Monthly Archives: April 2010

Born in 1970

I turn 40 today.  A milestone, I guess, but I’m not a big birthday guy anymore.  I have taken a little time to reflect, and I have to tell you, I’m thrilled with the way things have turned out so far.  And every year, it gets better.

I’m married to a woman who is my perfect complement.  We are a perfect pair, and I’m as head over heels for her as I’ve ever been.   I have my parents, and I have the best set of siblings of anyone I know.  I have great friends, both old and new.  I regularly meet interesting people.  I’ve got a great job with a great company, and as of today, I’m looking at an opportunity to challenge myself and build my skills in a bigger role in the same organization.  I’m debt free, and I don’t worry about money.  I’m healthy.  I’m still learning.  I travel.  I’ve been to the Olympics and the Word Cup.  I love wine.

Not everything has been all sunshine and roses.  I didn’t like high school much.  I was a shy, kind of odd kid.  I was never a good athlete (until I got older).  I’ve lost a friend I considered a brother.  I’ve had my ass kicked.   I’ve been through a divorce (although amicable).  I have an alcoholic parent, who is 5 years clean.  I’ve made an ass of myself, and not just when I was drunk.  I’ve been through a pretty serious health scare and corresponding diagnosis (but have lived symptom free long enough to think the diagnosis was wrong).

Every experience, every relationship, good and bad, have made me better.

Having been born in 1970, though, I’ve also seen what may be the most interesting 40 years since the industrial revolution, and possibly since the American Revolution.  I saw Star Wars when it came out in theaters.  I lived through Ronald Reagan’s presidency.  I saw the Berlin Wall come down.  I watched the Cosby Show.  I watched the advent of cable TV.  I had a VCR.  then a DVD player.  Then a DVR and High Definition.  I watched Seinfeld.  I read every book by Stephen King.  I’ve watched (and used) the internet from Usenet all the way to Twitter.  As we go through this year, I will put up a series of posts about these 40 years.

So far, it’s been a great ride, and I can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings.


Here it comes

The FDA is going to regulate salt.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration should regulate the amount of salt added to foods to help Americans cut their high sodium intake, which can lead to high blood pressure, kidney failure and strokes, an influential federal panel said on Tuesday.

The Institute of Medicine said the move was needed because Americans get most of their sodium from processed and restaurant foods and merely telling them to eat less salt has not worked.

Yeah.  Telling us to stop didn’t work, so now they’ll make us.  This is an unbelievable and unconscionable abuse of power.  But then, what’s new?


Training, 4/18/10

Squat
45×5
95×5
135×5
3×5 @ 195
Easy, form much better

Bench
45×5
95×5
3×5 @ 135
Cake

Row
45×5
3×5 @ 135
Easy, grip sucks due to wrists and finger, will get better.

22 minutes treadmill

Had one of those days where I really didn’t want to go to the gym, I wanted to stay home, chill, drink some wine, and putter around. Glad I went; the little victories add up.


Setting Goals

This is part of a weekly series on personal finance and wealth building.  If you care to read them all, please click on the ‘Building Wealth’ category on the right.

Goals are a critical first step on the path to wealth. Without goals, you are unable to build plans, budgets, or schedules. Without goals, you don’t know what success is, much less how to get there.  While the words in this article are mine, the structure (SMART) and ideas are not.  I’m not sure where they originated, or even where I heard it first, but here I make it as much my own as I can.  (If you own or know who owns the copyrighted or original material on SMART goals, please let me know).

Goal setting became an interest of mine several years ago in the context of powerlifting.  Building short and long-term plans around short-term goals that all fed in to longer term goals is an important part of training and diet for performance.  I found using the SMART framework works very well for any goal setting, and certainly moving towards building wealth requires setting goals.

All goals should be SMART.  Specific, Measurable, Attainable (Actionable), Realistic, and Time-bound. Continue reading


Training, 4/15/10

Squat
45×5
95×5
135×5
3×5 @ 185
Easy. Form pretty solid.

Press
45×5
65×5
95×5
105×5

Deadlift
135×5
225×5

Pullup
1×5

20 mins treadmill.


The additional costs of Federal Income Taxes

Mark Perry adds them up at American Enterprise.

Americans spent almost 4 billion hours filling out tax forms last year, according to the National Taxpayers Union, and that number’s likely to be even higher this year. At the current average hourly wage of $18.90, the amount of time spent by Americans on tax preparation is worth about $75 billion, equivalent to the entire annual Gross State Product of New Mexico. Add another $30 billion that the IRS estimates taxpayers spend out-of-pocket on tax preparation (tax software, tax preparers, accountants, etc.), and the total annual cost of tax compliance equals the state of Iowa’s entire annual output.

The compliance burden of income tax preparation for Americans has risen significantly over time as a direct result of the increasing complexity of the U.S. tax code. For example, just the instructions for the 2009 Form 1040 total a record-high 175 pages, more than double the 84 pages of instruction in 1995, and more than 10 times greater than the 17 pages in 1965 (source).

My total cost is ~$80 for Turbo Tax and 5 hours of my time to prepare taxes, and a couple of hours a month keeping the required records, conservatively 20 hours.  That’s more than a half a week of productivity, which for me is about $50 an hour (my wife’s is higher).  The cost to me on top of the $50K+ I pay in Federal and State income taxes is more than $1300.  Can you imagine the cost of an audit, where you must prove your own innocence?

I wonder if anyone in Congress considers this cost to the country as they continue to add complexity to the tax code on top of raising tax rates.  Somehow I doubt it.


SWAT teams make non violent situations violent

Radley Balko has an outstanding piece in the Washington Times today.

This sums up so much about the War on Drugs

…free societies don’t send armed government agents dressed in black to raid the private homes of citizens for political crimes. Given that all parties who participate in a drug transaction do so voluntarily, the prohibition of drugs is at heart a political policy.

He’s right, eliminating SWAT teams might actually make us safer, it will certainly save some dogs.  It’s also time to talk about drug prohibition in a free society.


More logic from the Left

McQ at QandO remarks on a leftist group trying to infiltrate the Tea Party protests today (and, apparently, any day).  The focus of his post is primarily to point out that Tea Party folks need to record this stuff and call out the groups really acting out.

[It’s important to note here that I am not a member of the Tea Party movement.  While as a Libertarian I am in agreement with the movement on most things, the Tea Party is being co-opted by the conservative or paleo-con wing of the Republican Party.  Paleo-cons are certainly closer to my philosophy than neo-cons, they are still fundamentally statists.]

I have a more basic logical question.  If folks on the Left are convinced that the Tea Party movement is a bunch of mean, white, racist, homophobic rednecks, why would they need to ‘infiltrate’ the movement and act like racists and homophobes to discredit the Tea Party?  Wouldn’t that already be happening?  Doesn’t doing that actually prove that the Tea Party isn’t a bunch of racists, and you need to get involved to make them look like they are?

This is Lefitst Logic.

I guess that’s what happens when you can’t convince people your ideas are actually better, you need to call names (teabagger, racist) instead. Continue reading


8 Macroeconomic fallacies

Economics was my Money and Banking textbook in 1989.  I thought it was all correct until I read Mises and Hayek in grad school.  This essay by Robert Higgs (pdf) highlights 8 key fallacies in Macroeconomic thinking, all of which politicians and pundits continue to repeat.

H/T Cafe Hayek


Civil liberties and the SCOTUS

Nice read from Radley Balko at Reason on Stevens’ inconsistent record on civil liberties while on the Supreme Court, as well as the odds we’ll even talk about civil liberties while confirming his replacement.


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