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Friday, September 22, 2017

Taxes and Incentive


Taxes and Incentive

A cranky opinion for

CRANKY OPINION SATURDAY

The following is the opinion of a cranky old man with no expertise on the topic opined.  Opposing opinions are welcome, but they are wrong.  As always, please, no name calling, and that means you, you big stupid-head!

I studied Economics about 50 years ago.  I am not an economic expert, I barely passed my final exams.  I have never used my economic degree since graduation, and yet I have no problem spouting economic opinions.  To paraphrase the famous TV quick draw artist Bob Ross, “It’s my blog I can post opinions when I want to.”

There will soon be much discussion about changing the US tax code.  There will be statistics and claims from many different perspectives. 

Some will tell us that we are running a huge deficit and reducing taxes now would be CATASTROPHIC!

Some will tell us that any tax cut to the rich (defined as anyone who has more money than you do) will cause DRACONIAN costs to the poor (defined as everyone who doesn’t pay taxes.)

Some will tell us that cuts will benefit the middle class (defined as everyone except Gates, Buffet and the homeless.)

Some will tell us that reducing taxes will increase revenues because people will work harder and longer and rising incomes will increase revenue.

Some will say we need to increase taxes, but only on the rich, in order to provide more services and to reduce the deficit. 

There will be experts and statistics to prove each and every claim from all perspectives.  Who is correct?  As long as the economy is a political football we will never know.  The politicians are more interested in a position which helps them win their next election than they are at designing the best code for the well-being of the country.

We need a tax code that is not static, but adjusts automatically to changing indicators.  The best tax is one that maximizes revenue while still encouraging investment and discouraging bad behavior (smoking, drinking, cheating at cards, bad breath, etc. etc.).

A tax is similar to price of any good or service.  Increase the tax (price) and revenues will rise as long as people can pay it.  Raise the tax too high and revenues will fall. 

If a banana costs a dollar to produce and you sell it for a dollar your profit is zero.  Sell it for fifty cents and you run a deficit.  Sell it for 2 dollars and you are revenue positive.  Sell it for ten dollars and you end up with unsold rotten bananas.

Point being, raising taxes is not always a revenue producer and lowering them can increase revenues, or vice versa.  Taxes need to be adjusted periodically just as produce prices are adjusted based on varying factors.

RAISING OR LOWERING TAXES IS NOT A REPUBLICAN OR DEMOCRAT POSITION.  EITHER IS SOMETIMES VERY SMART AND SOMETIMES VERY STUPID.  IT SHOULD DEPEND ON AN ECONOMIC ENVIRONMENT, NOT A POLITICAL IDEOLOGY!!!

To make my point let’s set taxes at ridiculous rates:

Tax the rich 99% of income and give the poor a tax rebate for zero income that reduces as income rises.  I don’t believe any thinking person would say this a good idea.

Tax the rich nothing, and tax the middle class 99% of their income.  I don’t believe any thinking person would say this a good idea.

Clearly any tax rate should be set somewhere in between these ridiculous examples, if only it were not politicians to make that decision.

Perhaps the most powerful economic stimulus is incentive and the biggest incentive crushers in the economy are high taxes and low competition.

We used to have one telephone company in the country.  There was no competition and government decided what prices were fair for that company to charge.  In sixty years, innovations in the phone industry was from operator assisted calls, to a rotary dial system and at its peak, push button dialing.

Better phones would not increase revenues, why develop them?  Improved service would not improve the bottom line, and lower costs would lower prices that government set.  The result was in sixty years we had pretty much the same telephone service; mediocre and fairly expensive.

When the telephone company was broken up and competition allowed, we had an explosion of technology and phone service.  People went from one phone homes to multiple phone homes and currently a cell phone for almost every person.  Long distance calls used to be prohibitively expensive.  You talked to great aunt Tilly for maybe a minute and then had to hang up or go broke.  Does the term long distance call even exist today?

The tax code is a major determiner of incentive.  It should be designed to be as high as possible or needed while low enough to stimulate incentive for investment and greater profits. 

Maximum revenue while maintaining incentive for investment and profits should be the goal that will be best for all, the rich, the poor, and the middle.

Unfortunately, politics will dictate the direction of any tax code changes.
The preceding was the opinion of a cranky old man and not necessarily that of management…Mrs. Cranky.    

Happy Anniversary ATM

Happy Anniversary ATM
Apparently, the ATM machine recently celebrated its 50th anniversary.  It first appeared in 1967 in London England, so I don’t remember those early machines.  I remember first seeing ATM machines in the 1980’s.  I didn’t use one until 1987.  It was with great trepidation that I trusted this modern marvel to correctly distribute my cash.

When the machine belched out a few twenties, I felt as if I had hit triple cherries, or whatever it is that pays off in Vegas.  I still didn’t trust the machine.  I had heard stories, and if it jammed or something, what do you do, especially when you use one after the bank is closed. 
I am a little leery of new technology.  It’s like a new restaurant where food can be mediocre, and service sometimes poor; I want to wait a bit to see what others say, and to let the staff work out any kinks.  So for another few years, I wasted half of every other Saturday morning at the bank to cash my pay check and take out the cash I would need to survive the next two weeks.
Occasionally, I might need a little cash and I would trust the ATM for maybe $20 (there was no charge to use the ATM.) When I moved to a little town with a bank just around the corner from me I gained trust in the ATM and had my check deposited automatically and used the ATM as needed.
I only had one bad experience.
The day of my daughter’s wedding I needed money.  We needed to leave early for a 2-hour drive, so I walked to the bank and withdrew $300 from the ATM.  Except I withdrew a receipt for $300, no money came out of the machine.
Fortunately, the bank was open.  Unfortunately, the bank was busy.  The clock was ticking on my leaving for the wedding, and my impatient, anxiety ridden and unpredictable wife was waiting at home.  I was a block from home, but did not want to leave the bank until I had my money.  I did not have a cell phone in those days so I could not call my wife.  Could I have used a bank phone?  Probably, I didn’t even think of it.
It took a half hour for the bank to check the machine, confirm it owed me $300, and give me the cash.
When I got home, I caught holy Hell and took a wicked tongue lashing for being late.  We made it to the wedding on time, but it was a most unpleasant drive to say the least.  Of course, when we arrived, Mrs. Hyde turned into Dr. Jekyll.  No one knew the trouble I’d seen.
Anyway, that has been my only issue with an ATM.  Today it is hard to believe that I used to stand in line and wander through the bank maze every other Saturday to get cash.
Happy Anniversary ATM.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Why Post?

Why Post?
Gotta post, gotta post, gotta nothing…DAMN!
Why do I feel I need to post something?  Do I have to post every day? No…and yet I must, it is a compulsive thing.  I must post something, but I do have some standards. I don’t want to just post crap, or at least worse crap than my usual crap, however, I have nothing.
Hmmm…Politics?  No, I’m not ready for that yet.
Sports?  I could go on about golf.  My game is slowly improving, one step forward, three quarters of a step back.  I could tell how my pull hook has improved to straight and then I added a slight fade to follow the contours of my course, and how that fade is now an out of control slice…no, most people hate golf.
Football?  It looks like my Giants are going to disappoint “big league” this year (see, the phrase is “Big League” meaning big time, it is not bigly and Trump has never said bigly…OK, I snuck a little politics in there, please no comments) and my Jets as usual will break their fans hearts.  Besides people hate football more and more these days.
Baseball?  How about those Yankees? I can’t get excited, I see them as a wild card and losing the one playoff game.
I could post on TV.  I watch a lot of TV.  No; done that, and many people think TV is for cretins. I don’t even watch it any more, I now only read Biographies, the New York Times and listen to Public Radio.  I am also selling a very popular bridge in Brooklyn.
I could make fun of Mrs. C, but most of my readers always side with her and turn on me.
You know what?  Screw it! I’m going to be the “Blog Nazi” today.

No post for you!

Rant

Rant
License plate defacing.

Lots of stuff hits me like aluminum foil on a filling, but in New Jersey there is one thing that just winds my crank more than others.  
Defaced license plates.
I don’t know about other states, but in New Jersey if the coloration around the plate letters and numbers is scratched off, the plate number is not picked up by traffic cameras.  Besides scratching the coloration,  there are also special covers that are also supposed to make photos difficult to read.

I see these defaced plates all the time.
This drives me nuts, because: 
1.     What makes these people so special that they can run red lights with impunity?
2.     Why does law enforcement allow this?
Clearly if I can spot these doctored plates, the police could pull these cars over and issue a summons for defacing their plates.  The practice would end in days.
I think that in New Jersey most of the traffic light cameras have been shut down due to legal issues, but it is still important for license plates to be readable…otherwise why even have them.
On many toll roads, toll takers are being retired.  Tolls are paid by “Easy Pass” or a bill is sent to the driver based on a license plate picture.  If pictures are unreadable, you and I will be paying for these cheaters.
Pisses me off!!
There is an easy solution; ticket these a-holes!
End of rant
Cranky out.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Misplaced Guilt


Misplaced Guilt

Here is my regular morning routine, not that you care, but it sets up this post. 

Awake at 8:00 AM.  

Watch “Leave it to Beaver” reruns.

Make breakfast and coffee downstairs while watching “Dr. Phil.”

Take second cup of coffee upstairs and play with the computer for a while.

Go to the basement to practice guitar.

I always feel a twinge of guilt when I leave for my basement lair.  Mrs. C is still in bed, she works nights and does not turn in early so she relaxes in bed in the morning.  I feel like I am deserting her when I head for my man cave, but I need a little alone time.

Still I feel I should spend more time with Mrs. C in the morning.  She always seems so disappointed when I leave her. 

The other day I came upstairs with my second cup of coffee and after playing with the computer for a while I turned my attention to the TV.

“Aren’t you going to practice?”

“In a while, I thought I would spend some extra quality time with you today.”

“Oh…OK…er How much time.”

“Why, don’t you want me to stay a bit?”

“Ah…sure…stay…How long?”

“Are you trying to get rid of me?”

“No! But I do like a little extra nap when you practice guitar.”

“So, you want me to leave you alone?”

“NO!! Well…yes.”

So many days of wasted feelings of guilt…I am a jerk!

Monday, September 18, 2017

SPLITTING FIREWOOD

SPLITTING FIREWOOD
This Cranky re-run is  from September 2014

Several years ago, when Spencer was about seven…(holy Hannah, he just got his drivers license so it was more than several years ago.)

Whatever; years ago a neighbor gave me some firewood.  He did not have a fireplace and he had just cut down an eighty year old white ash tree on a property he was developing. This neighbor, I called him Big John because he was 6’ 6” and was at one time was the leading scorer for the Seton Hall basketball team, dropped off 35 huge logs into my backyard.  Each log was about four foot across and just the right length for a fireplace.

I left the logs in the back for over a year to season.  They burn better when seasoned and they are also easier to split.  I didn’t know it at the time, but it turns out that white ash is a very good tree for fire wood.  This tree being old was extra dense.  A single log fired up easily and burned forever.  This stuff was like gold for anyone with a wood-burning fireplace.

It was not easy to split.  Even when dried out it was not easy to split.  Each giant log had to be split into four smaller logs which could then be split into two fireplace sized logs.  I split two of the original huge logs every week.  It was good exercise, and good bonding with my seven year old son.

I had not split wood before, but I had seen pictures of it being done.  A big brawny guy takes an axe and with one whack one log becomes two.

Not, I soon found out, with four foot in diameter 80 year old white ash logs.  No, to split these logs it took a maul, two sledge hammers, and multiple wedges. 
MAUL

You start with three wedges through the middle of the four foot wide log and whack them until the big log splits in two, then one wedge to quarter the log, and finally the maul to split the quarters into two fireplace sized logs.

I started the wedges with a little sledge hammer we named “Little Baby.” Once in place a standard sledge “Big Baby” was used to pound the wedges.

Spencer was my helper.

“Spence, hand me ‘Little Baby’ so I can start the wedge.”
Wedges

“Spence, give me ‘Big Baby’ and watch this split.”

Soon Spencer started the wedges with “Little Baby” which he swung with two hands as I held the wedge delicately in place ready to release it quickly if “Little Baby” was missing its mark.  Fortunately that was not often.  Spence handled “Little Baby” pretty well.
Little Baby
I would then ask for “Big Baby” to pound the wedges in.  When the log was about to split, I would sometimes let Spence do the honors with “Little Baby.”
Big Baby
There is nothing, and I mean nothing as satisfactory as the sight and the sound of a log splitting in half.  It is an adrenaline, testosterone rush! When Spence split a log you could almost see chest hairs grow.

It took a full summer to split all those logs, and two years to burn them.  I would only burn one a night.  They started quickly and kept other logs of lesser quality going.  When I visited people who had a fireplace, I would bring along a log or two instead of a bottle of wine.  Those logs were much prized.

It may look like work splitting wood, and in fact if you did it all day it would be a great deal of work, but for an hour on the weekend it was great exercise, and a great way to bond with a seven year old boy.

I expect some day many years from now, Spence will be splitting wood with his young son. I can hear him now,

“Hand me ‘Little Baby’ let’s get this wedge started.” 

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Stupid Headlines 091717

Stupid Headlines 091717
It’s time again for
How do you plead? SCARED SHITLESS!

STUPID HEADLINE SUNDAY


This week’s stupid headlines and my stupider, sometimes sophomoric comments. 

______________________
Lizzie Borden house is on the market – Home much does it cost?  If you have to ax you can’t afford it.


Cats at Hemingway home in Key West safe after Hurricane Irma, reports say – They still have six toes, but they are down to eight lives.


California man pees on deputy while being arrested for drug possession, cops say – No you idiot, I said in a cup...not on a cop!”


Prince Harry Makes Massive Move With His Girl Friend – If it involves a  swirl at the end, he stole that move!


Nordstrom has a bold new idea for how to reinvent itself: a store with booze, but no merchandise – Great idea, but isn’t that called a bar?


Woman Accused Of Shooting Homeless Man Who Asked Her To Move Porsche – I hope the homeless man gonna be rich when he sues this bitch!


DC socialite worries the hexes she put on people might have killed them – Could you just give it one try on a fat North Korean named Un?


Pizza Hut threatens evacuating Florida employees with disciplinary action – Because really bad pizza and a minimum wage job are worth risking your life.


I want to retire early. Where should I invest? – Law School!


11-year-old Frank does a 'great job' mowing White House lawn – I have no idea how an old hotdog mows a lawn, but this is impressive.


FEEL-ANGRY NEWS

NY police leaders outraged over John Jay College professor's tweet on teaching 'future dead cops' -

  Smug “Intellectual” little Antifa prick

FEEL -GOOD NEWS:

School Safety Patrols Think No One's Watching Them In Pouring Rain -- Kids respectfully taking down and folding The Flag in pouring rain.


__________________________________________

Come back again next week (maybe) for more

STUPID HEADLINE SUNDAY!!  


Friday, September 15, 2017

SEPTEMBER 12 - 11:40


SEPTEMBER 12 - 11:40

9/12/17 11:40, a time that will live in infamy in the Cranky home.  There was a first and probably a last event on this date at this time.  It will forever be etched in my memory.

Mrs. C and I were driving to our dentist office.  She for a scheduled cleaning, me for an emergency broken filling repair.  I have been seeing this same dentist for 41 years.  Mrs. C has only been once.  One trip to anywhere is always enough for Mrs. C to know the way.  Her internal GPS system is legendary to those who know her.

It is a twenty-minute drive.  We took the back roads and as we reached the corner of Hardenberg Lane and Oakmont Road it happened. 

At 11:40 AM, Mrs. C asked me, “Do I go left, or right?”

Never in the nine years I have known Mrs. C have I ever heard that question.  I could only sputter out,

“Excuse me?”

“Left or right, do I turn left or right here?”

“Wait a minute, I want to savor this.”

“Savor what?”

“You have never, ever, asked me for directions to anywhere, I just want to savor the moment…OK, turn right.”

“You are such a jerk!”

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Watching a Movie Backwards

Watching a Movie Backwards
The other night Mrs. C and I were watching the Lifetime movie network.  This channel specializes in crappy movies with plot lines that somehow suck you into watching and it is impossible to stop no matter how bad the movie is.  I can’t explain it, but this fact was recently confirmed to me by a fellow blogger
Anyway, we tuned into the channel as the movie was half over.  Lifetime runs two movies on Saturday night back to back, so we could watch the beginning of the movie later on that night.
This reminded me of the way we watched movies “back in the day.”  In the olden days a theater ran double features, much like the Lifetime network.  We did not worry so much about when a picture was scheduled, we just went to the theater before the main feature and generally midway into the second movie.
It is an interesting way to watch a movie. 
You catch the ending, not knowing who is who or why they are doing what they are doing.  You then watch the main feature, newsreels, a short and a cartoon, then the beginning of the first movie comes on.
We used to stay to watch the beginning and slowly figured out the missing pieces from the second half.
“Oh, I get it, that’s her brother that she thought was dead.”
“Of course, the mother shot the boyfriend.”
“I get it, she didn’t inherit the money, she stole it!”
“This is all making sense now, the Uncle was really alive all along and was locked up in the basement by the wife…OK, this is where we came in, let’s go.”
It was an interesting way to view a movie, but that is how many of us did it in the old days, now Mrs. C and I do it on the Lifetime Network. 
It somehow makes a really bad movie entertaining.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

A Mazing Race

A Mazing Race
Sunday Mrs. C and I went to a corn maze with friends.  I am not an adventurist sort.
I was not given a choice. 
I was told we were going. 
The Giants played that night, so my afternoon was reluctantly free.
A local farm carves part of his corn field into a maze and opens it up to the public for a small sum of money.  What a deal, you pay to get impossibly lost in a maze of 8-foot-high corn.  I was told it was an opportunity to “Make a memory.”

I mentioned that I could shoot my foot with a nail gun and also make a memory, but my analogy was ignored. 
The maze thing was on.
The maze was in the shape of a turtle if it was seen from a helicopter. From the ground it was just a lot of corn. 
Now I can get lost on the Garden State Parkway, so a maze was not going to be my cup of tea.  I mentioned that they could make a maze for me in the shape of an arrow…  “Maze travel for dummies” and I still would not find my way out. 
On the other hand, finding her way from point A to point B is Mrs. C’s strength, she has her own internal GPS.  Our friends Tom and Maryann were also up to the challenge. I pretty much just followed, and maybe grumbled, along.
They did give us a map.  I hate maps. 
If you hit a dead end in the maze there was a clue to solving a puzzle which was included with the map hand out.  If you solved the puzzle you won a prize.  I was totally confused.  Was the object to get out of the maze without hitting a dead end, or was it to hit every dead end in order to gather clues and solve the puzzle? 
I was in favor of just finding a way out as fast as possible.
Because we were so good at following the map, and by “we” I mean Mrs. C, Tom and Maryann; we found our way near the exit in just a little over an hour and we only ran into 3 of the 20 dead end clues.  Mrs. C wanted to go back and find the other clues to solve the puzzle.  She really wanted to win a prize.
The puzzle required solving the question, “What are baby turtles called?”  Each clue gave you a letter and when you shuffled the letters around you would find the answer to the question. 
I did not want to go back into the maze to find the clues, so I pulled out my phone and asked Siri, “Siri, what do you call baby turtles?”
Before Siri could respond, “Here is what I found on that,” Maryann responded, “Hatchlings.”
“That fits!”
“Fits what?” Maryann, who did not know the puzzle question, wanted to know.
“The answer to the puzzle.”
We didn’t need the clues, Maryann knew the answer without them.
Problem solved, we did not have to go back into the maze.  We turned in our puzzle answer and won a prize. 
A pencil. “Woot Woot!”
We did make a memory, and it was a little less painful than a nail gun to the foot…a little.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Noise at Night

Noise at Night
The other night I was slowly drifting off to sleep when I was disturbed by the slightest little “Pop” from downstairs.  It was a strange noise.  I am used to strange noises in our townhouse as we often hear comings, goings and happenings from one of our two attached neighbors.  But this was not neighbors.
This little “pop” was so subtle I doubted that Mrs. C even noticed.  As I debated getting up and exploring to see if there was a water leak or a gas thing or hell, I had no idea what, Mrs. C asked me, “Did you have tea tonight?”
Now before I continue to extol my wife’s uncanny ability to recreate events from the slightest visual or audio clue I must explain the tea thing.
Last year at my regular trip to Dr. Rosen which is required to re-up a prescription, my blood pressure was a bit high.  Just enough to raise concern.  I do not want to take drugs unless absolutely necessary, so we went to the internet and determined almonds and hibiscus tea will help bring down blood pressure and in fact those ingredients have lowered my pressure to the “normal” level. 
Anyway:
I generally eat a handful of almonds at night and instead of plain water during the day I drink iced hibiscus tea.  Mrs. C brews up the tea every other day and it is kept in a Tupperware container in the fridge.  When it is empty I leave the container on the counter so Mrs. C knows to brew more.
Back to the barely audible “Pop” that disturbed my sleep drifting.
Mrs. C asked,
“Did you have tea tonight?”
“Yeah.”
“Did you finish the container and leave it out?”
“Yeah.”
“OK…Good night.”
“Wait, why are you asking me about tea?”
“I heard a noise, the tea explains it…good night.”
“Wait, I heard the noise too, what does it have to do with tea?”
“You left the empty container out with the top closed.  The temperature change from the closed fridge and the warm kitchen caused the lid to pop open…good night.”
Now I had to get up and go downstairs to check the weird noise.  On the kitchen counter was the Tupperware jug with the lid wide open.
Mrs. C should definitely work for CSI.