Trump Bonus Checks, Freedom Checks, and the 501(k)

by Kelly R. Smith

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Get rich fast schemes
Get rich fast schemes

This article was updated on 09/26/20.

Get rich fast schemes have been around for a long, long time. Why? Because everybody wants something for nothing (Socialism in America is a hot topic right now), or at least by expending the least effort possible. If it sounds too good to be true…

The fact is that the digital age has ushered in a whole new generation of characters determined to separate us from our money. It is just a lot easier to reach a lot more suckers. As P. T. Barnum said,”There’s a sucker born every minute.” Let’s take a look at a few scams that are taking up space in our email accounts.

Trump Bonus Checks

I’ve been getting this one for a while now. As with most of these messages, you have to watch a real snoozer of a long, long video while the narrator skirts around the meat of the matter until the very end.

Despite the name, he stops just short of claiming that President Trump actually legislated or recommended this “bonus” although he certainly implies it.

President Donald Trump thumbs up
President Donald Trump thumbs up

Of course there is an often-repeated call to action (CTA) to create a sense of urgency by telling you that you need to get yourself on the list by May 14. Or what? Some other poor slob will get my money? OK, got it. After all there is a limit of exactly $15 trillion of cold, hard cash available!

The bottom line? He wants to sell you $502 worth of information for a low, low price of $49. Basically he is going to sell you investment tips. What does that have to do with Trump? Nothing; he’s just riding on the Donald’s coattails.

Freedom Checks

Freedom Checks have been around for at least a few years now, or at least that is when they started showing up in my email. Lately they have also been running ads on the radio. To finance that they must be finding some gullible takers. The radio spots are mercifully shorter that the video that accompanies the email.

I had to sit through the agony of the entire thing (for the sake of research for this post; see, I took a bullet for you), before the narrator got down to brass tacks about what it is really all about. Bottom line? The same basic Trump Bonus model although the investments seemed to focus more narrowly on the mining industry.

This is another pitch to sell $49 newsletters. The question I had to ask myself is, “If this guy some investment genius, why is he spending time with newsletters? How does he have the time or inclination?”

The 501(k)

Bankonyourself.com explains that the 501(k) plan is “a safe savings and wealth-building strategy based on a specific type of high cash value dividend-paying whole life insurance.”

An organization called the Palm Beach Research Group markets it under the guise that it is a tax shelter for the rich. The implication here is that if it is good enough for the likes for the very rich it ought to be good enough for a poor Joe Shmoe like me. After all, this is America, right?

Although the 501(k) is a legitimate investment vehicle and it can be quite lucrative, the approach taken b y the Palm Beach Group is to print and sell newsletters. These will set you back from $199 for the basic publication to $4,500 for the “Palm Beach Confidential.” Pssst, this is between you and me, OK?

The bottom line? Most of us would do better to steer clear of these schemes and consult with a professional investment adviser face-to-face or sign up with a broker like Ameritrade. Don’t be a rube. There is no get-rich-quick in life no matter what a bunch of newsletter quacks say. Please take a moment to participate in the poll on the right-hand sidebar of this page. I’m conducting a study and your response is important.



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About the author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation and financial and energy trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.

Al Gore– The P.T. Barnum of Climate Change

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Al Gore expounding on global warming
Al Gore expounding on global warming

This post was last updated on 03/01/20.

It used to be “global warming.” When that catchphrase came under question the buzzword shifted to “climate change.” The idea was to make the term so vague that if the temperature in any given area got cooler or warmer, the True Believers from the Church  of Carbon Defiance (CCD) could wag their warm/cool fingers at skeptics and mutter, “I told you so.”

But the political correctness and the search for a more palatable phrase continues. www.the guardian.com says, “Staff at the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) have been told to avoid using the term ‘climate change’ in their work, with the officials instructed to reference ‘weather extremes’ instead.”

A couple more examples of rhetorical manipulation include substituting “resilience to weather extremes” for “climate change adaption” and “build soil organic matter” for “sequester carbon”.

I earlier mentioned the CCD because climate change really is a faith in the sense that any other religion is. The so-called “real science” that backs it up is nebulous science and conjecture at best.

When did Meaningful Weather Records Begin to be Collected?

Older weather records are only as accurate as the instruments used. In the US, Thomas Jefferson made regular observations at his home Monticello from 1772 to 1778, and participated in taking the first known simultaneous weather observations in America. But that is one solitary location and hardly gives us the “big picture.”

That didn’t begin to happen until the invention of the telegraph so that weather observations from distant points made by volunteers could be collected in a reasonable period of time, plotted, and then analyzed at one location. In 1849 this location was the Smithsonian.


Weather Projections from Past, Present, and Onward

There are three time frames in weather analysis. First, the past as outlined above up until today. While the early technology was primitive, the resulting data can at least demonstrate trends and patterns that can be loosely correlated with advances in industry and manufacturing (e.g., the increase in carbon emissions).

The second frame is a snapshot of today. At any given moment we have an accurate comprehensive view of what is happening worldwide. Finally, we are left with the third frame, computer projections of the future which is where we really begin to get into trouble.

Anybody on the gulf coast biting their nails while watching the dozen or so computer-generated hurricane path possibilities during the next few days knows how accurate that can be. Given that dose of reality, can we bank on what is going to happen 50 or 100 years from now? Which brings us to…

Al Gore, Alarmist and Profiteer

As an analogy, if Jesse Jackson can be described as a poverty pimp, Gore can certainly be described as a climate change pimp. It boils down to taking a popular issue and using it for personal gain rather than making a meaningful difference. After a lackluster performance as Vice-President and failed Presidential candidate, he had to cast about for something new to do.

After working as a visiting professor at various universities he drifted off into the global warming movement. He was no stranger to this world; he had been involved with environmental issues beginning in 1976, when as a freshman congressman, he held the first congressional hearings on the climate change, and co-sponsored hearings on toxic waste and global warming.

Carbon credit: any tradable certificate or permit representing the right to emit one ton of carbon dioxide or the mass of another greenhouse gas with a carbon dioxide equivalent (tCO2e) equivalent to one ton of carbon dioxide.

Seeing an opportunity, he jumped into the carbon credit business, founding Generation Investment Management (GIM) along with David Blood. The firm’s focus is on a research agenda including global sustainability and renewable energy issues.

GIM took a big position in the Chicago Climate Exchange (CCX) for carbon trading and Gore used an alarmist position to attract investors.

According to forbes.com, “Between May of 2008 and October of 2009 the CCX market value for one metric ton of carbon plummeted from $7 per metric ton to $0.10 along with the shareholders’ investment values. Losers included the Ford Motor Company, Amtrak, DuPont, Dow Corning, American Electric Power, International Paper, and Waste Management, along with the states of Illinois and New Mexico, seven cities, and a number of universities. But GIM was in a winning position.

“Never give a sucker an even break” – P.T. Barnum

Arctic ice to be gone by 2012
Guess we dodged the bullet on this “real science” prediction.

Al Gore, Hypocrite

The face that Gore presents to the world is that of a planet-saving messiah. The truth is far from that. It’s a case of do as I say, not as I do. Case in point—his home in Nashville, Tennessee.

Al Gore's energy-guzzling home
Al Gore’s energy-guzzling home

According to Drew Johnson, National Center for Public Policy Research (NCPPR) Senior Fellow, “The past year, Gore’s home energy use averaged 19,241 kilowatt hours (kWh) every month, compared to the U.S. household average of 901 kWh per month. During the last 12 months, Gore devoured 66,159 kWh of electricity just heating his pool. That is enough energy to power six average U.S. households for a year.”

“There’s a sucker born every minute” – P.T. Barnum

 

 

 


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