Wednesday, September 19, 2018

But Whatever You Do, Don't Become Crippled

I’m invited to receive a free meal at Ruth’s Chris Steak House! Or at least that’s what it says on the slick card that came in the mail.

There’s a picture of a steak. It looks like a palm-sized filet mignon. Could that be my free meal? Except it’s not exactly free. It’s kind of like when the missionaries come to your village. They’ll help you build huts and all, but you have to sit through the Jesus pitch.

To receive my free meal at Ruth’s Chris Steak House, I have to attend a “free” financial seminar. I will be introduced to a dazzling array of investment products that will help me secure my financial future. I will receive sound financial advice from a leading expert.

But it makes feel the same way I do after seeing one of those commercials where a leading expert gives someone sound financial advice that helps them plan a strategy for a secure and happy retirement. I wonder if, at the end, the leading expert says, “But whatever you do, don’t become crippled. If you become crippled, all bets are off.”

Suppose you need a motorized wheelchair and an adapted cripple van. That’s about 80 grand right there. There goes a painful chunk of your hard-earned nest egg, unless you’re one of the rare few who doesn’t flinch at 80 grand.

Maybe the government will buy a wheelchair for you, but only after you’ve spent away pretty much everything you have so you’re broke enough to qualify for Medicaid.

And I laugh when I hear governors bragging about the “business-friendly climate” of their state. “Come to our state where taxes are low!” But at the end of that sales pitch, every governor ought to be required to issue the following disclaimer: “But whatever you do, don’t become crippled.”

Suppose you become crippled like me and, like me, you need to hire a crew of people to come into your home and help you get out of bed and stuff like that. The only reason I can afford to do this is because the state pays the wages of my workers. In one of those unabashedly “business-friendly climate” states, the governor is much more likely to say, “’We have no money for things like that. We have to keep the taxes low here.”

Whenever you hear a passionate sermon about how the free market will set everybody free, remember the part they always leave out: “But if you’re crippled, you’re on your own.”

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