Monday, July 22, 2013

Nurse the Hate: Hate Your 401K

I have often thought about, daydreamed really, about the possibility of “taking charge of my finances” to avoid the long, slow death-by-a-thousand-cuts life in corporate America.  This rock and roll thing doesn’t pay well enough to afford the lifestyle to which I have grown accustomed.  Just like you probably, I answer to The Man.  It’s a real tightrope walk sometimes balancing what I like to do with what I have to do.  Shit, we all do it.  I’m not telling you anything you don’t know.

The Big Lie we have in our culture is that after a long life in servitude to some corporate concern, you will be rewarded by a long retirement spent strolling beaches and having intercourse with your surprisingly hot elderly wife in bathtubs placed strategically in the woods.  This is of course blatantly untrue, as if you somehow make it to retirement you will die a couple years later after having all that money you cobbled together siphoned off by the thieves in our health care industry.  The only blue wonder pill you will be taking is to ward off some kind of horrible cancer for another 45 days of low quality life.  There is no walk on the beach for you friend…  

Most of us that work towards this Utopian bathtub in the woods daydream have our money in either 401K accounts or mutual funds.  These accounts are headed up by men with a razor sharp vision of the past and a total inability to predict anything in the future.  I am totally convinced that 99.5% of persons involved in the financial industry have no better idea of what will happen tomorrow than either of my two basset hounds.  On top of that, my hounds react to reality faster than anyone in Finance.  When it’s raining, the hounds will come inside.  When Finance guys see it is raining, they say “It shouldn’t be raining.  It will stop soon.  In fact, this might not even be rain at all.”  When the markets are up and everyone is making money, Big Finance will congratulate themselves for how smart their decisions have turned out.  If the account is down, they attribute it all to a “bad market”. 

The sham of that industry is built around a special language they created to make it seem like they are doing incredibly complicated things that you are unqualified to even question, when in reality all they are doing is betting on football.  Instead of betting $5000 on a two team parlay of the Redskins +5 and Baltimore -3, they “diversified your interests in the energy sector and heavied up in communications”.  It would be refreshing to hear even one of these clowns say, “We bought Apple, because it seems like people like iPhones”.  Translation:  Dude!  Everyone is on the Skins!  They are going to roll this Sunday!  Let’s put your money on Washington!

My beef is with the bullshit fees and total lack of accountability.  They don’t know anything.  It is all lies.  “Your account is returning just a little below the S&P average after fees.  We would have been up, but who could have foreseen that China would influence the banking markets like that…”  You know who could have seen it?  You.  You are the one that gets paid the fee to see that shit.  Now, let’s substitute a few nouns.  “We would have been up for the weekend, but who could have known Dallas would kick that late field goal and cover?”

So what if we just cut out all those middlemen?  I don’t know anything about how the rise of the Euro will effect IBM’s Q3 profit, but I know that the Baltimore Orioles have been one of the best teams vs the spread after the All Star break in each of the last three years.  So what if I stopped worrying about how the mutual fund managers were ripping me off by using their fees and artificial market manipulations to benefit their mega firm’s top clients, and just took that dough and started betting baseball?  Would it really be any riskier than showing up at Shit Tech Inc. and helping the backslapping Golf Bros at Corporate skim a bigger fat bonus off the top while hoping my 401K moves up a click by accident?

So what if I just made one enormous wager?  What if I just scanned the data day in and day out and waited for that one perfect game where a shit Orioles team started a journeyman pitcher like Freddy Garcia against somebody like Boston?  Garcia is at the tail end of a sketchy career, but maybe he just happens to match up extremely well against the meat of the Boston lineup, and performs especially well vs these guys at home where the Green Monster isn’t a factor?  As stupid as it sounds, that is probably a better bet than taking the Fidelity Mid Cap Value Fund.  You take Baltimore with Garcia on the hill, not only do you get no fees like with a 401K, the bookie will pay you 20 cents on the dollar on top of the original wager because you were on the underdog!  So instead of slogging into work and having your soul slowly drained from you for the next two + decades, it will all be decided in 3-4 hours.  No fussing.  That's it.  You either totally win or totally lose.  If you win the bet, then you never go back.  You never answer the phone if they call.  You put on a pair of shorts, go outside, and read a book in the sun.  If you lose?  Hell, you were on track to go there for the next 25 years anyway.  What’s the difference?  You’ll just leave a mountain of medical debt to be written off by The State when you get that horrible disease a year after retiring.

The big question is if I have the stones to make this type of move.  This is the sort of thing that seems too easy.  Certainly The Gods would not allow me just to parachute out like that just because I know the White Sox can’t hit junkball pitching or that Kyle Kendrick owns the Mets, would they?  Every movie I have ever seen has taught me that I will have the monster wager almost won, when a little known player will come off the bench for the other team and hit a dream crushing home run.  I will be left weeping and smoking cigarettes on a payphone outside of a bar in Brooklyn.  I don’t know why I will be in Brooklyn, it’s just that this type of thing always seems to happen in Brooklyn.

That next day at work would be a tough go.  I would be a complete slave to my Corporate Overlords.  I would need to learn that deep gut laugh to let rip when the boss says something that isn’t funny, but he thinks is.  “Hehehehehe!  Good one Phil!”  There would be longer hours spent generating reports no one would ever read.  The permanent smile on my face would become more of a grimace.  Still, I think that as I dissolved into the rubber sheets at the charity hospital years later I would think, “I took my shot.  I almost got out.  Goddammit, I took my shot.”

Anyone got a line on that Orioles game tomorrow?


At August 8, 2013 at 8:01:00 PM EDT , Blogger AZ said...

I agree. Always said it was gambling with someone else making the picks. How can one live with another making his mistakes? Leaves you broke in the purest sense of the word.


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