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Paying Down the Debt

Is Being Poor a Choice?

Written by Nick Hodge
Posted July 29, 2011

It's a circus out there, isn't it?

Unemployment's at 10% and everyone's complaining about inflation, the rising cost of food, and falling home prices.

But sunning myself on a crowded beach over the weekend, it sure didn't seem like anything was wrong...

There were lines at all the ice cream shops; I saw multiple families fork over $70 to rent an umbrella for the week — which means they forked over $1,500 to rent a place for as long.

The economy is terrible, I tell ya.

America's Game

Did you really think there wouldn't be football?

Concession sales, cable and satellite deals, and $150 Malaysian-made jerseys are way more lucrative than whatever was keeping owners and players apart.

I'm sure the players wanted their salaries, too. Doubtful their academic prowess would afford them many other opportunities in this economic climate.

Fans are so hard-pressed that sales were only up 123% this week over the same week in 2010.

The economy is terrible, I tell ya.

Summer Vacation

As you may remember, I also took a trip to Savannah a few weeks ago. Tourism was robust there as well.

The airport was chock full of families on summer vacation — in Baltimore, Charlotte, and Savannah. And at the risk of sounding crass, a good percentage didn't look like the discretionary income crowd.

Yet airline ticket sales reached $44 billion from January to June this year... higher than last year's $41 billion and 2009's $34 billion.

The economy is terrible, I tell ya.

Paying Debt

So what's going on here?

I'm constantly bombarded with stories of rising unemployment, sharply higher food costs, visually stimulating images of America's poor with looks of desperation on their faces.

Yet TransUnion, one of the three major credit bureaus, reported this week Americans spent $72 billion more paying down their credit card debt than making actual purchases for the past two years...

From 2004 to 2008, they spent $2.1 billion more on purchases.

Americans with credit cards have made a $74.1 billion reversal in three years.

The economy is terrible, I tell ya.


Pat Yourself on the Back

It seems to me the American public is doing just fine. Some of us, at least.

Consider this tidbit from CNN's coverage of a recent employee pay report from consulting firm Mercer:

The top-performing employees just 8% of the workforce will see their salaries increase by an average of 4.8% next year, the survey said, compared to average workers who will see their salaries rise 3.1%. The weakest performers will be lucky to see anything at all. On average, they will receive a 0.3% pay increase in 2012, the survey found.

Isn't that how it's supposed to work in a capitalistic society? The more productive workers are more valuable and earn more?

This isn't kindergarten, people. It's real life. All our drawings aren't equally beautiful.

And therein lies the point...

Unemployment's high, prices have been rising, the dollar is worthless... But I and many of the people in my circles aren't struggling. I hope you aren't, either.

Chances are you aren't. Having the acuity to read a forward-thinking investment letter like this indicates as much.

So I don't want to hear any more of this “America's in the toilet,” “America's a welfare nation,” “This is the end of America,” nonsense...

The country doesn't make the man. Those blanket statements offend me and the rest of the 8% who work hard to be at the top.

Consider this exchange from Tuesday's Colbert Report, where the comedian stops poverty activist and former assistant secretary of Health and Human Services Peter Edelman in his tracks:

Colbert: Do you have a job?
Edelman: I do.
Colbert: I have a job. Are we better than poor people?
Edelman: No.
Colbert: Then why do we have jobs and they don't?
Edelman: You got me there.

And this all comes back to what I've been telling you for months now: You need only worry about yourself.

You didn't have to worry about the NFL. You don't have to worry about the debt ceiling. (It'll be raised for the 103rd time by Tuesday.)

You only have to focus on what you want and how you're going to get it.

I don't think the entire country is in the gutter. I believe a certain percentage has failed to adapt to a 21st century world and marketplace. But those who have are thriving...

I heard from Paul S. in Rhode Island the other day. He said he's made over $36,000 following our energy tips over the past year and a half.

Curtis S. wrote in to say he was out of work for two years, and needed to find some cash flow. So he took it upon himself to start investing, following our advice.


Curtis says, “I can now hold my head up again, and better yet, pay my bills!”

Both those guys knew they had to take matters into their own hands.

If you're going to be successful, you're going to be successful no matter what the market or the government deals you.

The disparity between those who step up and those who fall behind is only going to keep growing.

Make sure you're on the right side of the void.

Call it like you see it,

Nick Hodge

Nick Hodge
Editor, Energy and Capital

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