one stat i'd like to see is a measure of mobility. how many people actually cross the line between rich and poor? clearly, there are gonna be a lot more poor people than rich people. but society would be a lot happier if more people got a turn being rich. instead of rich people staying rich. and poor people staying poor. hopelessly. leads to revolution. fortunately revolutions in a democracy are generally of the political kind. the top tax bracket during fdr's day was 90%. think about it.
the money game
we like to think we live in a land of equal opportunity. but we don't. i can buy a $1 million house this year, fix it up, and sell it next year for $2 million. 20 years ago i was the same talented, hard working, frugal person i am today. but i was poor. i'd be lucky if my materially participated investments made 10%. the playing field clearly isn't fair. fortunately, there's a way to even things up a bit: graduated taxes. ie poor folks pay a low tax rate. rich folks pay a high tax rate. unfortunately, the current tax laws are a piss poor approximation of a graduated system. it's only just close enough that it let's us rich folks hoodwink the poor folks into thinking it is what it's not.
labor & talent
in a working free market you should be able to maintain your wealth with any one of the following: talent, hard work, or frugality. your wealth should evaporate if you have none of them. and increase if you have any two. and skyrocket if you have all three. i claim that under our current tax system a rich, lazy, no-talent, spend-thrift stays rich. whereas in a fair and just world they'd go broke. i'm sure i could prove that with examples out the wazoo. if i had the talent. or i wasn't so lazy. ;->
rich poor gap
folks just don't understand the rich poor gap. folks want this to be a nice simple number they point to and say GOOD! or BAD! but it's not. the classic error is to look at it in absolute terms. if last year the poor made $5 and the rich made $500 the gap was $495. if this year they make $6 and $600 the gap is $594. it went up, BAD! but wait. the ratio is the same. so the gap hasn't changed, GOOD! the next error is to not include the cost of living. $4 last year. $5 this year. these numbers should be subtracted from all incomes. there's no effect on the absolute gap. but the effect on the ratio is substantial. the gap has increased by 20%. BAD! confused? you won't be after the next episode. ;->
it's hot. it's really fucking hot. the thermometer outside has hit 115. i tried to sell the beautiful and talented alisa on the silver lining. the game pc is the biggest thrower of excess heat in the house. it's too hot to run it. so i'm not playing ddo.
you should brush your teeth every night to disrupt the bacteria that naturally occur in your mouth and prevent them from producing nasty acids that dissolve your teeth. good toothpastes, like baking soda, neutralize the acid because they're alkaline. so is semen. you should have seen me trying to convince the beautiful and talented alisa that performing felatio nightly would be good for her teeth.
a while ago a coworker captured the lip motion of a newly hired woman speaking. he made a very simple model of a flesh colored tube which he drove with the captured data. just to see how good this simple technique would work at simulating a speaking mouth. it worked. sorta. it looked for all the world like a talking vagina. i could barely remind myself i was at work and certain things were not acceptable. most of the guys ignored me. john told me i could stop now. anywho, the kicker is i sat next to her at company lunch. now, she's a very sweet and social person. we chatted. oh boy. let me just say that every conversational exchange was an exercise in self control. the #1 rule in this business is never let yourself be motion captured.
they say the universe is expanding. i say the ruler we use to measure the distances to the stars is shrinking. it's shrinking because we are falling into a gravitational well. they say the universe is expanding faster now than it was in the great distant past. i say our ruler is shrinking faster because we're falling into the well faster. everyone's seen the general relativity representations of the horn shaped wire mesh. or the thing where you roll the coins around and around and around until they fall into the black hole. imagine a large sheet of rubber attached to the edges of a table.. and you glued the center of the sheet to the floor. draw a spider web mesh on the sheet. now lift up the table. the mesh lines dive into the hole. just like stuff falling into the sun. glue two holes to the floor. i bet they merge. raise the table really high with really stretchy rubber. the holes become long string-like things. hmmm.
confession is good for the soul. i'm not catholic. so i don't confess my sins regularly. instead i vent on this blog. i like to think that i don't care if anyone reads my blogs or not. but really i do. it doesn't do any good to ask forgiveness if there's no priest in the box. so i need to believe that people read my rants. and i get you to read them by occassionally tossing out something entertaining. so thank you "father".
the dollar seems to be the world's base currency. i don't think that's quite right though. i think the barrel of oil is really the world's unit of currency. the dollar has been stable against the barrel for so long that people think it's the standard.
work is crazy. i've been up til 2am most night these past weeks running tests and writing code. we're doing a major thing at sigraph in boston. hopefully after then things will calm down a bit. i have people working for me. they're all busy too. the family is going to camp michigania in august. and i'm taking the boys to see granny after that. so that will be some "time off". heh. i am so not in shape for the giant ladder.
i can't tell you exactly what we're doing at work. cause it's secret. just that we're doing motion capture. and we use lots of uv blacklights. i know i'm old because my eyes scatter uv light and i can't see anything through this bright purple fog. the younger folks don't have this problem. sigh.
roller hockey season is going really well this season. the whole team is playing really well. i have 7 goals in 8 games. my last goal was one of my all time favorites. i dove behind the net left to right. hard enough and fast enough to make the goalie jump off the near pole to the far pole to stop the backhand wraparound. but i changed direction as soon as he flinched and tucked it away nearside. the poor goalie was left facing nothing but air. i've never done anything remotely like that before. i know it was a cool move cause the ringer on our team seemed to be genuinely impressed. and the young buck had to go score two more goals just to keep up.
the four of us went hiking around the marin headlands with ayanna and family. it was fun. in a foggy beach sort of way. we hiked up the big hill to see where the ww2 cannons used to be. then we went to sausalito for pizza. the gps plan got us lost in a residential district. dead reckoning got us to a crazy pizza cafe run by a chinese family. and parking to boot. so much for technological superiority.
my ddo archers totally need this feat
. linked video is SFW.
i have so got to get me a pair of these
i guess folks just don't believe that bush's supply side economics screws them. okay, look at it this way. the gdp's been going up by 3.5% per year. if all things were fair then your assets should appreciate by 3.5% and your income should increase by 3.5%. but they haven't. wages have only gone up by 1.7%. if you make $60,000 then the status quo steals over $1000 from you every year. if you think that's not fair then well, drop a ballot.
soak the rich
can we afford to soak the rich with my proposed income tax system? it is the rich people who invest in new companies and new technologies. will our economy come to a grinding halt because there are no more rich people to drive it? i don't think so. the money will still be out there. it will be spread out over many people instead of held by a few. what will the average joes do with their newfound wealth? they'll either spend it buying consumables (and drive the economy) or they'll invest it (and drive the economy). some of that investment money will go into things like mutual funds that pool the monies of many people together to make large investments that are controlled by a few individuals. not much changes as far as the economy is concerned.
i thought i'd elaborate on my propopsed income tax. here comes the math. i=income. d=deduction. r=instantaneous tax rate. g=tax graduation factor. the tax rate on any dollar is: r = ( i - d ) / ( i - d + g ). this satisfies the following conditions: r=0 when income equals deduction, r=1 when income is infinite, and we can tweak it without changing the basic shape with g. the total taxes you'd pay would be the sum of the taxes for all of your dollars. ie the integral of that formula. which works out to be: taxes = i - d - g log( i - d + g ) + g log g. simple, no? here are some numbers for 2003. divde the population into the 6 groups that actually paid taxes: the top 1%, the top 2-5%, the top 6-10%, the top 11-25%, the top 26-50%, and the bottom 50%. they made on average: $819k, $176k, $109k, $73k, $41k, $13k, respectively. they paid average rates of: 24%, 16%, 12%, 9%, 7%, 2%. and we fell short of balancing the budget by about 50% of income tax revenues. under my plan to balance the budget the tax rates would be: 53%, 22%, 14%, 10%, 5%, 1%. that's a tax hike for anyone who made more than about $73k. ie 1 in 6 of us. and a tax CUT for the other 228 million americans. if i don't bother to balance the budget and just distribute the taxes fairly then the rates are: 41%, 14%, 9%, 6%, 3%, 0.6%. ie substantial tax cuts for everyone who doesn't make more than $295k.
balancing the budget
does anyone do taxes by hand any more? it's all done by computer. or should be. tax calculations no longer need to be simplified to the point where they can be done on paper. great. so here's my plan for balancing the budget. let's suppose we stick with an income tax and can't do the stuff tax i proposed last blog. in order to balance the budget we need to raise enough money in tax revenues to equal the amount congress spends every year. many people have adjustable mortgage rates on their house. so why not pay an adjustable tax rate? ie the tax rate gets set based on how much we need. so how would it work? the model i'm choosing pretty much has two parameters: deduction and slope. i imagine the deduction to be fixed beforehand. like say if you make less than $10,000 you don't pay any taxes. the slope is the rate at which the tax rate graduates with income. this would asymptotically approach 100%. every year we'd adjust the slope so income matches out go. simple, no? timmer for president.
when someone calls me stupid it usually makes me think. (eventually!) this time i started thinking about how to tax folks fairly. on one hand i'd like to get rid of sales taxes. these put an undue burden on low incomes. i'd tax anything people do that's bad for society. go ahead and pollute. just pay the pollution tax. go ahead smoke, do drugs. just pay the taxes. conversely i'd impose anti-taxes for things i want people to do. like develop green energy and donate to charities. i'd also like to get rid of income taxes (both individual and corporate) because they are an approximation of the fair thing to tax: stuff. pay taxes on how much stuff you have. the incomes of rich people are way under-proportioned compared to the billions of dollars of assets they control. in this sense rich folks are way under-taxed. income taxes also create a barrer to entry. a new company could make lots of money off its innovative products if only it could afford to compete with the deep pockets of an established less profitable company. similarly, individuals could move upwards faster if they didn't pay taxes on their high incomes until they used those incomes to acquire stuff.
we took the boys car camping the other weekend. it was fun. we hiked, splashed in the creek, and ate smores. mine were sans marshmallows. no corn syrup for me. it was especially fun when a family from the boys' school set up camp two sites away from ours. the next day we hiked, splashed in the creek, and ate lunch with friends.
i seem to have failed to convey my position in my good news
post. got lost in the sarcasm i suppose. let me clarify. according to the irs our household income is in the top 1%. in my opinion, we are not paying our fair share of taxes. neither is anyone with higher incomes. those with lower incomes are paying more than their fair share. we're paying taxes at a rate lower than when i was dirt poor in colidj. seem fair? this p.t. barnum act makes me feel guilty enough to say something. so there. i've said something. my conscience is appeased. now it's your choice to continue subsidizing my kids' private school education. -p.s. i wonder... does everyone think they're not paying their fair share? if so i'll crawl back under my rock. and stop blogging politic.
atmospheric carbon dioxide levels more or less track global temperature. the recent warming trend started 10,000 years ago when people developed agriculture. forests and wild lands generally absorb co2 from the atmosphere and sequester it in dirt. agriculture generally removes carbon from the ground and eventually releases it into the air. qualitatively, that's common sense. quantitatively, we've been arguing about the exact numerical rates for decades. we can't really stop farming. 6 billion people eat a whole lot of food. the ideal solution would be a power plant whose "waste" product is fertilizer instead of co2.
so the other day my wife was feeling amorous and i had a happy thought. which led to some awkward adjustment. cause things had gotten hung up on that useless hole in the front of my underpants. why is that there anyway? does anyone actually use it after the age of 10? it's much more practical to just push the elastic down and flop over the top. i think its only purpose is to easily distinguish between boy undies and girl undies. in which case it would be better as a continuous piece of material with appropriate hole-like decoration. i should patent that idea. i'm gonna be so rich. or maybe its purpose is to force that realignment so your partner gets a state of the union address. and can say c'mere c'mere c'mere or g'way g'way g'way.
i scored three goals in last week's hockey game: a one-on-zero, a two-on-one, and a low angle power play goal. they made the classic mistake of putting their worst players on defense. two other players on my team also had hat tricks. it's been a long time since my last one. so i'm still proud of it.
a teacher/artist was fired for running a web site with pictures of her wearing a bikini made of raw meat. she's suing the school district of course. but what i want to know is what kind of meat? beef, chicken, pork? or something more exotic like pheasant, duck, or quail? none of which i'd want to eat raw. now if it was tuna, hamachi, salmon...
happy july 4th everyone. on this day two hundred some years ago we told a militant empire to die in a fire. then we fought dirty to back it up. now we're buddy buddy with our former colonialist masters. which really isn't all that surprising. we have a lot in common.
i think i got hooked on dnd when i read a short story that went kinda like this (but told much better). a minotaur shows up on this remote island. the villagers there are completely terrified. they want somebody to do something. that somebody is a young paladin knight. he finds the minotaur and charges him on his horse. the minotaur makes no move to counter the attack. the paladin pulls up so violently he loses his sword. a bit contrived but essential for the plot. the minotaur picks it up and hands it back to him. which takes the paladin completely by surprise. they start talking. the minotaur is in exile and will be executed if he goes home. they talk more. turns out human norms and minotaur norms are quite different. but not completely incompatible. they work out some trade deal with the villagers. and everyone lives happily ever after. at the end it's revealed the minotaur was exiled for being a heretic. his radical idea: peace.
bush's supply side economics is working! the government is taking in more money than ever before. and more of it's from rich people than ever before. is this great news or what? well, it is if you're one of the rich people. see, in order for total tax dollars to go up when the tax rate goes down we need either more rich people (nope) or the rich people are making a lot more money to pay taxes on than before (yep). the economy grows and grows. supply side economics gives an ever increasing percentage of it to rich folks. and an ever decreasing slice per person to the average joes. bush in '08. oh yeah.
what if hobbes were the real one. and it was calvin that was the imaginary playmate.