Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com
May 8, 2013
What does it cost to kick the bucket? What's the best tax scam if
you want to avoid jail? Here are a few financial facts that may surprise
1. How much does it cost to die?
Dying is a pricey proposition. A paper by Samuel Marshall, Kathleen M. McGarry and Jonathan S. Skinner
examined how much people spend on out-of-pocket healthcare costs in the
last year of their lives. Average bill? $11,618. For the top one
percent, who get top-of-line care, the figure is $94,310.
haven’t even gotten to your actual death, which comes with funeral and
other expenses. If you add in these, dying costs the average senior a whopping $50,000
With an oligopoly in health insurance and Uncle Sam barred from
negotiating better prices for pharmaceuticals, the cost of dying is
steadily going up
, threatening family savings and adding untold stress to what is already a generally stressful experience.
2. Big banks are getting even bigger.
As Bloomberg reports
the biggest U.S. banks have gotten even bigger since their risky and
criminal behavior helped spark the financial crisis. The number of
too-big-to-fail banks is projected to increase by 40 percent over the next 15 years
. And consider this: When big banks get help from you and me, they behave worse. According to USA Today
banks that received federal assistance during the financial crisis
“reduced lending more aggressively and gave bigger pay raises to
employees than institutions that didn’t get aid.” Megabanks are
undermining democracy, subverting the rule of law, rigging the world’s
largest markets, and doing untold damage to the economy.
The vast majority of Americans, regardless of political affiliation, thinks banks are too big
. Half think the 12 largest banks should be broken up. A growing number of economists and financial experts
-- among them former Fed chairman Alan Greenspan
and former Citi CEO Sandy Weill
-- warn that unless the big banks are broken up, the economy can’t
recover. President Obama is pretending that Dodd-Frank has ended
too-big-to-fail, a position the Washington Post
calls “startlingly and dangerously naïve
." As current Fed chairman Ben Bernanke recently put it
: “Too Big To Fail is not solved and gone… It’s still here."
3. Offshore tax cheating v. stealing socks
U.S. courts are feeling very generous toward offshore tax evaders these
days. Mary Estelle Curran, a wealthy 79-year-old Florida widow who
failed to tell the IRS that she had $43 million stashed in offshore
accounts, was sentenced to one year of probation by federal district
court Judge Kenneth Ryskamp, who berated prosecutors for going after her
in the first place. Then he revoked the probation altogether
U.S. Justice Department lawyer Jack Townsend told the Wall Street Journal
that the average sentence handed down in offshore cases has been less
than 15 months, half the average for other types of tax-shelter schemes.
Judges hand down prison sentences about half the time in such cases. In
contrast, Florida man Dean Rockmore, 48, received a mandatory life
sentence as a repeat offender for nabbing a $4 pair of socks from Walmart
4. Wall Street family values
JPMorgan Chase honcho Jamie Dimon got a 19 percent pay cut in 2012
following revelations that $6 billion had gone missing from his company
in the London Whale fiasco. We now know that Dimon and JPMorgan lied to investors, regulators and Congress
about the bank’s risky activities. Several shareholder groups are fighting to demote Dimon
by separating the CEO and chairman's job at JP Morgan.
Jamie is the hot seat, but Papa Dimon, meanwhile, somehow managed to get a gigantic raise from his son’s firm
last year. The octogenerian Theodore Dimon, who joined the brokerage
unit of JPMorgan Chase in 2009, raked in more than three times his usual
salary in 2012, piling up an eye-popping $1.6 million. It’s touching to
know that the family coffers are not suffering as a result of Dimon
Junior’s nefarious activities and epic management failure.
. Wall Street Journal is shocked that Americans are broke.
A recent report by the Employee Benefit Research Institute revealed
what most ordinary folks understand keenly every time they look at their
IRAs: Despite the stock-market boom, Americans don’t have much money
for retirement; in fact, they have less than they’ve had in decades.
Well over half of American workers have total household savings of less
than $25,000, and over a quarter admit they have zero confidence that
they will be able to retire in any comfort. This was big news
to theWall Street Journal
. As Alex Moore succinctly put it
, “The Wall Street Journal
parsed the data and made what appears to be a startling, shocking find: Americans are fucking broke.”
news apparently has not yet reached austerity hawks Erskine Bowles and
Alan Simpson, who have strained themselves into pretzels trying to
convince the public that Social Security and Medicare need to be cut –
right now! Obama, with his proposal to cut Social Security using the
discredited chained CPI “adjustment,” also fails to grasp the basic
terror most Americans feel when they consider their golden years.
Perhaps that’s because when the President leaves office at 56, he will
have a starting annual pension of around $200,00,
and that doesn’t count perks like money for rental payments, staff salaries and travel expenses. Right now, only 22 percent of full-time private industry workers
in the U.S. get a defined pension benefit, compared to 42 percent in 1990. And the number shrinks every year.
6. The rise of medical debtors
. According to a 2009 report published in the American Journal of Medicine
, 62 percent of bankruptcies filed were medical-related
. The kicker? Seventy-five percent of people surveyed hadsome type of health insurance
The "medical debtors" surveyed in the study were well-educated home
owners with "middle-class" occupations. Many of those bankrupted found
that they were under-insured and hit with thousands of dollars in
out-of-pocket bills. Others had lost insurance when the primary insured
became too ill to work.
The study also showed that a quarter of
insurance companies cancel coverage the moment an employee suffers a
disabling illness. So, will Obama's Health Care Affordability Act put a
stop to medical related bankruptcies? Jon Walker of Firedoglake doesn’t think so
“Even under the law,” Walker writes, “people who buy insurance on the
new exchange will face out-of-pocket limits they may not able to afford.
For a family plan the annual out-of-pocket limit will be over $12,000.
This is a financial burden many families simply can’t afford, especially
while dealing with all the other expenses normally faced when taking
care of a very sick family member.”
7. Buy or rent your home?
Home ownership in the U.S. is at its lowest level since 2004, down to
65.4 percent from 69 percent in 2004. Whether renting is better than
buying depends on a bunch of things, including how long you stay in your
home. According to a report in the New York Times
once you’ve passed the five-year mark, buying is still better than
renting. The report shows that owning after that time period will save
you an average $1,743 each year.
Owning a house for the long term
means lets you build up equity and improve your credit. But be warned:
there are lots of predators out there who will try to fleece you when
you decide to buy a home. You need a thorough home inspection to
understand what you’re getting into, but guess who normally recommends
the inspector? The real estate agent – and some agents will pressure the inspector to provide a good report
Also, some lenders will try to sell you a loan at a higher rate than
the one you deserve. In both cases, you have to shop around to know
what’s kosher and what’s not.
Lynn Parramore is an
AlterNet senior editor. She is cofounder of Recessionwire, founding
editor of New Deal 2.0, and author of 'Reading the Sphinx: Ancient Egypt
in Nineteenth-Century Literary Culture.' She received her Ph.d in
English and Cultural Theory from NYU, where she has taught essay writing
and semiotics. She is the Director of AlterNet's New Economic Dialogue
Project. Follow her on Twitter @LynnParramore.
Your article helped me to understand the topic well and I would love to share this to my friends. I also love toReplyDelete
Get Facebook Likes
Free Facebook Likes
Get Twitter Followers
Free Twitter Followers
Get YouTube Subscribers
Get Website Traffic
Get Google Plus Votes
Free Facebook Subscribers
Free Google Plus Votes
Thank you for this and all the best.
eToro is the #1 forex trading platform for novice and advanced traders.ReplyDelete