Loving Our House :)

October22

We bought a house in Boulder in March and we moved in late July. Lindsey did an amazing job overseeing all the work we had done, as we had to rip out an old gravity furnace that had Asbestos, replace the majority of electricial, install HVAC (AC/Heat), refinish the floors, and a ton of small items. She is now an unofficial general contractor!

Lindsey and I spent last Saturday putting together every baby item you can imagine :). Sunday we had a blast throwing a party / baby shower with friends. The lil guy is due December 28th, so getting close!

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Trump = Disgrace

October11

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That debate was an embarrassment for the country. Trump being the Republican nominee is an embarrassment to humanity. I feel so sorry for old school Republicans, their party used to stand for something and it is now just lost in the wilds. Where is a good debate over fiscal/budget policy? Or, how to work against climate change? Or, how to improve food safety? Or, how to fix the college debt problem?

I’ve been a registered Independent since I started voting, I switched to Democrat after the debate. I’ve been frustrated for a decade by Republicans who do nothing, don’t compromise, and propose no solutions. The Republican party has chosen to become the party of extremism, racism, ignorance, and anti-science. They want to shut down the parts of the government that actually work and need more money, ie EPA, FDA, SS, IRS, etc. There are always problems, but that doesn’t mean you just give up, you work to fix it and learn/test. If you want to try charter schools that is great, but realize you have to compromise and try something the Democrats think might make this country stronger/better.

What disheartens me most is that even if Hillary wins 60% to 40%, that means 40% of the people out there would vote for this piece of shit human being who stands for nothing. For a second just forget about the tape advocating sexual assault or the racism, Trump has no clear policies, and he lies constantly. Watching the second debate was painful, he even directly lies about things he says, it is so bizarre. It is hard not to see him as a rise of a populist dictator. I understand a vote to burn the entire system down, but I don’t think things are so bad to vote for someone like this. I blame the extremist in the Republican party who have made a little bubble and now are held hostage to it. The entire party deserves blame for not standing up to the crazies sooner.

I feel like what I thought was the “American Dream” is stuck in this country, we are now at war to redefine that dream. Or at least how to get there, and who is allowed to hold that dream.

The American Dream is a national ethos of the United States, the set of ideals (democracy, rights, liberty, opportunity, and equality) in which freedom includes the opportunity for prosperity and success, and an upward social mobility for the family and children, achieved through hard work in a society with few barriers.

A key element of the American Dream is promoting opportunity for one’s children, Johnson interviewing parents says, “This was one of the most salient features of the interview data: parents—regardless of background—relied heavily on the American Dream to understand the possibilities for children, especially their own children.”, “The hopes and optimism that Americans possess pertain not only to their own lives, but to their children’s lives as well. A fundamental aspect of the American Dream has always been the expectation that the next generation should do better than the previous generation.

It has always been a struggle to achieve that dream. I hope this election goes the right way.

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Death’s End & The 3 Body Problem

October5

I just finished reading Death’s End, which is book 3 of the Three-Body Problem Series. This is one of the most magnificent hard core science fiction books I have ever read. The author is Cixin Liu, and the book is translated from the original Chinese. His viewpoint on a lot of things is just so different, it is like a 20% shift in culture & thought process. It is hard to put my finger on, but it is so fascinating to read. This is a magnificent series that I highly recommend.

I would love to see Wachowski brothers make this into a movie. Nobody else could.

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Why are so many Americans unhappy with this economy? Why do so many feel like they are stuck?

October2

Want to see an interesting graph? Click the image to view the large version. Read the full report here.

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From looking at this you might think that the USA and developed world had large swaths of their population stuck with no growth over a 20 year period, but that is not accurate. The truth is every economic group in the USA saw on average increases in their income over that period. Here is a wider swath with a per country breakdown in a few different ways:

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When you strip it down to just the USA, you see that every element of the USA grew, usually at an annual pace of around 1.25% or more. But, this growth wasn’t as high as many other developed countries like the UK and others though. And, when you dig in a bit more you see that it often had years of decline followed by years of gain. You might be up at the end of it, but it has been a rough ride full of uncertainty and chaos.

So why do so many people feel they are being left behind by this economy?

1. People want to live a “middle class” or possibly “rich” lifestyle and they are taking on huge amounts of debt to pay for it when they can’t afford it. People shifted what they think they can afford, in part due to industries getting very smart about how they pitch financing & credit cards.

I’ll give one big example that really bugs me, housing debt. I am starting to think the 30 year mortgage is one of the worst things ever created. 86% of people opted for a 30 year mortgage in 2015, and they could have saved a lot of money with a 15 or 20 year mortgage.

Example:
Bob buys a house for $200,000 dollars at an interest rate of 4%. What is the monthly payment, and total he pays with each mortgage term?

30 year = $955 a month, for a total bill of $343,749.
20 year = $1,212 a month, for a total bill of $290,871.
15 year = $1,479 a month, for a total bill of $266,288.

This is impacted even more because interest rates on shorter terms are less. Right now a 30 year is 3.6%, a 20 year is 3.4%, a 15 year is 2.8%.

15 year @ 2.8% = $1,362 a month, for a total bill of $245,161.

So imagine buying a house, paying $400 dollars more a month for a 15 year mortgage, but owning the house in 15 years instead of 30, and then having $x,xxx more money each month towards retirement, travel, or anything else. With a 30 year mortgage that $200k house costs you $343k, ie $143k in interest, versus $45k in interest for the 15 year mortgage.

It isn’t that people are stupid, rather they lack the knowledge of how important this type of decision is. Especially when the finance industry has every incentive to steer them towards max financing and short term gain for the bank/wall street. Don’t even get me started on ARM mortgages, they should be illegal and any banker who pitches them ashamed.

Related to this is the problem of rentals, when someone buys a rental property for xxx,xxx at an inflated price with a 30 year mortgage they have to rent it out at an even higher rate. As the entire market shifts, it then shifts the rental market higher, fucking us all over even if we don’t buy a house. Especially when shitty zoning codes protect owners, and not new builders.

Now apply this same math to new cars, education loans, fancy dorms, etc…

2. Health care is beyond broken, and taking everyone’s money.

Health care costs have risen faster than inflation and the costs are hidden for most Americans behind the company who pays most of the cost. So instead of getting a raise, that money is going to pay the yearly increase in health care premiums for everyone. Or you are paying some and your company is as well, and that keeps going up sucking all your paycheck as well as money from the company.

Right now in the USA on average pays $8,233 per person per year for health care, the average in OECD countries is $3,268 per person. If we were able to achieve that rate it would mean a raise of $4,965 back to each person, roughly $414 bucks per month in additional income per person (super huge if you have a family of 3 (napkin math)). In 1960 health care expenditures were 5% of the GDP, now they are about 18%.

Health care is not something you budget shop for, it is something you need when you get sick or hurt. The entire system is broken.

The funniest part is people don’t realize they already pay for health insurance for every american because hospitals can legally not turn away patients, even if they can’t pay. And, they can’t give a bill to a debt collector if the person will pay even a little bit. So when someone says I can pay $50 a month on a $50,000 dollar inflated bill, guess who eats the rest of that bill? Everyone… then the hospital charges more, then your insurance rates go up. We already have socialized health care, it is just done very badly and cost 2.5x what it should be costing if we actually fixed it.

3. The Government failure to lead, and build an acceptable safety net for everyone. Key areas of concern?

A. Education – See #1, but the government totally fucked this up. By subsidizing loans, they never thought to also limit the cost of the universities or amount of debt a student could take. Now they are given that they have destroyed an entire generation of people’s ability to take risk to start businesses, or do many other things. When you have $25k to $200k in student loan debt it is hard to move forward in life. Especially when you can’t declare bankruptcy or buy a house, and are stuck with super high interest rates.

B. Retirement – Social security is our retirement program, yet it hasn’t evolved for the times. We need to lift caps, and put more into it. Instead we screwed over loads of people with 401ks and other nonsense that let bankers sift percentages off of it. We’ve started to fix it, but we need to accept that people are terrible at saving, and force SSN to be about 2x higher out of payroll taxes.

C. Minimum Wage / Transition To Service Jobs – So much here, but basically we stopped pegging the minimum wage to inflationary growth, not to mention to try to increase it. When my dad was in his 20s in the 1970s minimum wage adjusted for inflation was $9.74. Right now it is $7.25. WTF, at least peg that to something that doesn’t slide like that. If the government had been thinking, they could have increased it yearly by CPI + 1/4th of a percent, and slowly over 20 to 50 years been pushing out low margin businesses and fostering better ones. As well as having yet another tool to fight inflation in case they needed to skip that for a few years. (Also, for those that argue not many people are on minimum wage I would say that is bullshit, minimum wage affects the entire payscale. If someone is being paid $10.25 right now, upping minimum wage to $10 usually means they are going to see a $2 to $3 dollar improvement as well over time. If you tie minimum wage to productivity gains the wage would be ~$19 dollars. Meaning that instead of money going back into companies for robots and other improvements, some of that would be shared with the people and increase their paycheck.)

D. Cannabis is harmless, tax the fuck out of it and make it legal. Not only is it responsible for something like 8%-20% of our court and jail costs, but it has given loads of money to drug dealers in other countries.

Summary
I think a lot of things are headed in the right direction in this country. I’d like them to try more, but if the federal level is broken hopefully we see more States trying to improve this. I’d love to see a State try public health care, or public education with full fees paid.

Obamacare is a good step forward to try SOMETHING, and will hopefully lead to everyone in Medicare or more rules on charges and more caps on what they can charge.

I’d love to see the US government cancel everyone’s college debt. Or at least make it interest free, and cap it at 5% of their after tax income. To really fix it they need to make public universities cost at most x% of your income or something affordable. I am all for incentivizing certain degrees to based on what those graduates actually end up earning. IE, you can only take debt out for up to 25% of what you will earn in one year for most people with that degree. That way it self regulates a bit more.

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Amend The Constitution?

October2

I just finished reading a great book on how prohibition was passed and then repealed. Partially because I wanted to see what tactics they used, and partially to see how it was even possible. Some of the moves echo what is happening to Cannabis, as well as some of what is needed to pass meaningful political election reform (possibly). It was funny to see the despicable things done, it doesn’t seem to different from what people with a cause do now.

There is some very interesting stuff happening on the state level too, the Koch brothers have been funding some work quietly to call a constitutional amendment meeting. They are getting pretty close, but what is most interesting is they wouldn’t control the agenda of that meeting. More than likely this would result in gridlock given how opposed the two sides are of what needs to be done, but if you want to learn more read this. Liberals have seen this an opportunity to overturn the Citizens United ruling, and really clamp down on the money in politics.

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Maui Hawaii

October1

Lindsey and I took a little babymoon to Maui for 2 weeks. It was a really nice break, although I wish I had taken a break from my diet at the same time as traveling isn’t the same if you can’t eat local. We didn’t do much beyond fun drives, trip to coffee plantation, hanging out in sun, dinner with a friend, and swimming. Good trip :)

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This is bwb’s personal blog so he can share his thoughts with the world, however scary or silly they might be. Plus family and friends can track what I am up too, and where I am in the world.

I am pretty simple. I love Mangos. I love the ocean, although mostly at sunset as I’m a ginger. I love to travel, eat exotic food, read, and use my imagination. I love creating and developing ideas into businesses, understanding how all businesses work, and building cool stuff. I am a globalist and see the entire world as my responsibility and playground. And, I am married to an amazing woman who makes life even more fun :)! And, we are now the proud parents of Calico Jack :).


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