Spending money gets easier by the minute. Today, thanks to automatic bill paying and other innovations, our entire income (or more) can be spent before we know it. And we don’t have to lift a finger. Who would have thought that technology could take us this far?
But more is yet to come. Here are my Fearless Forecasts for 2013:
* 2013 will be an unsane year. No, I’m not talking about the rock group; I’m talking about the word that increasingly describes our mental condition. Not sane, not insane. But thoroughly unsane.
* A great reward will disappear. Having won it for 10 consecutive years, the Incorrigible Bloviator Cup will be retired by Donald Trump. The Donald will continue to be an inspiration to bloviators everywhere.
* The biggest tax cut of all. “Let’s stop arguing about tax cuts,” a new and brilliant congressman will suggest. “Let’s abolish all taxes and do it now.” Since we currently collect only 60 cents for every dollar spent, we’re already almost halfway to tax-free living. Abolishing all taxes, the congressman will note, will work better than printing money and storing it in banks that can’t, or won’t, lend. It will mean bigger paychecks for everyone who currently pays taxes and a large increase in worker purchasing power.
The same act will end all the pesky discussion of who pays taxes and how much they should pay. Instead, we will all live in harmony in the world’s first tax-free nation.
* We reach a critical realization about unemployment. Of the three newly elected senators who have a demonstrated knowledge of basic arithmetic, one will ask a question no legislator has asked to date: “If 92 percent of all the people are employed and paying taxes, do new jobs really matter when we talk about federal deficits?”
He will point out that if it takes 92 percent of all people in the labor force to cover only 60 percent of all federal spending, employing the remaining 8 percent isn’t going to improve things much.
* The first no-payment mortgage will be introduced. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke will suggest a new mortgage innovation. Having reached the limits of payment reduction through lowering interest rates, Bond Buyer Ben will suggest the creation of no-payment mortgages.
With them, you can buy any house you choose, pledging to pay off the mortgage upon your death. The Federal Reserve, already the biggest buyer of home mortgages, will hold them all since it can print its own money to pay for the houses purchased with the mortgages.
The mortgage will stipulate that if the sale proceeds are insufficient to pay off the mortgage upon your death, up to two generations of your family members may be taken into custody and forced to work off the remaining balance. Most will be employed making coffee for federal employees under the Federal Employees Minion Act of 2030.
* A single law will reduce unemployment: the Felony Redemption Act. The greatest impediment to getting a job is having a felony record. It is an automatic rejection for employment at most large corporations.
In 2012 more than 12 million Americans were unemployed, seeking jobs. Recent estimates of the correctional population on parole or probation but not in jail or prison totals about 5.2 million. A related estimate of the total ex-prisoner/felon population — those with felony records but no longer on probation or parole — puts the total at about 20 million.
That means 20 million people with a serious impediment to employment.
A single U.S. senator, one of the newly elected, will propose that any country that can give amnesty to illegal aliens can also give amnesty to nonviolent citizen felons.
* A national doctors’ strike. Congress, having eliminated all taxes, will feel free to do what it has threatened to do to doctors for so many years — cut their Medicare reimbursement rates. The action will result in the AMA calling the first national doctors’ strike. Docs will call in sick and fail to show up at offices and hospitals all around the country. The strike will go on for months.
The strike will end when it is noticed that the number of people dying has fallen. The embarrassing revelation will produce a major reduction in medical activity in America. Dr. John E. Wennberg, founding editor of the Dartmouth Atlas of Health Care, will say, “I told you so” about the massive savings.
* The first Million Saver March on Washington. Frustrated seniors will march on Washington to demand higher yields on their savings. Leaving a path of destruction that can be compared only to Sherman’s March to the Sea, they will leave a trail of broken ATMs. “Hey, we did worse in the ’60s,” one senior will say. “I just wish Jerry and Abbie could be here.”
SCOTT BURNS is a principal of the Plano-based investment firm AssetBuilder Inc. His website is www.scottburns.com.
— Universal Press Syndicate
Earlier Fearless Forecasts