Recently, I read two articles that blew my mind. Perhaps they will blow your mind too.
1) The first article talks about how the US Army fudged $6.8 trillion in accounting entries in 2015 to balance its books. The Defense Department’s Inspector General said the Army lacked receipts and invoices to support those numbers or simply made them up. What?
“At first glance adjustments totaling trillions may seem impossible. The amounts dwarf the Defense Department’s entire budget. Making changes to one account also require making changes to multiple levels of sub-accounts, however. That created a domino effect where, essentially, falsifications kept falling down the line. In many instances this daisy-chain was repeated multiple times for the same accounting item,” Scot J. Paltrow writes.
While the government goes after regular folks who get their taxes wrong because there are so many rules, it turns a blind eye on $6.8 TRILLION in accounting errors? This seems like a huge double standard and an abdication of responsibility. An army spokesman later downplayed the significance of the improper charges, and said the real error in question is “only” about $62.4 billion. Come on now. $62.4 billion is still a massive amount of money that has vanished into thin air.
$62.4 billion a year in misappropriated funds can:
* Create 1,248,000 new social worker jobs paying $50,000 a year
* Create 624,000 new teaching jobs that pay $100,000 a year
* Line the pockets of 62,400 corrupt officials by $1,000,000 a year
* Really line the coffers of 1,000 contractors by $62,400,000 a year
“Nobody knows where the money is going,” said Franklin Spinney, a retired military analyst for the Pentagon and critic of Defense Department planning. But actually we do know where the money is going. Its going into the pockets of the top 0.1% government employees charged with handling the budget in the form of under the table money, salaries and bonuses and the pockets of companies that receive defense contracts.
2) The second article talks about how San Francisco has an annual budget of $9.6 billion, more than 13 other States in America!
Reporter Heather Knight writes, “In 2010, the budget totaled $6.4 billion in a city with 805,000 people, meaning the city spent nearly $8,000 per capita. Six years later, the $9.6 billion budget is paying for services for 865,000 residents, or $11,100 per capita. Inflation explains a little of that increase, but certainly not all of it.” In other words, the city of San Francisco grew by 7.45%, but the budget ballooned by 50% in six years. That is out of control!
We know it’s much easier to vote to raise taxes on other people especially if you don’t have to pay more yourself. Illustrative of this is a SF law passed in 2011. As originally proposed, all SF residents would pitch 1-3% of their gross income in to raise $6.8B for public education. The majority pushed back against this proposal and the legislation was changed to charge only those making $200,000 or more, ignoring entirely the fact that there are people making less than $200,000 who also have kids. As a result, only $2.5B was raised. But the majority is the majority, and in an election, the majority always wins.
In San Francisco, if someone graffiti’s your garage door, you will get fined by the city if you don’t remove the graffiti at your own expense within a short window of time. Homeowners are responsible for maintaining all the trees on public property outside their house even if they didn’t plant them. Further, if the public sidewalk outside your property is cracked, you must pay to fix it too. You would think with a $9.6 billion budget, the city would be responsible for maintaining its own property. Nope. Let’s not get started about the homeless situation and the poor public transportation system.
Finally, roughly 20,000 of San Francisco’s 39,000 employees make over $100,000 a year. Now that is impressive! So that’s where the $9.6 billion budget is mostly going annually.
IF YOU CAN’T BEAT THEM, JOIN THEM
Since nobody can properly oversee the government unless you want to be fined or thrown in jail, it’s important for everybody to do three things:
1) Identify the income threshold where the government starts going after you. Based on consistent political rhetoric and existing tax rules, this income figure is $200,000. However, the income number may be adjusted higher or lower depending on your location’s cost of living.
2) The more you make over $200,000, the more you need to try to work less or question your life’s purpose. Ask yourself whether it’s really worth killing yourself at a job or a business that isn’t helping society just so you can earn more money. You can do much better donating your time and money to better causes than the government can.
For those of you who want to earn much more than $200,000 a year, I say give it a shot to get it out of your system. After you succeed, I suggest you take things down a notch. Over the long run, it’s really not worth it. Life is so much more enjoyable if you can actually enjoy it. See how a family of four and a family of three spend $200,000 a year. It’s a comfortable living.
3) Apply for various government jobs. Government has only gotten bigger over the years thanks to bigger budgets. Meanwhile, people depending on government welfare has grown to record highs, roughly 109 million people or 35% of the population. It’s a travesty that so many people in America are getting rich, while so many more people are getting poorer. If we have money and opportunity, it’s our duty to help those who do not have similar good fortune. By not teaching more people how to fish, the government stifles the aspirations of its citizenry. I really hope Financial Samurai can help more people achieve financial independence.
As November’s presidential election approaches, we know with high certainty the status quo will continue for the next four, if not the next eight years. Therefore, it only makes sense to follow the money. Check out the following charts to understand what’s going on:
What is going on folks? The system appears to be failing. I want to believe that the internet helps democratize access to information and enables people to make better decisions. However, these growth rates are scary! How can a nation as rich as ours have such a large percentage of people who are financially suffering? We must do more to help those who have less.
FOCUS ON BIG TRENDS
In 1999, I joined the Asian equities department of an investment bank because it seemed obvious the Asian region would experience explosive growth over the coming decades. In 1997 I had been an exchange student for six months in Beijing, Shanghai, and Chengdu and seen the potential. It was a good ride until everything went to hell 10 years later due to the US housing crisis.
I started Financial Samurai in 2009 partly because it was obvious the internet would continue to grow by leaps and bounds. It was evident back in 1999 as well, but I didn’t know anything about websites and just needed to get a damn job to prove I hadn’t wasted four years of my life in college. So far, it’s been a great seven years. There’s also been a huge growth from companies looking to hire people who know how to create content, build an online brand, and grow traffic.
In addition to mobile, virtual reality, self-driving cars, and the internet of things, big government is one of the strongest trends for the remainder of our lifetimes.
BEST GOVERNMENT JOBS
Let me be clear that I believe the overwhelming majority of our government employees are good people. Those who serve in our military and in our foreign service are some of our finest citizens. It’s the politicians at the top who lie through their teeth to feed their egos who are the problem. Every week there seems to be a new political corruption story that makes me shake my head.
Here are some of the highest paying government jobs. Unfortunately, just like in the private sector, the most lucrative jobs are also the hardest to get.
Top Five Highest Paying Jobs That Nobody Can Get
1. NCAA Football Coach: $1.75 Million
2. President of a Public College: $425,000
3. President of the United States: $400,000
4. Chief Justice of the United States: $258,000
5. Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court: $248,000
The Highest Paying Jobs That Normal People Can Get
1) Astronomer – $116,072
2) Attorney – $114,240
3) Financial Manager – $101,022
4) General Engineer – $100,051
5) Economist – $94,098
6) Computer Scientist – $90,929
7) Chemist – $89,954
8) Criminal Investigator – $88,174
9) Microbiologist – $87,206
10) Architect – $85,690
11) Statistician – $81,524
12) Librarian – $78,665
13) Accountant – $78,030
14) Chaplain – $76,511
15) Ecologist – $76,511
16) Human Resources Manager – $76,503
17) Health and Safety Specialist – $73,003
18) Air Traffic Controller – $72,049
19) Budget Analyst – $71,267
20) Correctional Officer – $67,140
21) Nurse – $65,345
22) Technical Engineer – $63,951
23) Border Patrol Agent – $63,550
24) Medical Technician- $59,840
25) Customs Inspector – $59,248
The Highest Paying Government Agencies
|FARM CREDIT SYSTEM INSURANCE CORPORATION||$171,827.30|
|SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION||$162,856.89|
|FEDERAL HOUSING FINANCE AGENCY||$154,969.54|
|COMMODITY FUTURES TRADING COMMISSION||$151,844.57|
|ARCTIC RESEARCH COMMISSION||$149,688.67|
|NAT CTR FOR VET ANALYSIS AND STATISTICS||$148,947.33|
|COMMISSION TO ELIMINATE CHILD ABUSE||$146,080.00|
|MEDICARE PAYMENT ADVISORY COMMISSION||$139,032.54|
|NATIONAL COUNCIL ON DISABILITY||$138,220.27|
|MEDICAID & CHIP PAYMENT & ACCESS COMM||$133,954.98|
|AMES RESEARCH CENTER||$133,735.20|
|MARINE MAMMAL COMMISSION||$133,129.63|
|ARCHITECTL & TRANS BARRIER COMPLIANCE BD||$131,564.17|
|CIVILIAN BOARD OF CONTRACT APPEALS||$130,440.43|
|DEFENSE NUCLEAR FACILITIES SAFETY BOARD||$130,317.34|
|PRIVACY AND CIVIL LIBERTIES OVERSIGHT||$129,676.57|
|FEDERAL DEPOSIT INSURANCE CORPORATION||$129,436.18|
|FARM CREDIT ADMINISTRATION||$128,692.38|
|DOMESTIC NUCLEAR DETECTION OFFICE||$128,329.48|
|OFFICE OF NATIONAL DRUG CONTROL POLICY||$128,077.82|
If you want to apply to the myriad of US Federal government jobs, please check out USAjobs.gov.
BE A FREELANCER INSTEAD
Although there are a great many well-paying government jobs, you might not want to be locked into The Borg for a couple decades before you can receive a miracle pension for life. Therefore, in order to get some of that honey money, being a government freelancer may be a better way to go.
Here are some positives for being a freelancer:
Pay – Freelancer almost always earns more than a full-time government employee. The downside is usually no benefits.
Relatively easier to get – It’s not easy getting a government job. For example, only about 3% pass the Foreign Service entrance exam. By contrast, contracting companies may be less restrictive with their selection process.
Double or triple dip – Freelancer is great because you can earn money in multiple ways without restriction. For example, I can simultaneously earn money running Financial Samurai, consulting with a fintech company, teaching tennis, driving a car, and contracting with the government. If you work FT for the government, however, your outside earning avenues may be restricted.
If you want to have the benefits of being a freelancer and a full-time employee, perhaps consider working full-time at a government contractor like Lockheed Martin, Northrup Grumman, and SAIC.
Related: How To Be A Rockstar Freelancer
WHAT AM I LOOKING TO DO?
Recently, I decided that to increase my active income streams while also helping society I could be a substitute teacher. Thus, I stopped by the administration office of the middle school near my house to inquire and was told I couldn’t apply directly to the school. Instead, I’d have to visit sfusd.edu and go from there.
Education is key to a better life. I don’t think our kids can have too many mentors or educators. Doctors are always talking about preventative care as a way to fix our health care crisis. Giving our kids a better education may very well help solve our future financial problems as well.
“”Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men.” – John Dalberg-Acton
Recommendation For Leaving A Job
If you want to leave a job you no longer enjoy, I negotiating a severance instead of quitting. If you negotiate a severance like I did back in 2012, you not only get a severance check, but potentially subsidized healthcare, deferred compensation, and worker training. Since you got laid off, you’re also eligible for up to 27 weeks of unemployment benefits. Having a financial runway is huge during your transition period.
Conversely, if you quit your job you get nothing. Check out, How To Engineer Your Layoff: Make A Small Fortune By Saying Goodbye, on how to negotiate a severance. I first published the book in 2012 and have since expanded it to 180 pages from 100 pages in the 3rd edition thanks to tremendous reader feedback and successful case studies.
Wealth Building Recommendation
Explore Real Estate Crowdfunding: If you don’t have the downpayment to buy a larger property, don’t want to tie up your liquidity in physical real estate and don’t want to deal with tenants, take a look at Fundrise, one of the largest real estate crowdsourcing companies today. Real estate crowdsourcing also allows you to be more flexible in your real estate investments by investing beyond just where you live for the best returns possible. I’m happy living in a right-sized house while investing excess capital in the heartland of America where rental yields are 4-5X higher.
Updated for 2020 and beyond.