- Government incentives are bait-and-switch schemes
- A level playing field can be tilted
- How the government is changing the rules on you
It is the season of board game feuds. They say Monopoly was invented to put people off capitalism. That doesn’t seem to have worked. But it has contributed to the socialist ideal of weakening family structures.
However, I wonder whether there might be a much deeper lesson in this annual festival of family infighting. Especially if you’re playing games with someone much younger than you or just more entitled, like a politician…
Back in February, I explained what that lesson really is.
Investing is a game where the rules can be changed
[This article was first published on 14 February 2023.]
My little sister is seven years younger, which made playing board games a very bad option when we were growing up. Every time I pulled ahead, the rules would change.
And given her smaller stature and strength, she could always use the threat of violence to enforce the adjustments. Any attempt to defend myself against someone so much weaker would’ve been frowned upon, so my only option was to cop it or run.
This is, of course, also how the government plays its games with your money. Just when you’re getting ahead, it changes the rules. You can cop it or run.
Recently, landlords have been especially badly hit. You’d think providing the essential good of rental housing would be seen as a respectable or even laudable way of investing your money. But no…
In 2016, even the Guardian lamented the effect of changes brought in in 2015:
The amount of tax owed by many buy-to-let landlords will double or even triple as a result of changes being phased in from April, it was claimed this week. Some landlords enjoying four-figure net annual profits could end up nursing losses – and if interest rates rise this will make the situation even tighter.
Speaking of interest rates, they’ve spiked spectacularly, making the missing tax benefits even more painful.
The Telegraph describes how the costs will keep piling up:
More than half of all rental homes in the UK do not comply with new energy efficiency standards that are set to come into law in just three years, revealing the massive bill that is set to face landlords.
So taxes, costs and financing have all been hiked.
Who would’ve thought that that would reduce the supply of rental properties drastically over time…?
So, what’s the solution? Rent controls, of course! That’ll solve the problem!
But it’s not just property.
The most common email response I get when I write about this is all about Gordon Brown’s tax changes. So I won’t bother digging that topic up. Suffice to say that you probably get the point I’m trying to make, not because I’ve explained it well, but because you’ve experienced it somehow.
So, why am I bringing all this up?
Well, your future financial plans must be robust to the risk of the rules changing. Especially when the government is in dire financial straits, the planet needs saving and you have been dubbed “the rich” for saving your money.
But consider that it’s remarkably difficult to warn you that the government is going to do something. Because it doesn’t exactly announce it until it’s too late.
Central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) are a good example. The government is promising that it won’t monitor your transactions, nor use its CBDC powers to tax you nor to impose negative interest rates, nor for other nefarious and dystopian means. Not only that, the government is enshrining into law the right to use cash.
The key issue is that rules can change. That is an inherent part of the system. And they will be changed when it is deemed necessary. That, in turn, usually means during some sort of crisis.
We know this from experience during the pandemic. Track and trace apps, vaccine mandates and vaccine passports were all ruled out. But then the rules changed.
So, where do I expect the rules to change, without having any shred of evidence, except sensing the coming needs of the government?
Well, the UK government almost went bust a few times over the past few years. It nearly did so during the pandemic and later during the bond market meltdown in October last year. Only the Bank of England’s rescues kept things ticking over…
This implies that vast new tax revenue will be needed. And that is not to mention vast spending cuts.
Secondly, I don’t think the government is going to be able to pull off its transition to green energy. The commitments to stop selling fossil fuel cars and reach net zero by 2050 are simply not possible according to research I’m doing for The Fleet Street Letter.
This means that one of two things will happen.
Either the government will do a U-turn while backflipping while explaining that the global warming drama was just an error in Imperial College modelling, allowing us to return to coal and petrol.
Or it’ll impose massive cuts to how much energy you can use in order to go on saving the planet. We’re talking about rationing, green taxes, required carbon permits and more.
Good luck running a business or working in industry…
And thirdly, I think we can get used to bursts of inflation in the undisclosed name of financial repression. Our current episode will be the first of many. How is this a change in the rules? Well, it’ll be an unofficial relaxing of the Bank of England’s inflation target of 2% in favour of an unannounced 4% in the hope of reducing the government’s debt.
That’s three big shifts to our lives that I expect to occur as the government changes the rules on you. But my real message to you today is to avoid being vulnerable to changes to rules that you’re currently relying on. Consider the tax advantages of being a landlord, the ability to be employed as a contractor, or the tax benefits of ISAs and SIPPs – these could all be changed.
One of the few ways to protect yourself is to go off the financial grid with some of your investments. That’s the strategy we’re recommending at The Fleet Street Letter for those worried about CBDCs.
Until next time,
Editor, Fortune & Freedom