Archive for May 2015

Mister Ben Condescending

Ben Carson recently said he wants to get rid of the income tax, and replace it with a flat tax. He did not use the term, but that is what he was talking about.

He said that poor people can pay the same percentage as rich people, and then he said it is “very condescending” to say otherwise.

Do not tell me what is condescending, Mr. Carson. I will tell you what is condescending. At the top of the list is: Mister Ben Carson.

Followed by just about every other Republican.

First off, you trot out the flat tax. And then you tell us it’s just one of your new, fresh, common sense ideas. And that your policies will not favor the wealthy, but instead will be better for everyone. And you think that people will not notice that your new ideas are really the same old ideas, and that you are just another fool carrying water for people who want to bring back feudalism.

Conservative politicians have proposed the flat tax. Many times. They tell us their experts have told them that all we have to do is close the loopholes, and we can make it 10 to 15%, and we can bring in just as much revenue as we do today. And every time, just about every economist who is not advising the latest doofus to push the flat tax tells us that none of it is true. All the other economists say that in order to maintain revenue, the flat tax would have to be closer to 30%, and that low income people would wind up paying a LOT more under a flat tax. And the wealthy would pay a lot less.

And then what happens is the politician pushing the flat tax will exempt people below a minimum income from paying. Which is a concession that the flat tax was regressive even though they said it was not. And makes it less flat and less simple. This happens just about every single time. I think we should pass a law that suggesting a flat tax disqualifies you from elected office.

And a note to Mike Huckabee: You can call the flat tax a “fair tax”, but it is basically the same thing.

What is also condescending, Mister Carson, is you go on about self-reliance and we should get rid of programs that help poor people, when you yourself have admitted that you got government help growing up and would not be where you are today without it. But now that you are successful, you want to pull the ladder up after you and lecture everybody else. Like Paul Ryan and Social Security. Or Marco Rubio with Medicare and student loans. It’s always Republicans who do this. And they seem to think we would not notice. Or that we should change the rules for them. And yet it’s everybody else who is “condescending.”

It seems Mister Carson thinks he is better than all the poor people in this country. That HE can make use of a handout and that they are all too stupid. Yet somehow it’s everybody else who is “condescending.”

One thing I found strange about Mister Carson talking about the flat tax is that he said low income people would pay less under his scheme. Yet Mitt Romney told us that a lot of people pay no taxes at all. So I am not clear how low income people will pay less under a flat tax than they do now.

I don’t think the GOP really wants to change the tax code. They need the IRS to kick around. Granted, if they hate how the IRS operates, they could pass changes to the tax code, since they have the House. During part of Bush 43’s time in office, they had both houses of Congress, yet there was no simplification of the tax code. I think it is because if we had a flat tax, they can’t promise goodies to people.

Plus, how would a flat tax work in reality? I think the government has the power to levy income tax because of the 16th Amendment. If you wanted to get rid of income taxes, wouldn’t you have to overturn the 16th Amendment? What would stop a future president and Congress from going back to an income tax?

Ben Carson So Glad His Welfare Mom Wasn’t Dependent On Government

Image from Democratic Underground, assumed allowed under Fair Use.

I Am Now TBTF Bank-Free

I have gotten rid of all of my accounts with JP Morgan Chase. I am not TBTF Bank-free.

There were some issues with the second credit card. I thought about getting one through my IRA broker or the U of I Alumni Association, but they are both through a company owned by Bank Of America. It looks like a lot of affiliate cards are handled by Bank Of America.

Then when I got the card, there seemed to be no way on their website to make a payment. I made a small payment through my bank. It took about a week, which I really did not like.

Then I went back to the credit union site, and it turns out the credit card is run by a company EZCardInfo. I have not been able to figure out who owns them. They seem to do third-party credit card processing for a lot of credit unions. When I searched for excardinfo on Google, I got a lot of hits to the sites for different credit unions. I had to set up an additional user name and password with this site, I had to pick a security image, and go through four security questions. It’s nice that they take security seriously, but it would have been great if I had an idea of how many steps were in the process as I was going through it.

So after I made a few payments, I called Chase and shut down both of my remaining Chase accounts.

I do not know if I will stay in Texas for the rest of my life. If I do not, having banks in Texas may be more hassle than it is worth. But a lot of people say they are tired of the big banks kicking them around, yet the market share of the big banks actually increased. Maybe a lot of other people have tried this experiment and failed, or maybe a lot of people do not strive for consistency in their lives.

That said, I might still invest in Wells Fargo. I know they have kicked some people around, but I have accepted it might be necessary to have a bit of amorality when investing.

Image from Wikipedia, assumed allowed under Fair Use.

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Thoughts On Embracing Failure

I think I realized part of the reason I don’t get too much stuff done during the weekends. I think I am afraid of failure.

I try to learn new software skills on my free time (because I frankly hate my job). Everybody says practice makes perfect. But when I get a lot of stack traces and error messages it is hard to believe that I am making progress.

Especially when I realize I am making a mistake that I should not have made. Today I tried to use a closure to iterate through a map in Groovy, but instead of typing “mymap.each” before the closure, I typed “mymap”, and for several minutes I could not figure out why it was not working.

I know we should all be open to learning, but my employer does not pay me to learn. They pay me to get stuff done, and frankly that frequently takes me longer than it should.

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2015-04 Dividend Income Report

Here is the dividend income report for April, 2015.

The monthly dividend income came out to $261.30. The yearly income total for 2015 through the end of the month was $1441.12.

The income for April, 2014 was $196.43, and the yearly income for 2014 through the end of April was $1130.58.

There is not really a whole lot to report. I have not been able to devote as much time to my stocks as I would like. My plan was to listen to conference calls more. I am looking at buying shares in water utilities. I am also thinking about putting some of my savings into a taxable account, and either buying more stocks or perhaps some ETFs. I did buy some ADM in early April. My goal at the beginning of the year was to buy something once a month. So far I have only made three purchases in four months. Hopefully the adage “Sell in May and go away” will hold true this year, and some stocks will be selling for lower prices.

I notice that PE ratios are still going upward. Perhaps there is some difference in the economy that I cannot articulate that is pushing the media PE ratios up for some valid reason, and the rising ratios is not a sign of some sort of bubble or excess. I know the gold bugs, inflationistas and austerians say rising stock prices is a sign that the economy is a sham and it will all collapse any day now. They have been saying this for at least five years. Some have said it their whole lives, regardless of what is going on. I have been saying for a year now that I hope/think that PE ratios will stop climbing, but that does not seem to be happening. I might just start buying and hope for the best. I plan on holding everything I buy for a few decades, if not the rest of my life, so while I don’t like the idea of paying more than necessary, it is not quite the disaster it would be for someone who relies solely on price.

Here is a table with the year-to-date amounts, the monthly amounts, and the three- and twelve-month moving averages for each April from 2011 through 2015:

Month YTD Amount 3MMA 12MMA
April 2015 1441.12 261.30 409.21 395.68
April 2014 1130.58 196.43 323.64 303.18
April 2013 898.59 179.23 262.82 289.40
April 2012 1010.82 218.56 274.05 271.21
April 2011 848.29 203.10 216.30 179.46

Here are the stocks and the income amounts for April, 2015:

  • Automatic Data Processing: $28.60
  • Chubb Corp: $58.13
  • Coca-Cola Co: $36.48
  • MDU Resources Group Inc.: $10.29
  • Kimberly-Clark: $49.76
  • Illinois Tool Works: $26.28
  • Piedmont Natural Gas Inc: $20.10
  • Sysco Corp: $17.00
  • RPM International Inc.: $14.66

Image from Wikimedia,  assumed allowed under Fair Use.

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