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Archive for January, 2012

Just a brief post to see if we can stir up any comments.

I’ve been struck by how much of the Republican primary has centered around Mitt Romney’s tax bill (as Mike pointed out).  It is interesting to note “conservatives” turning on one another regarding someone’s taxes being too low, which goes against the de facto party line to lower taxes in general.

But it’s the specifics surrounding the 15% rate that I want to talk about.  The President mentioned it in his State of the Union, and fan Warren Buffett has trumpeted his tax rate compared to that of his secretary for the last half year.  While the morality of this gets debated, what seems to not get mentioned as much is the economics.  15% is the number used because that is the tax rate on capital gains – or investment income for those of us who have no capital gains and may not be familiar with the term.  This is not a tax on wages earned or for work done.  This is money that was invested so someone else could start a business or to buy shares in an existing business that you think has potential for growth.  So our laws have created a separate rate to encourage people to engage in this behavior – and it has done just that.

But what could happen if the rate was 30% as the President suggests?  Well, what if Mitt Romney stops investing?  Let’s imagine he was getting dividend payments equal to one million dollars, so his tax paid at 15% was $150,000.  The government would love $300,000 so they raise the rate to 30%, only Mitt decides to stop investing in equity and buys steady ole treasury bonds.  So now, the government loses out on the $150,000 they would have gotten – gets in budget trouble because they projected $300,000 and now don’t have it, and on top of that they owe Mitt millions of dollars plus interest as part of the national debt.  Plus that entrepreneur that was starting up a little search engine called Google doesn’t have the seed money he needed to buy servers and programmers and such, and so decides to return to mother Russia and we all are left trying to browse the internet on Yahoo.  I can’t find a new job because Yahoo’s results return bogus results, so we are out on the streets and homeless with our 2-year old daughter.  Shivering and hungry.

Man… can’t we just let the people have 15%.

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Fascinating!

This Republican Primary is just fascinating.

Mitt Romney fades in South Carolina because of concerns that he may be too rich and not paying enough taxes.

On the other hand, Newt Gingrich surges because of new revelations about his infidelity.

Wow. Can somebody explain the Republican platform to me? I’m just really confused right now.

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Well after more than a year without posting – here goes!  As per my habit, this post is in reference to an article I just read.  And equally as usual it is from the Wall Street Journal – it is from the WSJ’s “random” section on the bottom of the front page.

The article is called, “A Youngster’s Bright Idea Is Something New Under the Sun”, and is about a 13-year old boy named Aidan Dwyer who won a science competition this past summer based on an idea he had about placing solar panels in the same array as leaves on a tree – hypothesizing that maybe there is a benefit to following nature’s design.

Aidan was a winner in the competition, showing that a leaf array of solar panels produced more energy… but what is interesting has been what happened afterward.  A minor uproar came up when it was discovered that Aidan had measured the wrong electrical output from the panels (voltage alone, rather than power which is combo of voltage and current) thus leading to suspicion of his results and the idea in general.

Two things stood out to me in this article.  First, the Journal talks about the response from the internet – “bad science” and “impossible nonsense” were some of the choice quotes the article pointed to.  Scientists – both amateur and professional seem to have a nasty streak .  He is a thirteen after all and just had an idea he was encouraged to explore, but I guess that doesn’t matter to many people.  Get something wrong and you are toast on the interweb.  But Aidan has also been praised for his thinking, and has been invited to speak at numerous conferences, so it hasn’t been all bad.

But the second, and most interesting, thing that piqued me was this quote from assistant professor Jan Kleissl from UCSD about Aidan’s plan for a revised experiment:

I’m certain that he will not find that his arrangement is better.  I think it’s a romantic ideal that nature has many lessons for us, and there are a few cases where this is true, but in the majority of cases we could teach nature, in a way, how to be better, faster.

Wow – how nice of Dr. Kleissl to offer nature the benefit of a “few cases” where it is better than our scientists.  I’d be very curious to hear Kleissl discuss these areas.  Have we improved upon the speed and power of lightning?  Have we developed a self-contained ecosystem on the scale of say… the ocean?   Have we developed a robot with five senses as acute as a human?  Holy shite balls this seems ludicrous.

Is it just me?

P.S.  Feels good to be back.  Sorry for the layoff, and hope I can continue to post from time to time.

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