12/23/17 (20:55)
  • good site to see how the GOP tax bill may affect you. all this stuff is way complicated and differs a lot from individual to individual, even if you're making the same amount, but it's a good place to start. basically, 75% of people are going to get a tax cut for at least the next 8 years. after that, who knows.
  • what's interesting to me is to see where people come down on this bill as it's a real intersection of principles vs. individual interests. let's say you are one of the 75% of people who is going to get less of your paycheck taken by the federal government as a result of this plan. that would seemingly make you like the plan. however, that gets complicated because some people (like me) are more afraid of the added debt that the federal government is racking up than we are interested in the projected $1900 savings that i'll get from this bill. my principles are that we need to collectively stop taking so many deductions (including the mortgage interest deduction which i use) and start getting our yearly defiicts in order. republicans used to claim they were for this, but, in reality, they lower taxes and increase spending basically every chance they get. they lowered taxes under reagan, W, and now trump. they increased deficits under reagan, W, and probably now trump.
  • one argument a lot of conservatives will use when a tax cut goes through is this: if you're such a liberal person and you want the government to take more money so it can afford more social programs, then why don't you just write a check to the treasury? i don't think the argument makes all that much sense because i think the liberal position is that we should all pitch in and pay what we can to help those who can't help themselves. it kinda only works if we all do it and we're not all going to do it unless we're forced.
  • personally i wish the federal government did less. if it did less then we could pay the same taxes and not have the debt hanging over us all the time.

  • 12/20/17 (19:33)

  • net neutrality seems to be the big story lately. i think it should be the law, but i find it a bit odd because that's not how things currently are. there are a couple providers that allow you to stream on youtube (or whatever site/service they choose) without it counting against your mobile data plan. i'm not sure how this is any different from a non-net neutral situation. giving away some for free is the same as charging for others and is arguably worse that throttling the speed for some sites. i mostly think that this will be solved by the market and/or the states so i'm not as worried as most heavy internet users seem to be.
  • something else i've seen lately is talk about home broadband access as a human right. i've written about this before in the context of the creeping notion of "rights" as basically anything that people in the western world think is good to have (health insurance, internet access, etc.). i think internet access is potentially extremely beneficial for individuals and i'm all for it being in as many places as possible for as cheaply as possible. that said, i think it's interesting that people who talk about this often talk about it in terms of "broadband access at home." this is different from "internet access." it seems that most people these days access the internet on their phone as much or more than at home. so, if you're arguing that internet access in the country is awful then you use the metric "broadband access at home," but if you're trying to assess actual internet access per individual you should use the broader definition of "internet access."
  • a big problem in politics 10 years ago was the idea that money bought elections. then citizens united came along and (often liberal) people (including me) were very upset about this. but as it turns out, money doesn't really determine the outcome as much as we thought. money doesn't buy elections: one, two, three. trump is the big example of this. he was outspent by all sorts of candidates including jeb and hillary and still won.
  • roy moore was outspent 10:1 and barely lost. here's how the coverage of that election actually went: "republicans would rather vote for a pedophile than a democrat." and "better thank blacks for turning out and electing doug jones instead of the pedophile." now, i have no love for roy moore or any of his policies, but this is just the dumbest possible way to interpret the election. republican turnout was quite low relative to 2016. this effect was especially true in the more educated republican districts, which were more likely to vote for jones than for hillary in 2016. so, a lot of republican voters didn't bother to vote at all, of those who did, a lot more voted for write-in candidates than in the past, and the more educated ones tended to vote for jones. this reality doesn't comport with the narrative that evil republicans like pedophiles more than democrats. further, jones was a particularly bold choice for democrats and hard pill to swallow for republicans primarily because he supports abortion rights. if you look at the election in a more nuanced way then it's not quite as easy to simply say that alabama republicans are pedophile supporters. as i mentioned before, you only need to imagine being in their shoes to understand the closeness of the race. factor in the other items mentioned above and it all makes for a more nuanced story.

  • 12/1/17 (22:43)

  • usc won the pac-12 championship so that's good news. good team this year overall. they had some injuries to the o-line and both their lines actually had a few rough games, but they lost to two pretty good teams so i think they're back to competing at a high level again and last year wasn't a fluke. darnold is the real deal, but turns the ball over way too much. not sure where they'll end up. rose bowl is taken this year so that's kind of a bummer. they're forecasting fiesta bowl vs. tcu, which isn't very exciting because they're not a big name. i always feel like those are lose-lose situations. the perception is that usc should beat any team out there other than big name schools like OSU, TX, ND, AL, etc. even if boise state or TCU or whomever is really good, it feels like it should be a win. that's the downside of being a storied program. the upside is that you have a built-in recruiting advantage over TCU.
  • had my biggest concrete pour to date today. didn't go well. i called the concrete company a couple days ago for a delivery and they couldn't get it out to me until today at 1:30p. i knew that was going to be pretty late and i wanted to get it done today. instead of shopping around i stupidly decided to go to the landscape supply yard and have them mix up some for me and tow it in their trailer. they do this all the time and i used it once before to do the slab in the garage at picardy. well, this time the mix i got was super wet and since the weather has been cool and the slab didn't get any sun, it stayed wet and the bleed water didn't go anywhere. finally we tried to finish it at about 430p and it was still soupy as fuck. there was no way of saving it. i troweled it out and as best i could tell (it was dark by then) it looks like crap. guess we'll see what the customer says. they're putting a hot tub over it so maybe they won't be too picky, but i have a feeling i'm going to be jackhammering it all up and doing it again next week. these are the joys of owning your own business. as an employee there's nothing you can do that will lose you money. you can be malicious or completely incompetent over a long period of time and get fired, but you'll never lose money, or pay someone to do a job for them (if you really fuck up).
  • luckily i think i've only paid someone to work at their house once before. i was fixing a cabinet that she put together incorrectly and as i was taking the back off to rebuild it, it collapsed and was instantly destroyed. cost me $200 and i still had to build it and install it. so i basically paid her about $100 to do that job for her. if this slab needs to be taken out i'll be out the cost of labor to demo, the dump fees, more concrete, and the labor to reinstall. fun times.
  • heard a stat from freakonomics that 25% of people who make 100-150k/year "can't come up with $2,000 in 30 days." i find this to be astonishingly pathetic. in other words, they can't scrounge up 1 week's earnings in 4 weeks. the researchers purposely worded it as "come up with" because they wanted to allow for people borrowing, using credit cards, using social resources, etc. if you make that much money and you can't come up with 2% of your salary because you have a bad transmission, then you're making bad decisions.
  • here's the thing when it comes to personal finance, and a lot of other life decisions, these days. i find that there are fewer and fewer legitimate excuses for not taking control of your life to the extent that a quarter of people who are pretty damn well off can't come up with $2k. when you're making that much money it has almost everything to do with your decisions and these days those decisions are so easy to farm out. the amount of good personal finance advice out there is ridiculous. there are sites and communities dedicated to eating cheap and healthy, to establishing emergency funds, to living frugally, to bettering your credit, etc. all of which would allow you to manage a problem on the order of 2% of your yearly income. all that said, i guarantee that there are people who will see that 25% number and feel sorry for those poor people making six figures who must live in expensive cities or have such awful lives that they can't even afford to fix their transmission. at some point, we have to start holding people accountable for their decisions. right?