Tuesday, August 3, 2010
Saturday, June 5, 2010
Monday, May 10, 2010
Monday, March 29, 2010
I turn 29 today at 3:23 a.m. Let's all hope that it's a golden day.
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
In lieu of posting something original, I've decided to post something brilliant. Last week, Gregg Easterbrook posted his penultimate Tuesday Morning Quarterback of the season (wiping away tears). About 25,000 words in, he tackled the mislabeling of President Obama as a "tax-and-spend" President. I learned. I hope you do too:
Federal income tax rates were cut by John Kennedy in the early 1960s, by Ronald Reagan in the 1980s; rose slightly under the elder George Bush; were cut twice under the younger Bush, and cut again by Obama last winter. Capital-gains tax rates have declined too; Social Security and Medicare taxes ("payroll taxes") were raised by Reagan and by Bill Clinton, although not enough to fully fund either program, meaning those taxes are lower than they need to be for fiscal discipline. This chart shows the decline of the federal top rate, to less than half of what it was under Dwight Eisenhower.
The younger Bush was hammered in the press because his two tax cuts reduced the rate paid by the rich: But the same cuts nearly eliminated federal income taxes on the working class and lower middle class. That is, George W. Bush's tax cuts were progressive. Last year, 43 percent of Americans paid no federal income taxes -- in 2009; this year, as many as half of Americans are expected to pay no federal income taxes. Yet public discourse is full of complaints about taxes, and many people claim to hate Washington because of taxes, while practically everyone demands more federal benefits and services.
As middle-class taxes are being eliminated, the top 20 percent of filers -- the well-off -- pay for a steadily higher share of federal government, last year paying 70 percent of total federal taxes. The well-off are financing most of the federal government, and that will intensify next year as taxes go up on household income above $250,000. Other than the spending paid for by the well-off, the rest is being billed to the young, via deficit spending and borrowing.
Keynesian point: It does make sense to increase federal spending when the economy is soft. But the flip side of Keynesian economics is that government should reduce spending when the economy is strong, using the breathing space to pay down debt. Congress loves to increase spending. Is there any chance that as the economy recovers, Congress will abide by the second prescription of Keynesian economics, and reduce spending? A few days ago the House quietly raised the federal debt ceiling to $14 trillion, allowing yet another round of undisciplined, unaccountable giveaways. That big number equates to $46,000 in debt for every American citizen. Since no one in the Boomer generation ever will repay a dime -- the Baby Boom's final sociological act-out may be to bankrupt the country -- the effective debt is more like $100,000 per American under the age of 30.
Fiscal policy point: Think I am exaggerating about bankrupting the country? Last week Moody's Investor Services warned that U.S. Treasury bonds may be downgraded from Triple-A status. Even if the extremely modest fiscal-discipline goals recently announced by President Obama are met, in five years the U.S. debt-to-GDP ratio will be worse than it was in 1950, when America was paying off World War II borrowing.
Media point: Here are headlines from last week's budget proposal release. USA Today's main headline (underneath "What Happens to Avatar 3-D Glasses?") was "Obama Budget Proposal Draws Rapid Fire," the political-quarrel angle. The New York Times' main headline was "Huge Deficits May Alter U.S. Politics and Global Power," the public-policy angle. The Chicago Tribune's main headline was "Obama Budget Proposes $100 Billion for Jobs Subsidies," the blue-collar angle. The Washington Post's main headline was "Budget Calls for Increased Spending," the angle that pleases Post readers, many of whom work for or with the federal government. The Wall Street Journal cut to the chase for its demographic: "Wealthy Face Tax Increase."
Understanding government note: Here is a fantastic graphic showing how the federal budget is spent. Entitlement spending for individuals -- Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, other health care -- totally dominate. The ticking time bombs are Social Security and Medicaid costs, both of which increase as Boomers retire, and "net interest," which could increase by hundreds of billions of dollars annually if interest rates rise, which seems close to inevitable. Today's undisciplined federal borrowing is happening before pension and Medicare costs will shoot up, owing to Boomer retirements. If Congress has already tapped out the national debt in order to give every interest group everything it demands today, how is the country going to finance the approaching retirement wave?
Sunday, January 31, 2010
1. Got off the ferry at Isla Mujeres at 1 on Friday.
2. Shots with Dan at 1:03.
3. Hitchhiked to house at 2:15.
4. Arrived at house via golf cart at 2:30.
5. Drunk by 4ish.
6. Blurry between 4-10ish.
7. Fell off roof around 10:30.
8. Got up off the ground around 10:31.
9. Thanked God that I was still alive at 10:32.
10. Thrown in pool four times between 11 and midnight (leaving me without a dry shirt...).
11. Naked by midnight (apparently, I am terrible at strip spoons, especially when I begin the game only wearing a bathing suit).
12. Blurry between 1-5 when I finally passed out on a couch.
13. Brushed my teeth with tap water at 11 the next morning.
14. Montezuma's Revenge by 12:30 (thanks to aforementioned tooth brushing).
15. In bed by 2.
16. Sweaty, vomity mess from 2 on Saturday until noon on Monday.
17. Finally out of bed for good at around 1.
18. Glorious beach day from 1:30-5:30.
19. Drunken blur from 5:30-1:30.
20. On the ferry back to Cancun at 10 am.
21. On my flight at noon.
22. Home by 9:30.
23. Still alive. Thank God.
Friday, January 15, 2010
Who/what will meet me once I get off the ferry? One Daniel James M. Well, that's if he's not too preoccupied with seeing his girlfriend for the first time since he left for Mexico (I'm not his girlfriend...yet). My instructions? Buy a bottle of liquor at duty-free. Will I survive this trip? I hope so.
While I have the floor, I would like to give some serious kudos to security at BWI. I left my brother's place in Baltimore at 4:30AM for a 7:30AM flight, because I was convinced that it would take me forever to get through security. It took me ten minutes to get through security and that was even with a line that was probably 100 people deep. I was at my gate by 5:30. Seriously, awesome. Now I just have to figure out how to kill time until my flight.
That brings me to my next point. I'm blogging for free right now because Google gave me (and everyone else at BWI) free WiFi for the holidays. I know what you're thinking, "didn't the holidays end two weeks ago?" Yes, yes they did. But Google kindly put the end date of their gift as today, January 15, 2010. Sweet.
PS- As a follow-up to my previous post, I got my grade back for my antitrust exam. I am happy to report that I did extremely well. I know that it's poor form to brag about grades, but law school has been tough for me. I've worked really hard and often not gotten the results I wanted. It was nice to finally see my hard work pay off.
The trick? I did my own outline and finished it in time to take a practice exam and go over my answers with the professor's model answers.
When I first looked at his answer key, my heart dropped a little bit. I finally figured out my problem on law school exams; I was going WAY too much into detail on individual subjects instead of plowing through all the possible areas you can get points. That means I left a lot of points on the table.
Oh well. At least I figured it out on my second to last law school exam ever. If only I'd figured it out sooner! Maybe this semester I'll figure out how to write awesome papers. I better, because I have four to write. Rough.
PPS- Happy MLK weekend, everyone!