Archive for the ‘Political/Social Issues’ Category

Another rant on taxes

May 16th, 2010 No comments

I got a hiring bonus for getting a friend hired. Boy, I was excited for some extra cash. However, when I saw the deposit, I was taken aback. The government took 41.7% of my bonus I got. The bonus I had to fight for to get appealed and wait months to get. What has the government done lately to deserve that? I think that individuals should all be given a "maximum tax amount" or something, and it should be based on a percentage of their income. Or, remove taxes altogether and go with a Flat Tax or a VAT. Seriously. The cycle of taxation on the same dollar is getting insane, now that I am starting to value money more and seeing how easily it is wasted.

We need to pull our own pants up

April 29th, 2010 3 comments

There may be reports of an economic recovery slowly happening, but those of us back here in the real world are still seeing otherwise.

Remember back in 2000 when ad impressions meant something, people were getting rich out of nowhere, wealth was being spread all around, etc? I remember that time.

What about right now? We've got more people sitting on homes that have negative values, owe more on their homes than they're worth, and we keep paying our mortgages. Only a few of those people who can't are getting help. The idea was great, the execution has been poor, and it should extend to a lot more people than just those that will have to default on their loans...

I go to a restaurant and use a corporate discount program they were part of, which I've used a lot - one reason I go there, actually. This last time I was there they informed us that they're suspending the program due to the "economic down turn" - that's just one example.

Another example? Sites like Ars forcing people to remove their ad blockers to read the content - it was a 12 hour experiment, but it is supporting my point.

The point is - we're stuck in a rut. It seems like we just can't get this machine going on our own. The government has tried - giving handouts to big companies to keep them afloat, loan adjustments to homeowners due to lost property values, things of that nature. But it doesn't seem to be enough. I'm 20% or more at a loss on my property right now. Where's my assistance? I would have to be financially crippled before anyone even thought of helping adjust my loan (sorry, I'm getting a little bit specific...)

The only way I see being able to get out of this rut is to jump start things. At one point, people may say it was bloated or overpriced or whatever, but it -did- happen and it was able to happen for quite some time, there was a large amount of wealth floating around the country. It didn't come out of nowhere - lots of money was on paper, but it was still usable. You could convert it to tangible cash. People were buying and selling things left and right. Companies weren't suspending programs due to the diminishing returns... if anything they were pushing harder. The cycle of money was going at full steam.

Right now? People are being more frugal. Companies are having to drop prices, go out of business (hey, I went to a car wash today, and it was all closed up. Coincidence?) and do anything they can to survive. We've turned into a defensive country, instead of an proactive one. We're spending more money overseas than we are on ourselves. We're getting pissed off at all sorts of things, but when it comes down to it, if we were back in the 1999 economy, we wouldn't be caring. We'd all be happy as hell. Anyone could be a millionaire. Property values went up, not down. Advertising revenue off websites was enough to keep them afloat, due to higher CPM. Everyone wins. Literally everyone. Who was being hurt? Businesses were able to flourish, individuals were able to gain wealth and jobs, afford healthcare themselves easier or get them from their employers, etc.

It seems like everywhere I turn now, a program is being discontinued. A product is being end-of-lifed. A store is having to close down.

Oh and stock prices? How about the huge company I work for with record (or at least way higher than expected) sales and earnings two quarters in a row. What happened to our stock? Not much. Same level it's been for almost 10 years now. Remember back when stock options meant something? I don't. Most of mine will expire without ever being usable. That hiring bonus grant I got? Not much of a bonus at $0.

Back in 1999? Yeah, it would have grown. Everyone put money into the market. Everyone was buying things - properties, food, toys, it didn't matter. That kept the companies alive and running, which in turn kept people employed. It's the circle of capitalism and is currently failing. Part of it -is- something we could try to fix, but it has dragged on so long I am not sure we can now without help.

I would request the government to help out the homeowners who bought and lost their asses - we're the bread and butter of the country, and not the handful of companies who were making excessive amounts of profit and still got federal help. Helping us adjust our loans and giving the banks the money for the difference would restore a lot of people's financial stability, which could start them on a more positive buying trend.

We also need better encouragement for in-country labor. It's sad when skilled individuals can't find a job. There's the carrot approach, which is government subsidizing or encouraging companies to hire Americans (which doesn't seem appropriate to me - that should be an obvious) or the stick approach, where companies have to pay additional taxes or penalties for hiring out of the country when they are given appropriate in-country candidates.

We also need to stop bleeding ourselves with this damn "war" - it wasn't our concern to begin with, and it will never truly be solved. We made our own bed in the 80's when we put Saddam in power. This is why you don't get involved in other people's battles. But alas, that's our foreign policy at work - convert every country to democracy (more like capitalism) so they'll play by our rules. Heaven forbid we do trade with a Communist, Socialist or other "evil" regime (which we do already, and we did with Saddam up until we ousted him...)

Obviously it's pretty cut and dry to me. The country, to me, could be mapped out on one gigantic Simcity-esque type budget planner. Income comes from trade, taxes, etc. Spending is divvied up to programs, trade, all that stuff. It'd be a quite large database of programs and such. I have a lot of ideas floating around in my head, but sadly it's hard to compose them in a decent fashion. That will all come from the "Mike's Country Plan" I lay out some day...

In summation: if we could all band together we could probably start the machine up again. However, it's not simple and it's too scary for most people, understandably. That's why in my head the government would have to step in with it's funny money and write checks against a never-ending deficit (who cares about that anyway?) - maybe then, some faith and courage could be restored to get this capitalist system going again.

This is the problem with America

April 8th, 2010 No comments

While the new healthcare bill certainly surprised me with things like requiring people to purchase insurance or be fined (I thought the point of this was actual universal healthcare, not universal coverage forced upon people...) and I certainly understand how people would be emotional about that, this whole craze of protesting should really be thought about from a more intelligent angle.

Here in Portland we recently had a couple cop-related shootings, which caused the public to protest. However, they began protesting before the identity of the victim or his issues was even exposed to the public. They were simply protesting for the sake of protesting. Then, a kid threw a bike at police, and wound up getting arrested - makes sense. However, then people started protesting about the kid who was protesting and got arrested. People even had signs saying "I threw the bike" - to me, if they want to take credit for a crime, so be it. You can go to jail too.

Protesting hasn't been an effective tool from what I can tell for decates. It slows down traffic, people come out just to come out and use it as an excuse to create violence or disturbance... has it stopped the war in the Middle East? Or anything? How many thousands of people and hundreds or thousands of protests have occured and what has changed? Nothing.

Anyway this article really pissed me off, it shows how uneducated the public is, and to me, you shouldn't be allowed to protest if you're not even smart enough to put together a phrase that has correct grammar and/or spelling...