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Creating the Illusion of Wealth

 How to get upgraded to first class... and beat the government at its own game.

A colleague of mine, Chip, saw the stub of my Lufthansa Chicago to Munich airline ticket and the bold letters that read 2A - FIRST CLASS.

These seats routinely sell for $5,000 or higher. Chip also knows I would never pony up for something I could get for one-fifth the price and a little discomfort by flying coach.

He just grinned at me and said, "How'd you do it?"

I hesitated before I answered, thinking that if I revealed my secret to this prolific writer, he could tell the world and then I'd be relegated to the friendship seats... the spot last-minute buyers get between two glacier-like humans that for eight or so hours melt into your seat.

I let him in on my secret because he's a friend and, more importantly, gives graciously of his time to me. In other words, I owe him.

However, I decided to write about it before he had a chance to steal my thunder.

Don't get me wrong -- this technique doesn't work every time. These seats fill up quickly. But I would estimate that my bump rate is no less than 25%.

Perhaps that's not the most impressive number, but when you consider my last effort was not only upgrades for me and my wife, but also my sister-in-law and her husband on our return trip from visiting my father-in-law in Italy.

The trick, if that's an appropriate term, requires preparation and a little boldness. The preparation is simple enough.

I dress like I belong in first class.

Editor's note... the classical grizzled hair doesn't hurt, either.

Think about it for a minute. Imagine yourself a haggard business executive on your return flight overseas. You sit down in the plush, La-Z-Boy-like seat that reclines flat to a bed; there's a flat screen at a 30-degree angle to your position; and your waitress (sorry, flight attendant) asks what cocktail you'd like to enjoy prior to taking off.

A remarkable, relaxed calm descends upon you.

As you settle in to your $7,000 chair, you look next to you and find a tattooed, pierced and punctured, nearly human 20-something wearing cutoff jeans and a dirty U2 concert T-shirt.

Would you be pleased knowing you paid the fat fare and, in all likelihood, this perpetual adolescent was given the free upgrade?

The ticketing or gate agent knows the answer to this question as well. When a flight is crowded, and even coach is overbooked, the last thing they want to do is upset the first-class flyers. These business elites are the backbone of many airlines.

Now remember, the gate agents are the rulers of their little fiefdoms, and they have the power to grant tremendous favors.

Your task is to present yourself as if it's an accident you're flying coach. That's it.

For me, a sport jacket, nice button-down shirt and nice slacks. Women should dress like they're going to a cocktail party, which, if you get the bump, you'll feel like you're attending. Understated elegance should be your theme.

It's all about appearances. You present the illusion of prosperity and success. This, in turn, helps the gate agent keep her hoity-toity passengers happy.

My "trick" is the illusion I present at the airport. I inflate my appearance to look like I'm prosperous, wealthy and successful. Regardless of whether or not I can afford the ticket, the illusion is enough to work consistently.

This is the exact same thing our Federal Reserve and their lackeys in the House and Senate do when they turn on the printing presses.

I call it Washington's hidden tax.

The increase in money supply, which is the very definition of inflation, causes more dollars to chase a finite supply of goods.

Prices rise on various things. Anyone owing the things subject to the increase in price feels richer. However, it's only the illusion of wealth.

The housing bubble is our most recent example. People believed this illusion with the increased number attached to their homes every time a neighbor's home sold. It mattered little if other things required to live increased, as long as your residence kept increasing.

As long as you could point to that two-car piggy-bank-turned-ATM, you could consider yourself rich.

And, with this effortless expansion of your net worth, why not borrow and send the kids to the best university, or borrow to buy that new sports car, or simply max out the credit cards on that next cruise?

Sooner or later you could cash in your chips, sell your home, retire with that fat government pension and pay off all those obligations.

What they don't tell you, what they can't tell you, is that it's all a big lie.

The only one who really benefits from inflation is the one who gets those freshly printed bills first.

And guess who that is?

Our government and the bankers who fund this sick little game.

This is why the charade will continue in the United States. This is why Germany and France will move heaven and earth to prevent a Greek default. And this is why China and the world will continue to buy sovereign debt.

And who's hurt the most in this unfolding tragedy? Of course it's the poorest among us. Those who buy everything the government's been selling all these years.

They receive none of the benefit of inflating investments, because they have none. They only have the increased costs of what is needed to sustain their day-to-day lives.

The very dollars used to buy their loyalty are the same that cause their inflation-driven downfall. The worst part is that they don't even know who is causing it. The producers, like the evil oil companies, or speculators, are always blamed.

The solutions we've seen, one after another, all entail spending and inflating. They are desperately trying to elevate something so there is an appearance of a recovery.

But the solutions and clever strategies of the IMF or finance ministers have nothing to do with real remedies. It has everything to do with perpetuating the illusion. When one fiat currency tumbles, they risk them all. It is the guaranteed mutual destruction of the Cold War revisited upon the world of finance.

There is one problem with this global effort of sustaining the unsustainable.

The unprecedented coordinated efforts of the world's central bankers have been nothing short of miraculous. (Give credit where it's due.) However, no entity is bigger than the market and all governments know this from history and that their continued destruction of their own currency leads only to their eventual downfall.

This begs the question: Why would any of them pursue inflation in any manner let alone the hyperinflationary steps that Bernanke and his world team have taken?

Our government needs money to operate unprofitable enterprises, to subsidize the unemployed and to provide the people with welfare. It is not politically acceptable to raise the funds through taxes.

How better to tax (rob) your citizens then to print money to buy their votes, which causes inflation, which creates the illusion of wealth for your (purchased) voters, and the appearance of sound economic policy?

It's genius, in a diabolical sort of way.

This figment of the financial world is coming to a devastating end. The markets have been exhausted with the central bank's attempts to inflate. Our politicians hope that these banksters will be able to inflate something to save their skins and perhaps they can continue operating in this world of make believe, but you shouldn't.

There is a solution: Prepare.

Written by Joseph McBrennan for Taipan Publishing Group. Additional valuable content can be syndicated via our News RSS feed. Republish without charge. Required: Author attribution, links back to original content or

Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.