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August 3rd, 2009 — , , ,
If you do not know by now, the in funding since it burned through $1 billion in less than a week. Legislators are touting this program as the most successful program of the stimulus package and that is rather scary because how much waste it actually produces.
This program . A good illustration of . The sad thing about it is that the cars being traded in have to be in working condition, and none of their parts can be reused or resold. So the result is that hundreds of thousands of perfectly good used cars are taken off the market completely to be turned into garbage. The gas mileage requirement for the new cars are also quite low. In some cases consumers only have to find a car that gets 1 or 2 miles per gallon to get the voucher so I am not quite sure how big of an environment benefit this would be considering that it costs quite a bit of energy to scrap the old cars and produce new cars. It may be much less wasteful if the old cars that got just 1 mile less per gallon were allowed to survive a bit longer.
If this is indeed the most successful part of the stimulus package then perhaps the legislators should apply the same principles of Cash for Clunkers to the housing problem. In order to promote new home sales, perhaps home buyers should be given a credit for “trading in” their existing homes with home builders. The old home will have to be owned for at least a year, and in habitable condition and cannot be more than 15 years old. The new homes have to be green and use appliances that cut down on energy use by 5%. The government will then give a voucher for $100,000 for the old home, and then the old home has to be burned down to the ground and none of its parts can be reused. Lets just throw $75 billion (this is the price of the ) at this hypothetical program and sell 750,000 new homes and decrease the supply of used houses by 750,000! Sure, some neighborhoods will get uglier due to the piles of ashes, but I am sure that will stimulate new construction and create jobs!
I know that burning down homes to stimulate new home sales sounds ridiculous, but the fictional housing program I outlined above directly parallels Cash for Clunkers. If it is implemented it would probably be deemed a “success” as hundreds of thousands of people with homes worth less than $100,000 start razing their properties and buy new homes. The government is essentially encouraging people to destroy something perfectly usable to buy something new. Also I am sure many of these new car purchases came with new loans so once again we have government policy that encourages people to spend and get into debt. Cash for Clunkers certainly is stimulative for the auto industry, but it is definitely not stimulative for the environment or prudent tax payers.
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May 20th, 2009 — , , , , ,
The Golden States is not so glittery right now. It seems that the special election yesterday went just as I expected, the propositions to extend taxes, borrow from the lottery, and divert funds were all rejected. The only thing that passed was 1F, which restricts raises on state legislators, and this would not save much money at all. So now what? Many are saying that California will need a federal bailout since the state is facing a $21 billion deficit. Here are some of my thoughts on the issue.
My feelings on a federal bailout is somewhat mixed. First of all, I feel that Californians deserve some payback from the federal government because for years we have been paying more taxes than what we get back. As I have written before, the Tax Foundation estimates This has been going on for many years, and California’s GDP is by far the largest in the Union, so perhaps California deserves to be bailed out due to its contributions to this nation.
Of course, if the bailout happens due to the reason I cited above, then other states like New York, Massachusetts, and New Jersey may just line up for a bailout as well since they have also been getting a lot less federal money back than what they put in. All the other states would of course be quite furious. The bailout may also make California more dependent on the federal government, and that
is never a good thing.
One big reason why I would be against such a bailout is that California’s main problem comes down to the simple fact that the entire system is living beyond its means and throwing more money at it is not the solution. The legislators do not seem to know how to budget for the future. It seems that the budgets are based on an assumption that things are always going up, and as a result programs are established in the boom years and never cut in the lean years. Californian voters also hate to cut any services they already have and also hate taxes so the balance between income and spending becomes out of whack.
Someone at the top has to look at the state programs right now line by line and
cut anything that looks redundant and useless. The state’s credit ratings are not exactly stellar so the only choice is to cut things as soon as possible. I actually support Governor Schwartzenegger’s effort to cut services and state employees right now because there is really no other choice. In lean times like these individual families live without luxuries such as eating out or even birthday presents, and the state needs to do the same.
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May 18th, 2009 — , , ,
I know, I’m a bit late in posting this, but the is officially out. Wise Bread is running a contest for everyone who. You could win a Flip camera! I actually have one of that was given to me by my company, and it is pretty neat. When I first got it I taped my husband play an real time strategy game and caught the most hilarious expression on his face as he lost horribly.
Currently the book is doing pretty well in some categories on Amazon. It is currently #2 in Personal Finance and #1 in Money Management and Budgeting. The Wise Bread admins are doing a really good job in promoting it. I have been too busy lately so I haven’t done much in terms of blog related things.
Anyway, I was going to write a really long post about the special election coming up tomorrow morning in California, but I didn’t have time. If you want to read about it . I am hoping that all the voting citizens realize that a pretty much all the measures on the ballot are tax hikes in disguise. I am not a citizen, so I can’t vote, but as a taxpayer I think I have the right to say that they really just need to figure out how to cut a bunch of useless things and learn to budget better. Most of my friends who are voting are voting yes on 1F, which limits pay hikes on legislators, and no on everything else. That probably will be the end result of this election.
Have a great week everyone!
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April 23rd, 2009 — , , ,
I admit it. I watch a lot of TV, and this year I have had the unpleasant experience of turning on the tube to find President Obama when I expected some funny or smart show to come on. This has happened repeatedly in the last few months and it is scheduled to happen again on 4/29.
Because of Obama I had to watch Valentine’s Day episodes of popular comedies in the middle of March. I am sorry but it just feels out of context to see a bunch of hearts on St. Patrick’s Day and every show was just a little less funny. Next, I now no longer know which day some shows are on because several networks changed airing dates to accommodate Obama. Some shows are also trying to catch up by showing multiple episodes in the same week and that is just plain confusing.
I have no problem with President Obama being on TV. After all, he has important things to say, but is it really necessary to preempt prime time television every few weeks on every single network channel? What is wrong with a 6pm news conference when news is usually shown on TV? It is possible to communicate to the public on cable news, the internet, or radio so I think all of these prime time conferences are done at least in part due to Obama’s enormous ego.
So what does this rant have to do with finance or business? Well, the TV networks are definitely . These two upcoming weeks are especially important because it is what’s known as May sweeps. This means that many shows are having their season finales so advertising is generally more expensive. Also, the sweeps ratings are important to every show since they are used to determine advertising rates for the next season. These prime time interruptions are really hurting the major networks and the shows they are airing. It also hurts the local network affiliates in every city and town in America who receive ad revenue from the shows they air. Most of all, the revenue loss will hurt the workers at these broadcasters and shows. If a company is forced to lose millions of dollars every few weeks they are bound to cut some personnel. Also, many of the new shows that are trying to establish themselves are hurt by the constantly shuffling scheduling, and every cancellation of a show is equivalent to the cancellation of hundreds of jobs. So believe it or not, Obama’s decision to schedule his news conferences during prime time instead of say 4pm or 6pm is truly hurting people. I think one of these networks should just stand up to the White House and say no and I am sure that network will get more viewers than the rest because they would be showing something different.
By now I can already predict what Obama is going to say on the news conference because he generally says the same thing over and over. First, he will say something to the effect that we are in a difficult economic crisis and everyone needs to work together. Then he will say that he has cut taxes for 95% of Americans and he is cracking down on the greedy bankers. Finally he will end up with the cliche that there is hope for America. Basically, Obama is continuing his campaign and since he is president now he has the power to get primo prime time coverage for free!
I am about these prime time TV interruptions. It may seem silly that I care about TV so much, but it is my leisure time that Obama is sacrificing for his own ego. After working 8 to 10 hour days, I think millions of Americans deserve to be shown something that makes them happy for 20 minutes to an hour. Millions of people want to escape from the reality of this horrible economy and real life just for a little while, and Obama is taking that away when he can choose not to. So I don’t think it’s stupid to say that if your President really cared about your well being he or she would leave your favorite shows alone. News conferences belong on news channels, and not during Chuck or Bones.
Here is an idea, if Obama seriously wants to be on TV on prime time so often then he should just get his own reality show. I am sure that will have great ratings and actually add to the coffers of the network that snags it. At least that would stimulate the economy instead of taking money away from broadcasters.
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September 11th, 2008 — , , ,
As a tax paying permanent resident of the United States with no right to vote, I am watching this election with a lot of disgust and a little bit of amusement. I think this election is really turning into a giant soap opera and I’m not sure how it will turn out, but the prevailing themes have been racism, sexism, and elitism. These are my opinions on what I have seen so far. Feel free to stop reading if you are not interested in my political commentary.
Now on the issue of racism, I’m pretty sick of hearing the rhetoric that if you don’t like Obama you are a racist. I was also pretty sickened by the fact that Obama and the democrats attempted to draw parallels between Obama and Martin Luther King Jr. and the Civil Rights Movement. Historically, the Democratic party was the party of the slave owners and the Republican party was formed in opposition to the Kansas-Nebraska Act which would have expanded slavery into Kansas and expanded the power of the slave owners. Eventually, Abraham Lincoln became the first Republican president and the slaves were freed. During the Civil Rights Movement, the democrats were mostly against the desegregation and civil rights laws. It was Republicans who pushed through the The Civil Rights Act of 1964, a key piece of legislation that outlawed segregation and also created equal employment opportunities for women. One of the Democrats who voted against the Act is Senator Robert Byrd of West Virgina and he is still in office at the age of 91. He is a former member of the Ku Klux Klan and said the following in a letter, “I shall never fight in the armed forces with a Negro by my side… Rather I should die a thousand times, and see Old Glory trampled in the dirt never to rise again, than to see this beloved land of ours become degraded by race mongrels, a throwback to the blackest specimen from the wilds.” He now says that he made a mistake by joining the Ku Klux Klan and endorses Barack Obama. He may be reformed, but it doesn’t change the fact that he supported racism for decades and the democrats have pursued racist agendas for hundreds of years. In a way, I feel that the Democrats are simply using Obama as a tool in the current moment. They are attempting to shed their racist past by using Obama as a symbol of change and I think it definitely worked. Apparently many people now believe that Republicans are the intolerant and racist party because they do not say nice things about Obama. I think that is pretty hypocritical because I am sure many of those old Democrats have nothing nice to say about Obama in their private letters.
The next big theme of this election is sexism. The hatred poured out against Hillary Clinton has pretty much divided the Democrats. There are allegations of caucus fraud by the Obama campaign and one female Clinton-supporting statistician has compiled There are a lot of stories of fraud and intimidation conducted by the Obama campaign. The most serious and comical group that sprang out of the Hillary bashing by the Democrats iswhich stands for Party Unity My Ass. They are really serious about supporting Hillary, and there are hundreds of groups of these democrats who believe that the proverbial “old boys club” have shunned their candidate Hillary. Now McCain has picked Sarah Palin in response to the treatment Hillary received. I think it was a brilliant move even though Sarah Palin is the polar opposite of Hillary Clinton on pretty much every issue. Is Palin being used as a gimmick? I believe so, but the response of the Republican party towards Sarah Palin has been extremely enthusiastic, and in a way they are using the sexism of the Democrats against them. So far, the more liberal media has bashed Palin for . And just today I read a ridiculous comment by South Carolina Democratic chairwoman Carol Fowler that said Palin’s “primary qualification seems to be that she hasn’t had an abortion.” The funny thing about all of this is that the more they trash Sarah Palin, the more backlash they will receive. There are so many women in America that juggle being a mom and having a career, and I think when the media and rabid Democrats make comments that insinuate Palin isn’t qualified to do her job because she is a mom of five, they are inherently insulting many working woman across the nation.
The final -ism of the election is elitism. In the last election the Republicans painted John Kerry as an elitist that lived in a giant mansion with his ketchup heiress wife, and Kerry lost. This time, it is McCain who has the heiress wife and 8 or 10 homes, but somehow Obama is still more elitist. From where I am standing, both McCain and Obama are pretty far removed from the average American. However, Obama seems more elitist because he is a well spoken and well educated black man and Rev. Jesse Jackson actually said that Obama “talks down to black people” and that he wanted to “cut his nuts off”. Obama did make including “I don’t know who taught them that reading and writing and conjugating your verbs was acting white, we’ve got to get over that mentality.” With these comments, it’s understandable that some people feel that Obama is elitist, but I think Obama is just being himself and being honest. Technically, you want to have the more educated and wise people in public office, but being humble and likable is also very important because the common man and woman do the voting. So in a way it makes sense that elitism is an undesirable trait, but I don’t think Obama or McCain should act dumb or poor just to be more likable. They are who they are, and there is nothing wrong with being well educated and wealthy as long as they govern with integrity and wisdom.
In the 16 years I have lived in America, it seems that Americans rarely vote on the important issues such as the economy and healthcare. Most of the time we have a personality contest filled with personal attacks. This election is definitely the most heated and divisive election I have seen thus far. It is also by far the most entertaining. I think whatever happens, this election will start a grand social experiment. We will either have the first African American president or the first female Vice President. As demonstrated by this election, racism and sexism are still alive and well in America and if either Palin or Obama fails miserably in their administration they could set back the group they represent. No matter what happens, I just hope things do not get worse than they already are. As the Chinese proverb says, “It’s better to be a dog in a peaceful time than be a human in a chaotic world”.