I was cleaning out My Documents today (because that’s where I live), and I found a plaintext file called book.txt from February of 2010. I have no memory of writing this, but that almost made it more fun to read. Did I think I was writing a book on finance? Me?!
If you can stomach the intense college-freshman pretension, enjoy:
Which Financial Philosophy is Best for You?
Who runs your life? Do you make your own decisions? It seems obvious, and an almost vital act of self-respect, to answer this prompt with a firm “yes.” After all, we’ve worked all our lives to grow into adults, and the decisions we’ve made have brought us to exactly where we are— Haven’t they?
Growing up, my parents were your typical Conservative Christian Americans. Church attendance was immediately beside school attendance in mandator, and Biblical quotes filled our home— from the well-used welcome mat, to the sliding glass pane leading to our Conservative Christian American suburban pool deck. God had granted us that pool for our piousness, as well as the dozens of inspirational Made-in-China wall hangings, the new hardwood floor in the dining room, and my father’s well-paying job for the state. Everything about our home was Conservative Christian American, and it was that fact which made my parents proud enough to smile through the credit card bills, the mortgage payments, and the immense debt— also a testament to the typicality of our Conservative Christian Americanism. With my first allowance payment at age five, I was presented with a neatly written chart on the front of a crisp white envelope. It explained, in my mother’s handwriting, that one dollar of every payment would go to my very own tithing fund. I soon learned that I didn’t have to worry about staying in the clear with God for as long as my parents managed my affairs.
My brothers and I were all explicitly different in our financial theories. During each Sunday afternoon’s family mall trip, I would watch as my older brother wielded his white envelope, slowly counting his bills after laying copious amounts of strange liquid candy tubes and gum wheels onto the checkout counter in every toy store. My parents had decided to give us a modest bi-weekly allowance to spend absolutely however we wished, in order to learn how quickly money comes and goes before we were old enough to learn the hard way. We each earned our age, minus one dollar (for tithing), every two weeks. However, with this rule came the accompanying rule of optional sharing. Whatever we chose to buy was our own, and if we decided to share, God would smile upon us (in theory). But if not, that’s okay, too. This led to many public and vocal big-brother begging sessions over his candy bottles and almost blindingly colorful cheap plastic spirals of childhood enchantment. Each time, my pleas were met with a cold “Get your own.” The hard feelings from those arguments quickly dissolved after that brother began to wear two sets of dentures at the age of 20, when I was 16. I could not have hand-picked more appropriate revenge, so I assumed this was an act of God brought by my parents’ donations on my behalf.
Though I sometimes did consider taking my brother’s advice and “getting my own,” I had the gift of severe Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, and therefore consistently forgot to bring my envelope along to any mall trip. Sometimes I would consider requesting a short-term loan from my parents, but the effort seemed too great. I was content knowing that my money was safe in my kitchen, in the Corel Ware cabinet between the wall and the dinner plates. Even at five or six, I would climb onto the counter just to fetch my envelope and admire the most recent pen marks, each time seeing a greater number under the one above it. The pride I felt over my saved allowance was both unreasonable and unmatched, and that pride was enough reason to continue my accrual of hand-written numbers which grew seemingly by themselves. From my brother’s example, it seemed that regardless of whether my room was clean, the dog was fed, or my homework was done, that number would never stop growing. I did all of those things anyway though, just in case I was wrong. I was on top of the world the day I realized that I had saved over one hundred dollars. I can distinctly remember kneeling eagerly on my bed, emptying the envelope and sorting the bills, adding in the coins from my dresser. I was rich. Legitimately rich. I didn’t know anyone who had this much money. Sure, on the bus to my private Conservative Christian American school, there was the occasional braggart discussing his $300 bank account, but he was lying. That was obvious. No one had ever had this much money at such a young age, and of that I was certain. My hard work had effectively made me the richest seven year old on earth. Or at least the richest seven year old I knew. But what became of my spending habits after childhood? We’ll discuss that later.
My younger brother, four years my junior, was only three when I became wealthy. He hadn’t yet begun to receive an allowance, and I could tell that he didn’t quite understand the implications of having an older sister with such momentum in the junior financial world. When he was old enough to be paid, he never spoke about it. I’m not even sure that he was aware of his envelope, and the fact that it grew larger and fatter every two weeks, all by itself. The household rule was that allowance would stop when we got our first job. A modest clothing allowance would remain, but “entertainment money” would no longer be provided. My envelope stopped growing at fifteen. My older brother’s, at sixteen. But by then, both of our envelopes were empty anyway. As we became teenagers, our younger brother was left behind in his tweens, living as an only child whenever we weren’t home, which was often. By the age of eight, he, too, had saved over $100, but also had the motivation and audacity to request a $200 loan from my parents for a new drum set. They approved. As his age (minus one) grew, so did his allowance payments, and his debt was paid in a few short years, with some savings to spare. We sometimes worried about my younger brother. At thirteen, he had almost saved half the money he needed to buy a laptop. This meant that he hadn’t spent anything for years. No money spent on movies with friends, no money spent on clothes which exceeded our minimal clothing allowance, no money spent on candy tubes or useless toys. Approaching high school, it seemed as if he was socially doomed. But he didn’t seem worried.
When I was eighteen, after graduating high school, I used the little money I had managed to save from working at various fast food establishments throughout my high school years, along with a few hundred dollars in college bonds from my uncle and a little padding money from my parents, to buy a very expensive laptop computer from the trendiest name brand. It was the first time I can remember where I had chosen style and luxury over bargain goods, but I decided that it was time to see how the other half lived. The same year, my younger brother purchased his first laptop, for just $300 less. He had managed to save one or two hundred, and with a generous loan from my parents, he was able to buy a laptop with a much larger screen and a much faster processor than my brand new white Macbook. Two months later, I went to Finland for year. That, too, will come later.
When I returned, my younger brother and I had the biggest fight that either of us will probably ever have. We’re both fairly calm and reasonable people, but the combination of clashing jealousy, disrespect, and hypocrisy, finally reached a boiling point. We never touched each other, but if it had come to that, one of us would have certainly been hospitalized. Instead, we screamed the nastiest things we could think of as loud as we possibly could for minutes straight, with tensions building every second. He wanted me to hit him so he could hit me back, but he had grown while I was away, and was more than a foot taller. I was scared. I smiled. Then I laughed. I laughed at the things he was yelling because they were, in fact, silly. But I also laughed to spite him, and he knew that. Finally, when he reached the point where he couldn’t think of anything else to say, he picked up his most prized snare drum and its stand, and held it over his head, about to throw it onto my own. But just in time, he caught himself, threw it on the ground, and ran into his room. We heard a series of loud crashes, but left him alone. He didn’t come out until the next day, when he admitted that the moment he had entered his room, he took his laptop and threw it at the wall over and over, until it was destroyed beyond recognition. A few weeks later, my parents loaned him money for a Macbook, four models newer than my own. My parents are very lenient lenders.
Despite our common roots and identical childhood environments, regulations, and rearing methods, the Carey kids grew into three very different individuals, with one not quite into adulthood. As of today, I live in an apartment near campus which is paid for by my parents, receive a weekly grocery stipend from my parents, and pay for my education with loans. I need nothing, and currently, earn nothing. Unless you count an education, which may be potential money, but even that is debatable. My in-dentured brother has commandeered my bedroom at my parents’ house while he struggles to attend a local community college and work at a discount grocery store, and the younger brother is doing very well in school, while becoming perhaps even more popular amongst his peers than his predecessor siblings. No one who knew us as children could have guessed how different we would become. We were each heavily involved in church events, and none of us were allowed to celebrate Halloween, even once. We watched the same TV shows together, and even played the same computer games. We were each taught at home by my mother for at least one year, though at different times, and we each recited our nightly prayer as she made her rounds to each of our rooms before bed. For the record, though, the nightly prayer was never meant to be recited. Our family was very against the Catholic-esque practice of praying from your head instead of your heart. But it just so happened that my mother lacked in nightly prayer originality, and we all happen to have very good memories. We soon made an exception to our rule and played a fill-in-the-blanks game each night.
The financial philosophy practiced by my parents is one of faith-driven gratefulness, accompanied by a good amount of chaos. Though my father makes just over a six figure income, the generosity and leniency that they show toward everyone is most easily to blame for the massive amounts of debt they’ve accrued. Each time the church asks for 10%, they give 12%, just to be sure there’s enough to help. When I ask for a $5 deposit into my bank account for bus money or lunch, they give me a $20 deposit and an abbreviated lecture concerning the next time they will give me money for no reason. It is always sooner than they say. Our household is classically patriarchal, as my father serves as the head breadwinner, and my mother therefore refuses to discuss finances without first directing you to the money maker. Although she was very recently hired for a full-time job, I do not expect this tradition to change. Whatever she makes, she adds to the pot, and every monthly bill night, my father has always had to dig so deeply into the pot that he was forced to scrape the bottom almost every time. “We are rich, but we are cash-poor,” is what my mother would always say. And it was true. We had a beautiful home, two cars, and a television in every room that was always on. My father cooked delicious meals almost every night before working for hours on his small eBay business, and my mother drove us everywhere and took every measure possible to ensure that we were not just content, but happy.
It’s hard to be a beneficiary of the most generous people you know, and have to constantly question if you’re asking for too much. I’ve wanted braces since I was a kid. My parents are bargain-hunters, and offered to take me to an orthodontist whom I very much didn’t trust. I had two different consultations with him, and each time, told my parents “No, thank you.” My younger brother currently has braces by Mr. Creepy, but his diagnosis was much less scary than my own. After doing a lot of research on Invisalign, the invisible plastic braces that cost roughly $3000 more than regular braces, I asked my mother if, when she got her full-time job, I could get them. I fully expected her typical “save your money” response to my asinine requests, but instead, she said maybe. Then she said “look into it.” Then she said that she might get them too. I will never understand how a person can be so cash-poor and cash-generous at the same time. And I don’t think my brothers will ever understand it either. Although my parents raised us, and they are happy with their life, we may never be like them.
My older brother’s financial philosophy is a lot more common than you may think. Or perhaps you know already. It consists of little to no planning, a lot of cigarettes and alcohol to practice the freedoms of adulthood, and a low-paying job so you can have just enough for those two things, with maybe some gas money left over.
My financial theories are by no means ideal. Or perhaps my theories are, but my practices are always something different. I want to be independent, hard-working, impressive, and successful. I know what my interests are, but some may say that I have so many, I’m a bit too ambitious. I have a habit of putting a lot of my plate, and failing to accomplish even a normal amount of the work involved.
If you think about it, it’s really weird that our bosses pick health care plans for us regardless of what industry we’re in. How does a company that has to allocate resources to sorting through medical coverage options for the strangers it employs not lose some operational efficiency from such a weirdly unrelated but expected task?
Sorry for that sentence. Basically, aren’t we cutting into every employer’s ability to contribute to the economy by expecting this extra thing? How did this even get started?
During World War II, a lot of working-aged American men were shipped overseas, and there was actually an employee shortage in the United States. Because the federal government had enacted wage and price controls during the war, employers needed another way to attract workers, and fringe benefits like healthcare didn’t technically violate those controls.
So that’s why it started, and for a hundred years, that’s just the way it’s been. No amount of market fluctuation or unemployment has effectively reversed the trend, even when employers have been forced to strategically cut workers’ hours to avoid the added expense and responsibility.
If you think that’s a lame excuse to save a buck, consider the already staggering amount of challenges a typical business faces from misguided regulation, market crashes, and other instances of bad luck. When unemployment is high, people accept low-paying jobs, and less people have enough spending money to support other businesses. Every business loses revenue, and those who were already close to the edge simply disappear. This massive plague of small business deaths effectively removes many more jobs from existence, and without intervention, unemployment continues to rise and wages actually decrease when adjusted for inflation.
So far I haven’t mentioned the few proud multi-billion dollar corporations whose admittedly clever business practices have helped in forming our current economic situation: An economy of people who want to help small businesses, but simply can’t afford their (albeit necessary) higher prices. These corporations grow so large that they effectively monopolize their respective industries, and realistically, that can’t end well. Why? Because the power of these corporations grows as the purchasing power of the majority shrinks. And whether they like to think about it or not, that disparity can not sustain itself.
Allow me to cut to the chase: An expectation created during a time of too many jobs and not enough people makes absolutely zero sense in an economy suffering from the exact opposite problem. This employer involvement in our health coverage needs to end immediately, for the sake of our businesses and our citizens.
Whether you’re anti-corporate or anti-government, there is always a sensible option to every economic woe. My thesis is this:
The solution to our suffering market is a logic-based compromise that regulates (and deregulates!) more appropriately and realistically. That means sympathizing with businesses who are sincerely struggling under regulation that should not apply to them, and properly disciplining and regulating the Wall Street honchos whose interests are short-term selfish instead of long-term economically sound. How can we tell the difference? That’s what federal trials are for. Let’s have less of those that sentence free-information advocates and more that hold accountable those like Jamie Dimon, Brian Moynihan, and all related cohorts who have an equal deficit of respect and fear for our great American legal system.
The future of America lies in moderatism. The sooner we agree to embrace a healthy-medium approach, the sooner our relief will arrive. And by God, do we deserve it.
Obamacare’s not good or bad, it’s just weird.
Read these because they’re important and not stupid things.
The US Chamber of Commerce sounds like a part of the government but it’s actually a right-wing political group that favors less government regulation for business. They probably chose a misleading name on purpose so it makes sense to hold that against them. I just don’t want you to think that’s an actual legitimate federal thing because they’re super partisan.
If you tried to sign up for Obamacare but you’re unemployed or under the poverty line, you’re supposed to sign up through your state’s system. Get off the Obamacare website because you’re in the wrong place. A lot of people got confused and just gave up but that’s stupid because you’re supposed to get it for free. If your state still doesn’t cover you, hound them because you deserve medicine on account of you being alive and not wanting to die. Even Jesus wants you to have it. The rest of the world gets it. No shame.
ObamaCare is a law. So even if you hate it, it’s illegal for Congress not to fund a law they’ve already passed. Usually if we don’t like a law we can do lots of things to change it or improve it through Congress. But Congress still has to fund things that are laws. No matter what. Sorry but yeah, Constitution says.
An incumbent is someone who is re-elected to the same position they held before, and the Congressional incumbency rate is 90.5 percent. House representatives average 10 years and Senators average 12 years, but some Congressmen hold the same position for more than 50 years. They also think that makes them cool and they’re really proud of it.
There are no term limits for Congressional representatives, so the only way to clean out the House is to vote for new people every election. We should also elect people that support Congressional term limits. They exist. Especially now. Trust me.
The next Congressional election is Nov. 4, 2014. Don’t bother marking it on your calendar, because I’m going to pound it into your head either way. We all have to vote for different Congressional representatives. That’s US Senate and US House of Representatives, not to be confused with their state counterparts. Most people hate Congress but still like their own Congressmen. That is a mistake. Stop doing that.
Fox News correspondent Ann Coulter couldn’t log into reddit this morning and it was really funny. She is a card.
Alright cool. If you wanna know more things hit me up. Thanks love u bye.
Let’s talk government shutdown. I’ll make it quick, starting with this simple timeline:
1995-2010: Citing rapidly rising healthcare costs and health insurance premiums, Washington debates what to do to fix the nation’s growing problem.
March 2010: The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (aka ObamaCare) is signed into law by the president after passing both the House and the Senate.
2011: Republican and Tea Party representatives take control of the House of Representatives, and begin their efforts to pass legislation repealing ObamaCare. The Democrat-controlled Senate consistently rejects each repeal attempt, with the president also stating he would veto any such attempt.
June 2012: The Supreme Court hears the case “National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius,” which challenges the constitutionality of ObamaCare’s health insurance mandate. The court upholds the mandate is Constitutional by a vote of 5 to 4, stating the mandate and subsequent fine legally fall under Congress’ taxing powers.
July 2012: The House attempts to repeal ObamaCare for the 31st time, with most members admitting that although their attempts are in vain and mostly symbolic, they must do the job the people sent them to do and continue these attempts.
September 12, 2013: The House makes its 42nd attempt to repeal ObamaCare, spending hours in session discussing why their constant symbolic attempts are important in showing the public that their representatives are refusing to give up the fight. As expected, the Senate rejects the attempt. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid openly states that such attempts are nothing more than a waste of valuable legislative time, and implores the House to focus on matters that have a chance.
September 29, 2013: Congress has one day left to pass a federal budget that pays for the things Congress has already approved. (Passing a fiscal budget is Congress’ constitutional responsibility, and is not something that has ever involved the president.) The House attempts to pass an amendment delaying the mandate’s start date from October 1, 2013 to October 1, 2014, just days before it’s set to begin. The amendment dies in the Senate, and the House responds by rejecting the budget.
A group of mostly Tea Party Republicans begins telling news outlets that if a government shutdown is the only way to show the Senate and the president how serious they are, they would welcome the opportunity to showcase the hard-headedness of their political opponents. Here are some quotes:
"We’re very excited. It’s exactly what we wanted, and we got it." —Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN)
“We’re not going to be disrespected,” conservative Rep. Marlin Stutzman, R-Ind., [told the Washington Examiner]. “We have to get something out of this. And I don’t know what that even is.”
October 2013: Following the failure of the budget to pass both houses, the government “shuts down.” 800,000 federal employees are temporarily laid off without pay, and all national parks, monuments, and zoos are closed for the duration of the shutdown.
Senate Democrats attempt to pass a “continuing resolution,” or CR, which is a common form of temporary budget meant to fund the government while the yearly budget is still being debated. Almost all Democrats in both houses agree to approve a CR to end the shutdown, and enough Republicans in the House also agree. The same small group of Tea Party House Republicans uses tactics like filibusters to delay the vote, essentially extending the shutdown until concessions are made in their favor.
The most notable members of the Tea Party caucus use the shutdown as an opportunity to reveal the president’s stubborn position. Rep. Michele Bachmann holds a press conference next to a frail and elderly WWII veteran, calling the president responsible for the closing of such monuments as the famous WWII memorial in DC. These displays become the Tea Party’s choice tool to divert the blame for the shutdown to the president, whose position does not include the Congressional responsibility of passing a federal budget. Despite the president’s consistent reminders of this, House Speaker John Boehner continues claiming that the shutdown was caused by the president refusing to return to Congress and convince Senate Democrats to include more Tea Party concessions in their budget proposal. The idea that this shutdown somehow involves the president gains wide popularity, with roughly half of all Americans blaming Obama for the shutdown.
We don’t get to read a lot of facts when we see stories about the government shutdown. I hope that this post has cleared at least some of the confusion. I’m happy to answer any questions— I’m just tired of the permeating lies that do nothing but separate us more as a partisan nation always in gridlock.
Abraham Lincoln once said that a house divided against itself cannot stand. Aesop’s fable tells us that united we stand, and divided we fall. Both got it right. No more fighting, okay? We need each other.
I made some lists.
Obamacare is offering huge perks to those states who agree to cover their poor, and these are the 15 states who will not be expanding their Medicare programs to cover those under the poverty line as a protest against Obamacare:
And these are the states that say they will probably join them very soon:
So if you’re poor in these states, the reason you’re going to have to go without health care is because your state’s politicians find it more important to protest at your expense than get on board with a policy they don’t personally support. Aside from this being super grown-up of them, they won’t feel your pain unless you speak up. And you should.
"Congress passed Obamacare, the president signed it, the Supreme Court upheld it, Obama campaigned on it a second time and was reelected. So in what manner was the will of the people disregarded?"
who wants to join my new tumblr
New Miley vid about doing Oxys while being a fan of Michael Jordan.
I love Capitalism. Don’t stop reading yet. I love when capitalism works. I hate when it doesn’t, and I especially hate how often it’s allowed to not work.
In a Capitalist society, everyone who works hard has a little extra money to invest in a publicly-traded company they like. Not just the wealthy, but anyone who works hard. Everyone puts their money on the companies they believe in, some succeed, and some fail. The prize is in the dividend checks the companies send you for buying their stock, and they’re taxed at almost half the rate of your normal income. This is to encourage average citizens to try their hand at propelling other businesses that ought to do alright. It keeps the economy moving, keeps new businesses forming all the time, and enables competition as smaller companies join the ranks of their larger competitors. This all ends in lower costs for the consumer on whatever the business sells, and higher earnings for those citizens wise enough, or lucky enough, to invest in the right stocks.
There are lots of examples I could list of capitalism not working the way it should, but I’d like to focus on a blight I’ve seen too often to rest easy—especially lately.
When a business begins to see profits drop, either from low sales or administrative mistakes, that struggle is passed onto the company’s shareholders. It’s not ideal, but it’s the most effective way to keep the market fair and balanced. Companies doing well share their profits, and unfortunately, those who struggle simply must pay smaller dividends that reflect their actual losses.
SoCal Edison is the company that provides power to pretty much all of the Southern California grid, which is huge. Recently, Edison had to shut down their San Onofre nuclear power plant due to malfunctions caused by defective equipment. This closure will cost Edison hundreds of millions of dollars.
Edison plans to add this cost in the form of a fee on the bill of all 4.9 million of its customers until it’s paid for. Why is the cost on us? Because Edison doesn’t want to upset its shareholders or their dividend checks. Admitting you made a mistake is scary. Why not have your customers, who rely on your utility services as the only ones in town, foot the bill instead? It’s not like we can switch to some other power grid. There is none.
This has become a commonplace trend for corporations willing to go to extreme measures to protect the investor. Except these days, you actually do have to be fairly wealthy to invest, since stagnant wages have caused most of us to abandon the concept of “extra income.” There just isn’t any extra.
So if most investors are somewhat wealthy, and most ratepayers are somewhat underpaid (especially when adjusted for inflation), why are companies allowed to force their ratepayers to fund their mistakes?
I can’t tell you why they’re still allowed to do this, but I can suggest that not having a law that prevents this behavior is putting a critical damper on the capitalism that made our nation the economic superpower it was not too long ago. There are lots of holes we need to mend to restore our American glory, and this ought to be one of the first.
Economic disparity, an embarrassing figure that’s only growing wider, is especially exaggerated when corporate executives are allowed to choose to protect their wealthy investors instead of their ratepayers who are trapped in a utilities monopoly.
I leave you with two presidential quotes about utilities this story brought to mind:
"Through lack of vigilance in state capitals and in the national government, we have allowed many utility companies to get around the common law, to capitalize themselves without regard to actual investment made in property, to pyramid capital through holding companies and without restraint of law, to sell billions of dollars of securities which the public have been falsely led into believing were properly supervised by the government itself."
Franklin D. Roosevelt, Looking Forward (1933-1945)
"If the government has not the capacity, through regulation, to accomplish the easier task of an umpire, surely it can not direct or run the system itself. Men chosen by election for oratorical triumphs or selected by bureaucracy will on average be no more honest, far less competent, and much more oppressive to Liberty than merchants, bankers, and industrialists operating under the law."
Herbert Hoover, The Challenge to Liberty (1929-1933)
It’s amazing that we figured this out less than 100 years ago, and we’ve already forgotten the lesson.