NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Despite Democrat, Republican and media attempts to create a meaningful and controversial wedge, in practice we operate an incredibly narrow political spectrum in the U.S.
New boss, same as the old boss.
This old adage of political frustration has never rung more true than it has during Barack Obama's tenure as president of the United States. The first real hope for true social liberals since the late, great Robert F. Kennedy quickly turned into little more than just another political hack.
If you label yourself a liberal, gag on the thought, and stop being so kind. Don't call Obama pragmatic. Don't say he reached across the aisle. Don't tell me he compromised. Stop with the euphemisms.
Obama is not a liberal. There is no such thing as an American liberal. You have moderate Democrats and moderate Republicans. Together they form the middle. Liberals and conservatives, in the true, non-media-generated sense of the words, simply do not exist. Political hacks litter the landscape.
If you want national health care, your dream died with Obama. Folks who favor a national, single-payer, public option, Canadian-style health care system lost the moment Obama folded like a house of cards on the matter.
When we stopped debating the public option, we entered into a meaningless discussion driven by blowhards ranging from Sean Hannity to the now-canned Keith Olbermann, respectively at
The anti-national health care side scored a major victory when the public option died but, of course, they will never admit it. They need to create the perception that, thanks to so-called liberals, "socialists" and Obama, the sky continues to fall. This is how they compete to win elections.
At the end of the day, health care coverage in America has always been tied to employment status and/or how much money you have. Obamacare does little to change that in any meaningful way.
Your job and your income continues to dictate the circumstances and cost of your health care. Bottom line. End of story.
Obamacare takes an unfair and unequal system and barely moves the needle, in practice, to make it more equitable. Guess who gets the shaft? Self-employed persons and married couples who make more than $200,000-$250,000 per year.
My wife works a full-time wage job. It supplies health insurance for our entire family. I am self-employed. Together, we do well. Obamacare will increase the already-absurd self-employment tax we pay, in addition to upping our overall tax rate. By my calculation, our tax rate, depending on how things end up for us financially, could increase by 4.7%. All of this to support an inequitable system that hardly represents "change."
My wife works full-time for one reason and one reason only -- for the health care. I know loads of folks who keep full-time wage jobs with benefits simply for the health care. Their "side jobs," "freelance" gigs, "hobbies" or, more aptly, true passions often provide income that dwarfs what they make at their "real jobs." But they keep the traditional, full-time, 9-to-5 job with benefits just for access to quality and affordable health care. Now these folks -- people like me and, quite possibly, you -- could pay a higher tax rate to support a smoke-and-mirrors health care system.
Personally, I would be more than willing to pay a heftier tax to subsidize a health care scheme that actually changes the game by providing the same coverage and equal access to all Americans. I want the Canadian system. It's simple as that. (Save the arguments that the Canadian system stinks for somebody else; I have watched relatives die and recover from cancer in Canada too many times over the years to get fooled by that tripe.)
At this point, as an investor I feel like I have one choice only -- throw my hands up, once and for all, and say screw the political system, the politicians and the activists who allow it to exist and proliferate.
That's the power that we have as investors. No matter how much the government attempts to chip away at them via taxes and programs that achieve absolutely nothing, we have control over our own destinies.
Theoretically, anybody can be an investor. All it takes is $10 a month. It's all relative. Yet, it still feels like a "big little club." That's because knowledge and initiative equals power. Plenty of people who can improve their lot in life by investing do not do it. Reasons ranking from lack of knowledge to poor budgeting to feelings of financial inferiority to sheer stupidity account for lack of involvement.
How many people passed up the chance to scrounge together $100 a month and dollar-cost average into a stock like
? I don't have to run the numbers for you, but if you took that approach over the last several years -- after seeing the smashing success of iPhone -- you ended up better off for it today.
IPO did not provide a fairytale ending; instead, it presented the uninitiated with a fairytale so tragic. Successful investing in something so mass appeal as Facebook could have opened the door to bigger and better things for people who might not have jumped into the stock market otherwise.
Whatever it takes, given the political environment and pathetic attempts at public/social policy such as Obamacare, Americans need to make investing and saving priority number one.
Forget holding onto your guns. Don't build bunkers. Don't store gold in a safe. Don't self-police illegal immigrants. Don't rally against war. Don't fight for gay marriage or women's rights. Don't vote.
Please do not confuse these words with a call to put your head in the sand. I'm just saying that you're better off recusing yourself from the lame exercise we call "the political process." Just allow the status quo to sustain. Trying to change it is for chumps.
Spend your time and energy building wealth any way you can. I do not know of a better way to do that than via the stock market or by becoming a landlord. That's where my aspiration lays.
Do you really think outcomes of "the political process" impact rich folks on Capitol Hill or fat cats on Wall Street? Absolutely not.
Rich folks have insulated themselves from the things you think matter to you -- from the dog-and-pony show debates over things like health care to corporate tax loopholes. If you adhere to a methodical and, let's face it, obsessive plan to save and invest, you can do likewise, particularly if you have head starts such as a born ambition, education or a six-figure income. No matter the cards you were dealt, work to insulate yourself by building wealth.
Don't make the IRS a reason why you cannot. That's an excuse. Tear up your voter registration card. Spend that wasted time learning how to invest. A year from now, your chances of being better off than you are today will have increased exponentially.
Don't rely on Washington to make life better for you or your kids. That's just not going to happen. The abject failure and ultimate letdown known as Barack Obama made that all too clear over the last four years.
This article is commentary by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.
At the time of publication, the author was long FB.