Podcast

Capitalizing On The Massive Economic Shift Through Multifamily Real Estate With Michael Becker

TWS 85 | Multifamily Real Estate

 

There is a massive economic shift going on that comes with a corresponding demographic shift towards areas with lower living costs and tax requirements. In what way is this development conducive to multifamily real estate? Joining Patrick Donohoe on the show, SPI Advisory Principal Michael Becker invites us to take a look at the case of Texas, specifically the DFW market, and how the changes going on in the economy are giving rise to massive opportunities to invest, whether actively or passively, in this no-income-tax state. Whether you’re looking to set up your own mom-and-pop or you just want to let your money do the work by involving yourself with REITs or syndications, terms are going to be very favorable for you in Texas and other areas that have been at the receiving end of the massive in-migration of people and businesses from more costly metros like New York and California. Join in to learn more on how you can start to build more wealth by capitalizing on these changes!

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Capitalizing On The Massive Economic Shift Through Multifamily Real Estate With Michael Becker

My guest is Michael Becker. He is the Principal at SPI Advisory firm and also the host of The Multifamily Investing Podcast. You can check him out at MultifamilyInvestingShow.com. I wanted to have Michael on for a few reasons. First, I had Ken McElroy on a few episodes back, speaking about what’s going on in the economy in multifamily investing. I wanted to have Michael on as well to emphasize some points that Ken and I talked about then in that show. Many real estate investors start out excited. They see potential, opportunity but it becomes a job of sorts, hence the word active.

What I’ve seen is people gravitate toward more passive types of investment. Multifamily investment is an excellent way for accredited investors mostly to invest for cashflow in a passive way. The second reason is I believe our economy is shifting. Richard Duncan was on a few episodes back, and we spoke a lot about what’s going on in the economy, what’s likely to happen and what’s happening. It’s causing some seismic shifts. You are having some big capital flows impact things. You also have immigration, people moving from state to state based on the ability to work remotely, leaving a high cost of living areas, high tax areas. You also have a gist of emotion that’s driving investments up, driving some investments down, fundamentals are out the window and there’s a lot more. Multifamily is an ideal way to capitalize on some of these shifts.

It’s dependent on the market, but I wanted to have Michael on because his specialty is Texas. I look at the economy and human nature. It’s not a straight line. It’s not always predictable. In fact, I don’t think it’s predictable that often. There are variables that can lead to outcomes. At the same time, humans are odd where they make decisions that are irrational and subsequently cause their behavior, what they do to not be a straight line, but to be more of a curved line. We’re seeing that with a lot of movement out of high-income tax states like California, into states like Utah, Nevada, Arizona and Texas, which is a no-income-tax state.

This movement is going to continue. That’s how people behave when there’s more money taken from them, where there’s a high cost of living. I believe that Texas has a very interesting economy and there are a lot of people that are moving there. There are additional benefits to multifamily investment and there are risks. Make sure you do your due diligence. I’ve known Michael for several years. I think you’re going to enjoy the interview and make sure you go check his podcast out and learn more about investing passively in multifamily. Thanks, guys.

Michael, it’s awesome to have you on. First off, congrats on your podcast.

Thanks for having me on. It’s been a while.

First, talk about your podcast. How’s it going?

People stay in the rental pool longer now that they would have many years ago, further increasing the demand for multifamily real estate. Click To Tweet

It’s good. I’ve been the co-host of the Old Capital Real Estate Investing Podcast for many years. In 2020, I started a show called The Multifamily Investing Show with Michael Becker. It’s a video-audio show done in a studio. I’m focusing on high-level guests in the multifamily industry brokers, owners that own tens of thousands of units. If you’re an apartment nerd, it’s probably a place for you. We’re talking about the industry and all the various things that go into it.

It’s an interesting time. With COVID, housing and markets have been shaken up because of relocation. A lot of companies are moving to a hybrid or full-on remote working environment, which makes a lot of sense. People have figured that dynamic out. Maybe speak to what you’re seeing with regards to occupants of multifamily, apartment complexes and what the behavior is of people. Reference specifically Texas because I know Texas is the recipient of a lot of immigration.

It’s important to talk about the perception or view I have of the world is coming from you, from Dallas, Texas. We own multifamily properties in Dallas, Austin. We’re expanding into San Antonio. That’s what my lens of the world is colored with. We’ve done about 10,000 units in the last decade or so. We own about 6,500 units give or take as I talked to you between Dallas-Fort Worth and Austin is where we’re focused. That matters because if I’m sitting here talking to you from New York City or San Francisco, I probably have a different lens of the world than what I do from Dallas.

It’s funny, we’re in this backward world and a lot of ways where generic suburban multifamily, and Dallas-Fort Worth trade at lower cap rates than multifamily on the Island of Manhattan does and whatever world have you been in where Manhattan Island has a higher cap rate than a generic Dallas does. It doesn’t make sense in a historical context. It’s been an interesting year. We’re at the end of Q1 2021. This time in 2020 where I’m stuck in my house and wondering if we’re going to collect rent in April 2020 because everything started to shut down in mid-March 2020. Every day we are wondering if we’re going to collect 50% or 60% of our rent.

The reality turned out to be much better. In a normal month going into COVID, we’d probably have about 1% of our scheduled rent is be delinquent or non-collectible. We’d collect 99% or better. In the early months, we went from about 97%, 96%. The worst we got was probably around Christmas time between Thanksgiving and Christmas, we got to about 95%. We collected about 5% to 6% delinquent portfolio-wide in Dallas-Fort Worth. That’s not great, but it’s manageable. We’ve seen an uptick as we get to Q1. Seasonally, a lot of our tenants every year around Christmas time prioritize buying Christmas gifts over paying rent. That’s a normal high watermark for delinquency.

We’re doing well. Occupancy is full. We’re 95% plus across the portfolio over 6,000 units on average. That’s higher than what it has been in the last several years. Places are full. We do have a small contingency of people within our units that are multiple months behind and they have the eviction moratoriums. Most people probably have heard or read headlines about the CDCs, put some eviction moratoriums in.

As we are talking, it’s about to expire, but we anticipate the Joe Biden administration extending that, but the counteract that we’ve been seeing, some of the stimulus money from the December $900 billion stimulus bill, and then I was added on with the $1.9 trillion stimulus bill out of some rental assistance. We’re in the process of probably collecting 75% or 80% of those large balances that we otherwise would have evicted those residents. The 75% or 80% of that would probably be collectible. I have manually written that money off. It’s going to be like a windfall. Magic money comes out of nowhere or maybe there’ll be no ramifications. We’ll see what the real-world ramifications are.

It’s one of those give and takes. When you put those eviction provisions in there, even though people might be able to pay their rent, they’re not. The mortgage industry from those who owned homes, being able to go into forbearance without having to be foreclosed on, people may have had the capacity to pay their mortgage, yet took advantage of that. That dynamic is interesting too. If they include those elements of the stimulus bill where they would pay back landlords, it would have been weighted in the favor of tenants and would hurt landlords.

It’s obvious that they put those different points in the bill to pay back landlords for the bill that they were paying over the course of time. Maybe speak to the role that multifamily is playing in society nowadays. The big apartment complex, who’s the tenant, why is there demand? Where are we at with the cycle of demographics and the demand especially in Texas for housing, specifically apartments?

TWS 85 | Multifamily Real Estate

Multifamily Real Estate: The current demand for multifamily comes from a variety of sources, from young people right out of college, all the way to empty-nesters and a whole bunch in between.

 

It’s a variety of sources for demand anywhere from young people, right out of college, or young working professionals, all the way to empty nesters and a whole bunch in-between. It’s across the current of all society types and depending on the type of asset you own. We own anywhere from workforce housing to brand new Class-A stuff. We see a little bit of everything, but in your workforce housing, it’s a lot of blue-collar-type tenants. People that work manual jobs, construction, work at Starbucks, serve your coffee in the morning, to the nicer newer stuff where you rent or buy by choice more than necessity. Where either you want to be in the urban coordinator amenities when they were open and active.

We’re starting to come back a little bit. That was a lot of your gateway cities people that want to be next to the museums and the restaurants, the nightlife and etc. There were a lot of suburban people as well. We have a lot of suburban multifamily in my portfolio. We get some families in Dallas-Fort Worth disbursement of jobs is not just concentrated in the urban core is well dispersed throughout the metropolitan areas is a bunch of pockets of employment throughout the whole region. People want to live close to those suburban jobs. It’s a little bit of everything and seeing the demands insatiable. A lot of that demands are driven here locally by the migration that we’re seeing, a lot of the corporate relocations that have taken from the higher-tax states, predominantly California.

We see a lot of California reloads to Texas for big corporations. They bring people or jobs and hire people locally. We’ll get a little bit of a transitory population. A lot of people come into the market. They don’t typically buy a house. A lot of the large segment of the population doesn’t buy a house out of the gate to go rent for a year or two until they realize that they want to stay in the area and then to find out what part of town fits their lifestyle best, then be in such a large metropolitan area. We were like 7.7 million people. We are the fourth largest metro in the country which should surpass Chicago in the next many years.

There’s a lot of cross-market movement as well. People will move from this part of town to that part of town. Austin, which is the other market I focus on is a little bit younger city than Dallas-Fort Worth even. You get a lot more tech jobs. It’s more liberal than the greater Dallas-Fort Worth area. There are a lot of people coming from the Bay Area who tend to relocate to Austin. That tends to be a higher rent or concentrated market than even Dallas-Fort Worth.

Every market is different. Some markets are different. It’s across all current populations across demographics cross country. You see a lot of younger people not married. The natural delay of people getting married gets older and older. We tend to see in our renter demographics, people stay in the rental pool longer than maybe they would have many years ago when you and I were probably renting out first apartments before we got married and had houses.

Speak to how does someone invest in apartment buildings? There’s clearly an opportunity, especially in Texas, with the demand coming in and most likely is not going to end anytime soon. How does someone invest? You have some of the institutional types of investments, like real estate investment trusts. You’re starting to see more crowdfunding opportunities. What are the different and predominant ways? Speak to the way in which you’ve learned to set up investments so that people can invest?

It’s anywhere from a mom and pop landlording where you go buy a ten-unit deal with your own money, run it, collect rent yourself, and fix the leaky toilet yourself, all the way to sophisticated institutional ownership groups that are public and trader reaps that are best institutional quality properties and everything in between. We’re in-between where I’m an apartment syndicator. It’s what I think of myself. We do private equity. We raise capital from high net worth individuals. I know you had Ken McElroy on, our mutual friend. I do a very similar model to what he does, where we go raise from high net worth individuals $100,000 at a time.

The syndication model is popular nowadays and it’s much more popular than many years ago when I got started. The crowdfunding was starting with the JOBS Act in 2012 when that came out, which allowed you to raise money from people you don’t have a preexisting and substantive relationship with, so you can do advertising and that’s when all those crowdfunding portals popped up. What I’ve found through my raising $250 million to $300 million equity that we raised over the last decade or so, people do business with people they know, like and trust. You can try to have all this technology, which is great to be efficient, but at the end of the day, if they don’t, one, get to know who you are. Two, get to know, like and trust you, and didn’t find you credible, they’re not going to invest in your deal.

There are certain timeless principles in real estate, but at the end of the day, markets are always going to shift. Click To Tweet

A lot of it is going to different real estate investing clubs. We have a podcast. Referrals are big things. Getting out there, getting network, and knowing people, getting referrals, that’s where we source most of the people that invest with us. From there, we take all different types of investment from cash. People have money to buy their trusts and LLCs. Retirement is a big chunk of that as well. A lot of people invest through self-directed IRAs or solo 401(k)s, and they get it out of the financial system, and the main mainstream financial system through Wall Street, and put it in the “alternative investments” like multifamily, syndications or the likes.

That’s how it is. It is evolved quite a bit with the crowdfunding platforms. You can take that software and raise money efficiently. It’s all virtual through our online portal and you fill out paper electronically wired, and it’s streamlined where we first started out. You had to email someone something, they print it off, hand fill it, scan it or fax it back to you. There’s a lot more laborious. It’s been a good transition from a technological standpoint and moved the industry forward quite a bit.

As you’re raising money or private capital, where has the focus been? Are there opportunities that exist that you’re buying into, or are you buying into dilapidated complexes that you fix up? Especially based on demand, are you seeing opportunities to develop ground-up projects?

Everything in the above is something that works. What we focused on when we first started out, we did a lot of workforce housing. Texas in the 1960s or 1970s, that’s when we first started seeing large-scale multifamily properties built in the region generally speaking. That’s most of our older stock. We’re not like New York where you can buy a 100-plus-year-old building because Texas didn’t have very many people. Hundred years ago, we didn’t have AC. Most of our apartment stock is a lot younger than if you’re in the Northeast then, their C-class stuff might be 100 years old, where our stuff is 40 or 50 years old. Buying that, renovating it, increasing the rents through renovations, that was very popular, still is nowadays with where we’re focused.

Over the last many years, we’ve been slowly transitioning in older stuff, buying newer, better, bigger. This has been a function of the marketplace where when I started out there used to be a larger spread. The rates of returns, you can get by buying older, tougher deals compared to newer deals. Commercial real estate, multifamily included trade on cap rates or what we call Capitalization Rates. It’s like your unleveraged return. If I were to buy a building that produces $100,000 in net operating income, so all the income that I get is less all my operating expenses excluding my debt. If I produce $100,000 and I bought it on a 10 cap, I would pay $1 million for that $100,000 income stream.

If I bought it on a 5 cap, I’d pay $2 million for that same income stream. My rate of return would be 10% if I paid $1 million or 5% if I pay $2 million. What happened many years ago to nowadays is those cap rates used to be maybe 3% of point spread between the top of the grade and the bottom of the grade. I’d pay an 8 cap for a C class deal when I started and a 5 cap for an A class deal. Now those cap rates are basically on top of each other where most of these caps are somewhere around 4% nowadays in Texas. We’re irrespective of location quality. To me, it doesn’t make as much sense to pay the same or similar cap rate for something built in the ‘70s that I can for a brand-new deal.

We’ve been trading up and buying bigger, better, nicer things and getting similar cap rates. That’s been the evolution of our business over the last many years. It’s been a good trade for us. They are developing it. People keep moving here. We need to supply more housing because there’s a demand for it, especially in Dallas-Fort Worth, and also markets where I predominantly focus. If data is done well and right, that certainly is a good business model as well. You have different levels of risks because you start a project now and two years later before yet you start leasing units and collecting rent. A lot of things can happen in between then. You hear the headlines all the input costs, labor, land, lumber in particular, are all going up. You could start a project with certain economics and then lumber, which is maybe 15% or 20% of your costs could double, then that could blow your profit out quickly.

Speak to the economics of interest rates too because you’re not buying these things in cash. You’re raising private equity, but then you’re utilizing a mortgage and debt. From what I recall, that’s your background. It’s where you started in the financing side of multifamily. What’s the market nowadays, and why has that helped with the opportunity in multifamily?

My professional background is in commercial real estate lending. In the last part of my banking career, I focused on multifamily lending and that’s how I cut my teeth in the business. One thing I’ve learned from being a banker and a borrower for a long time is whatever the environment is, it’s always changing over time. You’ve got certain principles that are timeless, but at the end of the day, the markets are always shifting wherein the multifamily space, the agencies, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are the two largest lenders, not only single-family space, but they’re the largest lenders in the multifamily space as well.

TWS 85 | Multifamily Real Estate

Multifamily Real Estate: We need to supply more housing because there is a demand for it, especially in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

 

The only lenders that were loaning money this time in 2020 where the agencies were Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac because of a mandate to do it and all the other lenders shut off. It was impossible, but it was next to impossible to get a loan that was in an agency loan because there are so much fear and uncertainty in the marketplace. It’s turned off. For the better part of 2020, if you wanted to buy a multifamily property, you are going to get a most likely a Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac loan. They have these caps that are mandated by the regulator FHFA.

They started getting full because that was the only game in town. To slow the demand, they started increasing their spreads. They charge on the interest rates of their indexes, the ten-year treasury or LIBOR, depending on which you floated or fixed it. They’d become less competitive. At the same time, the alternative lenders like your banks or life insurance companies, they have some debt bonds out there that are prominent popular. Those were completely on the sidelines. Now they started loaning money, and then they realized that they didn’t loan any money in 2020 or they’re way behind their projected goals. They needed to get some assets out. They started getting a lot more competitive on the leverage that their offer, interest rates, fees, etc. They’ve been trying to win the business.

The marketplace nowadays is shifting, and we’re doing a couple of deals where we do a bank loan, and we’re about to do a life insurance bridge loan where before it would be 100% Freddie Mac loan, where nowadays is not. It’s always ever-evolving. That’s one of the things that you need to stay on top of, and what’s separates the good from the better within the industry is paying attention to the debt because it’s 65% to 75% of the capital stack with the remainder 75% debt and 25% equity. It’s a large part of the business and staying on top of that.

It’s the key. It’s always evolving and ever-changing, but the multifamily space is a darling of the commercial real estate industry. We get the most favorable terms relative. Let’s say, like an office building, a retail building, or a hotel, they have much inferior debt markets than what we have in the multifamily space are. It helps the returns and then the environment that we’ve been in for several years. Particularly, in 2020, we’ve seen extremely low interest rates. It makes the returns you can get on your assets go up quite a bit. That’s why we’ve been seeing these cap rates get lower because people were able to pay more for that same income stream because our cost of capital is lower. They can produce similar returns even if they have to pay more because the debt market is low.

In the first quarter of 2021, we’ve seen rates take back up on the long end of the curve, but on the short end, your LIBOR, SOFR, the indexes are 1 and 11 basis points respectively nowadays so it’s zero. All these adjustable-rate mortgages, we took out a couple of years ago. In other words, I’m printing money on those deals because these indexes are zero. We have many loans out that have a sub 2% interest rate on them that we took out a few years ago. It’s a free money, which is unbelievable.

You know Richard Duncan and I had him on. He was talking about the massive amount of excess reserves that banks are carrying. It’s going to continue for quite some time as far as 2021 is concerned. The interest rates are going to keep it that low. Michael, let’s wrap up with two points. Describe what you’re seeing in some of the stimulus bills in regards to multifamily. I know we briefly touched on how eviction moratoriums were in place, but now part of the stimulus is to essentially pay back those missed rents. Can you speak to that, and other provisions you’re seeing, and the $1.9 trillion? In the end, speak to your typical investor. What are they looking for? What’s their financial profile so readers of the show can identify with that, potentially reach out to you, and learn more about multifamily or at least start listening to your podcast.

With the $900 billion stimulus that passed in late 2020, they had earmarked about $25 billion approximately for rental assistance within that greater bill. That money was distributed to the states. The states and local housing authorities would then disperse that money. It took a while to get the programs going. In February 2021, they started rolling out in Texas and every state has different rules, but they were allowed to go back to March of 2020 and three months forward. At this point, you could get it. If someone had not paid me their rent in the whole year, I could get a whole year with a back rent plus three months’ forward to get caught up. There’s some paperwork to fill out that both on the property and on the resident side that proved that their loss their income.

We had over 6,400 to 6,500 units. We had somewhere around $600,000 in accrued accumulated deferred rent over that twelve-month period. That’s relatively instead of getting on a percentage basis in the grand scheme of things. It’s a lot of money in the real world. We anticipate that we’re probably going to collect $450,000 to $500,000 of that. That would tell you if there’s about 75% to 80% of that. I tell you there’s probably 20% to 25% fraud within the system where these residents could have otherwise paid, just said that they didn’t have a job.

Multifamily is the darling of the commercial real estate industry. It tends to get the most favorable terms. Click To Tweet

They filed a fraudulent CDC declaration to stay an eviction. That’s what roughly I’m deducing from what we’re about to experience so then those people are going to be evicted and credit ruined, etc. because they can’t produce the paperwork that showed they lost their job. There’s somewhere around that type of fraud in the entire system. With all the stimulus stuff is why Michael Becker’s cowboy Math is here. That’s how much waste is out there. I know you said Richard Duncan doesn’t believe there’s going to be inflation and he thinks rates are going to be low. I concur that I think rates are going to be low. There’s so much excess liquidity on the system that is going to drive it down.

On the short end of the curve, you’re floating adjustable-rate mortgages. Your two-year treasury rates will stay low for a while. We’ve seen a little pressure on the ten-year treasury, but I don’t think that’s going to go very far either. I think we’re range-bound somewhere around where we are for a period of time. If it starts going, the Fed will start doing yield curve control and start buying the long into the bonds and then keep it from going. I do believe there is inflation. They mask it with having a flawed calculation. If they would calculate CPA as they did many years ago, we would see a lot of inflation because you look at all the input costs to all the real things of the world, the oil, lumber and you try to get an appliance package.

They’re doubled in the last several years to get the same basic appliance. All these input costs are going up. I can promise you looking at my portfolio with 95% occupancy, all this back rent about to get paid, all these people moving here, and the input costs to build a new multifamily product going up. We’re raising our rents. We see in the markets I play in. We had a flat year. Austin was negative 2%, Dallas is positive 1%, and rental rate growth, as a market as a whole in 2020, in spite of everything, it’s relatively tamed. It was flat. We see 5% to 6% rent growth in 2021. Real-time when I’m trading out my old leases, my new leases, that’s what we’re seeing and we need to because these places are full.

We’re able to push rents. That’s what I’m seeing. I believe there’s inflation out there in the things that matter, like housing, and buying a car or trying to drive a new one with oil. There’s real inflation there. I don’t see what’s going to stop it. Seeing the pricing of these things feels like we wrap it up in the first quarter of 2021. It feels like prices moved $20,000 a unit citywide, both in Austin and Dallas, because there’s so much capital coming here. It’s insatiable the amount of demand because all these people that were previously investing in the coastal markets are starting to look in the center of the country and Arizona, Florida, Texas, Georgia, the Carolinas, those are on the end market.

California, New York and Seattle are on the out markets. That money is coming here and a lot of money is rotating out. If you want to make commercial real estate, it’s hard to invest in hospitality, retail or even office. They’re rotating out of those sectors more into industrial and multifamily. There’s more money chasing it. At the same time, they printed 25% or so of the money circulation was generated in the several months or something like that. This is all money sloshing around and it’s going into risk assets like commercial real estate. It’s disproportionately going to multifamily. We’re seeing prices accelerate.

You have the dynamic of when somebody moves from California, first off, tax savings. Second, they’re going from $3,500 to $2,000 a month for an apartment or maybe less. You have the built-in flexibility where raising rents by 5% to 6% will be a no-brainer for most.

TWS 85 | Multifamily Real Estate

Multifamily Real Estate: Rates are going to be low. There’s so much excess liquidity on the system that is going to drive it down.

 

That’s what we’re seeing. I’m still bullish on Texas multifamily. We have done well. One of the things is talking to investors that have been with us for a while. Leading up to the COVID lockdowns, people would talk to me about what happened in the prior decade, the teams basically. What seemed to me was in the Dallas-Fort Worth, in the workforce housing space, in particular, rents much doubled in the last many years. The price has tripled because the rent has doubled and then the cap rates compress. It’s the combination of those two things. This hasn’t stopped. We went on hibernation for about three months, got right back at it and prices didn’t move at all.

If you had the ability and the guts to buy something in that 2 or 3-month period in April or May 2020, maybe you got a 3% to 5% discount if you bought it in that two-month period, and someone was willing to sell. Most everyone else took their ball, went home for a few months, and put the head back up and things were okay in the multifamily space, at least. Most people that come to us, your second party question was, we get a diverse investor base. Mostly high net worth people from various industries, either they have a good income, make over six figures, accumulate some money and want to get a return. We have some business owners, doctors, a lot of people that pay high-income taxes, especially in the coastal markets where you not only pay the Federal Income Tax.

You pay California, not only Uncle Sam, but Uncle Gab out in California. They come to multifamily space and they get some good tax savings with the depreciation, the law, the way it’s written at is favorable for the multifamily industry. We see quite a bit of that. Business owners, you see a lot of people that even have bought some commercial real estate that appreciated, and they want to stay into space. It was a diverse mix of people. We would finish up our tax returns not too long ago. We did $1,300 and $50,000 ones for the 2020 tax year. We have 700 or so unique investors that invested with us. We are growing by the day seemingly. It’s been a good business and bullish on multifamily in Texas.

I don’t see what is going to stop that. Immigration wasn’t going to stop the price appreciation because rents are going to grow. Was fuel ever going up? I don’t see how it let interest rates rise to any material respect. If they do let it rise, it’s going to make single-family housing, even that much more expensive to own, which will then further drive rental rates up. All things being equal. There’s a world full of bad options from an investment standpoint. If you want to get some yield, you’ve got to take some level of risk and there’s no rule. You can’t go get a 5%, one-year CD as you could have many years ago. If you want yield, you got to put risks either in the stock market or some investment as I do or various other things out there. All things being equal among the better asset classes out there, which is why I dedicated my career to it.

Michael, thanks for your time. Thanks for sharing your expertise. What’s the best way readers can follow you to learn more about multifamily investing?

I appreciate you having me on. Hopefully, we see each other for the next cruise sometime. The best way is to go to a company’s website, which is www.SPIAdvisory.com. There’s a Contact Us form. You fill that out. We’ll happy to send out information about what would we do and potentially working with us.

What a crazy time to be an investor. At the same time, there are lots of opportunities out there if you know what you’re looking for.

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About Michael Becker


Michael Becker is a Principal at SPI Advisory LLC and heads SPI’s Dallas, Texas office where he oversees all aspects of property operations, including asset management, property management oversight, accounting and taxation, capital improvement and renovation projects and investor relations. Michael is a lifelong resident of North Texas and a graduate of The University of North Texas with a BBA in Finance. He is married and has two young children.

Michael is a 15 year veteran Commercial Real Estate Banker and has originated and managed numerous portfolios of permanent and bridge loans in all major asset classes. Over the last 5 years of his banking tenure, Michael focused exclusively on multi-family properties, where he was the number one loan producer for his division at a Top 3 National lender for his last 3 consecutive years.

As a Portfolio Manager, Michael directly oversaw the management and financial performance of the countless C & B class Multi-Family properties he originated loans for. As a result, he accumulated an exceedingly diverse network of suppliers, contractors, consultants and service providers during his tenure. This gives him the ability to quickly and efficiently implement a breadth of value-added strategies for a fraction of the typical cost.

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Lobbying For Liberty: How To Use Psychology To Sway Lawmakers Towards Impactful Change With Connor Boyack

TWS 83 | Lobbying For Liberty

 

Since 2011, the nonprofit think-tank Libertas has been gaining traction in lobbying for liberty and pushing gainful legislation in Utah and other states. For its President, Connor Boyack, a big part of that success comes from a clever approach that sways even the politicians who are most resistant to new ideas. Connor is a prominent free market and civil liberty advocate who has authored over a dozen books in that space, including The Tuttle Twins Series. Having been on the show with Patrick Donohoe before, Connor explains why knowledge of the law isn’t enough to make someone an effective lobbyist. He then provides some examples of how lobbyists can use clever ideas borrowed from marketing and psychology to sway lawmakers into making decisions that ultimately benefit society as a whole.

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Lobbying For Liberty: How To Use Psychology To Sway Lawmakers Towards Impactful Change With Connor Boyack

I wanted to start off by saying how grateful I am for a platform such as this to be able to express myself and my thoughts. I make this statement because I know that this opportunity is not available everywhere. For whatever reason, I felt grateful this episode. Also, I extend that gratitude to you in hopes that there’s some practical value you’re finding in this show. I had in a sense a bit of a roller coaster of emotions. There was an event that I attended and I’d like to use some of those experiences as a way to set some context for the interview with Connor Boyack.

These experiences led to an amplification of my intrigue and drive to understand Connor’s core motivations and core driving and also, what he’s been able to discover in getting his ideas across to people in two challenging arenas. Number one, with the political arena. Connor is the President of Libertas, which is a nonprofit think tank that creates legislation. It lobbies on Capitol Hill here in Utah, and it’s extended now to dozens of states where they are using some of the legislation that Libertas creates and has been gaining traction. It’s impressive.

Connor has also been able to sell millions of books in a space that is challenging, which is the free market philosophy, civil liberty philosophy and economics philosophy. He’s been by far, in my opinion, one of the most successful in influencing those that may seem at first, which is most adults, resistant to new ideas. This intrigue led me to want to understand Connor’s psychology because there are two forms of psychology that prevent us from getting to the next level and gaining what we believe we are capable of or even though we don’t believe what we’re capable of.

The psychology of ourselves is understanding our own psychology, those limitations that hold us back and then it’s the understanding of others’ psychology of whom we do business with. This extends to investments because investments, in essence, are a business. Understanding how to influence people especially ourselves and then extending out to others is important because there is a lot of societal influence. There are ideas that are being communicated. They’re not thought through. They are taken at face value and associated with the person speaking them and their positioning, title and degree of influence already acquired.

At the same time, when beliefs and ideas are understood without question and analysis, that can get dangerous. With that being said, Connor is an incredible man and father. He’s the President of Libertas Institute. He’s the author of over a dozen books, including The Tuttle Twins series. I hope you guys enjoy this interview. Connor is an amazing man. Please visit his website, Libertas.org and TuttleTwins.com. He’ll mention some of those resources on the show. Here’s my interview with Connor Boyack.

Let’s get down to brass tacks. Connor, I remember seeing you at FreedomFest. It was 2011 or 2012. You were doing a debate and I was like, “He’s getting pummeled.” The guy that you were debating with was a jackass. You were logical, calm and stoic about the way you responded and how you backed up claims that I was like, “That guy is going somewhere.”

It’s been a while.

The best way to teach something is to learn it. Click To Tweet

Look at you now.

That was the year that I started Libertas on paper. In 2011, I filed the articles and we didn’t fully launch for about a year. It’s been about that long.

A lot has transpired since then. We’ve done a couple of interviews. We’ve talked about The Tuttle Twins and what Libertas is doing. I want to step back and I want to identify some of the drive behind that, what’s creating the momentum. I want to speak to where society is with the way in which decisions are being made with the social narratives and how they’re changing and your perspective on that. The reason why I brought up FreedomFest is that it was a divisive environment. I’m not sure if that’s just natural to you or if it’s something that you learned how to do overtime but you approached the situation in a respectful, logical way and you won my respect.

I’m not sure about the rest of the audience but it seemed that way, given my memory. That’s where I wanted to start. There’s a cool saying about how wisdom begets stoicism. Stoicism doesn’t beget wisdom. Where would you associate your knowledge and subsequently, the wisdom that you’ve gained? How that allows you to be inspired by something that comes across oftentimes as divisive but do it in a way that makes a big impact on people’s mind being able to ask questions and want to pursue truth?

That’s a deep question. Let me give some thought to how I want to approach that. As I think back to that memory and try and draw from it something that would be relevant now, as I reflect on where I was at in life at that time. I feel like one of the challenges a lot of people have nowadays is a lack of confidence in their understanding of the way the world works and what is happening. People are quick to draw an opinion often on little fact or bias or what they heard on the mainstream or whatever. People are quick to assert things, defend arguments online and state their opinion but if you peel back that superficial layer, there’s a lot of uncertainty and confusion about what they believe, what is going on in the world and the things that they’re even debating about.

I feel like for a lot of people that I’ve interacted with, even in the decades since that leads to a paralysis of sorts where people don’t want to get involved. They don’t want to speak out. They don’t want to try and make a difference or go to their city council meeting or write a letter to the editor or whatever it is because of that paralysis of feeling like they’re not an expert. They don’t quite understand. They don’t have all the facts. You asked so here’s your answer. For me, at the time and in the years prior, I was such a voracious reader. You may remember, I used to be a web developer and, on the side, I started reading and learning a lot of this stuff.

I felt like I had accumulated so much knowledge that I had a degree of certainty in my beliefs. That’s not to say I am correct in all things but it at least enabled me to have confidence about the positions that I was taking. It’s funny that you say that I had this more rational approach and I could back it up because I was going through my own transformation at that time, which was a struggle for me. That same year, I was starting Libertas Institute. I got our board chairman, John Pestana, and at the time I was a machine gun warrior on Facebook. It’s like, “You’re wrong. Here are all these facts.”

You had Connor’s Conundrums before that.

We had the blog and I would tell everyone why they were wrong. It was the comic, maybe you’ve seen this, of a guy hunched over his computer and it’s dark and the computer screen is glowing in front of his face. His wife is opening the door in the back and says, “Come to bed.” The caption reads, “Not now. Someone’s wrong on the internet. I’m going to resolve this problem.” That’s where I was in life because I was perhaps overconfident in what I believe and felt motivated to go and correct people’s misunderstanding.

TWS 83 | Lobbying For Liberty

Lobbying For Liberty: One of the challenges a lot of people have nowadays is the lack of confidence in their understanding of the way the world works.

 

It was John, as we started Libertas, who’s like, “We’ve got to moderate this a bit because I’m seeing that you’re harming some relationships that could do some good if we had a more collaborative approach.” It’s funny to me that you say that about FreedomFest because I was still going through that phase that I hadn’t quite learned then. It came the following year. That gentleman that you refer to who we were butting heads with, I had been butting heads with for a number of years. Maybe it was that tolerance I had accrued where it’s like, “You’re going to say what you’re going to say. I know not to react to you because you’re just trying to get a rise out of me.” Why is that relevant to anyone here that we’re talking to? I feel like it boils down to an obligation to seek understanding and try and get to the bottom of things.

Peel back those superficial layers about what’s being said and find that deeper understanding that’s going to give us confidence in our beliefs, not in assertive, cocky like, “I’m right. You’re wrong. I know all the things and you can never learn it.” Nothing like that but putting in the effort to learning and not just relying on other people to do the thinking for you and then tell you what to think, which I feel is what a lot of people do nowadays. They’ve delegated that responsibility of education and listen to what they’re told and what the experts say.

They are doing it at a subconscious level where the education system has conditioned people to understand facts and not understand truths per se. I also look at how reward happens in that same space and it even carries to the workplace where people are rewarded for specific things, which reinforces the behavior that governs those things. I look at school and you’re graded based on your individual knowledge and failure. Being wrong is bad and you’re punished for that. That superficial layer that you refer to where a person understands facts, ideas and talking points, it’s the layer between that and the actual truth behind it is getting thicker it seems.

It’s interesting because what you’re saying prompted a memory of mine where I cheated a lot in school. Sorry to all the teachers out there. Incentives matter and to your point about the superficial and everything else, as I remember school, it was not about what I wanted to know, what it meant for me and what it empowered me to do in my life and my curiosities. It was, “Here’s the information you have to learn. You have to get a good grade to move on to the next step.” For me it was like, “If that’s the whole goal, I’m going to figure out a shortcut to get there.”

This is crazy. I remember I had a belt buckle with a little bit of space in between where I created a little tiny paper where I wrote super tiny. I slipped it in my belt buckle and no one was going to look down there. That’d be awkward. It’s math formulas and stuff like that. Anyways, I cheated because school maybe incentivizes people to pump and dump. In other words, we call it cramming. “You got to cram. You got to memorize all this stuff. You got to take the test,” and then you dump it because it’s like, “I achieved this arbitrary test score.” I feel like nowadays, what type of precedents does that set where people in their lives are accustomed to learning as a task and not learning for self-fulfillment and personal achievement and growth? We see some of the byproducts of that now.

The reason why I bring all that up is that this layer is governed in a sense by the fear of being wrong and the desire to be right. It goes to that reinforcement. The reason why I’m going all over the place here is that Libertas has its mission and drive, and it’s made a massive difference. You found an angle into teaching and there are others that have found it as well like Tom Woods in a sense and Ron Paul, where’s an angle in which you create a narrative or an environment where somebody can discover the truth. Writing is a place but you found it in children’s books and The Tuttle Twins have been wildly successful. You sold more than one million books in 2020 alone. What have you discovered about this new, different dynamic of the environment? Children are the target audience in a sense but adults have started to discover truths about whether it’s the economy or politics or monetary policy.

This is a great question and a fun one for me because most of your readers will know from past interviews that Tuttle Twins are these children’s books that teach the ideas of a free society. When we started, we were making children’s books. We wanted to teach kids and that’s what we did and aimed to do but we realized that we had this secondary audience that we never planned for and it was the parents. Easily, a majority of these parents might consider themselves freedom-minded or conservative or they like free markets or whatever. That’s the superficial beginning and end of their understanding of these ideas.

Easily, a majority of our audience gets messages from these parents that are like, “I learned more in these books than I remember learning in school,” which is an indictment of the robust, heavily taxpayer-funded education that we’ve all had. What’s interesting and you may know this, psychological studies bear this out, is that the best way to learn something is to teach it to someone else. What’s interesting here is when you place parents in the mindset of being the educational providers for their children, which a lot of parents outsource and delegate to other people especially the schools.

To the extent that parents recognize that it’s their responsibility to teach their kids about free-market ideas, property rights and entrepreneurship because the schools are not doing it. If anything, they’re teaching opposite ideas. We placed parents in the role with The Tuttle Twins books to say, “This is up to you and we’re here to help. Here are these books. Here are these discussion questions. Here’s this curriculum.” It places parents in this mindset of realizing that they need to learn, too.

Politicians respond to narratives, not facts. Click To Tweet

By no means, this isn’t master-planned or whatever. The accidental genius of The Tuttle Twins was because it’s in this simplified fun format, the barriers are low for parents. It’s not like handing them economics in one lesson like, “This was written 70 years ago. Here you go. Good luck trying to get through it.” Our English is a little dumbed down these days. Few parents are going to get through that. Here’s this fully illustrated fun story creating a shared bonding, reading opportunity between parent and child, which they’re naturally seeking anyways.

Added bonus, they can learn these amazing ideas at a level enough where the parent is not putting walls up and being like, “I don’t want to learn?” Almost sinisterly, we’re getting the parents to learn a lot of these ideas as well in a way that they value and welcome because they’re able to teach their children and that’s their primary value. They might feel like, “I got a job. Life is good. I don’t need to know these things,” but they want their children to know them especially with the way the world is going and how crazy socialism is.

When you give those parents those opportunities, they don’t realize in many cases that they are learning as well and it’s creating value for them. Let’s say they’re at the grocery store with the kids and the child is like, “Why are there eighteen kinds of potato chips?” “Remember, in The Tuttle Twins book, we talked about the division of labor.” Because the parents are learning as well, it gives them a common language. Imagine if this was just a school program. We’ve tried and we do a little bit of school stuff, too. Now, we’re mostly direct to consumer, direct to family.

Initially, it was like, “Let’s get into the schools.” The challenge there is that we would reach these students through their teachers. “Here’s your Tuttle Twins book and here’s these lessons and activities and whatever. Let’s learn about free markets.” They go home and there’s no fluency in the home. The siblings and the parents don’t know so the kid just pumps and dump again. By going directly to the family and having parents and children learning together, you get that self-reinforcement. In informal experiences like at the grocery store and running errands, you hear some politician on the radio and they’re like, “That’s central planning.” Suddenly, there’s a common language for the family to reinforce these ideas together.

There’s something I heard one time and it was an overview of a book by this guy named David Deutsch. He wrote The Beginning of Infinity amongst other books. He made a comment and what it did is it separated information from knowledge. He said that we have equations that say you can time travel and go back in time but we don’t live in an environment where that information works or is relevant. That’s where I look at. The information is taught in schools or reads in a book. It’s not real in a person’s life unless there’s practical application, it works and it benefits them first and foremost. We’re wired right to look after ourselves first. I’m going to pivot a little bit because we live in an environment, a society where there still is a lot of divisiveness and competing against narrative and it’s at that superficial level.

Few instances, at least the ones that I’m seeing, where somebody steps back and questions their beliefs and assumptions. This could be a total tangent. When a person is wrong in something that they believe, what it does is it trickles down into all the other things they ever said and did and puts those in jeopardy. I don’t want to go down that tangent. My point is when you start to seek truth, you have to confront being wrong. That’s why the environment of a children’s book or teaching within the family or teaching period or explaining something helps it become more real and then the actual physical circumstances of life where it’s practical makes it even more real.

Every year, you have a forum or a luncheon where you do a debrief of your experience at the Utah legislative session. You talked about some of the wins you’re having and some of the difference that you’re making but you made a comment that I still think about and maybe it wasn’t you. It was Catherine or it was someone else. They said that the intentions of lawmakers are typically genuine but yet, how they understand things is where the flaw is where sometimes that understanding is narrative, not fact. Narrative or speaking point, not truth.

This is where I want to get to how have you been able to take your understanding of the law, your understanding of why laws are created especially with COVID and a slew of measures were taken with little questioning. What have you started to understand about how our society is working in relation to the laws that are being created and why is it necessary the truth is understood? We’re going down this path where it may not work out the best for people in the long run. Even though on the surface, it may seem like, “That’s going to be an awesome thing.”

I feel like the answer to the question doesn’t have to do with the question. Here’s what I mean by that. It’s much less about the law than it is about incentives, political pressures and appearances. It’s not like elected officials get together in a robust debate and they’re advancing legal arguments, making these amendments and debating the merits of the wording and the substance of the law. Far more often, elected officials are responding to the narrative. They don’t want to appear weak. They want to appear like they’re a problem solver and they know what they’re talking about.

TWS 83 | Lobbying For Liberty

The Tuttle Twins

They want to look smart to their constituents. They want to be able to go back to their district and say, “I stood up for you,” whatever that means. “Farmers, I got you a subsidy. Single moms, I got you a tax write-off.” They want to be able to go back and say they did something, good or bad. They have these incentives in the political system that encouraged them to do or to not do certain things then they have pressures on any given issue. It might be responding to a number of stakeholders.

I’ll use an example. When we work on criminal justice policies, often we’ll have the ACLU and the criminal defense attorneys on the same side but who’s on the other side? It is all the taxpayer-funded law enforcement institutions. That’s the police chiefs, sheriffs, attorney general, the cities and all these groups that are being paid for by our taxpayer dollars to fund lobbyists to lobby against what we believe is the just, true and moral position.

Lawmakers are in the middle of that and they’re facing these pressures like a vise from different sides. It becomes this question of, “Can we pressure them more? Who has more leverage? How do we get them to listen to us than someone else?” To answer your question, I feel like I have to say that it’s far more about tactics and strategy game theory almost than it is about the merits of the law, which sucks as an idea person. I want to get up on my soapbox and say, “Let’s talk about philosophy, political science, economics and history. Here are the facts. Here’s the rational argument.”

Honestly, you use that and you get looked at by a loon. People are like, “Mr. Constitution.” It’s like Mike Lee at their wave in his pocket constitution and half of Congress is looking at him like, “Whatever.” I hate it. It’s the system though. If you have a marketing background, I feel like you’re going to be a far better lobbyist than someone who understands the law. You don’t have to be an attorney to be a lobbyist for liberty as we like to call ourselves or a lobbyist for anyone else. You got to understand how humans act, how you can get them to nudge in a certain direction and how you can help an organization.

We’ve talked before about how we got medical marijuana done in Utah and one of the groups that we had to fight was my own church. How difficult that was. At the end of the day, they wanted to save face. They didn’t want to look like they lost so we had to structure a deal where it looked like it was a win-win. Even though we got almost everything but we wanted them to save face because we wanted them to be able to come out together and take down their opposition. Otherwise, human behavior and incentives would have dug in their heels and felt like, “They’re not going to give us a little bit of a win or compromise. We got to fight to the end.” If you know how to play chess well, a good strategist and you know marketing then you can move the needle far more than someone who has a law degree or something like that.

Especially if you’re able to anticipate their moves.

It is that strategic decision like, “We want to pass this law or we want to get this law repealed. Who’s going to fight us? What are their talking points going to be? How can we rebut those talking points? How can we assert the moral high ground from the outset to shift?” Are you familiar with the term the Overton window? Have you heard about this? Joe Overton was a fellow think tanker out in Michigan and he created this concept where there’s a spectrum of ideas within which there’s a narrower range of opportunities that are within the realm of political possibility. In other words, if you want to pass a law, as long as it’s within this box, it makes sense. If it’s out here as an outlier, it’s never going to happen. To get to that point, if this is where justice is or truth or whatever, you’ve got to shift the Overton window so that the public and the legislature that’s feeling those pressures feel like that’s within the realm of political possibility.

It becomes this question not of individual policies and their merits. When we had to try and decriminalize polygamy, we were in the New Yorker and they did this big, long article about the fight for polygamy freedom or whatever, which is truly a Utah issue. Welcome to Utah, everyone. No one else would have an issue like this but Utah’s a weird history in that regard. Here you go again like, “That’s a weird issue.” How do you shift the Overton window? By reframing the issue. Not as like, “Polygamy is freedom.” That’s how we started at the beginning, not having a good strategy.

We realized, “There’s an opportunity here.” I’ll continue using this example since I brought it up. Not that it matters other than pointing out the example to answer this question. The way we achieved success on that issue is we reframed the debate to say, “By keeping polygamy a felony, you’re pushing everyone into the shadows because they don’t want their children taken away. They don’t want their licenses, jobs and guns to be taken away so now they’re hiding it. They’re going to keep doing it because they want to and it’s part of their religious practice for these small little offshoot groups.

If you have a marketing background, you’re going to be a far better lobbyist than someone who understands the law. Click To Tweet

They’re going to keep doing it but now you’re going to push them into the shadows where abusers can take advantage of them because those abusers know that they’re not going to go to the cops. If they’re inviting the government in and calling the cops, their brother, uncle and everyone else is going to get ratted on and maybe turned into a felon and take into prison, etc. There are all these real examples in the past of abuse and in the presence of abuse that we’ve collected, shared and said, “This law is guilty for all of this abuse to happen.” Everyone was like, “I don’t want to contribute.”

You’ve got to make them look good. This was always Ron Paul’s problem I felt. Hallowed be his name. I don’t want to say anything too bad about Dr. Paul but one of the challenges was he was called Dr. No. People don’t like saying no to things. People want to say yes to stuff especially if you’re a politician. You’ve got to find a way to say, “What can we say yes to? How can we look like we’re achieving success and doing good and doing right by people?” I had to learn this too. Early in Libertas when we got started, it was always like, “That’s a bad law. You shouldn’t do that.”

We went nowhere. We spout it off our opinion. We’ve had to learn, “Strategy comes from giving good solutions that are within that Overton window that makes sense, possible and let the other people that we may not agree with feel like they are still protecting their turf or doing something good. That’s where we’ve been able to achieve a lot of success because of the psychological, marketing and strategic types of thinking and less about, “I’m a student of the law.” It doesn’t matter as much.

I still remember one of the debates that Ron Paul did where they were asking, “If you’re going to go home from the debate and you’re going to spend the weekend, what are you going to do at night?” Everyone’s like, “I’m going to watch the football game.” “I’m going to go hang out with my family.” He was like, “I’m going to go read economics books.”

Who does that? Dr. Paul.

We don’t need to go on that tangent. This is why I’m posing these points and this is what it means for you, readers, in regards to what’s going on in society. We’ve had this massive stimulus bill passed and we’ve had some sweeping legislation as a result of COVID. Elizabeth Warren is starting to push forward some tax legislation that audits business disruption based on some funding for the IRS, 10x the funding or something like that. The reason why I’m bringing this up is when we hear things on the surface especially from a political sphere, most people take that at its word, at what is said and few people question it.

When they do question it especially for those that understand the principle behind it, it goes back to this idea of trying to push forward what you think is right by making other people wrong. The reason why I was going to The Tuttle Twins then going to the success of Libertas who’s been able to bring forth legislative ideas to either help refine law or to remove the law that infringed on personal liberties. The way in which it was done has been successful. Looking at those who understand what’s going on and also those who want to be able to capitalize on the environment. They don’t realize that what is coming forth in these different legislations and laws is creating a precedent that is not going to end well because it’s been tried before.

When you are able to solve a person’s problems when they are fully capable of solving them themselves, you’re preventing them from learning a lesson. You’re preventing them from feeling rewarded by reliance on themselves, being able to figure out their life and being able to accomplish something especially in the face of hardship. You’re removing that. Now you have set a precedent where you’re helping all these people. Some of which need desperate help and a lot of which don’t need help. What you’re doing is you’re rewarding behavior and creating more reinforcement to their future behaviors and expectations from the government.

Same thing with business. As you’re introducing some tax legislation and those ideas, on the surface, it’s like, “We should tax the rich because the wealth gap is wide and it’s not fair.” On the surface, there are compelling arguments of people but at the same time, what’s being brought forth has many unintended consequences and we know based on history what the consequences are. The idea is this is here and I look at whether it’s entrepreneurs or investors or those who believe in certain principles and truths and want those to be understood by others. You have to use a different set of tactics and behaviors. It’s confronting it head-on is no longer the way to get something achieved in an easy way.

TWS 83 | Lobbying For Liberty

Lobbying For Liberty: You need to find a way to say, “What can we say yes to? How can we look like we’re achieving success and doing good and doing right by people?”

 

You got to recognize the Elizabeth Warrens of the world don’t care about the unintended consequences. I dispute the idea that they’re all unintended. We call them unintended consequences but I feel like sometimes, they’re okay with those consequences. They anticipate them. They get it. They’re not brain dead. Therefore, there’s some intentionality there. “$15 minimum wage sounds good. It’ll keep getting me reelected. It may cause a whole bunch of teenagers to lose their jobs but we’ll just do another stimulus or I’ll do the Teenager Employment Act. It’ll give us more work to do and more problems to solve.”

I feel like sometimes, it’s unintentional and that’s the challenge. You can talk economics all day with Elizabeth Warren or with AOC or whatever. You can have all the rationalities, studies, statistics and everything else. That’s not going to change anyone’s mind. They’ve bought into this narrative. They are emotionally attached and we’ve cultivated a dependency mentality where people are increasingly looking to the government for the problem. We’ve skewed the incentives. People are not feeling the consequences of their own decisions. They’re being bailed out non-stop.

They’re being told, “We’re from the government. We’re here to help,” which Ronald Reagan called the nine most terrifying words in the English language. Even the Mitt Romneys of the world are saying, “We’re here from the government. We’re here to help,” which is ironic. It’s funny to think what Ronald Reagan would be saying now. That’s the challenge we face. We can sit down and try to talk smart with all these people and give them all the data in the world. It’s not going to move them. It’s the narrative, message and emotion and that’s hard to combat.

Let’s end with a couple of things. I know we’re well into the interview and there are some good nuggets here. What would you say is behind your driving force? What’s driving you? Why do you get up in the morning? What are you trying to accomplish with Libertas? What do you see that others may not see? We see the actions but we don’t see the motivations.

I feel like I’ve been blessed with a certain set of skills that allows me to be effective. I sound like Liam Neeson right there. I’m good at what I do. I’m in an area of life, an industry and a role that allows me to be effective. Here’s why I bring that up. Not to sound arrogant, although I probably often do. The reason why I bring that up is that the biggest complaint I hear from people who like you and I care deeply about these ideas and probably many of your readers have said this, “I’m just one person. What can I do? I don’t know how to get involved. I don’t know where to start. I can’t make a difference. I’m going to go about my life.” Many people burn out, don’t even try, don’t even start and don’t know where to go.

I feel like I’m in a position where I can do something about it. As a result, I get many messages. Our organization does have people saying, “Help me.” Here’s why I bring all this up. Every day, I get messages from people who need help and I’d say about 1/3 of them are absolute sob stories. Back when we’re doing medical marijuana, those stories were heart-wrenching and then more so meeting those people face-to-face and seeing the injustice of government. It wasn’t these abstract ideas that some lawmakers are tinkering around with and then they go back to their lives. This is real and this impacts people’s lives.

If you raise the $15 minimum wage and all these companies automate these jobs, that causes real-world problems for people trying to get a start in life and getting a leg up. This impacts real people. There’s this deluge of messages to us of people sharing their problems so that motivates me. It’s what gets me up in the morning. I can’t help all those people. I can’t do everything but for at least some of them, I can do something. I’ve done this long enough, for more than a decade now, where I’ve seen the impact that my team has had on people’s lives.

It’s not theoretical. It’s not in the abstract out there like, “Maybe we help someone.” I’ve been with people who have melted down in front of me about what our work means to them. Anyone in my position would feel deeply motivated. Anyone who’s done service knows how this feels. If you go help the little old lady cross the street or anything like that, you feel good about yourself. You get that oxytocin kicking in. You feel good and you want to do it more. With The Tuttle Twins, there are these parents reaching out. I feel like I’m on good drugs where it’s like, “I want to keep doing more of this.” I want to share the drugs with other people. Other people need to feel these things, too because there’s a lot of problems and increasingly so with all the mess that’s going on.

If you’re in an area of life where you can do something about it, even for that one person, maybe there’s an organization in your area, it has nothing to do with politics and economics. People are struggling and they need jobs. It’s working at the soup kitchen or donating to the food shelter or food pantry or whatever. It is going to collectively take more of us trying to solve problems and helping people out and showing them that the government is not the solution to the problem. It’s private associations, voluntary charity and humanity coming together and not the state through taxation. It’s good to be on good drugs and a lot more people need that experience too.

Some of us can do more than others, but everyone can do something good that adds to the aggregate. Click To Tweet

A couple of things and I’d love your thoughts on this. If you look at the natural drives of human beings, it has been studied and iterated on for hundreds of years. Maslow created an interesting construct as far as describing it in the hierarchy or the sequence of things starting with physical well-being and then going into safety relationships. If you look at the safety component and the physiology, that’s where the government has been proven to be effective, protecting the rights and the safety of individuals. Going beyond that is when you get into relationships and going beyond that, you get into self-esteem and then self-actualization.

I look at starting with self-esteem, people need to experience where they’re relevant in the world. Sometimes, people get it from selling or getting a good job or getting an A in school. Those are reinforcing chemicals that are happening in your body. Preventing that is harmful. Oftentimes, when somebody has achieved self-esteem, it’s because they solve a problem themselves. They go through a hard time and they are the resource that was used to overcome. Robbing a person of that prevents them from getting to this self-actualized phase where people seek to make a difference.

I know most people on the show are in those two arenas. They’re trying to achieve, be independent and make a difference and then getting into that self-actualized phase as well. There are principles behind this that sometimes, we gloss over. This has been something that you can look back on in history, books and stories and see evidence of all this. If we look at the role of government and you look at the role of laws, people have wanted the easy way out. They’re seeking the easy way out instead of having to experience what humans are meant to experience.

It’s an interesting time whether it’s technology or government involvement where people don’t have to do much to be alive. There are sustenance levels that continue to come down to an extent. We have amazing technologies that allow for entertainment that kings are nowhere near the degree of entertainment where we have nowadays. Having a good time, having fun, being able to get together and the conveniences of life. My point in bringing all this up is we’re getting closer to this point where people are going to want to seek meaning.

They’re trying to seek meaning in their life whether it’s the financial accomplishments that they’re a part of or whether it’s them making a difference. I look at where government resides and the mix of things is there trying to facilitate that without people having to take responsibility for themselves and that’s a slippery slope. It’s something that we all should be paying attention to. We may not think we can make a difference. We may not be able to affect millions of people unless you’re Connor Boyack or someone that has a popular podcast.

You can affect a neighbor, impact a neighbor, and do and make a difference with a stranger at the coffee shop. Never write off the experiences you have on a daily basis and your ability to impact and influence the life of somebody else. I heard a story with a professional speaker. There was a Thank You card he got from a reputable person and it changed his life. It probably took 60 seconds to write that Thank You card but it changed that person’s life.

There are moments that happen to us every single day where we can bring our best selves to life. We can come and we can make a difference whether we believe it or not. That’s what people seek in the end. Whether the government is involved in all of our lives, you can still do that but at the same time, humanity has a purpose, in my opinion and in my experience. We’re here to experience certain things and when those things and experiences are prevented from happening, it has negative consequences,

I like that you brought up the impact that one person can have. You never know what that’s going to be, which is the hard challenge. It’s always this calculation of like, “Is this worth my time? Should I do this? It’s only one person.” I’ve had the good fortune of having a good relationship with Ron Paul in the past few years. One time, we were chatting and he says, “Connor, as I was winding down my presidential campaign, a lot of people were saying, ‘What should I do? What’s the next step to continue this on?’” Dr. Paul told me, “I would tell everyone who asked, ‘I have no clue. I don’t know what your skills are and what opportunities you have.’”

He never got any laws changed. He didn’t have any success by that measure. I’ve told him this several times that I would not be doing at all what I’m doing without Ron Paul. The introduction to him woke me up to free-market economics, American history and all this stuff that sent me down the path. Maybe I would have found some other way but I credit him with everything, for being that person teaching these ideas and waking me up. He throws it back at me, “Connor, if you would have asked me like, ‘What should I do, Dr. Paul?’ I never would have thought of starting a think tank or writing children’s books and yet, there you are doing all this good.’”

TWS 83 | Lobbying For Liberty

Lobbying For Liberty: All the data in the world are not going to move the Elizabeth Warrens of the world. It’s the narrative, message and emotion and that’s hard to combat.

 

The good that Ron Paul did, at least in my role and he can claim credit for influencing certainly a lot of other people as well, is that he extended his legacy and his impact. It’s something that I honestly think about often. I’m writing all these books and all these kids are reading them. Who’s the future Ron Paul or Thomas Jefferson or whatever? My efforts would not have gotten onto their life’s path that they needed and we’re uniquely suited to get on. Some of us have larger soapboxes than others. Some of us can do more than others but everyone can do something and it can be even just your neighbor, starting a little book club or doing monthly service projects. Do good. That adds up in the aggregate. Who cares about the aggregate? It matters to the person that you do it to. We need a lot more of it and then you get to enjoy the good drugs that your brain gives you so enjoy that.

Tuttle Twins has impacted a lot of people. In the last interview we did, there are a lot of readers who bought books. You continue to come out with more. You have the famous Harmon Brothers, marketing videographers who are doing some things with The Tuttle Twins brand, which is exciting. How can people connect with you, connect with the news that’s going on in that regard? The point in that is if you see an opportunity to gift a book for the holiday or a birthday or someone that you care about, these are things that have made a difference. How many millions did you sell in 2020 and how many in total?

It’s 1.3 million in 2020, which was more than all previous years combined. 2020 was a big year of growth for us so now we’re over two million in total. It’s crazy. We’ve got books for teens and for toddlers. We’ve got a curriculum and we’re doing a cartoon. TuttleTwins.com is where you can find everything. We’re on all the social media platforms where we post updates and some of the behind-the-scenes stuff as well. You can find us there. If you want to look up our think tank, Libertas Institute, it’s Libertas.org. We’d love to have everyone’s support and keep talking to people. I appreciate you having me on to share the good word.

Libertas is also nonprofit, so you accept donations.

We work in Utah but now we’re scaling our work to other states as well because we’ve had a lot of good success and we don’t want to be greedy and selfish and keep it here in Utah. Whatever state you’re in, we’d love to be talking to folks about how we can help.

Let’s do a show some other time about some of the legislation you guys have been able to bring forward and also, other states being able to leverage that and bring that to their specific state. Thanks for the conversation. Best of luck. I’ll have you on again next time.

Thanks. See you.

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About Connor Boyack

TWS 83 | Lobbying For LibertyConnor Boyack is founder and president of Libertas Institute, a free-market think tank in Utah.

Named one of Utah’s most politically influential people by The Salt Lake Tribune, Connor’s leadership has led to dozens of legislative victories spanning a wide range of areas such as privacy, government transparency, property rights, drug policy, education, personal freedom, and more.

A public speaker and author of 21 books, Connor is best known for The Tuttle Twins books, a children’s series introducing young readers to economic, political, and civic principles.

Connor lives near Salt Lake City, Utah, with his wife and two homeschooled children.

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How The New Spending Bill And Tax Plan Can Impact Your Overall Wealth Strategy With Tom Wheelwright

TWS 82 | New Spending Bill

 

With the new president and administration coming in, a new spending bill has been passed. It tells an interesting story, but what exactly is its difference from the past spending bills? Patrick Donohoe brings back Tom Wheelwright to tackle this very subject. They also go into Biden’s tax plan and its implications to the overall economy. Tom is an entrepreneur, bestselling author, and the personal CPA of Robert Kiyosaki. He is studying the goings-on of the Biden administration when it comes to the spending plan that passed, as well as some precedents that are being set for future changes to the tax code that could potentially impact your overall wealth strategy.

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How The New Spending Bill And Tax Plan Can Impact Your Overall Wealth Strategy With Tom Wheelwright

Thank you for reading another episode. Hopefully, you’re not just reading. You’re learning and getting some key insights into ways in which you can improve your wealth. I hope you’ve enjoyed the last couple of episodes, speaking about some current events. That’s what we’re going to do now with a good friend of mine, Tom Wheelwright. He is the personal CPA of Robert Kiyosaki and has been for years. He has been a great friend for years. I was intrigued based on some of the stuff he’s put on his YouTube channel and show. He is studying the goings-on of the Biden administration when it comes to the spending plan that passed, as well as some precedents that are being set for future changes to the tax code that could potentially impact your overall wealth strategy. It’s a great conversation. You guys are going to enjoy it. Make sure you check out Tom’s podcast. He has a CPA-facing show, as well as an investor and business-owner-facing show. He also has an awesome YouTube channel. Let’s get to my interview with Tom Wheelwright.

Tom, it’s good to have you. Thank you for coming back. What a couple of months we’ve had of 2021. It’s entertaining, isn’t it?

It’s almost like 2020 hasn’t ended yet.

It’s a continuation. It keeps going and going. We talked about what the stimulus meant with regards to the response to COVID. We’re with a new president and administration. We have this massive, I don’t know if massive is the right word. There’s probably some crazy word three levels above that that’s appropriate. You have this spending bill. I think it tells an interesting story. As you’ve been monitoring this, what are some of the things that you were curious about or found interesting as it related to how this spending bill might be different than past spending bills?

TWS 82 | New Spending Bill

New Spending Bill: We’ve made unemployment non-taxable up to $10,000. We’ve made forgiveness of student loans non-taxable.

 

First of all, of course, it’s the timing because we’re on the way to recovery. We have only 6% unemployment, which historically is a very good unemployment rate. We have lots of businesses that can’t find people like restaurants. What we’re doing is we’re extending the increased unemployment. We’re sending checks when we have a historically high savings rate. We have not had as high savings rate since 1984. What are we doing? We’re giving more money. It’s very interesting both the obvious stuff like the $1,400 checks, which by the way, unlike the CARES Act, doesn’t just go to you and your spouse but also goes to your kids. It’s not a reduced amount for your kids. It’s the same amount for two kids.

We’ve got this Child Tax Credit and Child Care Credit. We’ve made unemployment non-taxable up to $10,000. We’ve made forgiveness of student loans non-taxable, which is interesting because it sets up the obvious question. The only reason you do that is because you’re expecting to forgive student loans. They’re not forgiving yet. You’re expecting this to happen. It’s clear that the Democrats are expecting President Biden to issue an executive order. It’s very interesting. For example, you have $350 billion going to states with the requirement that they can’t use it for tax cuts which is an interesting question because it begs the question, “Money is fungible.” Let’s say to use it for that other stuff, which frees up money for tax cuts, to make new other tax cuts. Even if they have a banner year, are they prohibited from giving any tax cuts?

There’s some clear unintended, maybe unintended. We don’t know but it is a massive spending bill. There’s a lot of stuff in there. Some of the spending is not going to happen until 2027 and you’re going, “How does this have anything to do with this crisis?” The reality is that most of it doesn’t but Joe Biden’s agenda. For example, eighteen months of COBRA, the insurance paid by the government. It’s tough to argue that. People need insurance when they’re unemployed. They don’t have money to pay for it. Having the government pay for their insurance for eighteen months, there’s certainly an argument for it. If you look historically, presidents are trying to make a big impact in their first 100 days. It’s interesting that this is the direction that they chose.

Earned income credit has long been thought of as a negative income tax. It's a social payment. Click To Tweet

Given what he ran on, does it surprise you that this has come out?

Yes, and no. They had to get it passed to some conservative Democratic senators. Joe Manchin in West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of my own state, Arizona. To do that, there are certain things they could include and didn’t include. As much as the far-left complains about it, it’s a good inroad into Joe Biden’s agenda right off the bat. It’s not overly surprising, the $350 billion to the states. I don’t have mixed feelings about this bill. I don’t like the bill at all. I’m not particularly opposed to some of the things, but I am opposed to the price tag. The price tag is enormous and it’s going to come back to bite us.

What does this tell you about other agenda items that the Biden administration campaigned with?

Take for example, healthcare. He was a very big fan of universal healthcare. This makes inroads into that. He was a very big fan of unions. There was some stuff for unions. There’s an expectation that he was voted in by the Left Coast, the West Coast and the East Coast, so a lot of money are going to those states. There are expectations that a lot of that money will end up to bail out pension plans.

That was one of the provisions of the bill. It’s billing out the Pension Guaranty Association.

There’s a lot of bailout money in this bill. Let’s be honest, there was bail money in other bills too. The PPP loans are bailout money. They’re just bailout money for small businesses. The $300 a week unemployment is bailout money for unemployed people. One of the differences is that it’s not just the big businesses that are getting bailed out this time. In 2008, 2009 and 2010, it was only the big businesses. The small guys got hammered. One thing that you can say is that this is a bailout for pretty much everybody.

Going to where your specialty lies, you understand the tax code better than anyone I know. You have read some of the bills, especially during COVID. What do you think this means for changes to taxes in all respects, the business and investment side of things?

Most of these payments are tax payments. The $1,400, that’s a tax credit. The $3,600 for kids, that’s going to be paid out ahead of time $300 a month, but that’s a tax credit. Dependent Care, that’s a tax credit. The forgiveness of student loans, that’s a tax exemption for that. The unemployment not being taxable, that’s taxed. You see that all of this policy, most of it, with the exception of the actual handouts of the $350 billion to the states and $300, there’s that but a lot of it is taxing. We’re seeing social manipulation through the Tax Law, which we’ve always had. Let’s face it. I’ve always said that the Tax Law is a series of incentives. What we’re seeing is a shift in where those incentives are going. They’re going towards families. Another thing, you no longer have to have children to get the Earned Income Credit. That’s new.

TWS 82 | New Spending Bill

New Spending Bill: By definition, a company is valued-based on its PE ratio. If their earnings go down because you’ve got higher taxes, your price comes down with it.

 

They’re doing it for 65 and older too, right?

Right. Earned Income Credit has long been thought of as a negative income tax. That was first proposed by Milton Friedman, the conservative economist back in the ’70s. It’s a social payment. The Child Tax Credits are social payments because they’re refundable now. That is also new that they’re refundable. What you have already seen is, through the Tax Law, a redistribution of income. What will happen next is that they will use the deficits they’ve created to justify tax increases on the “wealthy.” They defined it at $400,000. Interestingly enough, Joe Biden is going to stick with that $400,000 threshold. That’s very important for everybody who’s reading.

As soon as I heard him say that in his campaign, I’m going, “That’s my target. I don’t want any clients making more than $400,000 of taxable income.” You can make millions and millions of dollars but don’t make more than $400,000 of taxable income. We’re already seeing in the dependent care credit that the threshold is $400,000. That’s a good indication that that’s where we’re going. This is a shift of benefits to lower-income, lower-middle-class. Not even middle-class, but lower-class because all of the stuff is refundable. It’s not just offsetting taxes. It’s a payment that’s a direct payment.

You can think of the child credit as a universal basic income for children. That’s what it is. They already are talking about making that one permanent. The Democrats have been very smart about this. They can make this shift for taxes using the reconciliation process. They only need right there 50 plus 1 majority in the Senate. They don’t need 60 votes in the Senate for this. The other thing they’ve been smart about is, rather than giving a universal basic income to adults, which gets a lot of pushback, they gave basic a universal income for kids. How do you argue with that? From a purely political standpoint, I have to applaud them.

There are probably some fundamental differences between what Biden has proposed and what he campaigned with as far as what’s going to happen with taxes. What happened in 2017 with Donald Trump in what he proposed? What are those 30,000-foot fundamental differences?

It’s just to get incentives. That’s all it is. They are still incentives. For example, Biden wants to increase the top tax rate back to 39.6%. I would guess that will happen. It’s hard to fight that one. That’s a tough argument that people that make that much money of $600,000 married need a tax break. They don’t. It’s not going to affect the economy if they raise those taxes. That’s a small shift. I don’t think that’s a big deal. He wants to tax capital gains over $1 million at a much higher rate. That will be an interesting one because as long as he exempts businesses and real estate, then that one could easily fly. That’s an easy one to exempt for personal residences. There are a few things they’re going to have to exempt in that one, but that will apply.

A lot of the other tax increases are much tougher. Joe Manchin does not like the change in the estate tax. He voted to get rid of it completely. There are uphill battles for Biden in his bigger agenda, but they’re making inroads. To President Biden’s credit and the Democrats, they’re being very careful. They gave up the $400 unemployment and cut it back to $300, but then they extended them. There were trade-offs here. They’ve been smart about what they’re doing. All we’re doing in 2017, we had big tax incentives for businesses and real estate. There are going to be social payments like we see in this bill, but there are also going to be a lot of incentives for clean energy. The next big thing is clean energy. That’s where the tax incentives are going to be. My clients are already talking about shifting their strategy from residential real estate to real estate associated with clean energy. It’s not that hard to do. It’s just a matter of understanding the law and taking advantage of the incentives that are there.

Who owns Corporate America? It's not mostly big stockholders. It's mostly pension plans and 401(k)s. Click To Tweet

Do you think this is something that’s going to get pushed this 2021? Do you think it will go into 2022?

It will be this 2021. They have one more shot at reconciliation this 2021. It’s very tough for them to make changes like this in an election year. I would expect this 2021 that we’re going to see any changes that they make, they’re going to try to push this through while the iron is hot.

They have two years until midterm. It’s like they’re trying to get everything, all the major items, those big rocks through.

Let’s face it. Both parties do this. It’s not like this is, “The Democrats are horrible. The Republicans they’re saint.” The Republicans did exactly the same thing. The Republicans didn’t care anymore about the deficit that the Democrats do. You can’t even take that argument. There are very few people in Congress that are looking at deficits at all these days. To me, it’s politics as usual.

Tom, as we look at the economy, we’re not economists. Sometimes we talk about it. Of course, it’s opinion. Looking at some of the studies that have been done by Tax Foundation, where they analyzed if Biden’s tax plan went through, the implications to the overall economy were negative in all categories, not hugely negative, but 500,000 jobs lost. GDP is a negative one and a half-ish. When you look at the objective of Democrats, that side of things, the administration, it’s not necessarily pushing lots of growth. It’s pushing growth in certain areas.

It’s very much shifting incentives. There’s going to be more going to unions. President Biden has been very clear that he wants to expand union activities. There’s a provision in this COVID bill that gives sixteen weeks of COVID leave to federal employees. You’re going to continue to see that same thing continue to happen. One thing that was interesting in the Tax Foundation’s findings is that they estimate that the worst thing he could do is to raise the corporate tax rate. That was surprising to me. I’ve always thought 25% is not a horrible corporate tax rate. I thought that’s probably where it should have gone in the first place. That was one of the original proposals in 2017 that was taking the 25%.

For it to go to 25%, the challenge is you can’t go much higher. Remember, we don’t just have a federal income tax. We have a state income tax. You’ve got to add on 5%, 6%, 7% to that. Now, you’re in the 25% federal, you’re in the 30% plus range, which puts you equal to other countries. We’re lower than other countries, but if you raise it to 25%, you put us equal to other countries. If you go over 25% to 28%, the 28% that he campaigned on, we’re higher than other countries. That would be devastating to us. The other thing that I don’t know that is ever considered in the public discussion is, “Who owns Corporate America?” It’s not mostly big stockholders. It’s mostly pension plans and 401(k)s. As the stock market increases, that benefits pension plans and 401(k)s. Corporate income tax is a tax on pensions and 401(k)s.

TWS 82 | New Spending Bill

Tax-Free Wealth: How to Build Massive Wealth by Permanently Lowering Your Taxes

The theory is that those values will go down just because profits are going to go down because of taxes.

By definition, a company is valued-based on its PE ratio. If their earnings go down because you’ve got higher taxes, your price comes down with it. That Price-to-Earnings ratio is you’ve got to look at the earnings to determine what the price is. That’s a tough one. When you’ve got an economy that you’re trying to stimulate to put big taxes this 2021, I suspect the corporate income taxes, they’re probably going to push these social payments. There are a couple of states in play for the Democrats in the Senate in 2022. Notably, Wisconsin and Ohio. There are a couple in play for the Republicans too. Notably, Arizona and Nevada. The Democrats think they can pick up seats if they do their legislation and follow the legislation appropriately. This is all towards gaining more control. What they like is a little more control so that they can pass more of their agenda.

Tom, this has been super helpful. I know that as we get closer to when certain legislation is going to happen when it comes to taxes, let’s chat again to talk about the specifics of it. Entrepreneurs and investors are always looking for opportunities. They’re trying to think where the puck is headed. It’s clear based on some of the things that you said, where the economy is going, where investment is going and where you can put money to pay less taxes but still get good gains. It’s going to be cool to see what are the strategies available once we know what’s coming down the line. Let’s circle back in a few months.

Yes, for sure. I don’t read some of the bills, Patrick. I read them all.

Heaven bless you, Tom.

It’s so much. These bills are fascinating. What’s in them is remarkable. The good news is they’re not going to get rid of incentives. They’re just going to change where the incentives are. Entrepreneurs can always get to tax-free wealth. We can always get there. We have to have good advisors, understand the law and have a good strategy for investing so that if we make the right choices, then we can pay less tax. We need to stay on top of it all the time.

Tom, you also have an awesome podcast. First, a podcast that is tax professional-facing, but also a podcast for the public where you teach a lot of these principles. Tom also has an incredible practice where he consults individuals just like you and businesses to navigate the waters of a complex system of sorts. Everything Tom-wise, you can go to WealthAbility.com, unless you want to cite some other things that you’re working on.

Entrepreneurs can always get tax-free wealth. They have to have a good strategy for investing to make the right choices and pay less tax. Click To Tweet

Tax-Free Wealth is the book that explains how the Tax Law works.

Are you going to do version three when the new stuff comes out?

I’m writing a new book that will come out at the end of 2021. I’m very excited about the new book. It’s a very in-depth look at some investments and the tax consequences of those investments. It’s very exciting stuff. Like you said, we have an entire network of tax advisors around the country and in Canada. In 2022, we’ll be launching internationally. WealthAbility.com is the place to go. Anything we can do to help, we’re happy to help any way we can.

Tom, as always, it’s a pleasure. Thank you for imparting your wisdom to us. We appreciate it. Like I said, we’ll circle back once we get closer to what’s going on with some of the things that are going to change in the tax code.

Thanks, Patrick.

I’ll see you, Tom.

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About Tom Wheelwright

TWS 82 | New Spending BillTom Wheelwright, CPA is the visionary and best selling author behind multiple companies that specializing in wealth and tax strategy. Tom is also a leading expert and published author on partnerships and corporation tax strategies, a well-known platform speaker and a wealth education innovator.

 

 

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Diving Deep Into The $1.9 Trillion Stimulus Bill

TWS 81 | $1.9 Trillion Stimulus Bill

 

Just recently, the House passed the $1.9 trillion stimulus bill in the hopes of rescuing America from the economic damages brought about by the pandemic. But what does it really entail? What are the underlying consequences of putting out all of this money? In this episode, Patrick Donohoe flies solo to share with us his thoughts about this new bill. He takes a look at it from different perspectives and then offers some insights on how you can best navigate your wealth and more.

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Diving Deep Into The $1.9 Trillion Stimulus Bill

Thank you for supporting another episode. I’m glad that you’re here. I’m going to freestyle it, I’ll be by myself. I’m going to bring on some cool guests to speak about some of the points I’ll bring up. I’m going to make some comments regarding the $1.9 trillion stimulus bill. There’s enough information out there in other podcasts that analyze the details. I’m going to approach it from a couple of different angles in hopes of inciting you a different perspective of what’s going on so that you can best navigate your wealth, your business, your profession and the enjoyment of life. I believe that is what wealth is. It’s to extract, to experience the joy in life, regardless of what’s going on, tall order. Wealth is something that most people pursue. Oftentimes when they associate it with money and material things, they come to find out that it is not what they wanted.

Best to start with what wealth truly is, which is mindset, being able to look at your circumstances, look at your life and extract the good, the beauty, the gratitude, which if you think about it is all around us. I tried to approach this $1.9 trillion bill from a more neophyte position, meaning 8-to 10-year-old who understands ideas at a certain level. I look at the $1.9 trillion package from an economics perspective, a legal perspective, a precedent setting perspective. I stepped back and I look at the first idea, which is the surface, especially the title, the American Rescue Plan is pitching this $2,800 per family and also extension of unemployment benefits. I look at how much of the bill that amount is. I’ve seen figures around 9%, 10%, even if it’s 15%. That’s where the focus has been.

It’s unfortunate because in the end, when an 8-to 10-year-old see’s candy, they see an amusement park. They see the surface benefit and don’t necessarily have the experience to look at the unintended consequences. It makes sense to me. Majority of Americans do support the bill. At the same time, I believe if they took a shovel deep look into the other points of the bill, tenets of the bill, where money is being spent, it would cause even the young person to scratch their head. $1 billion here, $10 billion here, $500 million here, things that are unrelated to COVID, but at the same time are being pitched under this umbrella that it’s necessary to rescue America. That’s the first thing that I observed is looking at this from a psychological perspective and how a bill that is monumentally massive in size.

TWS 81 | $1.9 Trillion Stimulus Bill

$1.9 Trillion Stimulus Bill: The government was not set up to take care of people. It was set up to protect the rights of the people.

 

We’ve become desensitized to the language of money. I’m sure $1.9 million to most Americans is a lot of money. 1.9 trillion seconds ago is 60,000 years. This is a massive amount of money and it is going everywhere. If money were free that grew on trees, if it’s what most 8 to 10-year-olds think money is where you swipe a card and you get stuff, it makes sense. Who wouldn’t want all of this stuff? There are consequences for spending this money because it’s not free. Interest has to be paid on it. Principal has to be paid back. For those of you who are interested in economics, monetary policy, and monetary theory, this idea of MMT, Modern Monetary Theory, which removes some of the responsibilities associated with spending money at a government level, it’s something that is happening in a sense. This $1.9 trillion, the amount of debt that’s being piled up, it’s not possible to payback without some significant dire changes.

We’ll get into some of the precedent setting. A couple episodes back, I talked about some of the points of Biden’s fiscal ideas and specifically taxes, what’s going to change in that respect? I believe that because of how this bill was passed, $1.9 trillion, the majority of Republicans, all of them I think opposed it and all of Democrats were in favor of it to an extent. It was right down the line. It’s interesting where this sets a precedent with all their laws that are going to be pushed forward through the House, the Senate and then signed into law. It’s interesting to look at what Biden wants to push forward is going to be an inevitability. That’s the precedent that it sets. It may not be 100% absolute but close.

Going back to a couple episodes ago, whether it’s higher taxes, whether it’s removing step-up in basis for real estate, whether it’s eliminating capital gains, meaning capital gains will be treated, especially for high income earners as ordinary income. These are sweeping changes, changes to the debt tax, the estate tax, the lifetime exemptions that are available and what can be included. It’s crazy. It’s time to pay attention. There is going to be an impact. This is the precedent that it’s setting. It’s setting another precedent as well, which is one that’s way more philosophical. I’ll end with this, making this a shorter episode.

The precedent is that American people are not creative enough, hardworking enough to take care of themselves, to solve their own problems, to exercise their ingenuity, which is deep inside of everybody. This is where the precedent is dangerous. An example is an article that came out a few years ago, it was a study. It was done in Europe, somewhere Sweden, I believe. The study showed that if families had one less child, it would make a huge difference as far as the carbon footprint human beings leave. It’s an incredible claim. You can remove people and we wouldn’t have any carbon footprint. You look at the human ingenuity specific to this claim. The inventor, Bill Gross, you can look him up, has a project called Carbon Capture, which is an economical way to remove a toxic carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. If one of those children that weren’t born wasn’t Bill Gross or was Bill Gross, there’s no solution at that magnitude.

The point I’m trying to make is that when we’re put in predicaments of challenge and difficulty, we can take the easy way out and most people would, if that hand is extended. We can take another way out, a route that allows us to understand ourself at a deeper level, to understand what we’re made of. Think of the loss of fulfillment, the loss of self-respect, self-esteem knowing that you overcame challenge. It’s the feeling of rising above adversity. It’s a feeling of conquering something on the surface that you did not believe was within you, what you weren’t capable of. To me, these are the massive losses that are impossible to quantify. The precedent that’s being set is that, “When there’s challenge, don’t worry about it. You don’t have to do anything. You can sit back and relax. We’ll be there to help you.”

I don’t believe that this is an environment of growth that leads to what we’re looking for, which is a sense of self-understanding, a sense of self-reliance, respect, and having the understanding, having the knowledge that we accomplished something. We overcame something. That to me is sad. I look at the genius in everyone and how that genius is being put on the altar of sacrifice. I believe that there are circumstances where people find themselves in challenging times, maybe impossible to fend for themselves. At the same time, I think that is the exception, but we are making it the rule.

There are a couple of interviews I’m going to link to as I conclude this short episode. They were done a couple of years ago, one with Greg Lukianoff, who’s the author of The Coddling of the American Mind, another one, which is a follow-up to that book with Andy Tanner, talking about what we teach our children, the importance of challenge, of difficulty, of overcoming, and the sense that comes from overcoming, the muscle that builds. It’s important especially with what’s going on now.

As a recap what to take from this episode, number one, I look at it’s a clear path to higher taxes, to inflation, and ensuring that you ask yourself the question, “How is my wealth, my portfolio, my financial future impacted by inflation?” I’ll give you a short crash course on inflation, this $1.9 trillion in addition to the north of $100 billion that hasn’t been spent from the previous COVID stimulus bill. This is the money that will go into circulation even though it goes into areas that would make you question, “Why would we do that?” Go look at some of the details. That money is going to find its way into the business’ pockets. That business is going to buy stuff. They’re going to pay their employees, maybe give them a bonus or raise. Those employees are going to go out and spend money. This money came out of nowhere. The money was not earned. Now, we have that much more that is circulating in our economy.

When you have more money circulating and a seemingly finite amount of goods and services, what ends up happening is that more money bids up the price of assets, of goods and services. We’ve seen that already and we’re going to see even more of that. What that means is that the money you have, the money you earned, the value of your assets, your wealth will be buying less stuff in the future because those things have gone up in price. That’s the nature of stimulus and inflation, higher prices. You can also define inflation as the devaluation of the dollar. That’s the first thing.

We have a prime opportunity as human beings to grow, to thrive, and to learn. Click To Tweet

The second thing is legislation that is coming down the pipe, whether it’s taxes or otherwise that is being pushed forth by the administration. We see that a precedent has been set where they can pass laws that are highly controversial. They can pass measures that are highly controversial. Pay attention and start setting up your tax strategy to help you keep more of the money that you’ve earned. Finally, it’s the context of challenge and hardship. I’m not debating that there isn’t hardship. I’m not debating that COVID hasn’t made an impact or the response to COVID has not made an impact. It has. It is evident, not just the United States but around the world.

I remind myself that government was not set up to take care of people. Government was set up to protect the rights of people. People have done some incredible things over the course of time. In this day and age with access to limitless information, resources, knowledge, we can debate the definition of knowledge, but finding solutions, whether it’s YouTube, books, blogs, podcasts, the majority of which is free if not insanely inexpensive. People have the resources to solve problems. At the same time, when resources aren’t needed, they are rarely taken advantage of. Water is not valuable until you’re in the middle of a desert and thirsty, or running a race. It’s the environment where resources become valuable.

We have a prime opportunity as human beings to grow, to thrive, to learn, not just for our own betterment and the remuneration that comes tangibly materially but it’s the feeling, the sensation. It’s the understanding we have about ourselves about what we’re made of. I think we all thirst for that. In essence, we’re being robbed of that because of what’s going on, where governments are taking care of us. They’re solving our problems. They’re giving us handouts. As I look at it from an 8 to 10-year-old, I can see on the surface that the bill makes sense, the narrative makes sense. As 8 to 10-year-old, maybe 12-year-old, when you realize you’ve been deceived or screwed, you’re going to be pissed. I look at the emotions that are going on in the social and political atmosphere. They’re high, it’s tense.

TWS 81 | $1.9 Trillion Stimulus Bill

$1.9 Trillion Stimulus Bill: People have the resources to solve problems. At the same time, when resources aren’t needed, they are rarely taken advantage of.

 

This is by no means to incite more of what doesn’t serve you, but it’s to make you even more aware of what’s going on, to navigate your life where you’re not dependent on others, you’re not dependent on handouts. You’re dependent on yourself. It’s to take actions, to make efforts to those ends. Thanks for reading. I appreciate the support. Tune in to the next couple of episodes. We’re going to be talking politics. We’re going to be talking tax strategy and some investment strategy given what’s going on with our environment, specifically how the tax implications could impact your investment strategy or wealth strategy, and some ideas of how to remedy that. Until next time, take care. Bye.

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