Subscribe Now: standard

There was an error in this gadget

Friday, May 20, 2011

One Thing to Do Today

Evening, all!

I am currently writing letters to my representative and senators in Congress.  My complaints include education funding and health care reform.

I believe everyone should write a letter (not an e-mail) about an important topic(s) and send it to his or her congresspersons.  The only way our politicians will listen to us is if we speak to them.

So, let's start speaking.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Welfare Abuse in Michigan

I would like you all to read this story about greed, selfishness, and unreasonableness: http://news.yahoo.com/s/yblog_localdtw/20110518/ts_yblog_localdtw/2m-michigan-lottery-winner-defends-use-of-food-stamps

Leroy Fick is a pathetic individual.  He's arrogant, selfish, and spoiled.  His (and his lawyer's) attitude can be summed up by this quote: "The problem is with the state".  That statement is only half-correct.  The other half of the problem is Leroy Fick; specifically, the problem is Leroy Fick being a greedy, welfare-abusing bastard.

Does it surprise anyone that one of the baby boomers would stoop to this low of a level?  It doesn't surprise me one bit.  After all, the boomers do form the "greediest generation ever", according to Thomas Friedman.

Anyway, food stamps and similar programs are for the truly needy.  These programs are meant to make sure that Americans (especially youngsters) aren't starving and dying on the streets.  Welfare programs are not for
millionaires.

Leroy Fick is, in my book, one of the greediest persons in America.  I believe he belongs right up there with Republicans, Democrats, derivatives traders (especially SLABS and oil-futures traders), the UAW, the RIAA, professional athletes, and celebrities.     

Sunday, May 15, 2011

A Brief Look at the Iraq War

I decided to talk about the Iraq War today after watching the film "The Hurt Locker".

Honestly, if you have never seen the film, please go do so.  It is disturbing, intriguing, and, according to some veterans, somewhat accurate in terms of the addiction to the adrenaline rush that comes with dismantling bombs (see: http://www.usatoday.com/life/movies/news/2010-02-17-hurtlocker17_CV_N.htm). Marine Lance Corporal Nate Knowles, who lost a leg to an IED in Afghanistan, actually said of the film: "I think everybody should watch it and see how things really are".

Sure, the director of the film took liberties with the movie in terms of proper signification of ranks and solider actions.  But, as stated in that article, many of the emotions portrayed in the film are spot on in terms of what soldiers feel while they're in Iraq, and when they come home.

So, please watch the movie.  And, when you're done, thank a veteran.

A Great Youtube Video for High School Students About College

Okay, teenagers.

I want you to watch this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VpZtX32sKVE&feature=player_embedded. It is one hour long, and, I must say it is a worthwhile investment of your time.  

The video is pretty preachy (and not totally right about the whole "hyperinflation" thing).  But, I still mostly agree with the message: college is way overpriced and it may not even get you a good job anymore.  

If you are still considering where to go to college, you should seriously consider community colleges.  Or consider a trade school.

Honestly, I don't want you to suffer the indecencies of our college financing system.  You will graduate with at least $30,000 in debt, you probably won't get a job that pays that off for years, and you will lose four years of income while you're working towards a degree.  And, if you run into tough times, there is no help for you: there are no bankruptcy protections for private or public student loans.

I believe you would be better off working, saving your money, and then traveling the world.  You will learn much more and learn it all cheaper.

If you want to learn about a particular scholastic discipline, you have a fantastic resource: the Internet. Use it to educate yourself.

In essence, everyone has a degree nowadays.  Since everyone possesses a degree, each degree's value is minimal.  It's not called a "B.S." for nothing:  given the number of people who are college-educated today, a degree is bullshit.

Higher education is a business now.  It is not about teaching students how to think, start a business, or manage finances.  It is about making money for administrators, coaches, and lenders.  Your educational needs and desires are secondary to profit.  Do you want to go $30,000 in debt for that?

Friday, May 13, 2011

Entitlement Reform is Easier than You Think

Bad news on the entitlement front:  Social Security and Medicare will be gone earlier than anticipated.

Remember how I posted that Social Security would not be able to pay out full benefits after 2037?  Well, that has been changed to 2036.  And Medicare?  That's not going to be able to pay out full benefits after 2024! (See: http://money.cnn.com/2011/05/13/news/economy/social_security_medicare_trustees_report/index.htm?hpt=T2#disqus_thread).

It's a good thing that report came out today as I was planning on discussing this subject anyway.  See, I was having a discussion with my cousin the other day about whether or not Baby Boomers and the elderly deserve their Medicare and Social Security benefits.  She thinks that because they worked hard their whole lives and paid into those government programs they are entitled to every penny.

I, on the other hand, disagreed strongly (as you can probably tell given my numerous previous posts on entitlement spending).  The problem I have with current and near-future retirees collecting full benefits is the fact that we young people will also pay into the systems our whole lives, but we will (at best) get about 75% of our legally allowed benefits when we retire.  That is truly unfair and I have no intention of living in a country with older generations who think it's totally fine to rob young people like this; it's too disgusting, irresponsible and uncivilized for America.

Adding to my fury is the fact that our country's poor fiscal, political, and social health can be attributed to the fact that Boomers and their predecessors haven't been paying attention over the decades.  This entitlement problem has been building for 30 years (at least) and no one paid attention until now.  The older adults make excuses like "oh government does whatever it wants" and "it doesn't affect me" and such.  These are unbelievably lazy and self-absolving excuses: they are pretty much the opposite of what American adults should be doing in terms of taking responsibility for their failures.

Old people like to accuse us teenagers and young adults of shirking personal responsibility.  Well, older people, I have news for you: you have been totally irresponsible in your duties as American citizens.  You have failed your country because you did not do what citizens in a democratic republic must do in order for their country to maintain economic and political excellence: you failed to keep your officials' spending and lobbyists' bribes in check.  If you don't like this opinion, too bad: it's truth.

Now that my rant is out of the way, it is time to come up with a solution to our entitlement problem.  And, yes, it will involve cutting some benefits for current and soon-to-be retirees: I am sorry to say it, but, you have partially caused this problem and you will be part of the solution.  There is no reason why we young people should only get 70% of the amount we paid in to entitlements while those who failed us get 100%; that is too unjust and I will not stand for it.

Here is a simple plan that would solve Social Security's problems quickly (you should note that it affects both the taxpayer and the Social Security recipient minimally): first, we can reduce the cost of living adjustment by 1%, and, then, we can extend the Social Security tax to all wages above the current cap of $106,800 (this last trick should take care of the funding by itself, but, I would reduce the total tax rate by 2% and expand the levels of income that are subject to the tax).  (See: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/37195779/ns/business-personal_finance/t/can-tiny-changes-save-social-security/).

Medicare is the tricky one.  The NYT said old people should die sooner because 28% of Medicare costs occur during the last year of life (see: http://www.nytimes.com/2005/02/27/business/yourmoney/27view.html).  I doubt anyone likes the idea of dying sooner (I know I don't) so here are some other plans: raising the minimum age of entry into the program, eliminating services, and making wealthy people pay more.  Also, we could use a voucher plan that would have senior citizens buy insurance plans that suited them best (see: http://www.cato.org/pub_display.php?pub_id=3726).

If you don't like those solutions, feel free to propose some other ones.  But, know this: we don't have time for partisan crap.  We need practical ideas ASAP.

So, young people.  Pressure your grandparents and parents into supporting these relatively modest reforms: your futures are on the line (it's not your fault) and your family members need to know it.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Health Habits of Young People

Greetings!

Today, I have decided to write on a non-political issue that is affecting us young people: poor health habits.

Right now, 50% of teens and 70% of adults are overweight or obese.  The more troubling problem is that 80-90% of young people believe they are living healthy lives despite the fact that most of them are overweight or obese (see: http://www.newsroom.heart.org/index.php?s=43&item=1324).

(Note: I know that BMI calculations are not perfect measurements of a person's health.  However, combined with waistline measurements, the BMI is pretty good.  Specifically, if your BMI is over 25 (overweight) or 30 (obese) and your waistline is more than half your height, you have a problem.  For instance, your author has a BMI of 28, but his waistline is 38.  Given that your author is 73.5 inches tall, he does have some poundage to lose).  

Being overweight or obese does partially depend on genetics, but, there are definitely other, more-controllable factors.  The two that stand out are high-calorie diets and sedentary lifestyles.

What's the solution?  It's hard to change eating habits in terms of cutting out desserts and high-calorie foods, so I have a different idea: eat slowly and only eat until you are 80% full.  Also, be sure to lift some weights and go for a walk (I like to combine weight-training and aerobics by doing ballistic exercises with kettlebells: I save time, and still get good results).  I've lost some weight over the past month with this method, and it can work for you, too.  

In essence, young people do not have healthy habits, and, they don't know it.  If you are a young person and you are reading this, please, pay attention: you probably aren't living a healthy lifestyle and you will pay for it (financially and in terms of a shorter lifespan.  See: http://win.niddk.nih.gov/publications/PDFs/stat904z.pdf).

You owe it to yourselves to stop eating so much McDonald's, do some aerobic exercises, and go throw some weights around for a while.  Your body will thank you in the future.