The purpose of this thread is for members to post stories and anecdotal summaries of conversations with family and friends this holiday season.
What's it like out there? Who's has been laid off or been fired? Who's buying a new house. Whose kids can't find a job out of college? Who's getting screwed by Obamacare? Etc, etc...
Maybe, as this thread grows, we can get a collective sense of just how bad or good economic conditions really are.
Copied from the QED thread...
Hi Fellow Turdites!
Last night I was in the "belly of the beast" at my friends Christmas party.
He lives in a, I would guess, 10,000 square foot plus condo in a high rise on the Gold Coast here in Chicago directly overlooking Lake Michigan.
About half the crowd were friends like me and the other half were there for Banksterstock. (A miny Woodstock for banksters.) I guess from the Turdville perspective my buddy is a bankster, he raises money for capital projects, mostly private real estate deals for banks, insurance companies and pension funds......some hedge fund work. His income is well into the seven digit range.
There may have been 400 people there so it was a bit of a madhouse, many conversations that were never finished because new people would wander over and the subject would change constantly.
One friend reported that he got home from work last week and his wife and daughter were at the kitchen table working on the Christmas cards. She asked my bud to go into the library and grab the Social Register to look up a couple of addresses. The ten year old daughter asked, "what is this book mommy?", his wife replied, "It's the list of who they're going to kill first honey."
My bride and I went through the buffet line, (yes on the shrimp and steak sandwiches, no on the hummus toastettes!), and found a place to sit down to eat in an alcove off of the music room. On the opposite couch were a couple we knew tangentially from a philanthropic board we sit on together. They are in their 70's and quite well to do. We rearranged things so the ladies were on one couch and the men on the other for ease of conversation.
My friend, let's call him "Ken" because that's his name, asked me what I was up to and I told him that I was selling my companies, retiring and planned to move at least 2/3rds of my loot off-shore. He then stunned me by asking me what I knew of Bit Coin and giving me a short dissertation on the subject. I hit him back with the question posed on another thread here...."We are going to put you in a box for 20 years, do you want 10 ounces of gold or 10 Bit Coins with you?" Unfortunately before he could mull it over and respond other friends showed up and the conversation shifted. I will see him tomorrow and will likely get his answer then. I will post the results here.
We all sang carols at around ten. My wife pointed out to me that the pianist was from the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Nice lady, when I pounded out a few bars of Johnny B Good right in the middle of her cocktail tinkling she just started laughing.
The Sainted Mrs Dog is angling for new diamond stud earrings for Christmas. I usually don't notice stuff like jewelry but we had worked out a system in the car on the way into the city. She would touch her left elbow with her right hand if we were talking to someone that had what she was looking for. Gracious me, I started noticing the ice cubes in the place.....even the simple black dress with a string of pearls ladies were all packing about ten carats. The average, adding up earrings, necklaces and rings was probably closer to 25 carats per.
I am getting her a new blouse, the one she wore last night has a hole in the sleeve!
For behold! Unto us this day a child is born...........
A report from the street.
My business is located next to a trucking company. A few weeks ago a twenty something forklift driver was taking his break and puffing on a cigarette. I walked by and decided to have a chit chat? I asked him if they have been busy being so near X-mas and all. He replied that it was so so but it was ok because he didn’t care much for the hectic. Not expecting much in the way of a reply, I threw out a few baited questions about the state of our economy and national debt. To my surprise this young man, rough in appearance, started rambling on about how he worries the US was in serious financial trouble. Although he couldn’t place a finger on the problem he knew something was wrong. He said for X-mas he was going to give his parents each a box of LDS long tern food storage starter box. He then asked me what else he could do. I replied that should continue to put away a few non perishable canned foods each week. I reminded him that these are the products that he will need anyways so it will never go to waste. I also suggested that when he can afford it to buy a roll of silver dimes. He seemed truly interested.
The other day, the fire inspector for my building showed up. Afterwards we had a short conversation. Again I directed the conversation to the state of our economy. We talked about the $17 T debt and our government’s lack of plan. To my surprise she was also alarmed. She said that she has not done any preparations but that her husband has been talking about it a lot. She joked that maybe for X-mas she would buy him a case of canned of beans.
These conversations were total surprises for me. A few years ago I don’t believe that the level of awareness touched the ordinary citizens. This is an antidotal report and might not represent anything. But, it appears that at least two more Americans have waked up.
who is on SSI and disability just complains that the landlord expects to be paid rent; why should he have to pay rent when he just paid $7oo for new tires for his new SUV :-(
In early September, I started metal detecting at the beach. I had bought the detector about 4 years ago to find the metal rebar septic tank handles underground so as not to have to pay the pump out company 20 bucks an hour to find them and dig out the lids. That alone paid for the detector, and the beach is usually pretty nice with the surf, sun and bikini clad women. Anyhow, a couple of weeks ago I had to go about an hour and a half away to pick up a new fuel pump that I was putting into my brothers van (the company sent the wrong one, and I didn't want to wait for the mail). It was close to Newport Beach (CA), so I decided to spend the rest of the day doing some "treasure hunting" in Newport. As the sun was getting lower on the horizon, a man in long sleeved shirt, tie and pants came up to me on the sand and asked: "Do you need a permit to do that?" I told him no, but in the 1960's, you had to have a license on your board to surf in Newport. He shook his head and then told me that he had a"business here, and you wouldn't believe the amount of regulations I have to obey. We get these lists of rules we have to put up, and it seems we're getting new ones every day, just because they change a word or something." I told him about people just shutting down and/or getting rid of most employees to minimize their exposure to the government. At the time, there was a thread on Main street that had some posts about this subject (Mr. Fix) and I was able to draw on that. He said that he wished he could do that, then walked off to watch the sunset.
Out of the blue, complete stranger.
As I was getting to the street where the car was parked, I got my last "target" of the day. Usually I get a lot of junk: nails, ketchup packs, pull tabs and beer bottle tops. If bottle tops were money, I'd be rich. This one however, happened to be a 1947 wheat penny in really good shape. I've gotten a number of penny's and had about 8 of them that day. None of them looked this good, and they were recent 1990's & 2000's. They were green and encrusted and looked like crap. This '47 though wasn't very deep, in fact, it was "on top" - probably only an inch down. This and it's condition, tells me that it was probably a very recent drop. The condition also tells me (o.k., this is a guess) that it was in someone's collection that was raided and put back into circulation because of the economy. Eventually ending up in the sands of Newport Beach.
And that's my Real Story of Real People.
This story is still in progress, and may not have a happy ending, because I haven't consummated the deal, but the first part is interesting enough to warrant a post. I have been looking for a bug out camper to put on the back of my 3/4 ton 71 Chevy EMP truck. I found one listed for $2000 on Craigslist and I made an offer of $1000 cash. The guy said, no, it was too low, but he would consider the deal if I would sweeten the pot. So, I made him a offer of 45 oz of silver. He accepted. It actually is about the same thing as $1000 cash at $22/oz, which is about as cheap as you can actually acquire physical silver, but he took it. So, he called up last night and wanted to talk about silver. He said he didn't know about silver, but looking on line he found it was about $19.45. I told him the price varied a lot and I had bought some at $30 (true). He had heard the term "junk silver" and I told him it was US coins issued in 1964 or before. I told him I could get him generic rounds if he preferred. He wanted to know about that, and I told him. So, what's interesting is here's a guy who doesn't want $1000 in cash, but is willing to take $1000 in silver, even though he doesn't know a lot about it. Times, they are a changing.
was changed on July 1st of this year. Prior to that date our co-pay for his monthly arthritis prescription was $13.08. Now, it's almost $70, and our local pharmacist's "poor slob doesn't have coverage" rate is cheaper than the co-pay.
By choice I haven't had health insurance in over a decade. You'd be amazed at how affordable good doctors and labs can be when you cut out the middleman...aka healthcare insurance. (Some doctors and labs are more receptive than others...you have to look for them.) We understood the risk, but I've always been one to turn to alternative therapy first. Doctors and hospitals are the last resort for me.
If you do a search for "order blood tests online" you can find labs that will allow you to select and schedule your tests at a lab near you. Just show up for your appointment, get your blood drawn, and wait for the email with the results. The printout will list all the test results, and show you which results are too high or too low. It's a good way to bypass the doctor's office and monitor your own health status.... especially if you're lacking insurance.
First- Go you Bears, what a "cool" game last night. Eight possessions, eight scores. #89 Da Coach!!! (That hellish heat wave broke by game time so we were OK.)
Something that happened yesterday really got me thinking. We had a conference call with our accountants to discuss how much money we should hold back and for how long against any potential tax audits from the various taxing bodies that we operate under. During the call, how to treat a CODI issue and the minutia of Illinois bulk sales law were being discussed when my Controller broke in and started pushing on the accountants to step up the pace on getting the fiscal year 2012 taxes done.
Why? He said "February 15th is my last day so we have to work with that as a hard deadline!" We then started yakking about timelines and target dates.
At H.Q. there are seven of us left-
Me, the CFO and Treasurer , The Executive Vice President, the Controller, the MIS Director, the HR Director and one girl from accounting who is posting cash receipts and cutting checks to pay the bills.
To a person these people are working just as hard and cheerfully as they always do, they know they will be out of work by the end of the first quarter but they are soldiering on anyway.
Granted, some of them have been with me for a long time and have large money coming their way, but the HR lady has only been with us for 18 months so will only end up with six months base pay as her severance, same as the billing clerk.
What class people! When the dust settles I will work hard to find jobs for those that aren't already in demand from my associates. They are looking down the barrel of unemployment in this economy and you would never know it from their behavior. Yesterday morning the HR Director volunteered to come in over the weekends to help me purge my files.
I am a lucky man and quite proud to be able to call these people my colleagues and friends!
I took my 18 1/2 year-old cat to the vet today for his annual check-up. I asked the vet "How's business?" because we live in a very economically depressed small town in NV. Well, she started off on the medical devices tax....she said it's really hurt their bottom line, and she finally had to cave in and raise the prices on the taxed items instead of eating them. Then she told me, as a small business owner, she'd lost her health insurance coverage, and that her replacement policy will cost $1oo per month more in premiums, and her out-of-pocket will go up by $5000. So she'll have to pay $6200 more before she gets any coverage. But here's the kicker.....the policy will no longer cover any work-related injuries, and here in NV she's not allowed to participate in Workman's Comp, because she's self-employed. So, if some vicious dog bites her face or arm she's got to pay all of that expense out of her pocket, and it won't count towards her out-of-pocket for her health insurance, either.
The thing she's most concerned about are the pets. She said if she actually raised the costs on her services enough to cover all the new expenses (she has to pay more for her portion of all her employees' health insurance, too), that she thinks she'd probably lose somewhere between 15 and 20% of her client base simply because they couldn't afford care for their pets. She said there's already been an uptick in pets being euthanized instead of treated. She's not sure she'll be able to stay in business.
my wife has two pet sayings about our investments [I have no idea whether they are traditional, or whether she has morphed into a Philosopher]
1. 'If you can't touch it, you don't own it'
2. 'You cannot ever sell Gold at a profit, but whatever the price you pay, you only ever buy it at a significant discount'
I have a nagging suspicion that I may be the dumb component of our marriage
This is to add to my above post. On Monday I was doing some metal detecting on Oceanside beach (CA) and found a 1947 Canadian dime. 90% silver - woohoo! It was with a few more recent U.S. coins.
Yesterday I was speaking with a friend of my sons who used to manage a liquor store about a year ago. He said he would (daily) trade out all the pre 65 coins that were in the registers. He said he has a lot of pre 65 coins just from that.
I am adding this as further proof that things are getting so "tight" that people are raiding coin collections and/or change jar/piggy banks, and don't distinguish between the coins.
I just got my 2014 tax rate for unemployment, for 2013 it was .02% now it will be adjusted to 5.05%. I downsized in 2012 by letting one employee go, rate stayed the same in 2013 from 2012. Wow lag time in taxing me or is the state in bind? Just another dot to consider for all involved. Talk about a huge increase, this one is going to bite a little compared to years gone by.