sum game/a finite pie? Or can we create more pie?

      Also, thank you for adding some humor (though I’m sure it wasn’t intended, or sarcastic) with the mittens comment. By the way, you can take a job and do EPAutos on the side. I personally wouldn’t mind weekly content instead of daily. It’s all a game of survival. It’s okay to get bought, change your name, and create a different but similar site!

      • Brandonjin,

        One other thing that you may also consider is a career counselor and/or resume writer.

        I searched http://www.parw.com/ (Professional Association of Résumé Writers & Career Coaches) by different states. I wanted to meet someone face to face.

        It does cost some, but if it can help you get into a better financial situation, it can be money well spent.

        • Mith, thanks for the idea. I will look into it after some more research. I think I’m pretty good at doing resumes actually. Problem is that jobs now REQUIRE “X years of experience required” in order to get the job. Two years ago, most jobs I looked at required 1 year of experience doing a related job. Last year it was 2-3 years of experience required. Now it’s 3-5 years of experience required doing an identical job. In two years it’ll probably be 7-10 years required. It’s going faster than time itself!!

          That’s my only concern with pursuing any sort of certification. You need the cert and the years of experience to make it onto the consideration pile. Plus I’m young and, understandably, employers don’t like to take the chance.

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