Stagnant and Angry

I want so badly to keep this blog going, but I burned out a couple of weeks before the election and I don’t have my mojo back just yet. I stopped reading the news, in fact, because I couldn’t take the post-election dissection. The GOP didn’t lose because they failed to pander to Hispanics. They didn’t lose because Mitt Romney sucked. They didn’t lose because the American people are idiots, or because bread and circuses, or because people hate the rich. They didn’t lose because they didn’t get the message out.

They lost because alongside some of the right message, they preached the wrong message. And the wrong message was louder.

They’re not going to get anywhere with hate and bigotry. The entire social conservative agenda has to go. The GOP has got to divorce social conservatism from economic conservatism or they’re not going to win another election anytime soon. Some of us figure that it matters less what those folks think, because there’s not much chance of them managing to push that agenda through into law. But Obamacare, so who knows. In any case, they terrify people with this stuff, and rightly so.

Also, Bush.

The economic message was not as well explained as it could have been, either. It seems to me that these folks were preaching to the choir, counting on turnout. But Republicans seem not to trust their own party anymore. If you can’t even get them up off their behinds to vote against Obama, you’ve got serious issues. Candidates have to go so far right now to capture the base that the average voter looks at them like they’re Martians. And, culturally speaking, they may as well be.

I’m sorry I wasted a vote on these freaks. I hope Gary Johnson runs again. How the Libertarians shoot themselves in the foot is another (weirdly related) post. But at least they’ve got principles, and ones that aren’t based on denying the personhood of women (another entirely different, but related post).

At this point my worst-case scenario isn’t that another Democrat wins the Presidency in 2016. It’s that the GOP once again doesn’t bother running, and all of the signs point that way. Balance is necessary, and I’m not seeing any to speak of.

Damn shame.

Fascinating Map

Showing the numbers and proportions of secession petitioners by state. Found via Jeff Soyer.

I laughed when I saw California with the lowest proportion of the population. Massachusetts was tied for second with Maryland, with Illinois third and, it appears, Minnesota fourth. No surprises there, or with Alaska having the highest percentage and Texas the highest total.

Of course, the question of secession was settled by force over a century ago, but that makes it neither less appealing nor less of a political statement to agitate lip service toward it.

Oh Megan

Good points, but…

Four pound sugar bags have been an option for at least four years. I first encountered them in Stop & Shop, the company that brought you Peapod. At times, they were lower per pound so I’d buy them.

People aren’t stupid. We do notice size changes. It is frustrating, but you have to be a relatively monied, inattentive shopper not to notice 16 oz cans becoming 14, and so forth. Cranberry sauce. Tuna. I’ve even noticed smaller kielbasa for the same price as a pound. At least sugar had 4 lbs as an option, with 5 lbs remaining standard. That may have been an early instance of trying to give people on a tight budget a smaller size at an easier to take price, though there have always been one pound sugars for that.

Size changes aren’t new. It’s been happening with candy bars since I was a kid, decades ago.

Another size reduction? Potatoes in 4 lb bags. Not universal, but they exist, and are marketed at what would be a decent or sale price for five pounds, making it easy to be fooled into grabbing a bag, thinking it’s a deal. Very important to pay attention to those unit prices.

ITYM 2003

I was amused by this lament, even as I can relate to it. I forget that Jacobson is a relative blogging newbie. Thus for me it’s not 2008 that was the heyday, similar to what he described, of conservative – and liberarian and just plain interesting personal/general – small bloggers, but 2003. Thus the blog title tagline here about 2003 (until I change it, which I will sometime).

2008? At that point we’d been betrayed by Bush, and McCain of all people was the nominee. Obama won, to carry out something all too closely resembling a third Bush term. It’s hard to say McCain wouldn’t have been worse, or certainly as bad. The only thing positive I can say about Bush 2004 is President Kerry. Ugh. I mean, seriously, how could he even get nominated, let alone elected to the senate, even from Massachusetts? Then again, the idiots in Massachusetts just elected Elizabeth Warren. Then again, she has more brain cells to rub togeher than Kerry ever did. But I digress.

Anyway, the original blogs gave way to corporatization, going big or going away, and to social media having supplanted aspects of what blogging was circa 2003. I still have many online friends (and Deb) as a result of that, but there are people who are big names now whom I don’t know the same way, or who have changed beyond recognition, or perhaps whom I don’t really want to know. Either there have not been smaller upstarts to fill the void, or I have not come across them. Then again, I stopped blogging almost entirely for a while, or got muddled at it. Things change.

Elections Have Consequences

I knew there were tax changes coming, barring anything done to avert them, and I just discovered one aspect I’d not know of before in the chart here. Child tax credit is going from $1000 back to $500 in 2013. That may not suddenly mean we owe more, or even that we get less back in earned income credit, but it may be a close thing, or may matter in a couple years.

Not that the child tax credit should even exist, but since it does, and it potentially affects our finances, why would we approve of an arbitrary drop? As such things go, it seems least worst, in the manner of the EIC if you’re really into evening things out. The trouble with the EIC is the donut hole dropoff, which we start to approach, in which your effective tax rate is staggering. Even now, I figured out last tax year that each dollar of self-employment income I might add means 47 cents in additional tax. If I charge you $40 to fix your computer because I figure that’s all you can afford, or all the market will bear, I make a tad over $20 of it in reality, and no matter that I spent three hours, for which I should have charged between $120 and $300. But this is not about pricing and marketing and even the effects of self-esteem on same.

Also, the more direct impact on us is the end of the payroll tax reduction, which arguably should never have been enacted anyway. But since it was, the end of it represents a substantial tax increase on people of modest income. We’re talking about eliminating what we saved by canceling our landline, to put it in real terms, or enough to get McDonald’s 2-3 times a month… except we don’t do that, because the money isn’t there! If it’s not there for things we want or need, how is it there for a tax increase? It’s not. Nor is it there to be a portion of the additional we’d need to spend on groceries in order to change my diet to comply with what the cardiologist wants to see to maximize my lifespan and minimize my chance of additional stents or worse. Not. There. For. Health. So it’s not there for taxes, either, and if you think Obamacare is going to help me afford to eat healthier, you’re delusional.

The thing is, again, the tax shouldn’t have been cut in the first place, so nobody would be able to miss it. Or it should have been eliminated 100% in a massive overhaul of everything. As long as you pay lip service to it being a retirement account, or even if you don’t, and instead recognize it as a wobbly pay-as-you-go Ponzi scheme, cutting that tax makes no sense, as it affects if either way.

The child tax credit, though… As a matter of social policy, what is it? It recognizes that people with children could use an added tax advantage because OMG expensive. By extension, it makes having children a prioriy of the government. New subjects citizens to help keep the social security Ponzi scheme economy going in the future, replacing older workers as the retire, and some so the whole scheme economy doesn’t collapse.

Back to the donut hole. It’s more than the taxes. My 47% assumes self-employment, and would be lower otherwise, but if it’s employment or business income, if it takes time away from home, it means daycare. If I were to trade in my part-time job for full time, there would be an immediate daycare “tax” of $270 a week. Not even guessing at how much more that might be in summer or school vacation weeks. I have to account for that, elimination of the EIC, even though for us that has been on paper and being taken to cover old tax debt each year, incurring income tax on income that had none before as well as the added income, insurance costs that will change, and costs associated with commuting and having less “free” time. Working from home or doing business from home and flexibly/less than full time modifies that, but doesn’t avoid it entirely. For a specific potential job, I estimated needed $40,000 a year above the income I make part time just to stay even. Not compensating me at all for taking my time. That’s basically $43 an hour for each extra hour above what I work part time.

No wonder I still keep thinking what I have to do is make a living at self-employment and/or writing and/or part-time work from home.

Things have to change, in any event. My reaction to the election was a coldly furious resolution to be prepared to survive whatever happens. Ironically, that means improving my income. Expenses have nowhere to go but up, since we are about as to the bone as possible. I figure on being better able to cover living expenses, while continuing to keep them as low as possible, while preparing against disaster, disruption, lack of income in the future… all the things that can happen “unexpectedly” (if you have blinders on). It’s great to hope things go well and change for the better, but in reality it could take decades to recover from this depression and from four more years of fundamental transformation. If it happens at all. In the long view, the tax blip coming up is nothing, and could help things turn toward the saner sooner rather than later.

Mystery Solved

There is a mystery that has haunted me since 1971. I never knew the name of my first crush, in fourth grade. My second was not until seventh grade, and in fourth I didn’t understand what I was experiencing, except that it was magic, and how I always expected it to feel later on.

The girl in question was in my grade, but not in my class. Multiple classes would go to gym together, at least sometimes. The high point was in gym, learning some kind of dance that involved temporarily holding hands before changing partners. It was, to overuse the term, magic holding her hand oh so briefly.

The next school year, perhaps in part as I became more aware of what it was that had happened to me, I kept an eye out, but could never identify which girl on one of the classes it might have been. That seemed odd, and I was forever baffled.

I seem to recall associating her later with the song I Think I Love You, which I loved when I was in fifth grade, but don’t remember being aware of until then, though it came out in 1970 (fourth grade was 70/71).

Anyway, courtesy of Facebook, I am as certain as it is possible to be at this point that I know who she was. How amazing is that! The girl in question came late to the large number of former classmates who’ve friended me, just a couple weeks ago. I placed the name, but had no mental image of her. Apparently we rode on the same bus one year, and that’s mainly how she remembers me.

Another classmate posted a picture of her sixth grade class. It includes that new Facebook friend, looking very familiar. Two years later, but could it be….?

The clincher is that she was in my school through fourth grade, then moved away, returning halfway through sixth, in time to be in that 1973 class picture. Thus being unable to identify her in fifth grade, as if she had disappeared. It would have been easy to miss her return, and lose all track once we went to the larger school.

It made her day to learn of this, since she thought nobody liked her back then. It thrills me to have a name, and have her as a newfound friend.

Yeah

Picking through the rubble.

 

Yeah, I feel like an ass for not voting Gary Johnson. Especially in Massachusetts, where it doesn’t matter either way. I had a notion that the vote for Romney would be closer in this state than anyone would expect, and thought I’d contribute to that end. Especially since Gary Johnson was arguably the best Liberarian candidate ever.

The candidate we really needed was Bill Weld.

He got no traction with the Republican party, though, because he was a libertarian. He was what I think of it meaning to be a Republican. After him, Cellucci was close, but not quite. Jane Swift was kind of a joke by comparison, but more in an in over her head competence thing. I still thought it was rude the way Romney shoved her out of the way to start his presidential run in the form of being a governor. I disliked that before I disliked RomneyCare. Then he became presidential and outshone all the others this time. There is probably nobody who has run for President who would be a viable future candidate. Not sure who is a viable candidate. It’s possible Ryan is too socially conservative, and that part must go. But I digress.

I Compose the Best Posts in My Head at Work

I just don’t remember them later!

I was wrong, obviously. I forgot Wizard’s First Rule: People are stupid. Thought of that at work, while my thoughts churned.

I can’t go Galt now, or I would. Planned or not, I’ve de facto been going Galt for the past four years. I said things would get better regardless who won. I didn’t say they’d stay better, let alone get as much better, and as I conceded to a leftist acquaintance, we would crash either way. Just why sooner rather than later?

No, I have to change my life to what will seem to be better and wealthier, because I can’t go unprovisioned into the darkness, and provisioning takes money, while it still buys things.

Republicans will have to change. Mitt ran a good race, as a better candidate than I’d have imagined. Cerainly none of the crew were better, which is a sad statement. Sure, there were some near misses and some excitement, but they all were flawed. He didn’t emphasize social conservatism, yet the party has saddled itself with that to the point people assume. From what I could see, that was what people feared. While they didn’t need to fear it, republicans need to be more overt in recognizing and acknowledging it’s over, that there’s a new normal. Better to focus on the economics that will no go out of style, and improve foreign policy while keeping the general tenor of strength and world leadership.

The sad thing is, before Bush hit his second term and went crazy, or perhaps showed what was always there, when Bush was running, it seemed like republicans has overtly become the big tent party. It’s better, or at least no worse, to be gay or a minority and go republican. (Note that I am leaving out libertarians here, though I did have thoughts on that and Gary Johnson as well.) If there are loudmouths who sound like they’ll take away your right to early term abortions or stand fast in the way of marrying whoever you want, well, they are loudmouths, not representative. Sadly, democrats project. They project fraud onto republicans, while being the primary home of it. They project racism onto republicans, while being the current and historic home of it.

It was always discomforting that Mitt was the grandfather of Obamacare.

He was also too nice, too non-specific economically, and too easily associated in people’s minds with Bush, who remains poisonous. In some ways, I’d call this a referendum on Bush versus Obama. If I had to make a choice of having Bush back or keeping Obama, I’d go for Bush, but it would be a razor thin thing, holding my nose and hoping he didn’t screw it up. Mitt is no Bush, but it took me a while to get enthusiastic rather than resigned to him.

It’s just an election, at least. Hugo Chavez was elected, so how bad could it be?

On the plus side, I was not looking forward to blogging critically of the Romney administration, given the morass it faced. Oh, I would have. I may have more fun going all out on the clown who’ll inherit his own (and yes, GWB’s) mess.

As for the voters, you own it. You voted for it, and oh won’t you get it. Thanks for taking me along. Appreciate it. Especially you single issue voters (see above, and also delusions like that there’d cuts to school funding enough to matter – as if that’s a federal issue anyway) and people who grew up financially privileged as children of rent-seekers or workers of angles and influence or thuggery however polished, who seem yet to have learned of the real world. Good luck with that, eventually.

And yes, I voted, so even to you pathetic morons who spout the witless line about not having the right to complain if I didn’t vote, I sure as fuck will complain. Boy will I complain. If that were all you reaped from what you’ve sown, you’d be lucky, and I’d be thrilled. Are you ready for what’s coming?

Question One

I’m still torn on Massachusetts ballot question 1, which involves access to onboard diagnostic data from your car.

On the one hand, “there otta be a law” is one of the most evil phrases and reactions out there, and that seems to be what this is. That gives it to the status quo, but often the status is not quo. Rather, it’s warped, by all the cumulative otta-be laws, and all the existing assumptions and regulations. Put another way, the tabula is not rasa.

On the other hand, and the one I lean toward, especially after thinking through the above paragraph, you buy it, you own it, and you own your data. Period. If your car tracks information about its condition, that information is yours, to be able to access freely and use as you please.

The other two questions are no brainers, barring any qualms one may have over either of them being poorly written and thus flawed in some way.

Obama’s Concession Speech

I remember Carter’s concession speech. It was fairly gracious, and for lack of anything better to say, promised a smooth transition.

Since Obama is often compared to Carter, whom he has made look good, and this election has been compared to 1980, albeit less Reaganesque, and is likely to be “unexpectedly” an electoral exclamation, I wondered how Obama’s concession might compare. It sometimes seems he no longer cares to win. At the same time, there are expectations that if he wins, it will be through fraud. There have even been suggestions of a more overt coup, though that seems less likely than it might have several weeks ago.

Has he written it yet? Thought about what he might say? Will it be dragged out, reluctantly delivered?

I don’t picture it being gracious. Any more than I picture a gracious transition, or a lame duck period free of danger for the country. We may see how much havoc executive power can wreak in just a couple of months.

Even before giving this any thought, we’d talked about what kind of ex-president he might be. He’s young. Which I suppose means I can’t think of myself as being old, since Obama went and made our mutual birth year look bad. I’m only four months older. I’d also like to think I could have done a better job of being President in my sleep. But I digress. Maybe he could write another autobiography? Perhaps he’ll be neither as overtly bitter nor as embarrassing as Carter turned out to be. At least I can find multiple good things to say abou Carter as President. I can find exactly one to say about Obama, and his space policy (not NASA policy and the Muslim outreach, but space) was probably accidental. It is what Republican/Conservative policy should be, and arguably isn’t in part due to wanting not to match, because Obama must be wrong, and because Republicans aren’t so much small government as they are differently big government. Which in this case should be enough to delay or even avert the end of the United States.

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