Colman: A Nation of Beggars (Schnorrers)


By Richard Colman, California Political News and Views  

 America is becoming a nation of schnorrers.  

Schnorrer is German or Yiddish word meaning beggar. 

A conventional beggar is someone who, usually on a street, asks for money, cigarettes, or something else.  A beggar could also be a relative or friend asking for a “loan.” 

But there is a non-conventional kind of beggar — the kind who keeps asking government for all kinds of assistance. 

The assistance can be in the form of food stamps, subsidized rent, low-cost (or “free”) health care, special income-tax deductions, or funds to cover natural disasters (such as floods, hurricanes, and earthquakes). Other forms of assistance are Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and ObamaCare. 

The list is really longer, but there is not enough space to cover all forms of assistance.

How did America go from a nation made up of solidly middle-class people to a nation of beggars? 

The answer is inflation (rising prices). 

From 1918 to 1923, Germany experienced massive inflation.  What cost one German mark in 1918 cost one trillion marks by 1923.  Prices rose so rapidly during Germany’s hyperinflation, that the cost of a restaurant meal, between placing the order and paying the bill, meant a significant price increase. 

The United States today is not in the same condition as post-World War I Germany.  But over time, the American dollar buys less and less. 

Here is an example:  In 1960, a family of four could exist — not well — on $10,000 a year.  Generally, one spouse worked, the family had one car, and a short vacation to some place within driving distance was possible. 

Today, an income of $10,000 a year puts a family in the poverty category. 

Examining the price of gold from 1960 to today shows how bad inflation has been over the last 58 years.  In 1960, gold was valued at $35 an ounce.  That price was fixed by the federal government.  In 1960, Americans were not allowed to own gold.  There were some exceptions for such items as dental fillings and jewelry. 

In 1975, Congress passed legislation allowing Americans to own gold. 

A person earning $10,000 a year in 1960 would, in terms of gold, have to have an annual income of $383,000. 

There are many different explanations for America’s current inflation.  Some people say the federal government is spending too much money, producing excessive demand for goods and services.  Others argue that interest rates are too low, stimulating people to borrow money to buy homes, cars, and vacations. 

Some economists argue that the government’s power to print money is the cause of inflation. 

To protect oneself from inflation, a person can invest in the stock market, real estate, or gold.  However, if interest rates go up, the values of stocks and real estate could drop. 

Gold could also drop in value.  In 1998, only 20 years ago, gold was worth $288 an ounce.  But, as of April 10, 2018, gold sold for $1,340 an ounce. 

In 1998, the federal budget showed a budget surplus, and the national debt was $5.5 trillion.  Now, the federal budget is projected to show an annual deficit of $1 trillion, and that $1 trillion has to be added to the current national debt of $21.1 trillion. 

Over the last 50 years, inflation has been a problem most of the time. 

Perhaps, the best way to protect an individual from the declining value of the American dollar is to hold gold.  Everything else seems too risky. 

If inflation does not abate or becomes worse, America will become a nation of schnorrers.

Richard Colman is the founder and president of Biomed Inc., a biotechnology, publishing, and informatics company.  He is a biochemist and earned masters and doctoral degrees from the University of California at Berkeley.  He lives in Orinda, California.

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