|YOUR TAX DOLLARS AT WORK!
The contents of this page have been bought with tax payer money!
—Chris's autistic explanation for his Tugboat
The monthly tugboat is Chris's euphemism for his Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) payment, which is deposited into his bank account via direct deposit on or about the 3rd of each month. SSDI is part of a U.S. taxpayer-supported program to support financially those whose physical injures or mental ailments prevent them from performing even minimum-wage work. Chris is known to have belonged to this system since at least 2007, before he was discovered by the Internet. In the Father Call, Chris claims that his disability check is "a stepping-stone in the right direction of [him] moving out." Given Chris's tendency to waste his free money on frivolous junk rather than put it towards anything that might improve his life, he was probably just telling Matt what he thought he wanted to hear.
Contrary to popular belief, Chris's check is not need-based, but is awarded on eligibility alone. Most US Americans have to work a decade to qualify. Chris, on the other hand, has only been employed for six months (three at Wendy's, three in a pyramid scheme). However, Bob earned retirement insurance in his years at General Electric, and Social Security also lets retirees' dependent disabled children get payments, even if they have never worked themselves, so long as they were disabled before turning 22. As long as Chris earns less than $1220 a month, and stays unmarried (to someone real, at least) and out of prison, he will continue to receive his monthly tugboat unimpeded. While Christorians predicted he might've gotten his tugboat privileges taken away if convicted after macing a GameStop employee in the face, he was ultimately left off with a fine and probation.
In 2010, Chris received $809 each month, with $580 going to his parents for room, board, and to pay toward his credit card debt. After his father's death in September 2011, Chris's tugboat increased. As of 2014, Chris was receiving approximately $1300 a month in welfare money, of which Barb claims $900 to pay for her second mortage.
Chris's economic logic
Challenged by a correspondent in the Mailbag, Chris claimed that he is not wasting his taxpayer-funded "tugboat", because he is putting that money back into the economy and indirectly paying the tugboats of others. According to Chris's logic, by purchasing useless commercial goods, he is paying sales tax which the government puts directly back into the hands of the needy. This is irrefutably false; sales taxes go to the state government whereas his tugboat is paid by federal payroll tax, to which Chris has never substantially contributed in his life.
Another thing to take into consideration is that while Chris spends a chunk of his social security on U.S products like McDonald's (thus keeping the money in the internal economy), Chris spends most of it on video games. The problem is that many of his game systems (PSP, Nintendo DS, Wii, and PlayStation 3 just to name a few) are made by Japanese companies, and while these companies have U.S. bases and a small amount of production occurs there, the majority is produced, developed in and imported from Japan. Thus, beyond whatever profit the local retailer makes, the vast majority of money spent will be given to the foreign company's employees and fixed costs that keep them functioning, which will be chiefly spent in Japan, thus contributing to Japan's internal economy - the money in essence leaving the U.S. economy permanently. Ironically, if Chris were an Xbox enthusiast (instead of a rabid boycotter), the majority of money spent on it and on many of its games would be put back into the U.S. economy, as Microsoft is a US American company.
On the advice of his dead father, Chris has never looked for a job since leaving Wendy's, supposedly because the tugboat gives him more money overall. However, Bob was totally wrong. Since 2008, the hourly minimum wage in the Commonwealth of Virginia has been $7.25, pursuant to federal minimum wage. If Chris were somehow to do a complete 180° on his life, get off disability, and begin working a full 40-hour week, his monthly income before taxes and rent payment would be approximately $1,260 USD. This would put Chris's annual income range, before tax, at roughly $15,100. Subtracting what he pays his parents to live in filth, as well as the 5% tax his income range mandates in the state of Virginia, Chris could very likely be left with a ridiculous $9,000 in spending money, enough for many more sex toys and video games, in contrast with the $2,748 Chris pulls in annually from the government after paying off his parents. As SSDI payments have been adjusted for inflation over the years, while Virginia's legislation has not, this earning gap has since closed. Despite this, Chris still could have earned $48,600 (or even more, if he were to be promoted or find better work with his new skills) or more over the last decade by working instead of remaining on disability.
Even if this weren't enough, the most cursory research reveals that a SSDI beneficiary could have earned from $700 a month in the year 2000, when Chris was 18, to $1,000 a month in 2010 without losing a cent of SSDI payments. As of 2019, this limit is about as much as Chris would earn working minimum wage part time. Social Security also has voluntary programs that would let Chris try working a real job for up to nine months without upsetting his tugboat in the slightest. At best, Bob's decision to encourage Chris's unemployment came from the reasonable assumption that Chris could never survive in a real-world workplace environment. At worst, it was negligence or blind delusion that let Chris to miss out on over $100,000 in potential bras, faux-china, children's toys, and PS3 accessories covered in Lego through to the end of 2010 and beyond.
Rough calculations and estimations say that if Chris lives into his 80s, given reasonable "cost of living" increases to his tugboat annually, he will receive roughly $1,000,000 over his lifetime from his countrymen. In this day and age, that's chump change and he'd amass a larger fortune if he simply got off his ass and got a career; of course, it's extremely unlikely that he will live anywhere near that long.
References by Chris
Chris does not even understand which program he is on. In many emails and posts he mistakenly says that he receives SSI, which is a different welfare program for the poor that has far tighter restrictions and a typically lower payout.
- The earliest known use of the term "monthly tugboat" was in March 2007 in Chris's first e-mail to his half-brother Cole Smithey. When introducing himself, Chris says, "I'm getting by livin' with my folks and a monthly tugboat". He does not actually explain what a "monthly tugboat" is supposed to be.
- An e-mail to Megan from August 2007 recounts Chris's purchase of Guitar Hero with his latest tugboat check.
- During the Miyamoto Saga, Chris claimed he was waiting for his tugboat (in an e-mail to "Miyamoto" himself, no less) to fix technical problems with his website.
- In Mumble #1, Chris mentions that he'll have to wait for his next tugboat to buy some new content for Ape Escape on the PSP.
- In BlueSpike PSN Chat #4, Chris tells Julie that he can't make it to Ohio until his next tugboat comes in.
- Since late 2009, Chris seemed to have mostly given up the term "tugboat", possibly because of its extensive adoption by trolls in the Mumble chats, the Mailbag, and elsewhere. In the Father Call, he refers to it as his "monthly income", while in the Jackie e-mails he simply says he's on Social Security, although he did refer to it once as a "tugboat" in Mailbag #34.
- The BlueSpike Skype logs, quoted at the top of the page shine a light on the origin of the term.
- In one of the Jackie chat logs, he wrote about the reason he deserves the welfare:
[7:47 pm] CWC: Originally, I was given that blessing through my father, on one theory of me NOT being able to do the basics of a job, which I have told you I disagree with fully.
—Jackie, destroying Chris with sound logic.
- Social Security Benefits Planner: How You Qualify
- Benefits for Children with Disabilities, Page 7.
- Substantial Gainful Activity
- Jackie Chat #7
- Chris, via Null, on 13 July 2018
- Mailbag #34
- Ticket to Work - Work Incentives
- Jackie E-mails 6
- Jackie E-mails 25
- Rebeckah Bentley E-mails
- Gal Pal E-mails 3
- November 2016 Facebook posts
- December 2016 Facebook posts