Episode-967- Listener Calls for 8-24-12 — 32 Comments

  1. Hey Jack, “Brent in PEI”, I have not listened yet, but my bet on the one line in the song was “Pick your own way, and the others will follow” , which on the surface seems contradictory, follow, I hope means, they will follow with their own way, not necessarily the person in question.

  2. I have a simple solution to the iTunes delay for TSP — Stitcher Radio ( Stitcher makes it easy to aggregate your favorite podcasts and I’ve found TSP usually posts on Stitcher an hour or so after things are posted on

    They have free iPhone/iPad and Android apps and you can typically stream the past couple of shows. I haven’t used iTunes for ANYTHING in the past year; if I ever need to access an old show I just download it from the TSP website. It’s by far one of my favorite iPhone apps (I have no affiliation with the company).


    • I used to use BeyondPod, but now use the Survive! app for TSP. It seems to be up to the minute with no delay compared to the website. Plus you have immediate access to Jack’s YouTube channel and twitter. It’s free, so worth a shot. There’s also an ad-free version for a bit of $$. Good luck.

      • Dillon,
        I only found an Android version of Survive!. Having the video as well would be great. FYI I’ve also used Downcast, which is payware but improves the playback interface considerably over the standard iPhone player.

    • I also had a suggestion for the podcast management… I’ve been using Downcast ( for a long time to manage and listen to Podcasts. It’s a $1.99 app but it’s been worth every single copper-clad-zinc penny. It doesn’t require iTunes or any integration with your desktop – it’s entirely standalone. One of the nice features among its many features is the ability to reliably force a “new podcast” check by simply looking at your list of subscribed ‘casts and then drag the screen down until you get the little arrow and then release it. It’s reliable and I can get the podcast instantly when it’s released (I usually see it on Facebook first).

  3. Jack,
    Your economic and investing analysis is very good in today’s podcast. It’s far better than any analysis I heard when I worked in equity research, far better.

  4. I found that 1 gallon of vinegar, 1 cup of salt and an oz of soap makes a great grass/weed killer.

    • True, burns it down to the dirt. Wiped all weeds off my pavement with it this summer.

  5. Thanks for taking my call Jack about the Green House vs. Sun Room issue.

    I was in fact referring to a portion of the house that was actual living space, with heavy rounded glass and fully integrated into the structure for energy efficiency with a bit of a luxury tax implied. Perhaps they aren’t as popular in the rest of the country as they are here so the confusion about my cost estimates were understandable. Though I was inquiring about an all-or-none type solution, you gave me more to think about in terms of something almost hybrid I hadn’t considered. That sounds will achieve my primary endpoints at a significantly lesser cost, particularly on an existing structure.

    I don’t think you realize how valuable your confusions can be, lol.


    • Hi Justin, I received a quote for a solarium/screen porch last year that also came in at $15k. However, I live in a historic house near Nashua and have architectual considerations and other things in the design that drove up the cost. I was speaking with another builder last week who specializes in solar design. Joel Salatin wrote in Folks, this Ain’t Normal, that every house should have a solarium (at least in the north). Live Free or Die!

    • Funny, we had a permaculture consultant visit us yesterday to discuss our new place… Greenhouses or solariums (integrated into the house) w/ or w/o aquaponics were a big part of the discussion!

      We are in the Pacific Northwest (wet side, “Cascadia”).

      I think $5K for something that’s really part of the house, built to code, etc., work hired out, is low. But I suppose it depends on where you live, and how much of the work you could do yourself.

      $5K for something solid and effective that you do yourself, inexpensively, seems doable. Esp. if there is no rush, you’re reasonably handy (what slows me down is trying to figure out code, permits, etc.), and you can throttle your time up and down.

      BTW a great read is the Solar Hot Air Heating Systems book that’s sold on Steven Harris’s site. Also Bill Mollison’s thin permaculture book has some nice ideas of bathrooms integrated into greenhouses, grey water, etc.

      Curious to learn what you decide!


  6. Regarding the call about how to “invest” in the (hangover) effects from this central bank manipulation…

    There is a concept called the Hayekian triangle. In my opinion, it’s an interesting concept to understand the business cycle.

    In my opinion, it’s possible that in a major down cycle which includes true deflation, while the whole triangle in absolute terms would shrink, one would be best suited to hold assets that represent the portion of the triangle that, in relative terms, gets bigger. In other words, what sectors will end up with a bigger % of the triangle than before?

    I believe that because of current govt policy that promotes retail spending, assets in the space of early stage would be best. I think the retail sector could collapse in percentage terms. Imagine if China becomes the “big” economy and we are an early stage producer for them (e.g. natural resources).

    You could read more about the Hayekian triangle at Use the search box on the top right. Hopefully that provides a bit of new information.

  7. Jack,

    RE: Ambliopia

    Same here. My left eye sucks. I rely heavily upon my right eye and if I ever lost my right eye I’d be legally blind.

    As a teenager, my right eye was a better-than-perfect 20/15, but my left eye was a pathetic 20/70. Now that I’m in my 40’s, years of computer work has caused deterioration in my vision so now I am much worse off with 20/45 and 20/100. Even with corrective lenses I nearly failed the eye exam at the Registry of Motor Vehicles last time around. I have to re-up my license in April and I am fearful I will fail completely.

    Meanwhile because of the ambliopia, I do not possess what is called “binocular vision” whereby both eyes are supposed to work together and the two separate streams of visual data from the two separate eyeballs are supposed to get integrated in the brain as one flawless image. Instead, the two streams from my eyeballs don’t always cooperate with each other. This lack of binocular vision means I can’t watch 3-D movies. I can’t use those kiddie toys called “view masters.” And I can’t view with any degree of success those digital computer generated paintings which look like nothing more than a very busy and uniform field of colorful houndstooth tweed to me, but everyone else around me says that when they view those paintings they can see a wolf holwing at the moon, etc.

    • Here are examples of those paintings I am talking about.

      They are called “sirds”which means “single image random dot stereogram” (so I guess my eyeballs are supposed to work in stereo with each other, but they do not). And I can’t see a blessed thing in them. Ever. I have stared at them for 10 minutes at a shot. I have squinted. I have tried walking left and right to see if a shift in perspective would help. I have had other people walk up to the paintings and press their fingers against certain parts and say “Right here. This is the bird, and this is the flower. And there’s the butterfly,” but to no avail. All I see is wallpaper.

      • I’m the same way, I’ve NEVER been able to see the images in those things. I think the people that made them up just say there’s an image there and people see what they want to see.

      • It took me along time to get those pictures to work for me- but once I was able to do it, now I can always with no problem. My eyes now know what to do to see the image, but I couldn’t tell ya what that is. It is something though, some sort of eye adjustment- not just staring.
        They are fun (and yes real) , but an image of a bird-does not look like a real bird, but one made of paper mache.

  8. I use the Instacast podcast app on my Iphone. I think it was either free or $.99. I have been using it for over a year and in my opinion is the best podcast app for Iphones. Files are available for streaming or download in less than 15 minutes from the time they are published. this app is can be upgraded to have more settings and separate settings for each podcast (if you wish) which i find very valuable. I think the upgrade was $4.99 but was well worth it to me as I spend many hours on the road. I hope this helps someone!
    Love the show!


  9. I suspect that some retirement accounts have already been partially nationalized, in a way, by being directed towards funds heavy in government bonds and no safe cash/money market/safe harbor option.

    I started a new job in April (working on night vision for aircraft and other things, btw) and my employer automatically enrolled me in their 401k program, which was being transitioned to a new plan administrator and entered a “black-out” period, during which no changes could be made, but money continued to be withdrawn from my earnings. The new administrator? Bank of America! The old plan was lousy. This plan outright sucks! While not every fund is 100% government bonds, the few that aren’t are still very heavy in them and in bad sectors. During an information meeting on the new plan, I asked about a money market option and I was told that there isn’t any, but the income fund was very safe. It lost 2% since then. The financial liar, uh, I mean advisor, then said I could contribute to a self-directed IRA, for which they will charge me $150 a year for the privilege of earning them interest! As soon as the black out ended, I promptly stopped contributions, forgoing the attractive matching. Until then, I had believed that all plans had to offer a money market or cash safe harbor.

    There is also a boom in infrastructure repair and other government projects, spurred by all the money going into bonds. For example, I go through three work zones on my short commute to work on rural back roads. The mile long stretch of road in front of my home has been torn up and repaved with culverts, guard rails and new telephone poles and involves removing trees and blasting through ledge. It is a massive three month long project that shows no real benefits. It was funded by a $20 Million bond issue, about $2000 per resident in the town. I don’t know which assclowns voted on this crap, but it is happening all over the place, not just my town. So, my theory is that this spending is enabled by large amounts of money being redistributed into government bonds from unsuspecting workers saving for retirement. They are not aware that their choices are dwindling and their retirement is being used to prop up governments. Automatic enrollment and automatic escalation of 401k plans further deepens the disconnect between the earner and the funds and enables further looting. This is wealth redistribution, this is the National Infrastructure Bank, this is MFing Global. This is a sneaky way of nationalizing retirements, without risking the tar and feathers if they seized them outright. What really happened behind the closed doors back in 2008 when the heads of the large banks were essentially held captive and forced to agree to certain terms? Terms which the public is not privy to. Was bailing out governments by forcing customers to buy bonds one of the conditions? I first encountered the plan to seize retirement accounts back in October 2008, less than a month after the 777 point crash, when I was working for a very large financial services firm. So, the plan was ready and waiting even then…And they pull crap like this.

    • Very good points.

      (1) I’ve long-used the analogy of the sun to describe the market. The constant activity/reaction keeps up an internal pressure that inflates it. The gov’t of course very much wants a flow of dumb retail investment to drive this. Jack did a show a short while ago where he made an even more extensive analogy involving collapse of a star into a black hole, and also an analogy to escape velocity, ie. “we can’t get away” with the #s being what they are.

      (2) Agree re: implicit and explicit rules preventing exit. I’ve recently encountered something at my current primary job where I am unable to opt-out of a profit-sharing plan due to “fairness” restrictions in the plan-governing regulations (kind of obscure, but in order to avoid having some employees considered better-treated in the plan, a requirement results that requires more of us to participate). I’ve generally turned off or minimized all my tax-deferred contributions.

      (3) Getting money out of IRA (would work for prior job 401k/403b). IRS allows $10K individual/$20K couple withdrawal of IRA money for house purchase. You still pay tax (if not Roth), just no penalty.

      (4) Did you pull money out of an IRA, or want to, and owe tax? It turns out that you can pull money directly from the IRA and put it directly towards tax, any time the same year, and have it count for prior quarters. Read about this here to understand for yourself, it wasn’t something I knew until recently:
      (obviously check the code yourself or talk to an accountant; I’m a “regular guy” when it comes to finance).

      Very, very much appreciate all of Jack’s thoughts on the economy. Now just trying to find ways to translate this is into action.


      • That little trick for paying quarterly taxes ONLY applies to those old enough for qualified distributions.

  10. Jack,

    I had asked my accountant about this a few months ago and got the OK, but I’ll double-check it, as I know you’ve got some knowledge in this area.

    To clarify, I was just referring to just this part of the article (direct tax withholding), not the part about rolling money back in:
    >A little-known fact about IRA distributions is that when you have taxes >withheld from the distribution (which are then sent directly to the IRS), the >withheld money is considered to have been received throughout the year – even >if it is received late in December. Using this fact to your advantage, you could >figure out how much your total estimated tax payments should be for the year >sometime in early December, and then take a distribution from your IRA in >that amount. Here’s the trick: Instead of taking the distribution yourself, fill >out a form W-4P to direct the funds to be withheld and sent to the IRS. Voila! >You’ve now made even payments to the IRS for each of the four quarters, on >time with no penalties!

    The reason this is relevant to me is I ended up using IRA money in excess of the 10% for real estate (our homestead; motivations as discussed) earlier this year… I wasn’t interested in tying up post-tax money early in the year and, as it turns out, want to further divest from the market for reasons you have articulated well.


  11. Hi Jack and fellow TSP listeners. If you are looking for good quality Gen III NVG optics check out I bought a monocular (PVS 14) that can be handheld, weapon mounted or worn on your head. These optics use the high quality military grade ITT tubes made in the US. I used to work as a flight nurse where we uses Gen III helmet mounted NVGs that cost the company upwards of 12K per set. The PVS 14s sold at jrhenterprises are just as good at less than 3K. Plus 2 year warranty Hope this helps
    anyone looking for a good NVG device.

  12. i think the thumb drives are an awesome idea. last night i downloaded all of the episodes. i’m loading a chunk of them on a 16g drive and sending it to my buddy who is deployed. i’m hoping he’ll enjoy the shows and be able to share them with his unit.

  13. Jack,

    As of right now Illinois is the only state that has no legislation allowing conceal carry. As a native Illinoian It’s my biggest problem with the state among many. Don’t take just my word for it though. Here’s a link from the government accountability office on conceal and carry in all the states. The “Good Stuff” starts on page 71.


  14. But Jack, there’s real value in having an ownership share of XYZ corp, assuming it does real value with real commodities, right? That’s what I’m missing from this segment – you talk about real value of commodities – fine, true – but real ownership of a company doing real physical work in the real physical world is also valuable, yes?

    My own strategy is to own physical commodities, yet short them own paper. Own land, yet short it on paper. Own dollars, short the Euro, yet short the dollar in paper. Oh I know I’ll lose when something changes, but I’ll also win, and the part that wins should win big. But WTF do I know – I’m not an adviser, just some thoughts.

    • First if you own XYZ corp it is denominated in dollars right, so if the dollar shits the bed, well, get it?

      Next XYZ requires a few things

      1. The ability to get suppies
      2. The ability to pay workers
      3. The ability to sell to people in a functioning economy

      In the end game scenario all three will be compromised. I personally don’t think things will go totally off the rails, they will do something to hold parts of it together but ANYTHING denominated in dollars will take a huge hit. It has to, it is a mathematical certainty.