Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Denigrating Achievement

Thomas Sowel:
"The very word "achievement" has been replaced by the word "privilege" in many writings of our times. Individuals or groups that have achieved more than others are called "privileged" individuals or groups, who are to be resented rather than emulated.
The length to which this kind of thinking — or lack of thinking — can be carried was shown in a report on various ethnic groups in Toronto.
It said that people of Japanese ancestry in that city were the most "privileged" group there, because they had the highest average income.
What made this claim of "privilege" grotesque was a history of anti-Japanese discrimination in Canada, climaxed by people of Japanese ancestry being interned during World War II longer than Japanese-Americans.
If the concept of achievement threatens the prevailing ideology, the reality of achievement despite having obstacles to overcome is a deadly threat.
That is why the achievements of Asians in general — and of people like the young black man with no arms — make those on the left uneasy.
And why the achievements of people who created their own businesses have to be undermined by the president of the United States.
What would happen if Americans in general, or blacks in particular, started celebrating people like this armless young man, instead of trying to make heroes out of hoodlums?
Many of us would find that promising and inspiring. But it would be a political disaster for the left — which is why it is not likely to happen."

I'm glad I don't live in Seattle

Seattle... land of endless traffic, tons of gray, cold, rainy days, and rabid fruit bats:

"Seattle City Councilmember-elect shares radical idea with Boeing workers
Seattle City Councilmember-elect Kshama Sawant told Boeing machinists her idea of a radical option, should their jobs be moved out of state 
“The workers should take over the factories, and shut down Boeing’s profit-making machine,” Sawant announced to a cheering crowd of union supporters in Seattle’s Westlake Park Monday night.
This week, Sawant became Seattle’s first elected Socialist council member. She ran on a platform of anti-capitalism, workers’ rights, and a $15 per-hour minimum wage for Seattle workers."
 If you were thinking of opening a business in Seattle, you probably shouldn't. It isn't just this woman, after all: remember that thousands more idiots are the ones that elected her, and they would be your customers. 

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Don't Snatch The Pebble, Grasshopper

Scott Adam's Secret of Success: Failure:

Throughout my career I've had my antennae up, looking for examples of people who use systems as opposed to goals. In most cases, as far as I can tell, the people who use systems do better. The systems-driven people have found a way to look at the familiar in new and more useful ways.
To put it bluntly, goals are for losers. That's literally true most of the time. For example, if your goal is to lose 10 pounds, you will spend every moment until you reach the goal—if you reach it at all—feeling as if you were short of your goal. In other words, goal-oriented people exist in a state of nearly continuous failure that they hope will be temporary.
If you achieve your goal, you celebrate and feel terrific, but only until you realize that you just lost the thing that gave you purpose and direction. Your options are to feel empty and useless, perhaps enjoying the spoils of your success until they bore you, or to set new goals and re-enter the cycle of permanent presuccess failure.
 Makes sense to me.

One example: debt elimination. If you're pursuing it, you're probably doing so because debt makes you unhappy.

As a goal, it can be done. And then what?

If it's a goal, you very well may reload yourself and pursue debt elimination again. So you become unhappy again so that you can be happy for a brief moment until you become unhappy again... That sucks.

You probably will incur debts again at a later date. That's a failure from the perspective of the goal-oriented approach. It's a mere event from the perspective of the system-driven approach.

If debt elimination is a byproduct of a system you build, and you consistently execute on that system, you don't have to think about it. It just happens. Your happiness will not be dependent on being debt free, but upon your tending to avoid it when possible, and to reduce and eliminate it when you can't avoid it.

Any wave is a tsunami in the case of the former; a wave may only rock your boat in the case of the latter, and a tsunami is actually a tsunami if one does come.

One swallow does not make a summer, neither does one fine day; similarly one day or brief time of happiness does not make a person entirely happy. -- Aristotle

Goals are singular, finite things. They are inflexible, incapable of adaptation, can be knocked down, surpassed and diminished, etc. Whatever happiness they bring has an expiration date.

Systems can be perpetual, resilient,  and adaptable. Whatever happiness they bring is a byproduct, a "surplus" generated by a usefully functioning machine, if you will. It's an indication that the system works, and it can be maintained.

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Obamacare: You'll Want To Get Insurance On Your Insurance

Step 1: be involved in Obozocare in some fashion, as a customer, producing insurance agent, etc.

One day. It took one freakin' day for something like this to happen. The chances are good that it will happen again, and again, and again. Eventually, it will happen to you.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

This Is John Galt

From market-ticker.org, by Karl Denninger: It's Called Evolution, Gentlemen
In short, if you want it in two words, it's this: I'm done.
I choose instead of either active participation through funding of our government's BS or violence to peacefully withdraw my consent.  To refuse to labor.  To make do with less -- a lot less.  I choose to reduce my voluntary contribution to the tax hoard that is misspent or forms the foundation against which our government borrows, giving the proceeds to those who think that doping it up is a grand past-time or shoveling guns, missiles and money to terrorists while groping our grannies, using the very existence of the terrorists we gave the guns and missiles to as justification for what any civilized society would call sexual assault.
The portion of that which I earn by my efforts that I am able to retain in real terms shrinks by the day, and I have concluded that the balance of benefits and harms, especially the harms done to others using my tax dollars, is no longer acceptable to me.
My decision will not change until America changes.  Until it wakes up.  Until the people demand and the government of this county, this state and this nation recognize everyone's fundamental rights -- that shall not be infringed means what it says, that shall pass no law means what it says and all branches of government stop using taxpayer dollars to arm terrorists, maintain and promote medical monopolies, promote and empower banking cartels while excusing violence and fraud, both financial and corporeal, committed against the people of this nation by those entities and the agents of government itself. 
I have seen enough frauds committed by and with the active involvement of government to become convinced that this is what, in the main, my tax dollars are buying.  Whether it be Angela Corey's apparent intentional withholding of evidence from George Zimmerman's counsel (and now her firing of one of the people who tried to do the right thing), the rip-off of pension funds and the taxpayer through both looting of the funds and ridiculously over-promised rates of return or the literal thousands of citizens that have had their homes foreclosed upon through blatantly fraudulent process and perjured documents, enough is enough.
I will not accept mere political promises as they are rubber checks without a penalty for being fraudulently issued and over the last 20 years they have always bounced.  I instead demand action, indictments, prosecutions, break-ups of monopolies, impeachments, business closures, the end of deficit spending and reform. These are not discussion points, they are demands.  They are demands that I have every right to make because it is with the fruits of my hand and mind that this government has foisted upon the American people these frauds, costs and harms.  I have written too many large checks to the IRS over the years only to see this crap not only continue but accelerate in the harm done to our nation -- and especially our youth.
I hope, pray for and encourage others to also peacefully withdraw their consent.  If enough of us who are the producers in this nation do so then government will have no choice but to bow to our will or collapse.  My decision in this regard, if ratified by concurrence of just a small percentage of the population, represents what I believe is the only remaining lawful and peaceful way to accomplish that goal.
I'm on board. My own withdrawal of my productivity from the vampire that is the Federal government will take time, but I'm moving in that direction. I'm reorganizing my investments so that they are not Federally taxable (this does not include using IRA accounts, 401(k)'s, etc; I am dismantling mine before they are confiscated). I am eliminating my debts that generate interest income for the Feds and for their favored corporations. Ultimately, I will bring my personal productivity down to a level that they do not tap into, and/or into forms of voluntary trade with others that they cannot tax at all.

As the author says, it will only take enough of us, not all of us. The goal will be reached even faster if we put our government's creditors on notice that this is what we intend to do. Are you listening, China?

HT: Captain Capitalism

Friday, September 27, 2013

Again, Ban All You Want, We'll Just Print More

Defense Distributed brings us yet closer to a fully 3D-printed firearm:

3D Printing Now Brings You Semiautomatic Pistols (The Better To Scare Control Freaks)
It's not yet ready for prime-time (it has yet to be tested), but 3D printing tinkerers have developed a design for a semiautomatic pistol. In fact, the developer says a full-automatic version would be easier to make with available materials. What a long way we've come, in just a few short months, toward the ultimate goal of rendering gun control laws a complete joke. Well...they were already a joke (though a dangerous one). It's more accurate to say we've come a long way toward rendering such laws moot, and easily bypassed by even those with limited technical skills.
The future is not in centralized power.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Category Creep

Right now there are two categories for health insurance: smoking and non-smoking. That has been the major lifestyle choice that interested the actuaries of health insurance providers for decades. 

Now that .gov is taking an even bigger stake in health insurance, and medical care generally, than ever before, watch for that to expand!
Yesterday, you may have belonged to a non-smoking classification. You had a certain premium that you paid.
Tomorrow, you could be part of the non-smoking, meat eating classification. There will be a new premium for that. No doubt a higher one.
Do you like to ride motorcycles? Maybe you're in the Motorcycle riding, beer drinking, smoking class. You'll have an even higher premium!

The list could go on forever, and it probably will. Why? Because when .gov assumes a financial interest in health care, and seeks to lower your individual impact on the system as the system increasingly changes to exist for its own sake, it will take an increasingly aggressive role in managing your life and lifestyle.

High premiums are the weapon they will use to discourage behavior they deem "unhealthy." That may at times pertain to things that truly are unhealthy, but more often it will probably be whatever some .gov type just personally doesn't like.

They can't mandate a higher premium just for you and your particular pleasures. Obozocare incorporates one of the most awful ideas ever heard of in insurance: community rating. That's where they set premiums based on "your community," charging everyone the same based on how much medical services are being consumed in a given area (basically, whatever healthy, responsible decisions you make for yourself that might otherwise earn you a lower insurance premium will be negated by the crack heads that live near you).

The way around that is to just come up with new categories to put you into. 

Don't think it could happen this way?
Have a look at the taxes on cigarettes and booze, and in particular why some keep clamoring for them to be even higher than they are now. The precedent was set a long time ago for using .gov enforced disincentives to certain behaviors. Your hobby is next.

Monday, September 23, 2013

I Wish I Was A Typical Family of Four

Forbes.com: Obamacare Will Increase Health Spending By $7,450 For A Typical Family of Four
$621 billion is a pretty eye-glazing number. Most readers will find it easier to think about how this number translates to a typical American family—the very family candidate Obama promised would see $2,500 in annual savings as far as the eye could see. So I have taken the latest year-by-year projections, divided by the projected population and multiplied the result by 4.
Interactive Guide: What Will Obamacare Cost You?
Simplistic? Maybe, but so too was the President’s campaign promise. And this approach allows us to see just how badly that promise fell short of the mark. Between 2014 and 2022, the increase in national health spending (which the Medicare actuaries specifically attribute to the law) amounts to $7,450 per family of 4.
I wish my personal cost under Obozocare went up just $7,450 over the next nine years.

Mine went up $12,420. Just me, as a healthy, non-smoker with no family. That doesn't even include any future increases in insurance premiums that I would suffer.

At least it did on paper; I dropped out and I won't be coming back.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Wiped Out

Venezuela orders temporary takeover of toilet paper factory
CARACAS (Reuters) - A Venezuelan state agency on Friday ordered the temporary takeover of a factory that produces toilet paper in what it called an effort to ensure consistent supplies after embarrassing shortages earlier this year.
I like the "embarrassing shortages" bit. That must be the situation we've all found ourselves in when you realize that there's no TP left in the bathroom and you have to ask someone to bring you more, only across an entire nation.

The difference here being that in the U.S. we don't have this problem (yet), because we don't have an idiotic government causing over-consumption of toilet paper by mandating lower prices on a dwindling supply.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Throwing Ourselves Lead Life Preservers

Via Yahoo Finance: Americans Sacrificing Freedom To Avoid Another Meltdown
No matter what you hear to the contrary greed didn't create the housing bubble. People are always greedy and anyone suggesting otherwise is selling you something. What unleashed the worst of our greedy instincts was a series of horrifically ill-conceived regulations crafted by buffoons on both sides of the political aisle. Through the power of misguided regulations elected officials created a system that violated the basic laws of economics. The result was a systemic promotion of our most base greed instincts at the expense of collective common sense.
What's fascinating is that our collective response to the meltdown has been to cede basic liberties to the same group of elected officials in an effort protect us from letting a similar crisis from happen again. Predictably, the politicians are using the opportunity to wrest even more power from Main Street.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

If You Demand Free Lunch, Eventually There's No Lunch

The Onion is a lot of fun.

It's even more fun when the antics of one of their fictional characters illustrates the naked truth about some people's behaviors, beliefs, and their maddening contradictions.

Starbucks Caves, Promotes Their Competition

I spotted this open letter from Howard Shultz, the CEO of the Starbucks Coffee Company this morning via a patriot group I follow on Facebook. You can follow the link to read the letter in its entirety, but I wanted to highlight this portion of it here:
Recently, however, we’ve seen the “open carry” debate become increasingly uncivil and, in some cases, even threatening. Pro-gun activists have used our stores as a political stage for media events misleadingly called “Starbucks Appreciation Days” that disingenuously portray Starbucks as a champion of “open carry.” To be clear: we do not want these events in our stores. Some anti-gun activists have also played a role in ratcheting up the rhetoric and friction, including soliciting and confronting our customers and partners.
For these reasons, today we are respectfully requesting that customers no longer bring firearms into our stores or outdoor seating areas—even in states where “open carry” is permitted—unless they are authorized law enforcement personnel.
I understand the lack of enthusiasm for having one's place of business turned into a stage for political theater. It sort of detracts from the point of having a place of business: to make money.

What I don't appreciate is the obvious anti-2nd stance that Shultz is taking. He tried to make it appear that he's not taking sides, but after identifying two actors, he singles out one for exclusion without addressing directly the other: law abiding patriots, you're out; screeching anti-liberty activists, you get a pass.

People who were coming into Starbucks stores sticking up for their rights, which is something they can do daily and normally, during the course of making an organized political statement or not, you're out.

People who were showing up only to turn the stores into protest camps, you're in.

Oh, but cops can have guns. Great. Thanks.

Your message is loud and clear, Howard. Loud and clear.

The joy of a truly free market is the availability of alternatives (the so-called "free" mixed market that we actually have, for the moment it's sufficient). There are other coffee shops out there ready to exchange their products for my money that are perfectly willing to do the right thing, which is to tell the loons harassing their law-abiding customers to get off of their property.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

I'm Sure She's A Great Catch, Too

A friend of mine saw this and took this picture on a job site he was at earlier today:


Takes one to marry one? I'm going to guess that she's not much to speak of herself. Then again, what would I know - I'm just an idot.

More People Doing the Health Insurance Math

A good read that I found this morning, thought it appears that the author isn't aware that the IRS has no authority to force you to pay the Obamacare fine for not having an approved insurance policy.
Now I understand that the system as designed under ObamaCare needs people like me to buy insurance precisely because I will spend more on insurance than I would consume in services, and that means my dollars are subsidizing someone else's care. They made it mandatory because they knew people like me would have no incentive to buy if they didn't. But avoiding the $750 tax penalty is not enough of an incentive to get me to pay $5,000 for something I'm getting now for less than $2,000.
His reasoning is solid, and it should definitely be given consideration by everyone, but especially by younger folks. You've already been screwed over in so many ways by people who are older than you, who rigged the system to extract a comfortable living from you and leave you poor. Don't let them do it to you again in this way, too. 

Monday, September 16, 2013

Right to Privacy? Yeah, Right.

I've been hammering on the financial destructiveness of Obamacare lately (and for years, in different places - still trying to develop my blogging habit; I'm getting there). It's an easy one to discuss because most people can perceive immediately the negative impact of the numbers on their own lives. Just about everyone has at some point felt the sting of an unexpected added cost (car breaking down, baseball through a window, food stains on brand new clothes, etc.). You can explain that to someone, tell them how it's going to be like experiencing that every single day for the rest of their life, and they get it.

Talking to someone about their rights being taken away is a lot harder. It's not something everyone experiences very often (at least up to this point, but more and more of you will get to sample this experience soon). I had the experience at an early age, so it's easy for me to grasp what is coming at me in this regard.

Probably the simplest way to make it understandable for the most people is to put it in terms of experiencing an embarrassing incident. Think of something that you would feel is embarrassing, whatever that may be. You're a bit lucky in this case though, because only one other person is aware of your embarrassing incident, and they're keeping quiet about it (maybe it embarrassed them, too).

Move forward in time: now you're in a situation where you need something. Whatever the something is isn't important, just understand that it would be rather unpleasant for you to not gain access to it. To get the thing, you have to answer some questions.

To answer one of the questions truthfully, you have to reveal the embarrassing incident.

Here's the part that really sucks: the embarrassing incident really has nothing at all to do with what it is that you need to gain access to, but you still have to answer a question that could reveal that it happened to get the thing. Whatever answer you give will also be recorded, put into a database, and will instantly become accessible to thousands of other people who have nothing at all to do with helping you get the thing.

So now you have to lie, or you have to reveal the incident. What's worse, and what you can't forget, is that you can't reveal the incident without also revealing that your friend was also involved in the incident - you don't only expose yourself, you expose another person. You become responsible for embarrassing your friend. There's a very good chance that the other person is not going to be very happy with you for exposing his/her secret.

So now you have a choice: lie to protect yourself and your friend, or tell the truth and embarrass both of you.

Let's skip an analysis of the benefits/consequences of taking either path. They're pretty obvious: lie, and you get the thing. Tell the truth, and you get the thing. The right and wrong of lying isn't the important thing here, nor are the ramifications of telling the truth and injuring a third party's reputation.

Remember that I said that the question being asked and the incident you're keeping secret have nothing to do with the thing that you're after. The important thing here is: why are you being asked this question at all?

Think about that. The thing you're trying to get access to, you really need it. The people who can give it to you, they're asking you to jump through hoops that are completely unrelated, but which can inflict a different, unacceptable harm on you. Does it occur to you that perhaps they're doing this because they know that your immediate need of the thing gives them some power over you, but that getting the unrelated information out of you would give them even more power over you?

Do you feel resentment yet? Are you becoming angry? Scared? All of the above? Do you enjoy feeling these things?

Are you thinking to yourself, "why am I being put into a position to experience this? They're doing this to me because they can, and it has nothing to do with what I need right now!"

It's called leverage. Private information, in the hands of a third party, gives that third party power over the individual they have information on. It's another way that some people can effectively own other people. That's what they're going to try to do with you. You will be their property. Your only means of defense will be to lie, and to do it consistently and flawlessly. If you slip up even once, your answers will conflict with what's in the database, and then they'll have you. 

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Whole Life Insurance As An Alternative to Health Insurance?

Now that the health insurance market is even more screwed up thanks to Obamacare and is only worth staying out of, people need to look at potential alternatives for something to fill that need (if they want to). One possibility: whole life insurance.

I know, Dave Ramsey hates the stuff. Please don't bother reminding me, but also don't let his rejection of it stop you from reading further. His panning of the product is based purely on a dollars and cents perspective, which has its merits, but only to the extent that an individual values only that. There are other uses for this stuff than just insurance, and some may find those other possibilities to be worth every penny. Here's a little taste: what if you didn't have to deal with bankers as much, or ever again? Interested? Read on.

Whole life insurance is life insurance, not health insurance, so it's not an obvious nor direct replacement. It's also not cheap insurance, relative to "term" life insurance. However, unlike term and unlike health insurance, it has cash value (I'm ignoring HSA accounts in stating this; you have to have an eligible health insurance policy to  be allowed to fund an HSA account, but the account is separate from your policy).

The cash value of a whole life policy is an internal dollar amount that the policy is worth. It is not the death benefit, which is what the policy will pay out to beneficiaries upon the death of the insured. Over time, if a policy is structured in a certain way, the cash value can increase the death benefit, but for now just focus on the fact that they're different things.

The sum that sits inside a whole life policy is a portion of the premiums paid to keep the policy in force. They accumulate over time and earn interest (sometimes called dividends). Subject to certain limits, a person can "over fund" their policy by paying extra money into it, which adds to this cash value faster.

This is where things get interesting. The interest/dividends earned within the policy are not subject to income taxes, and whole life insurance policies will typically pay a minimum guaranteed rate, otherwise paying more if market conditions allow it. For example, my policy will always return at least 3% per year, but currently it's returning 4.5%. Your earnings grow tax-free (so you have to take into account the tax-equivalent yield to correctly evaluate what you're getting), and they can only grow - you can't lose ground (worth) like you can in the stock markets.

So what? Life insurance only pays out when you die, right?

Not quite. You can take loans against the cash value of a whole life policy. Loans are also not subject to income taxes. You're still in the clear in that regard.

So usually when you take out a loan, two things happen: you become obligated to pay the loan back, and the lender begins charging you interest. When you borrow from a whole life policy, you're not technically obligated to pay the loan back, and YOU are the recipient of interest on the loan.

It's simple: if you borrow from your policy and don't pay the loan back, then your policy lapses and that's the end of that. The money you owe, you owe to yourself. Obviously you can't be in debt to yourself, so what this really means is that not paying back a loan you took out from your own life insurance policy just collapses and cancels the policy. You don't end up owing the provider.

But there's a very good reason to pay the loan back, and that's the interest that's building on the cash value portion of the policy.

If you take a sum out of a savings account, say $1,000 out of a $10,000 balance, you cease earning interest on the $1k you have in-hand. The other $9k is the only portion earning interest, so your total earnings go down. If you did the same thing with a whole life policy, you continue earning interest on $10,000, as if you never took the $1k out. When you pay the $1k back in, you have your $10k in place, plus ALL of the interest you would have earned. 

Think about that. You borrowed from yourself, continued to earn interest on your savings as if you had not touched them, but you had the full utility of the funds you did borrow anyway. When you paid the money back, you put it back into your own pocket, not into someone else's pocket. As long as you restore the cash you borrowed to the policy and keep it in force, you get to keep everything.

You also don't have to qualify for a loan from your own policy. You just tell your provider that you want a loan, and you get your check. You can't borrow more than your policy contains in cash value, so there's no need for the insurance company to subject you to the Spanish Inquisition-like experience that you get if you walk into a typical bank seeking a loan. You are the bank. 

There's no age restrictions here either, unlike IRAs, 401(k) accounts, etc. There's also no purpose-specific qualifiers for taking out a loan on your policy, unlike funds in a Health Savings Account, which must be spent on whatever .gov decides to declare "allowable expenses." 

That's where this product really begins to head off into "life serving" territory; that is, it serves your life and enhances it, versus what health insurance has become, which by and large appears to be increasingly promising to do the opposite. 

The money you pay toward a health insurance plan goes only toward that. The money is gone. You have access to certain services described by the plan, but unless you put a whole lot of money toward the policy each month, you're still going to have to come up with more to cover your co-pays. You can't get a loan from your health insurance policy to do something else in life that interests you. If you want to get a new car, put a down payment on a house, buy up some dividend paying stock in the midst of a market crash, whatever you can think of, there's nothing in your health insurance to do that with. The utility of the money you paid toward your health insurance is gone forever, locked up in that particular use by the dictates of asshole government bureaucrats who will make your health insurance unnecessarily expensive by loading it up with coverages you don't need, forcing you to go forth and earn it somewhere all over again (and the next month, they'll be back for more...).

Unlike contemporary health insurance, which is now plagued with the horrendous concept known as community rating, where you are at the mercy of the dumbest and sickest people around you when it comes to how your health insurance premiums are set, a life insurance company will look at you as an individual. You can actually get a LOWER premium for making good choices: eating right, exercising, not drinking a bottle of whiskey and smoking three packs of cigarettes a day, etc. Once your premium is determined, it remains level for the rest of your life, too, unlike health insurance premiums that will rise every year, whether you use the policy or not. So, contrary to what health insurance markets have been twisted into by special interests and moron politicians, the life insurance market rewards the young and the healthy.

The potential use for this kind of insurance that I'm getting at should be obvious by now: instead of paying good money into something that is over-priced, set up to punish your good behavior because of the bad behavior of others, and which offers you no value outside of its sole purpose, why not buy yourself something that serves you in whatever way you see fit?

If you get sick, borrow against your policy. If you get really sick - terminally ill - you may even be able to access up to half of the death benefit of your policy, which you can use to handle your medical and life expenses (you choose how to spend the money). Granted, your medical bills could end up being larger than the value of your policy. It's a risk that you would be taking on, certainly. On the other hand, what if that doesn't happen? What if instead you stayed away from this kind of product and went for exorbitantly expensive health insurance, paid thousands of dollars per year into it, and then find after several decades that you never needed it that entire time. All of that money, and all of the time out of your finite life that you traded for it - poof! Gone! Health insurance cannot be used to build wealth like whole life insurance can. Want something else now? Well, get back to work! You have to earn that money all over again. 

Like I said, I have one of these policies, and now that I've kicked the bullshit health insurance market to the curb, I'm looking to start another. I won't disclose who my provider is, only because I'm not looking to endorse any particular insurance company. Some are better than others, but I leave that up to you and your agent to research and decide on.

Life is risk. It's also finite. There's never going to be a "completely safe" way to go through life, and there's only so much time that each of us has to get on with the things that we want to do. There are pro's and con's to everything, trade-offs between alternatives that must be evaluated. What those are is a question of what an individual finds relevant to him or her, which is a matter of what they value. The problem with what has happened in the health insurance market is that some people are trying to force everyone else to participate in what it is that they value. They do this at great cost to some for the benefit of others, and in such a way that many people, especially the young, will have to put their dreams on hold for years and years as they're forced to work to fund someone else's interests. Whole life insurance has its drawbacks, but depending on your interests, hopes, and dreams, it may serve you better than health insurance ever will. That's for you to decide.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Don't Buy Health Insurance, Don't Pay The Fine, Do Enjoy Yourself

I found this little gem earlier:

The law prohibits the IRS from using liens or levies to collect any payment you owe related to the individual responsibility provision, if you, your spouse or a dependent included on your tax return does not have minimum essential coverage. However, if you owe a shared responsibility payment, the IRS may offset that liability against any tax refund you may be due.

What this means is that if you give .gov the one-fingered salute over this health insurance nonsense, like I am, then they fine you. The "shared responsibility payment" is what they call it. (That's their cute little socialist way of saying "hey, young people: pay way too much money for health insurance now and put however much of your life on hold so Boomers who have already had their fun will have things easier").

But here's the thing: the IRS can only withhold the penalty from a tax return payment owed to you. They cannot send you a bill for it, put a lien on your income and assets, etc.

What's my source for the above info?

The IRS itself: http://www.irs.gov/uac/Questions-and-Answers-on-the-Individual-Shared-Responsibility-Provision

The snippet I quoted above is at the very bottom of the page (of course).

So here's all you have to do:

If you are an hourly/salaried individual and you receive a W-2 form, get busy adjusting your withholding to bring yourself as close to break-even as possible (in terms of owing more in taxes vs. receiving a return), or such that you'll owe some.

If you are self-employed, you can pretty much control all of this.

Then, just don't pay the stupid fine! They'll no doubt keep it on their books for years, until the statists give the IRS the power to collect it, or the ACA is repealed and all of these bullshit fines are eliminated/forgiven. One or the other will happen, or over time maybe both. I say: take the chance. If you don't give in to their extortion and this nightmare is brought to an end, you win. If you hand over your money out of fear of what they might eventually do and then they are defeated, then you just lose. There will be no restitution of stolen money once the law is repealed; everything taken from you will just be "considered even."

Screw them and their system. If you're young, all you're going to get is your dreams put on hold because people one or two generations older than you were too stupid and/or irresponsible to prepare for their later years. They had their fun, and now they expect you to wait to have yours while they continue to have their own. By the time they're finally dead, you'll have missed out on years of your own happiness, and your "reward" for "paying in" will be to receive far, far less than those who came before you (if there's anything left at all - the numbers are not good). Your only hope is to enjoy yourself now, keep as much of what's yours away from this black hole, and do your part to crash and burn what they've created and forced on you.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

The ACA Has Come for Me, So I Will Shrug

A letter from my health insurance provider finally came that I have been expecting for some time now. I now have the confirmation of my fears in black and white right in front of me. My current so-called high deductible, Health Savings Account-eligible (HSA) policy is being discontinued and will be replaced with an Affordable Care Act (ACA) compliant one. They even included a side-by-side comparison of my current plan features with the "Bronze" level plan it will convert to.

The substantial differences:

Deductible: was $3,500; now $5,000 in-network, $10,000 out-of-network

Coinsurance: was 50% for all categories of providers; now 30% in-network, 50% out-of-network

Out-of-pocket max: was $5,000 in any scenario; now $6250 in-network, $12,500 out-of-network

Other listed services are basically the same as they were before, which was that they were covered after my deductibles had been met. What is now covered that I didn't have before is maternity care, which sure makes me feel more secure about my non-existence uterus!

The price tag:

My policy was $140/month.

It will now be $254.57 (the Bronze plan is the cheapest one).

This is a premium increase of 81.8%, and a deductible increase of 42.8%. The other changes are largely meaningless, except that they add to the expense of the insurance.

My answer: No.

That's it, I'm done.

I'm out.

The purpose of insurance is supposed to be to protect one against catastrophe. It is supposed to be a relatively small exchange of value now as a hedge against unpredictable, crippling calamity later. It is also supposed to be insurance, period, not a laundry list of pre-paid medical services, many of which should not be paid for via insurance at all, but rather out-of-pocket and as needed, because they are routine and expected things. Further, insurance is supposed to be something one adopts as a virtuous move, voluntarily jumping into the "pool" before it is needed, such that the pool will exist for you and your fellow voluntary participants when it is needed. To protect the value of what the participants are investing in, the pool must necessarily exclude those who wait until it is too late to participate. As this law is written, anyone can jump in at any time, well after their need has been established, and such that the necessary security and longevity of the pool (that is, the protection of the early adopters' investment) simply cannot exist. Being a willing participant in health insurance pools before one is sick is now a sucker's bet.

Beyond the specific purpose of insurance and its correct form, there is the much bigger matter of its value within the context of my life. Properly structured and priced, health insurance is supposed to serve me; that is, it should enhance my life by providing greater value than it costs me. My existing health insurance plan, though it has many warts and could be cheaper, at this time does do that: I can both afford it and make contributions to my HSA without negatively impacting other things I am doing in my life. These changes, and the resulting price increases, would force me to draw resources (money, which is a tangible representation of my finite energy and time) away from other parts of my life to devote to the new policy. If I do not do so, then basically I could afford the new policy only by scrapping what I am contributing to my HSA and redirecting it to the premium, which destroys the utility of the HSA. Or, if I maintain my HSA contributions at their current levels as a percentage of my premiums, I will have to eliminate from my budget many of the other things that I enjoy in life: saving, investing, paying off debts, any number of leisure activities, etc. To keep everything in place in my budget and my life that is there now, I would have to work even harder to earn more money, sacrificing more of my time and energy in a way I would not otherwise choose to (resulting also in paying more taxes, and moving even further away from eligibility for a tax credit to offset the cost of my "affordable" health insurance).

In any scenario, the requirement that I own one of these idiotic health plans requires that I begin sacrificing higher values to what is now a lower one: my health insurance, which was always supposed to serve me, now requires that I serve it. This is value-destroying, which means it is life-destroying, and is therefore insane.

So I am dropping out. I am cancelling my existing policy before it automatically converts to this new, destructive policy. I fully acknowledge the risk I am taking, both in terms of my future health and the statutory punishments described within the ACA for not carrying insurance, but the math is very simple: I am alive and healthy now and can find much higher value and utility in having my life, my time, and my energy more in my own hands and at my disposal than I can by sacrificing it to the destructive policies dreamed up by unaccountable bureaucrats and would-be aristocratic "elected leaders." It is better to access more of what I value now, rather than constantly putting my dreams and goals on-hold for the sake of what some bureaucrat thinks I should devote my life and time to doing.

I accept that by choosing to more fully enjoy my life now, that I may subject myself to a potentially painful and rapid end later. I accept that I may have to take the end of my life into my own hands if the situation becomes hopeless enough. However, I find it preferable to seek and seize more of my own happiness now, as I conceive of it, with the possibility that I may not get sick and die relatively early in life. The gamble is an easy one to accept: I know that if I pay for one of these policies that I will lose value now and for the rest of my life. I know that ultimately I will die anyway, and that when I do die the chance is higher that I will go to my grave regretting everything I wanted to do but could not afford to do because an evil, out-of-control government forced me to devote my time and energy to what they thought was best, not what I valued most. I am going to take more of my own life into my own hands, and I am going to demand that all others back off and leave me to its entirety.

This is what I am choosing to do. I do not require that others follow my lead to validate what I am doing, but I do urge everyone else to do the same. To defeat and destroy this monstrosity that is being forced on us all, enough of us must refuse and resist. Let this be an open declaration of war upon schemes such as this one and those who seek to empower themselves as dictators trying to ride the tigers they have created: we know that you need us, our lives, and our energy, and we will make as many people as we can aware that they do not need you. Our weapon will be our non-participation; we will destroy you by doing nothing. We will remind the disillusioned and disappointed at every available opportunity that the new pains being forced upon them come from you, and that you can be removed and the pains alleviated. We will not voluntarily participate in your schemes, except in ways that will bleed out and destroy your creations. We will force you to reveal your true natures and initiate physical force against us when we do not accept your shackles and resist. We will put your creditors, both foreign and domestic, on notice that we intend to remove your access to our productivity by choosing to reduce it, such that they will cease backing you up by buying your debt. Through example, philosophy, persuasion, and demonstration, we will help individuals remember and realize that they are an "I," not a "we," and that you simply are not the predicate of anything relevant to, or required of, their own happiness on this earth; that you are mere men and women not worthy of respect or fear, only of scorn; and that you are in fact the antithesis of an individual's happiness.

Each of us, as individuals, has everything to gain by resisting: we can reclaim ownership of our own lives, and then do with them as we will, cooperating with others on a voluntary basis if we so chose, to whatever just ends we as individuals might identify. The would-be dictators and collectivists that presently attack us at every turn stand to lose that which is not rightfully theirs: power over you. This is a fight that is very much worth having. Living your life, as you see fit to do so, depends on it.

Monday, February 25, 2013

The Pajamahadin: What Rights Would You Sell Out For Security?

Chicago has America’s strictest gun laws and yet remains this nation’s most deadly war zone. For Americans, not even Afghanistan can match Chicago’s body count. 

Roughly 80% of Chicagoland’s shootings are gang related. So it’s no wonder that, for the first time since 1929, the Chicago Crime Commission saw fit to designate a new Public Enemy, especially considering that, compared to Guzman, Capone was a piker.

The only surprise is that the crime commission pointed the finger at an actual criminal. The politically correct choice would have been to name firearms manufacturers or law-abiding gun owners as enemies.
If you give away one bit of liberty for protections that won't work, you'll end up giving it all away for nothing.

Read the entire article here.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

How To Properly Address A Locust Voter

I think I may have coined a new term, as I cannot find "locust voter" by doing a quick online search. Apologies to anyone who has been using the term before me, if any, but as I define it, a "locust voter" is someone who moves out of whatever dysfunctional, leftist hell hole they were living in and into a more free, vibrant locality to enjoy the economic and social benefits there, but who then begins demanding the establishment of the laws and practices of the place they moved from, those things largely being responsible for the miserable conditions of their former home. 

Take this example:

"Get out of here.
That was one Wyoming state representative’s message to a resident who contacted him recently stating her opposition to a bill that would have allowed people with concealed carry permits to carry guns in public schools, colleges and sporting events.
Rev. Audette Fulbright had emailed all state legislators, including Republican Rep. Hans Hunt, earlier this month to say she and her husband had just moved to Wyoming and were “seriously reconsidering” their decision amid the proposed expansion of gun laws...
...“I know of other new-to-Wyoming families in similar contemplation. Your choices matter. It would be sad to see an exodus of educated, childrearing age adults from Wyoming as a result of poor lawmaking,” she wrote.
Hunt’s response? “By all means, leave.”
Typical. As one comment posted in response to the article mentions, if you read between the lines of Fulbright's letter, the implication is "if you don't agree with what I think is right, you're uneducated/backwards/stupid, etc., and if I don't get my way I'll leave and you'll be poor because you're nothing without my amazing presence." Lovely.

In addition to her unsubstantiated firearms hysteria, Fulbright demands that the long-time residents of her new home suffer an economic apartheid: while she clearly had the resources to relocate to Wyoming without needing the economic benefits of fracking, she would gladly leave her new neighbors, many of whom probably have been there long before she ever thought of moving in, poor (Fulbright is a Unitarian Universalist minister, and speaking purely in terms of what clergy members represent to a community economically, she really doesn't contribute jack by being there, so her presence is definitely NOT a replacement for the industrial development she opposes). Just compare the unemployment rate of North Dakota (where energy development is blazing away) and Wyoming with the unemployment rate of her former home, Virginia. Fulbright left a place with greater unemployment, is now apparently comfortable in her own financial situation, and she's in turn comfortable with forcing Wyoming to endure greater unemployment than it needs to.

There are plenty of places Fulbright could have moved to that already feature these policies that she's demanding now in Wyoming. But she didn't move to those places. Why? Because they suck, and they suck because of some of the very things she's demanding. She deliberately chose the greener pastures of a place not blighted and destroyed by those idiotic ideas, and now she wants to consume the benefits while attacking their maintenance and continuance. Fulbright already has hers, so now she wants the liberties of everyone around her restricted (and of course, it's because she knows what's best for you). Just like a locust: swarm in, consume everything, render a location barren, then move on to the next better spot.

There is absolutely no good reason to cater to the whims of people like this or apologize to them for your own beliefs and way of life. The best thing you can do is exactly what Rep. Hunt did: tell the locust voter to go pound sand.

Doing so might convince the locust voter to move on (doubtful, but it's worth a try). It can also attract the opposite of the locust voter: individuals who relocate to places not so they can begin clamping down on the liberties of their neighbors, but so they can enjoy living their own lives and leave others to do the same. These types of people don't come in looking to limit possibilities (opportunity), and in so doing the result is that possibilities flourish. If you can keep those kinds of people coming to a particular location, you stand a chance of repelling the locusts.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Washington House Bill 1588: Walsh Now Says "No"

This email just now hit my inbox, so to be fair to Rep. Maureen Walsh in light of what I've written about her recently on my blog, here's what she has to say:

Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Like you, I am shocked and saddened by the murders that have occurred in our country. The slaughter of innocent children in Newtown, Conn. still continues to haunt me as my heart aches for the families of the victims. People suffering with mental illness are responsible for these horrific deaths, and no legislation will ever be able to prevent all of them.
The state Legislature is carefully considering several approaches to addressing gaps in our current laws that could help prevent some of these mass shootings. School and public safety is the goal, and there are many facets to the cause of these horrific events. Mental health is certainly a component, as well as a lack of enforcing our current laws.
As many of you know, I did sign on to House Bill 1588 with the belief that it simply addressed an inequity (loophole) in the law concerning background checks at some gun shows. Although the bill has been amended to address some of the concerns of gun owners across the state, I have really come to realize that no legislation will ever address the criminal element as far as guns are concerned. Thus the bill only targets (no pun intended) lawful gun owners and the application of the law would not be logical. I will not be supporting the bill and thank everyone who wrote to me with their concerns. Your comments were very helpful to me in discerning this issue. I am honored to serve as your state representative.
Maureen Walsh"
That's better.

Still though, I have to wonder how "careful" the consideration is that Rep. Walsh claims is being given to proposed laws seeking to infringe on our inherent right to self-defense, and its natural, logical expression, the ability to possess the common weapons of the day (to be more direct, being able to possess the same weapons in common use by the government's forces). By her own admission she signed onto a bill that she later realized would only target lawful gun owners, which she describes as "not logical." How careful is that? Further, what principle is involved here? Is it that the natural rights of sovereign citizens were being assaulted, and that this is simply wrong, or is it that this would have cost too many votes for her to be returned to Olympia again in two years?

In any case, it's good to know that the votes for WA HB 1588 just decreased by at least one, hopefully to be followed by many more defections in the days to come. I'll choose to be happy about that for now (I'll be feeling great after it fails). However, I think it prudent to remain skeptical of Rep. Walsh in terms of her worthiness of my vote next time around (and I may still buy something from Onion World between now and then, we'll see). Rep. Walsh has gotten it very right on big matters of individual liberty before, so the disconnect between those principles she acted on then and this present example are puzzling. Whether an action such as this is accidental or intentional, the damage it can do is the same. A move like this on something so fundamental to individual liberty by an elected representative warrants keeping a very close eye on them going forward in order to be sure that they truly are qualified - intellectually, philosophically, and morally - to be entrusted as a steward of our liberties.  

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

WA HB 1588 Survives Committee, Goes To House Floor

An update to what I wrote previously about Washington House Bill 1588, a "universal" background check bill:

The bill made it through committee today, receiving 7 votes for to 6 opposed. The history and text of the bill can be found here.
As I said before, one of my House reps, Maureen Walsh, owner of Onion World, is a cosponsor of the bill. I'll repeat what I've said about her in regard to this bill: she has lost my support in any future campaign for elected office she might undertake, and I will never again patronize her business. Anti-liberty statists like her do not deserve my support in any form.

My other House rep, Terry Nealey, voted against the bill in committee. I wrote to thank him for that and to encourage him to repeat his "no" vote on the House floor.
There are 38 sponsors of this bill. In the House there are 98 representatives. 50 votes on any bill is a majority. If the 38 sponsors of this bill can be counted as "yes" votes, then this vile trash is only 12 votes away from passing the House. 
This is a universal gun registration bill.
I did not type that by mistake. I'll repeat: THIS IS A UNIVERSAL GUN REGISTRATION BILL. The bill is for universal background checks and contains no language calling for universal registration. However, it cannot work without universal registration. Why? It's simple. Thirteen words defeat the whole thing:

"I've owned all of my firearms since before the law was passed, officer."

There is no need for anyone to comply with this law when conducting a private sale/purchase of a firearm simply by not seeking the background check and not reporting the sale. Anyone found to be in possession of a firearm would need only to claim ownership of it since before the passage of this bill, if it does pass. Absent a complete record of who owns what in this state, there isn't a way to prove that you purchased the weapon(s) in question privately after the law was passed.
There is no way that these treasonous legislators who sponsored this monstrosity will allow that to happen. These would-be tyrants are not going to let this kind of control slip through their fingers so easily.

If you care about your 2nd amendment and your Article 1, Section 24 rights (click here if you've never heard of that one before, especially if you live in Washington), start writing your state representatives and your senator NOW. You can find yours here.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

How To Defeat Five Men When You're A 65-Year-Old Woman, Unless WA HB 1588 Stops You, and Goodbye Onion World

It's simple: own and use a firearm.

Meanwhile, in my state, Washington, and despite what our state constitution says on the matter of firearm ownership:

Article I - Section 24 - Right to Bear Arms
The right of the individual citizen to bear arms in defense of himself, or the state, shall not be impaired, but nothing in this section shall be construed as authorizing individuals or corporations to organize, maintain or employ an armed body of men.
...one of my state House reps, Maureen Walsh, is currently an active participant in an attempt to impair our right to bear arms. She is a co-sponsor of Washington House Bill 1588, which seeks to establish a "universal" background check system. This bill would criminalize the transfer of firearms between private parties without the purchaser first undergoing a background check, even including such absurdities as requiring a grandparent to not give a hunting rifle to a grandson or granddaughter unless they get a background check first! Those of us with valid concealed pistol licenses would see our privilege of same-day possession of newly purchased firearms stripped from us, too, as we would have to wait for processing of background checks that we have already passed! And, to add insult to injury, it will cost $20 EVERY TIME to have one of these checks run on us.

In short, if this bill becomes law, it will universally hinder the ability of law abiding citizens of Washington state to exercise our inherent right to self defense, and the natural extension of that, the right to keep and bear arms. Criminals, on the other hand, will universally ignore the law. Anti-liberty politicians, Rep. Walsh included, are attempting to make us pay to exercise a right. Does this remind you of similar terrible policies of the past that were designed to economically disenfranchise people from the exercise of their rights?

Unless Rep. Walsh withdraws her support for this bill, then I am withdrawing my support from her. I will not vote for her again and I will actively support her primary opponents in the next election. Additionally, the last time I purchased a sausage from her business, Onion World, will become the last time I ever do so again, too. I'm not going to hand my hard-earned money over to someone who uses the support my capital provides to launch attacks on my rights, someone who harasses the law abiding to the benefit of criminals. Unless it turns out that they're on the same page as Rep. Walsh, I'll bring my business to her competitors from now on instead.

For those in Washington state who are concerned about these assaults on our liberties, here is some further information on people in our state government that you can contact about this terrible bill. The committee the bill is in front of at present will be holding a hearing on it this Wednesday, February 13th, at 8am. We have between now and then to let the members of the committee know what a horrible thing HB 1588 is.

Sunday, February 03, 2013

White House: Don't Photoshop President's Skeet Shooting Photo

Digital Journal: Surge of edited Obama photos after White House says 'don't edit'

"In order to insure the photo was used for its intended purpose, (to provide proof of the president's skeet shooting) the White House released the following statement along with the photo: "This official White House photograph is being made available only for publication by news organizations and/or for personal use printing by the subject(s) of the photograph. The photography may not be manipulated in any way and may not be used in commercial or political materials, advertisements, emails, products, promotions that in any way suggest approval or endorsement of the President, the First Family, or the White House."


Friday, February 01, 2013

The Learned Sergeant on the 2nd Amendment

A buddy of mine, Jefferson Ragnar Griffeath, who blogs under the nom de typetype, The Learned Sergeant, put up a two-part post on the true nature of the 2nd amendment of the U.S. Constitution:
It is telling that those same men that seem to think it’s okay to control and micromanage our lives, in effect, people who think they OWN you are the same people WHO WANT TO TAKE THE VERY FIREARMS YOU ARE SUPPOSED TO DEFEND YOURSELF FROM THEM WITH.  Of course your oppressor wants to keep you unarmed.
And, as a bonus, his post highlights an important fact that people with the "red team vs. blue team" mentality about U.S. politics consistently fail to understand: whether republican or democrat, statists gonna state.

Read JR's first piece here.

Read JR's second piece here.

Watch FPSRussia shoot some stuff with a remote-controlled helicopter here:

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

It's Good To Buy The King?

Recently I decided to shuffle my retirement accounts somewhat. A mutual fund company I have kept an IRA with made some changes to their investment policies that I'm not particularly interested in (it's not bad stuff, it's just not a strategy that I'm using). Rather than move the funds to another mutual fund company, I've decided to put them into a brokerage account, which will give me the option of purchasing individual company stocks instead.

I'm a big fan of mechanical investing/trading systems, those being strategies that generate buy and sell signals based on simple criteria. I like these methods because, while they're not perfect, they help to avoid something I consider to be far worse: analysis paralysis

There's also the time factor. Any approach to investing you can cite other than a mechanical method will probably consume a lot of one's time. I also consider this to be a bad thing because one's time is finite, so the quicker an effective strategy can be, the better. 

Recently Cappy linked to an article that discussed this (among other things): Do This Instead of Investing Your Money...
Phil, for example, a very wealthy friend in his 40s, is an expert in municipal bond investing. But he didn’t become wealthy by investing in bonds. He got wealthy as a marketing and Internet entrepreneur and by leveraging some debts and eliminating others. Nowadays, he buys and sells bonds – but he spends only a few hours a month on it. For Phil, investing is a part-time way to increase the value of his savings. It is not – and never has been – his primary road to wealth.
It’s the same with all my millionaire friends. They all have their own investment preferences and practices. But like Phil, none of them spends more than a small portion of his working time on investing.
To paraphrase the article: work at increasing your income, keep dept in check, and put your surpluses to work for you. Just be sure that managing your surpluses (investing your cash) doesn't end up working you. Mechanical investing methods can be how you do this.

For years I've been intrigued by one such method, the Dogs of the Dow strategy. Simply stated, to use this strategy you buy the ten highest yielding stocks of the Dow Jones Industrial Average, hold them for one year, then sell any that are no longer among the ten, replacing them with whichever companies have moved onto the list. As far as annual returns go, this strategy does fairly well.

This certainly fits my criteria for being mechanical and simple, but it leaves out something that I think is important: rising dividends. Good, strong companies are able to raise their dividend payouts over time so as to return increasing amounts of cash to their shareholders. Thus, the yield on a particular stock can vary from investor to investor, depending on when each of them purchased their shares. For example: two people own Coca Cola stock. The first just got her shares and enjoys a 2.8% yield. The other investor had a lower yield when he bought his, 2.69%. However, he bought his shares in 1988 and held them so that now his yield on his cost is 33.69% annually (and that doesn't include the appreciated value of his shares).

You lose that if you sell, for once the order goes through, you're back to cash and your yield is zero. That's my big gripe with the Dogs. There's also the not-so-small point that by the Dogs methodology, a stock gets onto the buy list because it has a relatively high yield. That's something that can happen simply because of fluctuations in the price of the company's shares, which can occur even if the dividend is stagnant. If a company is not raising its dividend consistently, then you might as well just buy a bond.

Enter the Dividend Aristocrats.

I won't lay out what the Dividend Aristocrats are - I've linked to a definition of that so you can read it there. Unlike the Dogs, which qualify as buys simply due to a momentary yield, the Aristocrats only get to be on the list after having raised dividends consistently for twenty-five years and regardless of what their yields are. That's no guarantee that they always will, but it's a better place to start.

So then I could use that list instead of the Dogs list and handle it the same way, by picking the top ten as of now, hold them for a year, and adjust my holdings once each year. But, as I said, I don't want to do that because then I don't get to participate in what makes the Aristocrats what they are, companies that tend to pay their shareholders more over time.

Instead, I'm considering buying the top however many Aristocrats, then holding them indefinitely, unless any one of them cuts their dividend. Instead of selling positions that leave the top ten each year, I'll simply stop buying more of them until they return to the top, and instead begin building positions in the companies that have moved up the list.

But then I wonder, how many of "the top" should I buy? Ten is an arbitrary number. So would be nine, eight, seven, etc. But there's one number that isn't arbitrary: #1.

Why not just go right to the top of the list, buy up as much of the highest yielding Aristocrat at that moment (the "King," if you will) as I can, hold it, and in subsequent quarters, years, etc. buy up whatever other Aristocrats that in turn eventually take the top spot?

There's numerous reasons I'm aware of that some would advise against doing this, not the least of which is the possibility that something has a momentarily high yield because the underlying fundamentals of the business are crashing - a yield is only a stated yield and not an actual yield until it is paid; a stock going down in flames can suddenly gain a high yield simply because the board of directors has not yet announced a dividend cut from the prior level. This wouldn't create a diversified portfolio (at first), the value of the principal could fluctuate wildly due to being concentrated in so few positions, etc.

It's all just ideas for now. Like I said at the beginning, I like the time and effort that mechanical investing methods can save a person, but that doesn't mean that some time and effort isn't involved in getting them started. There needs to be a little thought put into the system before launching it, but if done right, the bulk of the effort should be up-front with subsequent maintenance of the strategy being relatively easy, leaving you free to get back to other stuff. In any case, the "alternative" - not thinking about it at all - doesn't work out so well:

Saturday, January 26, 2013

If You Don't Need A Gun Because We Have Police...

...then you don't need these either.

Really, leave it up to the professionals. You'll probably just squirt your eye out.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

How Feinstein Will Make Iran Rich

Senator Diane Feinstein, one of Commiefornia's seemingly undead representatives to the Federal government, today unveiled her latest attempt to undermine the U.S. Constitution that she has many times falsely sworn to uphold. As the headlines have it:

What exactly does that mean? 
"New York Rep. Carolyn McCarthy expressed a similar sentiment saying, 'If they’re [assault weapons] not in the stores, they can’t be bought.'"
Presumably, there simply won't be any more evil black guns for sale, existing ones will wear out and break, and magically there won't be any at all!

The stupidity of these two (and others) on this issue is very similar to how this same crowd views taxation. I wrote something about that almost exactly one year ago today, a post about tax windfalls people like these two think they can count on simply because they've raised tax rates.

Obviously taxation and gun control are two different topics, but in both cases the people who come up with this crap always forget the most important thing: people react!

If you raise taxes, past a certain point people will stop ignoring it and begin avoiding them (which is what that post from a year ago is about), and projected revenue from an increase of X percent never materializes. You don't get the result you want from a dynamic environment simply because you've made a rule! When it comes to firearms, if you try to prevent them from being available in one place, and if people still want them, they'll be made available somewhere else and people will still have them.

Drugs, anyone?

Ban all you want, Feinstein, we will still have guns, and lots of them. See, much like the myopic "thinking" that goes into those tax proposals, your ideas about making guns just go away ignores the simple fact that anything you try to ban can be made anywhere else in the world! (And, just because you've banned something, that doesn't mean you've eliminated demand for it.) Somewhere else on the globe, someone will step up to produce the firearms that we still want, and there's a good chance that some of those folks won't give a damn about smuggling them into the U.S.

Like Iran:

For six years, a group of independent arms-trafficking researchers worked to pin down the source of the mystery cartridges. Exchanging information from four continents, they concluded that someone had been quietly funneling rifle and machine-gun ammunition into regions of protracted conflict, and had managed to elude exposure for years. Their only goal was to solve the mystery, not implicate any specific nation.
When the investigators’ breakthrough came, it carried a surprise. The manufacturer was not one of Africa’s usual suspects. It was Iran.
Iran has a well-developed military manufacturing sector, but has not exported its weapons in quantities rivaling those of the heavyweights in the global arms trade, including the United States, Russia, China and several European countries. But its export choices in this case were significant...
...And for the past several years, even as Iran faced intensive foreign scrutiny over its nuclear program and for supporting proxies across the Middle East, its state-manufactured ammunition was distributed through secretive networks to a long list of combatants, including in regions under United Nations arms embargoes.
That's just one example from another continent and a different entity trying to ban an activity, but the idea is the same: somewhere, people want arms and ammunition, someone else meets that demand. There are rules in place that forbid the trade, but the folks meeting the demand find ways around the barriers and the people who want the goods don't care how they got there. Besides Iran, there are no doubt others out there that would be only too happy to keep us well-supplied with small arms and ammunition. Many of them are probably just as despicable as the regime that rules Iran, and thanks to idiots like you, Feinstein, they'll be that much wealthier.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Japanese Finance Minister: Government Should Let Old People 'Hurry Up And Die'

"Japan's finance minister Taro Aso said Monday the elderly should be allowed to "hurry up and die" instead of costing the government money for end-of-life medical care.
Aso, who also doubles as deputy prime minister, reportedly said during a meeting of the National Council on Social Security Reforms: "Heaven forbid if you are forced to live on when you want to die. You cannot sleep well when you think it's all paid by the government."
Read the complete Business Insider article here.

The article I've quoted and linked to goes on to describe Aso's statements as him "putting his foot in his mouth." Really? I don't think so. Then again, I'm not a politician who will say anything and/or hide any truth so as to cling to power.

This is the truth. The longer people live who do not have their own funds with which to do so, the longer someone else must pay for them to exist. The only real problem with Aso's statement, unless Japanese culture is very different in this regard, is that hardly anyone loses sleep over "the government" paying for the prolonging of their metabolic functioning (as opposed to their life - two very different things). In the minds of most people "the government" is some sort of real entity separate from the individuals who make it up, and the individuals it forcibly extracts resources from. This reification of an abstract allows many to carry on being supported by theft without experiencing a shred of guilt.

Aso's statements also reveal a further bit of truth, and that is the nature of the relationship between an individual and a collectivist society: if you're not an asset, you're a liability.

Don't fool yourself into believing that this only applies to the elderly.

A Double-Edged Sword


Truth is, however, that this isn't how it would go in real life. Many (if not most) of the "laws" enacted in D.C. only apply to us commoners. 

Monday, January 21, 2013

Utah Sheriffs' Association to the President: Molon Labe!

"We respect the Office of the President of the United States of America. But, make no mistake, as the duly-elected sheriffs of our respective counties, we will enforce the rights guaranteed to our citizens by the Constitution. No federal official will be permitted to descend upon our constituents and take from them what the Bill of Rights—in particular Amendment II—has given them. We, like you, swore a solemn oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, and we are prepared to trade our lives for the preservation of its traditional interpretation." [emphasis mine]

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Come And Take Them, If You Can; We'll Print More

"This project might change the way we think about gun control and consumption. How do governments behave if they must one day operate on the assumption that any and every citizen has near instant access to a firearm through the Internet? Let’s find out."

"Five months ago, the group of homemade gun enthusiasts known as Defense Distributed set out to create a lethal firearm that could be downloaded and 3D-printed entirely from scratch, circumventing all gun control laws. But as new gun bills have been proposed in the wake of recent shootings, creating a bootleg weapon with digital pieces may soon be far easier: As simple as printing a spring-loaded plastic box.
Over the past weekend, Defense Distributed successfully 3D-printed and tested an ammunition magazine for an AR semi-automatic rifle, loading and firing 86 rounds from the 30-round clip."
A fully functional 3D-printed firearm is still a ways off, but a while ago not even a functioning 3D-printed magazine was possible to make. The technology is on its way. This is a good thing.

As per the quote at the top of this post, that's what it's all about. Despite what the anti-gun crowd thinks, that the 2nd amendment is what gives us our right to keep and bear arms (it does not, it merely describes a right that we naturally possess, and exists to restrict governments from impairing that right) and can be legislated away, and that it's really all just about hunting deer, the truth is that our ability to possess arms is to have the means to resist tyrannical governments.

There's a quote out there often attributed to Thomas Jefferson: "When governments fear the people, there is liberty. When people fear the government, there is tyranny." There's some debate as to whether or not Jefferson actually said that. Much like the anti-gunners that think they really have something because memes attributing total gun control to Hitler are historically inaccurate, they would probably foam at their liberty-hating mouths if they discovered that this is in fact an incorrectly attributed quote.

That's what the lazy thinkers that populate the statist ranks love to do, catch people on trivial technicalities and substitute that for independent thought and truth (not to mention superficially reading the Constitution and concluding from that all kinds of restrictions on us that do not exist). So Hitler didn't disarm everyone, and in fact did enact firearms laws in Germany that actually expanded ownership. Great, right? That means supporters of the 2nd are wrong and you can go on your merry, brain dead statist way. Except for one thing: Jewish people were not included in those relatively more liberal firearms laws, nor were people in lands conquered by the Nazis. We know how that ended up.

As for the Jefferson quote, would it not be true if it were someone else who said it? Of course, it still would be. Government's power correctly comes from the consent of the governed. Governments do not always remain legitimate, as history has shown again and again, instead becoming an entity staffed by individuals who see government as an end in itself, something that exists for its own sake. Such governments derive their power from what force they are able to wield. Then, what government wants (really, what the individuals who happen to make up the government want) becomes what the government gets. Whatever stands in its way simply gets moved (or eliminated).

In a nation dominated by such a government, one that has turned rotten and corrupt, what you want in life simply does not matter. The priorities and goals for "the nation," "the people," "society," etc. identified by the elites in charge take precedence. You become the muscle that will be used to achieve those visions. It won't matter if you happen to agree or if you do not, the choice will not be yours. If you are deemed to be too troublesome, too much of an impediment to the achievement of the elite's goals, then you'll have to go.

Naturally, such a government cannot tolerate any rival power, and it will not so long as the rival power is weaker. At the first available opportunity, that government will attack the smaller, weaker rival and attempt to eliminate it.
“If [a firearm technology] is used by law enforcement or military, you can bet they say it shouldn’t be used by you.”
-- Cody Wilson, Founder, Defense Distributed

For now, possession of firearms is our ultimate backstop against our own government turning all-out tyrannical. Even so, look at how they treat us with contempt! They pass laws and create agencies that seek to harass us in our day-to-day lives. They have taken to demanding that we buy certain products as a condition of being alive. They create regulations "for our own good, for our protection" that limit the average person's opportunities while preserving their own. They swear oaths to uphold our Constitution, and then they openly mock it and seek ways to circumvent it. They constantly seek ways to undermine the integrity of our elections so as to further cement themselves in power. They recklessly incur greater and greater amounts of debt that they then demand that we repay, even as the amount becomes so large that it cannot be repaid. The list goes on.

Think it's bad now? Further restrict private firearm ownership, or even eliminate it all together. How much better behaved do you think they'll be then?

That's the beauty of this new technology. Right now, production of firearms is more or less a centralized activity - there are only so many manufacturers in the world, after all. The fewer points of production that exist, the easier it is to shut them down. Limited production also increases the cost of the end product, especially if it is in high demand.

What if the points of production literally became almost everywhere, all at once, and it were impossible to find them all?

The answer: power, in the form of physical force, becomes more widely distributed and therefore more balanced. A rotten government bent on total centralization of its power will do so to the extent that it can use its available force unopposed (relatively speaking). The greater the extent that force can be centralized, the easier it will be for said government to dominate its subjects. Conversely, the greater the extent that power in the form of physical force can be decentralized, the ability of any government, gang, mob, etc. to dominate becomes less, even eliminated. They are then returned to their proper place: allowed to exist and deriving power only by the consent of the governed.

I look forward to the continued development and success of Defense Distributed's work. This technology cannot get here soon enough.

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