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Businesses The Almighty Buck

Why 'Shark Tank' Investor Kevin O'Leary Refuses To Spend $2.50 On a Cup of Coffee (cnbc.com) 750

An anonymous reader shares a report: Kevin O'Leary has invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in small businesses over the course of his tenure as a star and investor on ABC's "Shark Tank." But there is one business to which he refuses to fork over his hard-earned dollars: coffee shops. "Do I pay $2.50 for a coffee? Never, never, never do I do that," O'Leary tells CNBC Make It. "That is such a waste of money for something that costs 20 cents. I never buy a frape-latte-blah-blah-blah-woof-woof-woof for $2.50." Instead, he makes it at home. "I drink coffee, one cup every morning," he explains. "It costs about 18 cents to make it, and I invest the rest." That idea -- saving small sums and investing continually -- is central to O'Leary's personal finance advice. "The truth is, there is a lot of crap you don't need," he explains.

Why 'Shark Tank' Investor Kevin O'Leary Refuses To Spend $2.50 On a Cup of Coffee

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 04, 2017 @10:22AM (#55672039)
    The coffee shop explosion is one of the great rip-offs of our age
    • by dreamchaser ( 49529 ) on Monday December 04, 2017 @10:26AM (#55672067) Homepage Journal

      Not to mention that most of those coffee houses serve absolute crap for coffee and overcharge for it. Hey, at least people get cute baristas once in awhile.

      • by Oswald McWeany ( 2428506 ) on Monday December 04, 2017 @11:31AM (#55672625)

        Not to mention that most of those coffee houses serve absolute crap for coffee and overcharge for it. Hey, at least people get cute baristas once in awhile.

        That's actually all a bit subjective. A lot of them typically serve a darker roast than most Americans usually go for; a dark roast is easier to produce a consistent experience for, which if coffee is your game, you want a cup to taste the same in every venue. Lighter roasts tend to vary batch to batch and are more dependent on bean quality.

        Sure, the quality is not going to match what you make in your French press at home, but it's going to be on average better quality than your average fast food place like McDonalds or Burger King.

        As for being overpriced... yeah it is, if you're going for coffee. If you're getting a take-out, you're being royally ripped off. I almost never go, because I don't want to pay that much. What you're really paying for is the experience... convenience to some degree, but you can get a cheaper cup at McDonalds or one of those other low quality food places.

        Most Starbucks have a comfortable "living-room" like atmosphere. They're trying to attract people who want to have a home-like comfort away from home on neutral turf. Somewhere where friends can meet, sip, and talk. If, like me, you're friendless, alone-in the world, etc... there is no experience to be had... it's a rip off.

        If you're June, Mum of 7 kids, wanting to escape your wretched life, you call up your buddy April, make a date on the calendar and go to starbucks where you over pay for coffee to rent a free living room to sit and talk in away from the kids.

        As for cute baristas... that's just a myth perpetuated by TV shows. They're all ugly.

      • Not to mention that most of those coffee houses serve absolute crap for coffee

        That must be an American thing. Though I have to agree the only truly bad coffee I've had at a coffee shop was at a Starbucks.

        • Not to mention that most of those coffee houses serve absolute crap for coffee

          That must be an American thing. Though I have to agree the only truly bad coffee I've had at a coffee shop was at a Starbucks.

          You must be from Australia.

    • by amiga3D ( 567632 ) on Monday December 04, 2017 @10:29AM (#55672089)

      It's really the "convenience" explosion. You pay for the convenience of not having to fool with it. To most people it's worth it. Look at convenience stores for example. You can buy soda vastly cheaper at the grocery store but the make their living off of people not wanting to take the time when they can just stop off on their way and grab a coke. What's more important to you? Your time or your money. For a lot of people it's the former.

      • Anyone who values their time or their money doesnâ(TM)t stand in line for 20+ minutes waiting to be served dirty water by a hippie. I mean, who really has time to get coffee at a coffee place in the morning? Probably not people with anywhere to be. Coffee trips are nice for a treat when Iâ(TM)m not on my way, or stopping on road trips. Weekday mornings? Not so much

      • I bought a decent espresso machine and while yes it is cheaper in the long run there is a lot more cleanup involved.

      • by geekmux ( 1040042 ) on Monday December 04, 2017 @10:46AM (#55672231)

        It's really the "convenience" explosion. You pay for the convenience of not having to fool with it.

        Decades ago, they made this machine that would automatically brew a hot cup of coffee at whatever time you set the coffee alarm to, so that people could wake up to a hot cup of coffee ready and waiting for them.

        The true stupidity is listening to the Starbucks generation dealing with store lines, drive thrus, and obscene prices, claiming their way is somehow more convenient.

      • Also the 2.50 isn’t really a ripoff. For a guy who is big into investing he should know to look at just the raw materials.
        There is the cost of having a bulding rented. Decorated in a style to match the companies brand. Then you have at least 3 or 4 employees on staff even if there isn’t any business.
        Now to the point if you want to invest in money to make more, you should be wise in the little things, brew your own. However if you are rich then the convience may be more worth it then the money

    • by lucasnate1 ( 4682951 ) on Monday December 04, 2017 @10:45AM (#55672221)

      I pay a coffee shop to rent their wifi and/or space in order to meet someone. That's worth the money.

    • by Thelasko ( 1196535 ) on Monday December 04, 2017 @10:55AM (#55672323) Journal

      The coffee shop explosion is one of the great rip-offs of our age

      At least someone makes the coffee for you. I'd argue Keurigs are a far bigger ripoff.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 04, 2017 @10:24AM (#55672045)

    If everyone followed his advice our Clown World economy would collapse.

  • by Rob Riggs ( 6418 ) on Monday December 04, 2017 @10:27AM (#55672077) Homepage Journal
    It only costs 18 cents if your time is worth nothing. Way faster to go out of your way and wait in line at SBUX. /s
    • by kiviQr ( 3443687 )
      If you add time to get a coffee from a shop the saving is even bigger. Making coffee takes similar time for me and for barista. Add time for payment, waiting in line, going to coffee shop - that is easily additional 15 min. Your coffee costs at least $20 + 2.50 in time and money.
      • Can't you guys just order ahead of time? Pick up the phone, order this and that coffee, then either go get it directly or have it delivered. Pay through an app on the phone or whatever.

      • My experience is similar. My coffee drips while I dress, and I don't wait in line or swipe a card. I make a pot, not just one cup, so I can refill my cup practically for free. I pick up fresh coffee beans or grounds when I buy the rest of my groceries, or I order online for home delivery. Going to a coffee shop costs time and money. So, why would someone go to a coffeeshop? Because they enjoy the experience somehow. They enjoy interacting with other customers and the "dirty hippie". Who know, the ba
    • by Dzimas ( 547818 )

      There's absolutely no way it's quicker and cheaper for me to go out of my way to a Starbucks instead of making it myself. I dropped by Starbucks this morning and the trip added about 20 minutes to my morning commute, and it cost me $5.25 for a Grande. Had I made a mug at home like I usually do, it would have taken me a couple of minutes at most (I just have to set the machine going while I'm herding teenagers and getting ready) and cost $0.25.

      So, yeah. That single Grande cost me about $30.

  • This is a lie (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rsilvergun ( 571051 ) on Monday December 04, 2017 @10:29AM (#55672087)
    And a pretty easily proven one. He's talking about $850 a year. That's not going to make or break anyone's investment portfolio. It's like that schmuck in Australia who told the young uns the could afford a house in Sydney if only they'd give up avocado toast. It's nonsense the aristocracy tells it's workers to excuse stagnant and falling wages. Don't fall for it.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      $850 added to an investment account each year for 50 years with interest is: $387,956. Pretty sure that amount might actually make or break someone's retirement.

      • Cause for many of us Gen-X'ers, investments haven't even broken even. Heck, we're going to be the first generation to pay more into Social Security than we'll get back.

        That about sums up investing for Gen-X'ers.

      • by Quirkz ( 1206400 )

        Please. If you're going to give an example like this, also list the interest rate so that people can know the full equation. (It appears you're using 7%).

      • $850 added to an investment account each year for 50 years with interest is: $387,956.

        Yep but in 50 years, that $390,000 will be worth about $85,000 in today's money due to inflation.

    • I'm not sure how you get to $850. Assuming one cup a day, it's $913/year. Assuming only week days, it's $652/year. Assuming two cups per week day, it's $1,300. $1,300/year is a sizeable chunk of change, particularly since a lot of businesses will happily install a coffee machine and pay for beans if it saves them lost productivity from people popping out to buy coffee.
      • by mark-t ( 151149 )
        $2.20/cup - $0.18/cup = $2.22/cup, multiplied by 1 cup/day times 365 days per year = $846.80 saved vs going to Starbucks each day.
    • Re:This is a lie (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Baron_Yam ( 643147 ) on Monday December 04, 2017 @10:40AM (#55672173)

      If you're relatively poor but buy a coffee everyday... I guarantee you you're poor because of poor financial decisions and not because of circumstances beyond your control. And, if my blue-collar work experience has taught me anything, you probably also spend too much on tobacco, alcohol, and lottery tickets.

      As I've progressed in my career, I actually do find myself exercising MORE restraint with regards to purchases, not less... even though I now have more money than I ever really seriously thought I would.

      I realized there's nothing wrong with 'brown bagging' it, nothing wrong with used cars, clothing without fancy brand logos on it, etc. I find conspicuous consumption offensively stupid.

      The result of this behaviour is that I haven't built up debt, and have paid off the 'unavoidable' debts a lot sooner than most, and now I live fairly comfortably and I'm not particularly stressed about finances. And because I'm not in debt, the money I earn is effectively worth more as I'm not bleeding interest payments to the bank.

      $850 a year is a LOT of money if you keep rolling it into bonds and you're patient. It might mean helping your kid get through college without crippling debt, or maybe loaning them a down payment on a house.

      • Question is: had you ever have fun in your life?
        Look, I'm not saying you're doing it wrong. But don't you say I'm doing it wrong either.
        I'd rather have my fun now, thank you, even if that means not saving as much as you do, or not being as cheap as you are.

        • Re:This is a lie (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Baron_Yam ( 643147 ) on Monday December 04, 2017 @11:05AM (#55672387)

          There is a difference between 'cheap' and 'frugal'. I don't spend money on stupid things. You know how rich people get rich? By getting people like you to be brand loyal and buy their stuff just because of the logo on it.

          I buy what I need, when I need it, and of a quality that will last as long as I expect to need it for... without regard for who made it or who is selling it except when I'm weighing the value of a warranty.

          So instead of a new BMW, some Nike shoes, a closet of Polo shirts, and a Starbucks coffee every day. I'm not blowing hundreds of dollars at a shot to get a lousy seat at a concert when the music's better on my home sound system. And no, I don't see every new movie in the theatres when I can wait and see them at home for a fraction of the cost.

          I can go on vacations more frequently (and still be putting some money away for potential large future expenses). I can turn down overtime at work and spend more time with friends and family. If I have an unexpected expense, I can cover it.

          >I'd rather have my fun now, thank you, even if that means not saving as much as you do

          If your idea of 'fun' is living paycheque to paycheque... with a base load on your credit cards... OK. But a little short term restraint means you have less stress and more options in the long term.

          • Re:This is a lie (Score:5, Insightful)

            by war4peace ( 1628283 ) on Monday December 04, 2017 @11:41AM (#55672719)

            "I don't spend money on stupid things"
            How do you tell thing A is stupid and thing B isn't? Let me tell you: you weigh it against your beliefs. So there you go: that 2.5 dollar coffee is stupid to you (and to me too) but is not stupid to the one buying it. And you can't tell them it's stupid because your opinion has equal value to theirs.

            "So instead of a new BMW, some Nike shoes, a closet of Polo shirts, and a Starbucks coffee every day" - the phrase doesn't end but I get your point. And here's what: all those are valueless to me too, but I'm not going to tell anyone who buys them that "it's stupid". They would tell me that the hardware I bought for my PCs is stupidly expensive - and they would be right, from their point of view.

            What I meant is that there are two extremes:
            1. Spending all your money on stuff
            and
            2. Spending none of your money on stuff.

            The idea is to find some middle ground, try not to get into either of the extremes, and you'll end up having a good life. I've seen people reaching each of those extremes, and believe me it's sad either way. I'm currently recovering from #1 and slowly finding middle ground, it's a battle, trust me. Mostly because of my chronic depression which pushes me really hard to get the happiness fix through buying. I've been a slave to that for many years, it sucks. But it also sucks to not enjoy life at all because all you do is save, save, save.

    • by Kohath ( 38547 )

      It's like that schmuck in Australia who told the young uns the could afford a house in Sydney if only they'd give up avocado toast. It's nonsense the aristocracy tells it's workers to excuse stagnant and falling wages. Don't fall for it.

      Self control and delayed gratification lead to economic success. Avocado toast isn't a significant factor, but the idea of taking control of your spending and your life by saying no to avocado toast is the lesson to learn.

      It's nonsense the aristocracy tells it's workers to excuse stagnant and falling wages. Don't fall for it.

      Waiting for someone else to solve your wage problems is a good way to make sure your wage problems never get solved. Telling people to wait for some magic answer from others is just wrong. If people listen to that advice, they're losing 99% of their opportunity for improvement.

    • Stop being so close minded. It's not just the coffee runs. It's everything. Cable TV packages, expensive cars, etc. Having that attitude and applying it to everything in life makes a huge difference in how much money you have. BTW, if you think $850 a year is nothing, I'll be happy to take it that much off your hands every year and invest it for myself.
    • It's like that schmuck in Australia who told the young uns the could afford a house in Sydney if only they'd give up avocado toast. It's nonsense the aristocracy tells it's workers to excuse stagnant and falling wages. Don't fall for it.

      Or, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) who reportedly [msnbc.com] said in a November 29 interview:

      “I think not having the estate tax recognizes the people that are investing,” Grassley said, “as opposed to those that are just spending every darn penny they have, whether it’s on booze or women or movies.”

      Or, another Republican congressman justified a vote on ACA repeal by saying Americans would be able to afford health security, without assistance, by giving up “getting that new iPhone.”

      It's nice when rich people who had rich parents give us common folk advise on how to pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps - you know, like they did. (I'm sure Trump would have turned out the same without that first $1M loan and

    • Re:This is a lie (Score:5, Insightful)

      by green1 ( 322787 ) on Monday December 04, 2017 @12:12PM (#55673033)

      Which just shows you've missed the point entirely. It's actually not about the coffee, it's about priorities. People who say "it's only $2.50" or even who add it up for a year and say "it's only $850", are likely doing the exact same thing with more small purchases as well, how many "only $2.50" items before you get to actual numbers that you do care about?

      The Coffee is just an indicator of a mind-set. Every dollar you don't spend helps you. They all add up.

      I'm not saying don't spend money on things that make you happy, just think about it first. Which will make you happier, $2.50 every day on a cup of coffee? or $850 once a year on a slightly bigger purchase? or $10,000 once a decade on an even bigger purchase? or $50,000 extra in retirement? Multiply this times all the little "treats" you give yourself and you can likely find some much bigger numbers than just the coffee too.

      I never drank coffee, but I did used to buy lunch out every work day. I realized I could save over $200 a month by packing a lunch from home. I still eat out on occasion, but it's not the routine any more. I'm no less happy during the work day as eating out wasn't a special treat, but just a routine occurence, but I can use that $200 on all sorts of other things that I know will actually contribute to my happiness. And that mindset flows through everything I spend money on. Thinking that way has allowed me to pay off my mortgage when I was 30, take several nice vacations overseas, buy a fancy car, and still be well set up for my future retirement, all on an income half of what some of my friends make who are still living paycheque to paycheque with no more to show for it. Now when I do eat out it's not just a daily occurrence any more, and that makes it a bit more special, so it does actually contribute to my happiness.

  • Yea Sure (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jetkust ( 596906 ) on Monday December 04, 2017 @10:30AM (#55672093)
    So I'm supposed to believe a guy that is worth more than $300 million never buys anything he doesn't need? Sounds legit.
    • Re:Yea Sure (Score:5, Insightful)

      by religionofpeas ( 4511805 ) on Monday December 04, 2017 @10:44AM (#55672203)

      Not buying anything you don't need is how you save up money. And having money is very helpful when you want to get rich.

    • Re:Yea Sure (Score:5, Interesting)

      by siriuskase ( 679431 ) on Monday December 04, 2017 @10:59AM (#55672347) Homepage Journal
      His advice is reminiscent of the advice in "The Millionaire Next Door", with was a best seller back in the day. The point of that book is that real millionaires usually do not have extravagant lifestyles, that these little savings do add up over time. Or maybe Sam Walton, who lived in a modest ranch house and drove a pickup while simultaneously producing some of the most selfish children to ever walk the earth. They probably feel that they were deprived.
  • by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Monday December 04, 2017 @10:30AM (#55672097) Journal
    There are lots of things that are cheaper at home. Drinking a beer at home is a lot cheaper than drinking one at the pub, for example. You're not just paying for the drink, you're paying for the use of a big space where you can talk to other people. The problem isn't $2.50 coffee (actually, I'd be astonished if I could buy coffee that cheap around here), it's buying $2.50 coffee every day. Even once a day each week, that's $50/month on coffee. Two coffees a day and it's $100/month. Give that up, and you can afford a nice holiday somewhere, or pay back your mortgage earlier.
  • '"The truth is, there is a lot of crap you don't need," he explains'.

    As you go through life you can use the proceeds of your labour for different things. Kevin O'Leary apparently thinks that nothing beats a good big juicy investment portfolio.

    If he thinks a cup of coffee cost 18 cents, I can imagine what kind of coffee he drinks. Anyone else thinking "Scrooge"?

  • Who Gives a Shit? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Luthair ( 847766 ) on Monday December 04, 2017 @10:32AM (#55672109)
    How is this News for Nerds? More importantly do we really want to take financial advise from this guy [nationalobserver.com]?
  • I would never pay more than 5$ for a bottle of wine. Because I am a teetotaler.

    But if someone is willing to spend 250$ of his/her hard earned money voluntarily who am I to object? It is all fine an good to preach about the value of drinking a 10$ bottle of wine and investing the rest. But be prepared to listen someone tell you why that 250$ bottle of wine is worth it and gives him/her a good feeling that is worth it.

    I can tell a wine snob to take a hike and go fly a kite because I never preached about b

    • Sometimes it is worth it. I bought a Japanese tea once that was valued at twice its weight in silver. That was without a doubt the best tea I've ever tasted. And before you say that I only thought that it was good because it was so expensive, I have poured a cup for a colleague who often mooches a tea from my personal collection and he also said that it was absolutely the tastiest cup of tea he ever had - and I never told him how expensive it was. Someday - when I feel better and have enough money set aside

    • I wonder what he thinks of bottled water? Now there is a money making racket :)
  • It's not just coffee. Almost everything has a ridiculous markup. Capitalism is awesome.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 04, 2017 @10:35AM (#55672137)

    Rich people think the reason people are poor is because they spend little bits of money here and there. Budgeting is one issue with people but really its a lack of money. Also spending little bits of money is good for the economy.

    • That IS the reason they are poor. It's not just the coffee runs but everything. Literally every single person I know who is poor not only spends tons of money on coffee but they spend $200 on the fancy cable TV package in addition to subscribing to Netflix/Hulu/Spotify/etc, they buy tons of beer/wine/etc, they always drive 2 brand new cars, they shop at expensive stores, etc. As soon as they get a bunch of unexpected money (e.g. Christmas, tax refund, etc) they blow it on expensive vacations or something
    • by green1 ( 322787 )

      This is the issue with the economy. It relies on people being bad with money. The economy would do horribly if the majority of people did what's best for themselves.

      That said, people ARE poor because they spend little bits of money here and there. Budgeting IS a real issue with a huge percentage of people. Now I'm not saying that budgeting alone will make a poor person rich, but it will make almost anyone richer than they otherwise would be, and by a surprisingly large amount.

      Kevin O'Leary isn't saying that

  • by CustomBuild ( 2891601 ) on Monday December 04, 2017 @10:35AM (#55672145)
    His example is analogous to $100 HDMI cables, and the world is full of these examples. It's easy to laugh at someone when their choice is not your choice, but the fact is the world is run by parting fools and their money.
  • I haven't done the precise math, but I think my cup of coffee is closer to 2 than 20 cents. I guess you can waste money at home too, if you use something like those proprietary capsule fads.

    Nevertheless, I second the underlying idea. More generally, I don't understand why people feel the need to spend everything they earn, in particular, increasing their spending the moment they get a better job. Though I guess it's a matter of personality. I like to keep things simple, and I also like the opportunity of

  • His book was ok (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 04, 2017 @10:43AM (#55672193)

    I just bought his book called "The cold hard truth about men, women and money". It is pretty good, and mostly is full of these kinds of ideas. I really think people just don't get personal finance at all, and don't realize these things are literally like death by a thousand cuts. Not that Kevin O'Leary is perfect, but at least it is written in language that is accessible to most people, and will probably get them worked up emotionally, and then on his side. The people who won't like it, is that group who thinks that people need to keep spending to keep everything running in the economy. If you know what I mean. Those who don't really want people saving money.

  • The simple truth is if you want a cup of coffee while you're out and about, you're going to be spending > $1 because nobody is selling a cup of coffee for less than that.

    The only way to get a cheap cup of coffee is to make it yourself, and you can't really do that unless you're at home or at an office that has a coffeemaker. Coffee shops know this, which is why they charge so much.

    I'm not going to give up coffee over a dollar or two. Neither are most people; that's why coffee is $1-$2. It sucks, but what

  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna ( 970587 ) on Monday December 04, 2017 @10:49AM (#55672255) Journal
    Hindustan Lever is an Indian cosmetics/soap and shampoo giant. It sells shampoo in single use sachets. Back in the day it used to cost 5 rupees, or 30 US cents back in the day. Now it is probably 20 Rupees, same 30cents. Proctor and Gamble's idea of marketing was to some how convince the buyer into buying shampoo in gallon size jugs and they are busily hatching up plans to convince America why it is a good idea to buy shampoo in barrels instead of gallon jugs.

    They both were locked into a serious battle in South Asian shampoo market. With all that might of P&G, HL was running circles around them

    My niece is a big shot in that circle (now working for Estee Lauder India) she explained the basic difference. "There are women who can not afford shampoo. But once in a while something nice happens, and she feels great and feels like treating herself to luxury. That thirty cent sachet of shampoo is a luxury for her. She will never have enough to buy a whole bottle ever, and will balk at the cost of a bottle. But... on any given day there are about a million such women willing to buy a sachet of shampoo for 30 cents. I am selling 300K a day. 100 million dollars a year."

    There are people for whom that 5$ coffee is a luxury they are treating themselves to. The American dream of owning a home and having a comfortable retirement is gone for them. They see themselves working till the day they are going to die. They see 80 year old grandmas trying to work as walmart greeters. From their perspective, "I have 5$ today, I am going to splurge!".

    A country this great, this wealthy, with that much of despair among the young ...

    • by 140Mandak262Jamuna ( 970587 ) on Monday December 04, 2017 @11:02AM (#55672371) Journal
      I forgot to finish the post.

      It is all fine and good for most people not to know this nugget of information. But for someone who is a "professional" investor, whose claim to fame is finding companies to invest, he should know this. Not the specific thing about Hindustan Lever or any such specific company. But the fact that there is lot of money to be made in small margin large volume sales. Large volume sales by definition means it is something you knew but never realized the market.

      O'Leary might not know the Hindustan Lever story. But he should have known the moral of that story.

  • $2.50 is overpriced for store-bought coffee. The local bodega (deli) on the way to work charges a buck a cup, and it's not charred like Starbucks.

    Make your own, but also don't overpay for chain coffee shops.

  • by future assassin ( 639396 ) on Monday December 04, 2017 @12:05PM (#55672969) Homepage

    how much more do you need? Being obsessed with investing the $2 you saved on a coffee is insane.

  • by losfromla ( 1294594 ) on Monday December 04, 2017 @12:11PM (#55673015)

    This is just an illustration of how trickle down economics is utter bullshit. Of course the past 30 years of economic stagnation for the formerly middle class in the USA has also clearly demonstrated that fact. Trickle down is a front for wealth concentration at the top and extraction from the bottom. The repugnant tax cut the repugnicans are currently attempting to cram through congress is the latest escalation in the economic slaughter being visited upon us by the 1%.

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