What May 2018 Has In Store: It’s Difficult To Understate The Looming Dangers

Authored by Peter Korzun via The Strategic Culture Foundation,

The month of May is always associated with V-E Day. The sentiments of “never again” were strong 73 years ago, in 1945 when the UN was founded. Since then Europe has put a huge amount of effort into creating a unique security system to prevent armed conflicts. It was never perfect, but by and large it worked. Other continents used to look on with envy and try to establish security regimes of their own.

Multiple agreements are still in force, working to prevent the worst scenarios, but today they appear to be somewhat forgotten and are failing to meet their objectives. Yet by no stretch of the imagination would anyone have imagined that May 2018 would be a month spent teetering on the brink of war, with the experts left trying to guess when it will ignite, how far it will spread, and how many actors are likely to be involved. It’s scary but that’s where we are. It’s never been this tense since the worst days of the Cold War.

On May 2, Siil (Hedgehog), the largest NATO exercise to be held in the Baltics since 1991, began in Estonia and Latvia, involving 3, 000 troops from 16 countries. It will last until May 14. Estonia and Latvia border the Russian Federation. Latvia will host five military exercises in May and June. All of this activity is intensive enough for Moscow to interpret it as preparation for war.

June will see large-scale BALTOPS and Sabre Strike 2018 exercises in the Baltics. Europe will host a US armored brigade – a force of at least 4,000 soldiers accompanied by about 90 Abrams tanks, Bradley combat vehicles, 18 self-propelled Paladin howitzers, and other vehicles.

The largest-ever NATO exercise, Anakonda 2018, will be held in Poland this summer. This is the biggest event staged by the alliance since the end of the Cold War and will include about 100,000 troops, 5,000 vehicles, 150 aircraft and helicopters, and 45 warships. Such a huge force will naturally make Russia wary. The NATO Air Policing was stepped up last month. The alliance will conduct 80 joint exercises in Europe this year, mainly aimed at prepping for a war with Russia.

This intensified training is taking place at a time when the Donbas conflict in Ukraine is really heating up. The escalation of tensions is coming on the heels of the US deliveries of Javelin antitank systems to the Ukrainian military. This is the first transfer of lethal weapons.

On May 1, the US State Department released a statement announcing that the American military is shifting to a new phase in its Syria operation. The US-led coalition, the SDF, and its mysterious “local partners” are to be involved. Turkey, Israel, Jordan, Iraq, and Lebanon have also been mentioned as having a role. The Islamic State has not been much of an issue for Beirut, but now Lebanon is very likely to become a battlefield that will draw in many actors, especially Israel and Iran.

Officially the mission is intended to sweep away the remnants of the Islamic State (IS) forces, but that claim should be taken with a grain of salt. Whatever is left of IS is insignificant and can be dealt with without the help of the US-led coalition. The situation in Syria is very explosive now that the US has ratcheted up the tensions instead of pulling out as President Trump said he wanted to do. A wider conflict is right around the corner there. The US-led SDF and the Syrian regular forces have recently been involved in direct clashes — a very worrisome development and coinciding with the Israeli airstrikes against Syrian and Iranian forces.

These war preparations are taking place at the same time that Prime Minister Netanyahu is accusing Tehran of allegedly cheating on the nuclear deal. The US was quick to claim that the evidence was “compelling.” The Israeli parliament has just voted to grant the prime minister the authority to declare war or to order a major military operation without the prior approval of his security cabinet.

US President Trump is widely expected to decertify the Iran deal on May 12 and pay a high-profile visit to Israel when the new US embassy’s provisional site in Jerusalem opens on May 14. The opening ceremony will be the right place and time to announce new moves against Iran — a country that works closely with Russia in Syria and elsewhere.

All the events taking place in Europe and Syria have a direct impact on Russia’s security. A spark is enough to kindle a conflict in Europe.

The never-ending NATO exercises and other operations conducted right up against Russia’s borders are extremely provocative. A war against Iran in Syria appears to be almost certain, since Russian forces are deployed near Iranian positions. It will be next to impossible to strike Iranian or Syrian sites without provoking the Russian military into taking measures to defend itself. A single strike against Iranian forces could be contained but a military campaign against them will inevitably put Russian personnel at risk. Russia has some very formidable military forces positioned in Syria that must be a serious factor in any war scenario.

Tensions are running high in Europe and a wider conflict could ignite at any time in Syria. In either situation it won’t be Russia that provokes the explosive situations that threaten to deteriorate into a full-blown conflict.

Facebook Co-Founder Wants To Slap $3 Trillion Tax On Rich To Pay For Universal Basic Income

Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes wants to tax anyone who makes over $250,000 to the tune of nearly $3 trillion over ten years, then use the proceeds to provide universal basic income (UBI) to every working American who makes under $50,000 a year, including those providing services such as child care and elder care. 

Hughes, 34, now devotes his time to evangelizing for higher taxes on the rich, such as himself. He’s proposing that the government give a guaranteed income of $500 a month to every working American earning less than $50,000 a year, at a total cost of $290 billion a year. This is a staggering number, but Hughes points out that it equals half the U.S. defense budget and would combat the inequality that he argues is destabilizing the nation. –Bloomberg

Hughes, who has a related book coming out, has made tackling income inequality his top priority by partnering with the Economic Security Project – a major recipient of his philanthropic efforts. The group is focused finding solutions to provide “unconditional cash and basic income” in the United States due to the effects of “automation, globalization, and financialization” forcing the discussion. 

The plan would essentially be an expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) for low-to-moderate income individuals and families.

The Economic Security Project is a network committed to advancing the debate on unconditional cash and basic income in the United States. In a time of immense wealth, no one should live in poverty, nor should the middle class be consigned to a future of permanent stagnation or anxiety. Automation, globalization, and financialization are changing the nature of work, and these shifts require us to rethink how to create economic opportunity for all. –Economic Security Project

While Hughes notes that the annual $290 billion annual price tag is half the U.S. defense budget, he contends that income inequality is destabilizing the nation – and that there is a “very practical concern that, given that consumer spending is the biggest driver of economic growth in the United States and that median household incomes haven’t meaningfully budged in 40 years,” a Universal Basic Income is vital to maintaining economic national security.   

Cash is just the simplest and most efficient thing to eradicate poverty and stabilize the middle class,” Hughs told Bloomberg at the Economic Security Project’s New York offices at Union Square.

There are many ways to pay for a guaranteed income. However, I do think that the resources can and should come from the people who most benefited from the structure of the economy. We had tax rates at 50 percent for several decades after [World War II]. In the same period, we had record economic growth and broad-based prosperity. I’m not making the case, in the book and in general, that we just need higher taxes. It matters what our tax dollars are going to. Cash is just the simplest and most efficient thing to eradicate poverty and stabilize the middle class. –Bloomberg

You can read the rest of Bloomberg‘s interview with Hughes here

In Bizarre Tweet, Elon Musk Threatens Shorts With “Unreal Carnage”

Two days after the “most unusual conference call in 20 years”, in which Elon Musk cut off questions from Bernstein and RBC research analysts, the Tesla CEO’s descent into some “unstable genius” abyss is, unfortunately, accelerating.

It started very late on Thursday Pacific time, when perhaps unable to procure ambien, Musk took to twitter (after spending the entire night in the factory) and in a series of disjointed, rambling tweets attacked the research analysts (who were merely doing their work, seeking more information on Tesla’s CapEx plans and Model 3 rollout) whose assault prompted Musk’s erratic behavior that led to a plunge in Tesla stock on Thursday, one Musk may have instigated himself after telling “daytraders” who can’t take the volatility to sell Tesla stock.

In his first overnight tweet, in what would soon become a tweetstorm worthy of Donald Trump, Musk “explained” that he had cut off the sellside analysts because, get this, they were “trying to justify their Tesla short thesis” (both have Tesla as a Hold).

The “dry” questions were not asked by investors, but rather by two sell-side analysts who were trying to justify their Tesla short thesis. They are actually on the *opposite* side of investors. HyperChange represented actual investors, so I switched to them.

Musk then doubled down in a later tweet saying “The 2 questioners I ignored on the Q1 call are sell-side analysts who represent a short seller thesis, not investors”

Then, even more bizarrely, in the very next two tweets Musk contradicted himself, saying the analysts were cut off not because “they represent a shot seller thesis”, but because they were too lazy to read the company’s press release, or “boneheaded” not to believe that a company which has delayed production targets every quarter for the past year, will be able to hits it ambitious goals.

At this point it is worth pointing out that there is no way Musk does not know that sellside research is fundamentally useless – that’s why the buyside does its own research – and only exists to facilitate meetings between asset managers and company management (which leads us to assume that there certainly isn’t a line of people waiting to speak to Elon). As such, taking the analysts’ questions as personally as he did merely indicates that there is something very troubling with Musk’s otherwise impeccably rational thought process.

Going back to Musk’s tweets, for a second it almost appeared that Elon’s bizarre, childish tantrum may finally be ending when in response to a question on twitter, Musk admitted that “I should have answered their questions live. It was foolish of me to ignore them.”

The fact that it took Musk 48 hours to grasp this is by far the biggest red flag about Elon’s fragile state of mind. Had Musk simply left it at that, the whole bizarre episode may have been on its way to being forgotten, attributed to Musk’s occasionally infantile absurdities.

Only it was not meant to be… and in the very next tweet Musk took direct aim at his perceived mortal enemies, the Tesla shorts, when he threatened that the “short burn of the century [is] comin soon. Flamethrowers should arrive just in time.”

At this point, just after 6am PT, the hyperventilating Tony Stark decided to finally go to bed.

Unfortunately, any hopes the much needed sleep would have helped him see things more clearly were dashed when after waking up several hours later, Musk appears to have read an article that made him go apeshit.

The article in question was from Barrons, and pointed out that despite “his tweet storm in which he defended his remarks and hit out against short sellers”, or perhaps due to, Tesla short interest just hit an all time high:

Short interest in the stock increased by nearly 400,000 shares on May 3, the day after the report, bringing the total to more than 40 million shares for the first time in Tesla’s history, notes S3 Partners’ Ihor Dusaniwsky. Moreover, despite Musk’s remarks today and the stocks’ gain, shorts rose by half a million shares Friday.

Adding insult to injury, author Teresa Rivas touched on a very sensitive topic for Musk – supply vs demand – pointing out that there may not be any more shortable TSLA shares soon

All of which means that Tesla customers and shorts may have something in common, says Dusaniwsky: More demand than supply. Not all long shares are in stock-lending programs, and given the high short interest at the moment, that leaves just 6.5 million shares for expanded short positions.

At this point, Musk, who over the past 72 hours has sounded like he is having an acute psychotic episode or merely a mental breakdown, again took to twitter and in his best Trump impression, let his fingers do the talking before his brain could stop them, and sent out another “message” to the record shorts, this time even more cryptic than before, saying “Looks like sooner than expected” and while it wasn’t clear what he was referring to, the context made it clear that this was a continuation of his previous tweet about the “burn of the century” headed for the shorts.

He then clarified his hyperbolic threat: “The sheer magnitude of short carnage will be unreal.” and concluded with some friendly advice: “If you’re short, I suggest tiptoeing quietly to the exit …

And then, in response to a Twitter remark which may or may not have been sarcastic, “You seem very concerned by shorts these days… That is very kind” Musk pulled out the noble humanitarian card, saying he just wants to help the shorts:

With that, Musk’s tweetstorm has – for now – concluded, although we doubt it has ended, because unlike Trump, Musk actually does respond to taunts and provocations on Twitter, and after this particular threat, the CEO of the company that just burned another $1 billion in three months will be bombarded with both.

And while it still remains to be determined who will be the winner in the end of this increasingly surreal, absurd saga – Musk or his mortal enemies, the shorts – one thing is clear: things have certainly changed from the simpler days of “Stormy weather in Shortville …”

How Often Do Freelancers Get Paid Late? It Depends If You’re A Woman Or Man

Submitted by Priceonomics

It seems obvious that you should get paid for the work you do.

Unfortunately that’s not always the case for freelancers. In addition to irregular income streams and projects, freelancers have to deal with clients that don’t pay on time. This makes an already hard job even harder.

Freelancers assume late payments are a professional hazard, but just how common are they, and what factors influence whether a freelancer is paid on time?

Bonsai, which provides business management and automation tools to 100,000+ freelancers, analyzed 3 years of invoicing data to find out. The invoices covered all types of work, from digital design and development to photography and marketing. That data includes demographic info on the freelancers themselves, as well as info on their projects and payments.

Some of the findings weren’t surprising: 29% of invoices were paid late. 

Other data points were more shocking: female freelancers were paid late 31% of the time, versus 24% of the time for male freelancers. We also learned that cryptocurrencies are terrible payment methods for freelancers, resulting in almost 3x more late payments than other payment options like bank transfers.‍

29% of freelance invoices are paid late

We started by looking at how likely a freelancer’s invoice is to be paid late. We counted an invoice as paid late as one that one paid even one day past the due date. Most freelancers give clients 2 to 4 weeks to pay an invoice once it’s sent.‍‍

We found that 29% of invoices were paid after they were due. Over 75% late invoices were paid within 14 days of the due date, and 90% were paid within a month. However, even these delays could significantly hamper a freelancer’s ability to pay for necessities like rent and groceries.

Clients pay late for many reasons. They can simply be busy, which affects all companies, from the bureaucratic slowness of large organizations to the hectic disorganization of small ones. Clients can also be bullies, who see freelancers as powerless to enforce on time payment. Freelancers can also be to blame if they don’t set and stick to a clear payment schedule.‍

Female freelancers get paid late more often than male freelancers.

However, certain factors influence late payments regardless of the freelancer’s abilities or client’s size.

The most unfortunate of those is the gender of the freelancer. 31% of female freelancers’ invoices were paid late, while 24% and 23% of men and studios’ invoices were paid late.

This effect persisted even when we controlled for the freelancer’s skill set or experience and client’s size.

Want to get paid on time? Avoid cryptocurrencies.

How a client pays a freelancer also significantly influences whether that invoice was paid on time. Payment via cryptocurrencies were late almost 3 times more often than those with ACH or bank transfer.

These late payment rates were the same even when we accounted for the slower processing time of ACH / bank transfer (up to 7-10 business days) versus the relatively quick transfer times of bitcoin. Unsurprisingly, cash and check are also a slow payment method, given the friction needed for the client to withdraw cash or physically write and deliver a check. Common digital payment methods, such as credit and debit card via Stripe or Paypal represented the average.‍

Freelancer Marketers are most likely to be paid late.

Another interesting finding is how the type of work a freelancer does influences their likelihood of being paid late. While many would expect higher earning freelancers like software developers and designers to be paid on time, they were paid late 29% and 28% of the time, while more traditional freelancers like writers and photographers enjoyed relatively fewer late payments (26% and 24% respectively).

There are several hypotheses for why freelancers or certain skills are paid on time more than others. It can do with the fact that writers and photographers have a more defined work product to turn over (a blog post or an essay), and can use that as leverage in payment. Designers and developers have also relatively higher earning than writers and photographers, so it can also be that they have more of a cash buffer and are more willing to let late payments slide. For more information, check our study on freelance rates to see how rates differ across skills, experience and locations.

Larger Invoices Get Paid Later

Lastly, the size of the invoice has a very clear and linear effect on its late payment rate. The larger the invoice, the more likely it was to get paid late. The largest invoices of over $20,000 were 3 times more likely to be paid late than an invoice of under $100.‍

This likely has to do with the steps and authorization necessary for clients to pay larger amounts. Interestingly, we found little relationship between payment size and payment method. Some clients will happily pay a $15,000 invoice with a credit card, while other prefer a bank transfer for even $150 invoices.‍

Freelancing can be a rewarding career: you get the flexibility to set you own path and control your destiny. However, these benefits come with risks, especially getting paid late. You can do things like avoid payment via cryptocurrencies or invoicing for large amounts at once, which make you 3 times more likely to get paid late than other payment methods or small invoices.

However, some things, such as your type of work or even your gender, can be harder to change but just as impactful on your payment prospects. Unfortunately for freelancers, it’s not just the work you do, but how you charge and who you are, that determines whether you get paid on time.

UN Secretary General Warns Scrapping Iran Deal Could Lead To “World War III”

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres offered a chilling message to the world during a recent interview with BBC Radio: The risk of “World War III” breaking out in the Middle East is intensifying at an alarming rate.

As we’ve previously speculated, the combatants in the conflict that Guterres envisions would be the US, Israel and Saudi Arabia on one side, aided by some of their allies in Western Europe, and China, Russia and Iran on the other. What’s worse, Guterres warned that the collapse of the Iran deal could be the catalyst for a military conflict that morphs into the next global confrontation.

Unless the agreement is preserved, the world will likely descend into chaos, he said.

“The risks are there. I think we need to do everything to avoid those risks.”

“I believe the JCPOA was an important diplomatic victory and it is important to preserve it. I also believe there are areas in which it would be very important to have a meaningful dialogue because I see the region in a very dangerous position.”

President Trump has the opportunity to avert this horrifying future, Gutteres said – all he would need to do is preserve the JCPOA until a better deal can be worked out. Perhaps the deal’s signatories could work out something similar to the “four-part” supplementary agreement outlined by Emmanuel Macron  during a press conference with President Trump.

Gutteres added that while he understands concerns about Iranian influence and the country’s nuclear program, a reference to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s recent presentation about Iran’s alleged attempts to conceal a nuclear weapons program, the Iran deal is an “important achievement” that should be preserved.

“I understand the concerns of some countries in relation the Iranian influence in other countries of the region. I think we should separate things. I think that this agreement is an important achievement. If one day there is a better agreement to replace, it’s fine, but we should not scrap it unless we have a good alternative.”

During his tour of the West last month, MbS expounded upon the dangers posed by Iran and even went so far as to compare Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to Adolf Hitler.

“Hitler didn’t do what the supreme leader is trying to do. Hitler tried to conquer Europe. But the supreme leader is trying to conquer the world,” he said.

Of course, this hard-line stance hardly bodes well for world peace. While negotiations continue, it’s widely believed that President Trump will scrap the Iran deal on May 12 by refusing to renew the sanctions waivers – though he would then have a few options to continue with negotiations before the most draconian sanctions kick back in.

Peter Schiff Rants Bernie’s Guaranteed Jobs Program Is “Utter Nonsense”

Authored by Peter Schiff via SchiffGold.com,

Bernie Sanders wants everybody to have a job with health benefits paying $15 per hour. Most people would like to see that happen. But Bernie is willing to put your money where his mouth is. He’s come up with a plan guaranteeing every American worker “who wants or needs one” such a job. Here’s how the Washington Post described the proposal.

Sanders’s jobs guarantee would fund hundreds of projects throughout the United States aimed at addressing priorities such as infrastructure, care giving, the environment, education and other goals. Under the job guarantee, every American would be entitled to a job under one of these projects or receive job training to be able to do so, according to an early draft of the proposal.”

According to a representative from Sanders’ office, the senator has not come up with a cost estimate for the proposal or decided how a government this is more than $21 trillion in debt would fund such a program.

As Peter Schiff put it in his latest podcast, Bernie Sanders has come up with a lot of dumb ideas, but this one is probably the dumbest. 

This is ridiculous. What an asinine idea… The fact that Bernie Sanders, who is a US senator, could propose such utter nonsense. I mean, we have senators who are basically complete ignoramuses when it comes to a basic understanding of economics or the role of government. Bernie Sanders may be a socialist, but the United States of America is not a socialist country. This is a socialist concept – that the government is going to employ everybody.

Wrap your head around this. Bernie could have been president. If the Democratic Party hadn’t been in the tank for Hillary, he might have won the nomination, and he may well have been able to beat Trump.

So, he could have been president. A guy that thinks the government should employ everybody and pay them $15 per how. Think about how ridiculous this is.”

Peter outlined a number of obvious problems with this scheme. In the first place, what are all of these people going to do to warrant a $15 per hour wage? A lot of them likely have no skills. Is the government going to train them? Are they going to get paid while they’re being trained? Who is going to assess all these people to determine what kind of job they should be able to do?

And Peter pointed out an even more fundamental point – the goal of an economy is not just jobs.

We don’t want jobs just so people work. The goal is the production – that is the product of those jobs. Jobs is a means to an ends. If the government hires a million people to dig ditches and then another million people to fill the ditches back up again, those are 2 million jobs. But we’ve got nothing to show for it. We’ve produced zero. So, those jobs are a drain. We are wasting resources. We’re wasting money. Nothing is being accomplished.

Some will argue the government will put people to work doing valuable tasks and making necessary products. But how will it know without a profit incentive? How do we know how to best use resources with no market-based information? It will end up being nothing more than a bunch of politicians throwing resources at pet projects that may or may not beneficial or even necessary.

Here’s another question. What’s the motivation for the “worker?”

If you’re working for the government and your job is guaranteed, do you have to show up? They can’t fire you. If they fire you, you’re guaranteed a job … No matter how shitty you do that work, you’re going to get that job. So, can you imagine the quality of the work that would be performed by workers who know that no matter what they do they can’t be fired?”

The labor participation rate is at a very low level right now. You’re talking millions of Americans who don’t have jobs. Let’s say all these people show up for one of these $15 per hour jobs. How is the government going to pay for this? It will cost trillions of dollars. The feds can raise taxes. But if everybody is working a government job, they will be effectively paying themselves. When the government takes money from its own employees, it’s not getting money that it didn’t already have. The only real tax base is the private sector. And Bernie’s little scheme would wreck the private sector.

Consider the impact on private employers. If you’re making $10 an hour working for a private company, wouldn’t you just quit and go grab a $15 per hour government job?

If you’re a private employer, you’re going to have to pay your workers at least $15 per hour, probably more. If you’re working for a private company, you’ve still got to show up on time and you might get fired. So why not just work for the government where you can show up whenever you want. So, in order for a private employer to get somebody not to take a cushy $15 per hour, no-show government job, maybe they’ll have to pay $20 per hour to get somebody to actually have to do work.”

Of course, private companies can’t just print money to make payroll like the government. They’ll have to raise prices or just go out of business. They will also outsource and automate, which will mean even more people needing a guaranteed government job.

The end result of all of this would be a totally government-run economy.

I think if this law were to get passed, pretty soon they would drive out all private employees. I think everybody would want to work for the government.

There would be no one left working in the private sector. So, there’d be nobody to tax. So, that means all of these $15 per hour jobs with benefits would be worthless because you’d have nothing to buy with your wages because there would be no real productivity in the economy. We would have a complete socialist society or a communist government. Everybody would be working for the government. The government would have to decide what everybody does. They would be in charge of allocating all of the resources. You do this. You produce that. I mean it would be a complete command economy and it’ll be a complete disaster.

 

More Than 4 Million Americans Have Lost Health Insurance Since 2016

Even before the GOP killed Obamacare’s individual mandate back in December as part of their tax-reform plan, the number of Americans going without health insurance had been rising.

Obamacare

And now, according to a recent study, the number of uninsured US adults between the ages of 19 and 64 climbed to 15.5% in March 2018 compared with 12.7% in 2016. That’s tantamount to 4 million people losing insurance, according to CBS.

The number of uninsured adults between the ages of 19 and 64 rose to 15.5 percent in March 2018, up from 12.7 percent in 2016. An estimated 4 million people lost individual coverage during that period, while the number of people with employer-sponsored coverage stayed steady.

Adults with lower incomes – about $30,000 for an individual and $61,000 for a family of four – saw a much higher increase: 25.7 percent in March 2018 compared to 20.9 percent in 2016.

Perhaps the biggest contributor to rising uninsured rates, according to the study, is the coverage gap, which leaves poor Americans in many states unable to afford health insurance. The gap first emerged in 2012, after the Supreme Court ruled that Obamacare’s mandate forcing states to expand Medicaid was “unconstitutionally coercive”.

The biggest increases in uninsured rates in recent years have occurred in states that did not expand Medicaid, which shouldn’t come as a surprise.

Another factor may be related to the so-called coverage gap. When the ACA was passed, it mandated that all states expand their Medicaid coverage, including increasing qualifying income limits. At the same time, the ACA ruled that people whose income fell below 100 percent of the poverty level would not qualify for the ACA’s government subsidies to help pay health insurance premiums. The assumption was these people would be covered by expanded Medicaid coverage, Collins explained.

That plan went haywire when the Supreme Court later ruled that states were not required to expand Medicaid coverage but could do so voluntarily. As a result, people in nonexpansion states with incomes below the ACA subsidy limits often don’t qualify for Medicaid. Indeed, the survey found the steepest increases in uninsured rates occurred in states that did not expand Medicaid.  

Collins predicted the rising uninsured trend is likely to continue. One reason: The repeal of the individual mandate, which required people to buy insurance or face penalties. The new tax law did away with that provision and eliminated penalties starting in 2019. Commonwealth found that 5 percent of people with insurance are planning to drop coverage once the mandate becomes obsolete. “That’s not a huge number, but it is something,” said Collins. 

At least one former ACA antagonist is warning that the repeal of the individual mandate was a mistake. Tom Price, former secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, said during a recent health-care conference in Washington that eliminating the individual mandate would almost certainly drive up premiums. Last year, the CBO forecast that 13 million people would lose coverage if the mandate was eliminated.

Of course, this trend can’t continue for much longer until Obamacare experiences an all-out collapse as insurers decide that it’s simply no longer worth it to offer health-care plans on the ACA’s exchanges. As premiums soar, more and more people will be forced out of the market, deteriorating risk pools and forcing insurance companies to reconsider their participation.

In an interview last year, Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini warned about the impending Obamacare “death spiral”, saying “it’s not going to get any better; it’s getting worse.”