TAR’s guide to stress management

There has perhaps never been a more stressful time than the pandemic. It has been and continues to be a gnarly concoction of economic fear and fear for our health. Some days have been emotionally overwhelming. We would like to share some of the successful tactics we’ve used for handling stress and open an invite for collaboration here.

While there are a million ways of handling stress, most tactics are some deviation of mindfulness. Simply put, being able to disconnect or unhook from emotion, thoughts, and reactions as they fly through your brain. The goal is not to cease thought or stop having mood swings, that is impossible, but you separate from them. Like the new Fleet Foxes song “You are not your season”, the day’s crazy emotion or thought is not who you are. This is easy to write about, in reality if we can “unhook” from our constant thought/daydreaming for mere seconds of every hour, that is game changing. This is hard! Stress wouldn’t exist if we were naturally monks who could never get wrapped up in emotion, but we evolved to survive not be blissful.

There are different categories(arbitrary) of stress management, first there are activities like exercise, meditation, etc. then there are monikers, and finally drills. We did in fact just make up those categories. Activities are typically straightforward, and the most evidence based. Monikers are generally unknown to the general public and never used, sadly being positive is not culturally very cool. Finally there are drills, interestingly humans are running negative drills constantly that undermine their peace of mind and destroy self esteem. 

Let’s start with activities, one of the main reasons why exercise can be so powerful is the concept of little victories. When you are able to push yourself and get that run in or go to yoga before work, you have started the day with a win, giving you a boost chemically and psychologically. You are only as confident as your most recent achievement, and if your brain is dwelling on eating that pizza and skipping a run, you won’t have much confidence. Typically our emotions end up controlling our actions, we feel bad and talk ourselves out of running, luckily for us the process also works in reverse. If we can take action despite our emotions resisting we can change our emotions. If you press on and go for the run anyways, the results feel more rewarding, and you are in a positive mood. 

The second activity is meditation. At the core of meditation, you are “expanding your window of tolerance of the human experience”. Think about the last time you had to pick up to-go food and had to wait in a restaurant. How many seconds did it take once you sat down to pull your phone out? That is your window of tolerance, you could only handle existing without distraction for that many seconds. Don’t feel bad, the largest companies in human history hire the greatest minds on earth to figure out how to make the cell phone more addicting than drugs or gambling. Effectively grinding our window of tolerance down to a nub. We recommend the Waking Up app, but no matter where you start, you can’t go wrong. 

The next category is the use of monikers. Monikers and running mental drills are ways of describing automatic thought processes that already occur. The point is to use these processes to our advantage, as opposed to our detriment. If it has never occurred to you, we do not have control over our thoughts, they run rampant, changing sporadically like a toddler with the TV remote. Since we can’t stop thinking(we wouldn’t want to, thought is a great tool) we need to try and get a grip on this overpowered brain of ours. How? Self-talk. We are constantly thinking negative thoughts in our head and reinforcing negative beliefs. “I’m always late!” “I’m not good with numbers” “I’m super disorganized”. Why we do this comes down to survival, if you were nearly killed by another group, your brain tells you that you “do not fit in with them”. The problem is we are still telling ourselves these narratives in everyday scenarios. It is important to ask yourself the question “When did I start to believe that about myself?”

This biggest challenge with changing the way you talk to and about yourself is that it isn’t cool to be a positive person. Even though everyone hates negative people in particular, being positive is viewed as goofy or uncool. You will be set free when you take out that “cool card” you got at 13 and cut it. This isn’t a childish activity, start noticing the little degrading comments you feed yourself all day and see if you can swap them for something like “I feel healthy and confident” “I always work hard”, “If I work hard and treat people right, I believe thing will work in my favor”.

Next time you are nervous about something coming up, a big meeting, an interview, anything that makes you nervous, and watch how negative your thoughts are. More than likely you are picturing the worst scenario that could happen. This is where the mental drills come into play. Just like self talk, you are currently running mental drills naturally, but mostly negative drills that are causing you to dwell on past shortcomings. In the book Psycho Cybernetics(Tony Robbins inspiration) Dr. Maxwell Maltz puts the human brain and the computer side by side on problem solving. When a computer has a problem to solve, it goes back to its memory to see how it solved past problems and find the right solution. When we have a problem we also search our memories, however we only highlight failures. Imagine a computer that used past failed responses to problems, your computer would crash constantly. Again this is an old survival technique that we no longer need. Before going into an interview, picture it going perfectly. Use the theater of the mind to play through yourself nailing the questions and them responding positively. Research shows our brain responds to imagined scenarios the same as actual scenarios. Yes that’s right, visualizing is as powerful as actual practice. 

While you are imagining the upcoming scenario, you should always have the cookie jar close by. This is a concept pioneered by the GOAT, David Goggins. Goggins is the world’s hardest man, after growing up with an extremely abusive father and getting extremely overweight, he became a Navy Seal and runs the world’s toughest long distance races. The cookie jar is where you keep all of your achievements and all the challenges you have overcome. Anytime a scenario is daunting reach into the cookie jar and remind yourself that you have done things tougher than this and come out on top. This is another reason exercise is so powerful, if going on a run at dawn is 10x more challenging than your upcoming meeting with your boss, you’ve just shrank the size of your anxiety and worry drastically by viewing it at scale. At scale means compared to everything else you’ve been through and overcome. 

In conclusion, remember that while negativity is toxic as hell to others, at the end of the day you are only holding yourself back. Next time you find yourself in a pickle, with a broken down car or job troubles, objectively notice how negativity literally can NOT help the situation in any way, only make it worse.

Studying Ronald Reagan Part 2 – Death of the Union

In part one we dove into “trickle-down” or supply side economics. Now let’s look at another one of Reagan’s biggest “accomplishments” – destroying organized labor. Since 1979 the percent of Americans with collective bargaining(unionization) has dropped from 27% to 11.6% of workers. The end result being the loss of $200 billion per year in potential wages earned. And it doesn’t take Sherlock Holmes to realize that the owners of the business keep any profit not paid to workers in wages. 

Why were unions so important? Let’s rewind in history, to the late 1800’s, America is becoming an industrialized nation and workers are moving from farms to factories. For the first time Americans start having a boss and being employees. We all know what the working conditions were like- child labor, 7-day work week, 12 hour shifts. It is safe to say workers’ lives were at an all time low in American history. Inequality soared until 1929 when the great depression hit, bringing the times of grandeur to an end. In 1935 FDR passed the National Labor Relations Act or the Wagner Act. The act “guarantees the right of private sector employees to organize into trade unions, engage in collective bargaining, and take collective action such as strikes.” Imagine it being literally illegal to organize or strike? That was the hostile scene before unions. 

It is much easier to see the exact reasons for unionization when we rewind back to those hostile conditions. However, if we have any chance of decreasing inequality today, it will be through unions. One of the most important defenses a union provides is education discrimination. Discrimination is a strong word there, but we mean paying two people different wages for the same job simply because one has a higher education. This can be extremely painful to hear as so many millennials have gone to college and accumulated debt in an attempt to make a better life. The key here though is different pay for the same work, if we look from the employers perspective this is just a tool to pay less wages. Paying a few employees a higher rate will always be cheaper than a company wide raise. 

If we look around, tech jobs are the marquee careers of the day, while the former manufacturing jobs that built the middle class are either overseas or done by technology. We are losing all of the decent paying jobs that do not require a college education. Today if a millennial does not go to college, they are going to be working the same jobs they had in high school, competing with teenagers. Next time you enter a fast food restaurant count how many adults you see that are over the age of 30. This in no way knocking those individuals, the working poor are the most mistreated group in this country. The brutal truth is we have hard working adults making $7.25/hour. That is a starvation wage, you could not pay rent in any major city working full time at $7.25/hour, if you can it is at the cost of having food, utilities, or gas money. These are parents and grandparents working for $7.25/hour, do their children not have the right to a decent standard of living? 

Let’s back up and learn more about how we got here. It is hard to pinpoint one action that Reagan took to hurt unions, however his first union battle was the most symbolic. In 1981 Reagan went to task with  the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization. Shockingly this union actually endorsed Reagan. Little did PATCO know that the strike was going to effectively cripple unions for the foreseeable future. Since they were a Government agency, Reagan fired all of them immediately. 

This flipped labor ownership relations completely on their head. Historically strikes were used in the private sector as an effective bargaining tool to negotiate higher wages. Reagan himself once lead a strike as the union president of the Screen Actors Guild. However, this blow devastated all unions and gave the green light to business owners that they could mistreat unions and workers. And they were able to do so because Reagan staffed the National Labor Relations Board, effectively neutralizing all enforcement of labor laws. 

We will dissect why unions are important soon, in the meantime this chart tells the story succinctly. 

Reagan firing the PATCO union members was one of the greatest blows to the working class by any President. This real and symbolic gesture opened the floodgates for states to start cracking down on unions. Any manufacturing jobs left in America have left the Midwest for the south. Why? Because these states have the most anti-worker laws in the country, known as “right-to-work” states. Basically working is a privilege and not a right, and the employer maintains the right to fire you at anytime for anything, including organizing. Sadly if we cracked down on these laws, those manufacturing jobs would move overseas. If only workers everywhere had unions.

Studying Ronald Reagan: Part 1 Voo-Doo Economics

Have you ever heard the phrase trickle-down economics? The term gained popularity when Ronald Reagan passed his massive tax cuts to the wealthy in 1981. While the term trickle-down was used by the enemy of that agenda, the right referred to it as supply-side economics. No matter the term the primary idea was that the wealthiest in society create all the jobs, therefore if you give them the money it will “trickle-down” to all members of society. So how did trickle-down economics pan out for us here in America? 

Before engaging in an argument that can be split a million ways about the “success” of the 80’s, let’s open the tool box and see how to dismantle this. Ah, Velocity of Money, that will do the trick. If we remember the velocity of money is the rate at which money changes hands. Later we will dive into why money changing hands is the core of an economy. It is known that someone making less than $50,000/year will spend 100-110% of any tax cut or stimulus given to them. It is also known that a wealthy person with millions of dollars will spend 0-30% of any tax cut or stimulus given. This is really easy to visualize, if you are barely scraping by, that stimulus could help you eat, pay bills, or cloth your children, of course you will spend it immediately. On the reverse side, image what a millionaire did with their $1200 stimulus check, they put it right into their bank. That money won’t see the light of day, or should I say the light of the American Economy again. 

This is one of the major reasons we see massive inequality start to take hold during and after the Reagan Era. Once the wealthy got that chunk of the economy they have no incentive to give it back.

Income Gains Widely Shared in Early Postwar Decades - But Not Since Then

Notice on this chart from the Center on Budget and Policy when those lines really started to separate – 1981. Reagan didn’t change this chart with tax cuts alone, he also completely annihilated unions and any laws protecting workers. 

Let’s dive into his actual tax cuts.

The first tax cut (The Economic Recovery Tax Act of 1981) among other things, cut the highest Personal Income Tax rate from 70% to 50% and the lowest from 14% to 11% and decreased the highest Capital Gains Tax rate from 28% to 20%.

The second tax cut (The Tax Reform Act of 1986) among other things, cut the highest Personal Income Tax rate from 50% to 38.5% but decreasing to 28% in the following years [2] and increased the highest Capital Gains Tax rate from 20% to 28%.

If you caught our tax piece on how the wealthy avoid taxes, your ears probably perked up when you noticed that Reagan first cut the Capital Gains tax, Bush then followed in his footsteps dropping it back to the 20% we see today. This was one of the effective ways to let the wealthy pay far less taxes than workers. When we think about socialism for the wealthy after FDR, this is a prime example. Lobbying the government to change a law so that you make more money. That is socialism, a real competitor would earn it in the market. Funny how the wealthy “capitalist” seem to be so well versed in using the Government to enrich themselves. 

You might have also noticed that the top Marginal Tax rate was 70% before Reagan and 28% after Reagan. That is a radical change. This is the beginning of the extreme wealthy and aristocracy of families like the Walton’s. Imagine owning the bakery, butcher shop, toy store, electronics store, mechanic shop, pharmacy, and garden center in every town in America, then only having to pay a maximum tax rate of 28%. And that is the worst case scenario, they typically avoid all taxation as we have just seen with President Trump paying $750 in taxes in 2016. So the Walton’s and Jeff Bezos are funneling money out of every small town and large city in America, with a majority of the wealth never returning to the system. Think of the economy as a bathtub, the wealthy are putting massive holes in our tub and no one is making them add some water back. With the Reagan tax codes they could drain money from the rest of the country at a rate never seen in America.

What small business owners need to understand about social media.

With the release of the Netflix film The Social Dilemma, appropriate outrage is growing towards some of the most nefarious companies in human history. The film does a good job highlighting how unethical the business model of surveillance capitalism truly is, and they do so by bringing on people who helped build the platforms. While it still has the lingering feeling of being a shock and awe documentary, they lay bare how the algorithm is personalized to each individual and manipulates your behavior. While that is urgent and depressing, we are going to discuss how Facebook, Google, Twitter, etc. are killing small business everywhere by running a massive marketing “Ponzi” scheme. We are going to focus on Facebook primarily.

For those who do not know, if you run a Facebook business page, you have the ability to post to your followers like a normal account or you can purchase ads. Let’s start with normal posting, sometime after Facebook purchased Instagram they changed the way you would interact with followers. Essentially the message was, hey if you don’t make content that followers like, we won’t show it to them even if they followed or liked your page. The reality was they were no longer letting your followers see your content for free. If you have 1000 followers, you’d be lucky to get 50 impressions or views from followers. Of course there will always be extremely rare exceptions where a business makes a viral video. This leaves all businesses using Facebook for revenue with no other option than to start spending money to boost their post or start running ads.

This is where it really gets hairy. In the Social Dilemma they highlight one of the main inspirations for social media – Slot Machines. The way you pull the wheel or open the device never knowing what you might get is a deep, chemical, scientific addiction. Now imagine being on the business end of this, you are constantly encouraged to boost a post for just $20 more it will reach 2,000 more people! Once boosted your phone notifications are going crazy with likes! It is exhilarating, your business is growing! Right? ……. WRONG. Facebook advertising is a certified gambling platform. Except when you are losing they give you a million irrelevant information points that say your winning. Did your revenue increase? Did you get any qualified leads? No, you got more likes, who can’t even see your post unless you pay more money.

Perhaps the most unethical aspect of Facebook is the complete lack of transparency with advertisers. First is the fact that advertisers can remain completely anonymous(foreign countries, billionaires, radicals), the second fact that is never mentioned is the complete lack of transparency for the businesses that purchase ads. First, every business receives a different dashboard with different tools depending on the size of their spend. Personally I’ve seen and used Facebook ad manager accounts that belong to 4 businesses from with budgets at the top of $40,000/month down to $300/month. The larger the budget the sooner new features would release. Some tools and features were never available to the smaller business. Unfortunately it is difficult to compile much evidence on this alone, we welcome any screenshots from other business owners.

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While this should startle any small local business, the way they use your spend is what is truly startling. Try to take note of this next time you are about to purchase a consumer good like sunglasses or shoes. If you visit a website to purchase sunglasses, we’ve all seen the retargeting ads that follow you around Instagram. Any business can have these no matter how small, hoorah! Let’s move on and see how this plays out, please try to see this for yourself next time you use social media. Small local glasses brand has someone visit their site, the person adds glasses to the cart but has something else to do and does not make the purchase. Because the savvy small business owner has the Facebook Pixel(this is how they watch you on websites) on his site, he retargets you with an ad on social saying “hey come on back and snag these glasses”. This is where it gets dicey, the small businesses budget runs out on Monday, but Oakley Sunglasses(hypothetical) budget is $1000/day. You have now paid to give Facebook a customer who they are certain wants sunglasses and is going to purchase very soon. They then serve that person’s attention to the highest bidder. Think about it, every business is paying to give Facebook info on exactly when, where, and what you are going to purchase. They are then matching consumers with the product of the highest bidder.

Look around, have you ever purchased something from an Instagram ad? That item was picked by a computer algorithm.

Understanding the American Tax Code #3

The Estate Tax and Escrow

Welcome to the 3rd installment of Understanding the American Tax Code. In part two we explained how stock brokers can pay a lower tax rate than workers through a special tax called the Capital Gains Tax. When they make profit from selling stock, it is not taxed as income, but as a Capital Gain. Which highlights that you did not work to earn income, you sold an asset. The Capital Gains Tax maxes out at 20% and is often lower than that, while ordinary income tax for a doctor or plumber pays can reach 37%. Now we are going to explore how the wealthy permanently remove their money from the American system through elimination of the estate tax and using escrow accounts. 

The estate tax comes into play when a person dies and passes their estate on to a family member. Before we go any further, lets explore the actual numbers on who pays estate taxes. We often hear the cry that the estate tax devastates family farms, this is simply not true. The estate tax only comes into play when the asset is worth over $5.3 million dollars. So how is the wealth tax exploited to avoid taxes? Let’s take the Walton family, they have avoided paying $3 billion in estate taxes alone. 

How is the estate tax avoided? First in Walmart’s case you create a company, put all your assets in it and give your children partial ownership, then your technical estate is tiny and your kids just “run the business”. The second way is to give gifts of $15,000 per year to your children, which is tax free. The other method is through the use of charities-

“Another way to bypass the estate tax is to transfer part of your wealth to a charity through a trust. There are two types of charitable trusts: charitable lead trusts (CLTs) and charitable remainder trusts (CRTs).

If you have a CLT, some of the assets that are locked up in your trust will get passed on to a tax-exempt charity. By donating to charity, you’ll lower the value of your estate and end up with an extra tax break. Once you die (or after a pre-determined period of time), whatever’s left in the trust will be passed on to your beneficiaries.

On the other hand, if you have a CRT, you can transfer a stock or another appreciating asset to an irrevocable trust. Throughout your lifetime, you can make money off of that asset and when you die, your investment income will be donated to charity. In the process, you’ll avoid the capital gains tax and lower your estate tax burden. Plus, you’ll score a tax deduction.”

The next property related topic is Escrow, or Escrow Accounts. By law, taxes must be made once money changes hands. So if you own property and sell it for more than you bought it, as soon as that money is given to you, you owe the American Government taxes. However there is a caveat that the wealthy exploit in tandem with the estate tax loopholes- Escrow. Putting something in Escrow is like selling property and it’s going into a sort of limbo. You hire a tax attorney, then you find another larger piece of property you like, because you are selling for a gain. When your original property is sold the money goes into a third party account that you cannot access, controlled by your attorney. The attorney then purchases the new land and gives you the deed. Because money never touched your hands, you never “cashed out” you don’t pay any taxes. And the process goes on and on over time as you amass more and more property. Then you die and your kids can cash it out tax free and begin the process again. 

Understanding the American Tax Code #2

Income vs Capital Gains

“Just because you do not take an interest in politics doesn’t mean politics won’t take an interest in you.” – Pericles

In part one we discussed how America’s marginal tax code works, and the most common incorrect assumptions American’s make about the tax code. Check it out here if you missed it. Now that we understand basic income tax, let’s move on to Capital Gains and how wealthy people who understand the tax code can pay a smaller percentage of taxes than you and your plumber. 

For math’s sake let’s say you make $500,000 and Warren Buffett(can’t seem to stop using him) makes $500,000, he will pay a maximum of $100,000 in capital gains taxes while you will pay $149,457 in income taxes. Check out part one for this how to calculate this. 

Now let’s bring this down to reality, Warren Buffett can make that with one mouse click selling a stock. A doctor or surgeon might earn a large salary like that, but is still clocking in many hours of actual life saving work. 

How does this happen, why would a doctor have to pay more taxes than a stock trader? Capital Gains. Capital Gains are any profit made from the sale of an asset, like property, stocks and bonds. Side note: You probably noticed, your average working man or woman doesn’t have any of those. The extraordinarily wealthy do not earn income. They put all of their money into assets that rise in value, like land, and sell them later for more money and pay a lower tax rate. 

Wealthy people don’t make large salaries, they operate in the realm of assets and capital. They are paid in stock options. They buy and sell property, and when they die their fortune goes untaxed into the hands of their children, staying out of the system. 

How could this be? Well, wealthy individuals started lobbying to change the tax code and they succeeded with the Bush Tax cuts. It is really a brilliant strategy, they know the tax code is convoluted and hard to understand, a perfect place to change the laws for your benefit. We know today that companies like Intuit spend massive amounts of money lobbying to stop efforts to simplify the tax code. This forces people to file with TurboTax, they then criminally charge you to file taxes after committing to the government that the service is free. Do you ever wonder why ideas like Ted Cruz’s simple tax postcard don’t happen? 

Understanding the American Tax Code

Part #1 Marginal vs Effective Tax Rate. 

Have you ever wondered why we were not taught about taxes in school?  It is safe to assume that the overwhelming majority of Americans have no idea what tax rate they pay. Below are the Marginal Tax rates in America, this is how we actually pay taxes. Marginal Tax means what percentage of tax you will pay on your next dollar earned. Effective tax rate is what percentage of taxes did you pay relative to all of your income. 

Let’s walk through this math, most people assume if you are the person making over $518,400 your taxes look like this-

Income $518,400

Tax rate x     .37

Equals $191,808 

This is NOT how our tax system works. The next dollar earned, marginal tax means that all people are taxed the same at each income level. You can’t pay 37% on your first $10,000  earned. The math works as following-

First $9,875 x .10 = $987

Next $30,250 x .12 = $3,630

Next $45,400 x .22 = $9,988

Next $77,775 x .24 = $18,666

Next $44,050 x .32 = $14,096

Next $311,049 x .35 = $108,897

Total taxes paid = $156,265 with an Effective rate of- 30% (156,265/518,400 = .30)

You might notice this misunderstanding is where you hear the line “If I make more I will go into the next tax bracket!” Only your next individual dollar will be taxed more. Imagine that, you make one more dollar and immediately the government takes and extra $10k, ridiculous! 

The key to remember is that everyone pays the exact same rate on their money, a billionaire pays the same taxes on their first $50,000 as you do, well unless they have a way to avoid taxes somehow…. Oh wait they do! 
The tax aversion conversation is for part #2, however let’s talk about effective tax rate. If you remember when Warren Buffett said he should have to pay more in taxes he made the claim that his effective tax rate was only 19% or less. How could this happen, isn’t the top tax rate 37%? Correct, however that is the top Income tax rate, billionaires don’t make income. They use the system to avoid fair taxation. Most of the ultra wealthy pay less of their total income as a percentage in taxes than the majority of working people. On part #2 we will dissect how billionaires avoid income tax.

Need to Heed

Welcome to a new series called Need to Heed, a running list of lessons we all Need to Heed. We all have little nuggets of wisdom, personal taglines we find ourselves repeating for years. In the south there is an old saying for everything. Expect these proverbs to be traditional and nontraditional, and expanding across all topics. The nature of TAR is to educate and inform the whole American person, which is why our first Need to Heed is from Bruce Lee –

“If you put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work, and into your life. There are no limits, there are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond.” 

Why Warren Buffett Defends Medicare for All.

Since the corporate Dems coalesced around Biden to make a completely united front against Bernie Sanders, the words Medicare for All have scarcely been uttered. The name Bernie Sanders has scarcely been uttered. Medicare for All was the literal line between Bernie Sanders and everyone else in the primary. If you remember, we got to see Kamala Harris try her hand going back and forth across that line, I guess when you’re that cynically opportunistic the grass really is always greener. Joe Biden was the only other candidate beside Bernie that even owned their position, everyone else squirmed out of their skin over the question. Elizabeth Warren didn’t mind going total Houdini when asked- “Will you back Medicare for all? Yes. Will you people pay any more in taxes? No. Will you eliminate private insurance? No.” Spoiler alert, those answers added up, do not total Medicare for All. Why was Bernie Sanders attacked for being the only one who told the truth about his plan? Do we want an America where we elevate ambiguous liars, or do we want a country where we face the facts and tell the truth regardless of how it sounds in a media clip? Medicare for All defined the primaries, now we must ensure the idea stays in the zeitgeist until it becomes a reality and Americans enjoy the healthcare that the rest of the world already has.  

The whole system is cockamamie,” the company’s vice chair, Charlie Munger. Warren Buffett added that private insurance is “the tapeworm of American economic competitiveness”

Instead of going into the life saving impact of M4A that we hear from the left, let’s go straight for the heart of why right-wing (and Biden’s) arguments about M4A are completely bunk, especially from a business perspective. The first base level fact you need in your M4A defense arsenal is that 32 countries already provide universal healthcare. Below the countries in green provide universal healthcare, those in blue provide some form of free health care and the red countries provide no healthcare. 

You probably noticed every “advanced” nation on earth has universal healthcare. We stand alone with impoverished nations and dictatorships. To state that nationalized healthcare is not economically possible, is to insult the American people and their potential, TAR believes we are the greatest nation on earth and if anyone else can do it, we can do it better. 

Let’s dive into the Warren Buffett quote above, bet you haven’t heard that one on the nightly news? Why is Buffett pro single-payer? First let’s break down why insurance is a complete racket and how it does not follow market laws. 

Lets start with an example- you are getting ready to buy a car, you have your eye set on a Toyota Camry, base model. You go to car lots and start looking at different models, different year makes, at different car lots. You narrow down to an exact make and model you want and start comparing prices online, you check Kelly Blue Book to know the price and find the best deal. At the end of the day you knew what you were going to pay, had many options and found the best deal. 

This is how markets work, competition dictates price and helps supply to meet demand. If someone tried to scam you and sell a Camry for $100,000 you would never buy it because you can look on your iPhone and know the market value of the car, then buy it elsewhere. However, market mechanisms are nowhere to be found with insurance. If you need to have a surgery, you can’t compare hospital prices and your insurance provider will not give you the rates before the operation. You can’t google how much any part of healthcare will cost, and to beat all, it could be something life threatening. You don’t have a choice, are you going to die or save your life without knowing the cost. Imagine going to the grocery store and swiping your card before they ring your items up, then assigning you a random total cost!? We would never accept it! So, how is this possible – laws and regulations. This isn’t natural capitalism or markets, this is an industry that has written the rules to line their pockets. 

Private insurance is only good for one business in America – Private Insurers. Everyone else is picking up the tab for them. This takes us back to Warren Buffett’s original criticism, it is the tapeworm of American business. Why? Because not only do we pay more per person than any major country, American businesses have to pay for the majority of people’s health insurance. Yes these businesses will possibly pay more in taxes with M4A, but it is nothing compared to the massive cost of buying insurance for your workers. Not to mention the complete unpredictability of insurance cost. Many are speculating that all insurance premiums will increase by 40% in 2021 due to COVID. American businesses are having to spend a fortune just navigating the insurance industry. 

This is also where you see small businesses hit a ceiling, at a certain amount of employees you have to provide health care. Why are we putting this burden on small business owners? On top of hurting our large businesses it is crippling to your individual American entrepreneur. Picture this – in many European countries an ambitious entrepreneur would go to college for free, leave with no debt, and have health insurance. Upon graduation they go full-bore on their project and require only small amount of capital to survive on while building their dream. Now picture an American student – They graduate college with $50K+ in student loan debt, thousands in credit card debt to pay for living expenses, and at age 26 they are thrown off their parents insurance to purchase their own. Oh, and who is insurance the most expensive for and least protective? Young individuals, buying insurance on the market as an individual. Looking to start your own business here in America? Better be able to make $300-600/month student loan payment and purchase private insurance for $100-$600/month. So tell me, who will quit first and take the first job offered to them? The American Entrepreneur or the European?

Next time you hear “Medicare for All” is bad for business, simply ask “Bad for which business?”. Who knew we would side with Warren Buffett?

TAR’s Guide to Fermentation

Fermentation is a favorite hobby of TAR, yet the label of hobby doesn’t quite capture it. It is a lifestyle, diet, and preservation method. While there are many health benefits to fermentation, the flavors it produces are surrounding you today! Soy sauce, miso, pickles, sauerkraut, kimchi, wine, kombucha, vinegar, Sriracha, the list could go on for days. A core principle of TAR is making, or creating over buying or consuming. For much of American and human history Fermentation was mandatory. Primarily as a preservative method to save precious finite fruits and vegies, but also because you didn’t have liquor stores to buy wine. In this day and age Fermentation is finding its way back into American homes, whether looking to save money or experience deep, rich flavors in their cooking.

We are going to share our favorite fermentation resources, as well as a few pointers.

  1. Vinegar vs Natural Fermentation- While Vinegar is a product of fermentation, using it to preserve cucumbers, onions or anything else actually kills the majority of the micro organisms on the vegetable. Natural fermentation is submerging vegies into a salt water brine, resulting in a lactic acid fermentation. The good microorganisms eat on the vegies producing co2 and lactic acid, which kills harmful bacteria and preserves the vegies.
  2. Fermentation is safe by default- Obviously some idiots out there have eaten mold, but using salt water, and making sure the veggies aren’t exposed to Oxygen guarantees harmful bacteria will die in the acidic environment. Think about driftwood being preserved in water.
  3. Never be afraid to experiment and make mistakes.

It’s Alive with Brad Leone – Personal favorite youtube cooking show right here. Despite recent controversy, this series is filled with knowledge. Here are a few of our favorite episodes of It’s Alive.

r/Fermentation and r/Kombucha

These reddit communities are great resources to get the essentially real time feedback on what you are making. I would always recommend reading a book from an expert first but its great to get some community and creative recipe ideas.

Sandor Katz, The GOAT

Sandor Katz is the foremost authority in the world on Fermentation as far as TAR is concerned. Living off the land in Woodbury, TN Katz has written all encompassing books that will educated you on the science but also the history of fermentation all while giving great recipes.

Check out his magnum opus The Art of Fermentation.