The unscrupulous Charles Ponzi became famous in the early 1900s for deploying the well-known “Ponzi scheme” upon hopeless investors who dreamed of fast money and exorbitant returns. Essentially, Mr. Ponzi’s system penalized a large group of people for the benefit of himself. The more people bought into the fraudulent idea, the greater the potential downfall to all those involved, a greater number of people would be harmed, and ironically the more powerful Mr. Ponzi became.
Most people may not realize it, but we are all involved in many modern-day Ponzi schemes. The sad truth is, most people don’t even realize they’re part of the conspiracy. Let’s analyze a few examples.
Tickets and Tolls. I live in NYC, so traffic tickets are a way of life. However, have you ever stopped to think about the process behind the tickets? First, municipalities raise money for projects within their borders by taxing its residents (your money). They then use those taxes to build roads, bridges, tunnels and other infrastructure. Next, they charge you money for the things you paid for in the first place in the form of tolls. Finally, the cities hire parking attendants, all funded on the taxpayer’s watch, to penalize you for parking in non-designated areas or at non-designated times on the roads. Now, I can certainly understand the necessity of zoning certain areas as “no parking” (i.e. where fire hydrants are located) but essentially, we are all being collectively penalized for using something that we all funded. It is like walking into a store that you own, and paying your employee to punch you in face … and if you don’t say ‘thank you’ with a courteous smile, you will be handed a summons.
Social Security. Who do you think is wealthier—the average twenty-year-old or the average sixty-year old? According to the 2010 Survey of Consumer Finance, the average person aged less than 35 was worth $65,000 (Median = $9,300).1 For 65-74 year-olds, the average net worth was $848,300 (Median $206,700). The median wealth of those older than 75 years old was even higher at $216,800. Currently, the average age of the American worker is just under 35 years, while the average age of a social security beneficiary is just over 73 years. So let us think about this: the average person working and funding social security is worth less than 10% of the average person collecting a benefit. Does this make any economic sense? The reader may object stating that income amongst the elderly is significantly smaller or non-existent, but the data disproves that claim. From the same survey, the mean income among those less than 35 years old was $47,700; the mean income among 65-74 year-olds was $75,800. Essentially, poorer individuals are giving money away to richer individuals—a 21st century Robin Hood in reverse. What if I told you that for the next 30 years you would have to pay a tax every week to pay for fuel for Donald Trump’s learjet? What about paying the property tax on Bill Gates’s house? Yes, it appears Rick Perry was right.
The IMF. The International Monetary Fund is the big winner, because it takes Ponzi scheming onto a global scale. Ultimately, the organization is designed to redistribute wealth, even though its stated purpose is to “promote international monetary cooperation and exchange rate stability, facilitate the balanced growth of international trade, and provide resources to help members in balance of payments difficulties or to assist with poverty reduction.” Each member nation pays a “membership fee” based on the size of its economy, and as of Jan 31, 2013, the IMF had $448 billion in assets at its disposal. With financial resources so vast, one would assume the IMF would invest most of its resources in the poorest countries in the world, which happen to be located in Sub-Saharan Africa. Alas, this is not the case—over the past three years, the IMF has gone from lending almost nothing to the Euro zone to allocating more than half of lending to the region today. The shift has happened because of the “crisis” in several countries such as Greece and Ireland, but despite the said countries’ economic woes, they remain far better off than those economies in the African sub continent. It defies logic when a nation such as The Democratic Republic of the Congo (2011 per capita GDP of $200) is forced to prop up a nation such as Greece (per capital GDP $29,000).
It appears the other schemers have been hiding in plain sight all along.
Dr. C.H.E. Sadaphal