the business of politics

This morning I was reading this article on NPR: http://www.npr.org/2012/09/20/161473190/is-putting-politics-on-display-bad-for-business

It’s about businesses who put their political views on display. I didn’t really think much of it because I rarely ever run across such a situation. Except the one time I gave this sushi restaurant a 1-star on yelp because they always had FauxNews on (I don’t know if it was because of me, but I am happy to report they no longer watch FauxNews, and I have revised my rating to 4-star)

During lunch, I took my car to get smogged. As I walked into the EZ smog, I could hear talk radio was blaring through the radio. As the front desk guy was helping me check-in, I can hear that it’s not just talk radio. It’s Rush fucking Limbaugh. I honestly have never heard Rush in the wild before, this was my first time.

I was shocked. I stood there for a moment not knowing what to do. It took me a full 2-3 minutes standing there to decide I wanted to take my business else where. I just couldn’t bear the thought of supporting a business that supported an asshat like that.

I politely asked for my keys back and drove off to another smog place.

I am the 47%

I keep thinking about Romney’s 47% remark, and it really bothers me just how insensitive it is.

I remember when I was a young kid in High School, I was always so ashamed and humiliated about being on welfare and eating free school lunches.

I can’t imagine what it would feel like to be a kid in High School today, hearing a presidential candidate dismiss you and your family as leechers and insignificant.

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/14/us/young-immigrants-poised-for-deportation-deferral-program.html

Most of the time, the comment section on NYTimes, Reddit, and NPR agree on what is the right course of action for a certain topic. However, illegal immigration is NOT one them.

It always play out that the top opinion is anti illegal immigration. Their reasons being:

1. It’s unfair for people who are trying to get citizenship legally
2. It is rewarding people who are breaking the law
3. They are an undue burden on our already financially stressed society

The second most popular opinion will be one sympathetic to illegal immigrants. Notice I said, “illegal immigrants”, not “illegal immigration”. I don’t think anyone is pro “illegal immigration”, but many people are understanding of “illegal immigrants”. The reasons are usually as follows:

  1. Illegal immigrants who are productive members of our society should be accepted as such
  2. We can not punish the children for the sins of their parents
  3. Bringing illegal immigrants out of the shadow will end the cycle of abuse and neglect they have suffered for years by unscrupulous profiteers.
  4. Our immigration policies are broken, this is the start of how we can fix it

As a legal immigrant myself (a refugee actually), I am very supportive of illegal immigrants. My reasons are as follows:

  1. You can not treat a person who grew up here, and knows nothing but the US, like a second class citizen just because of their circumstance.
  2. I do not believe for one second that illegal immigrants have a negative impact on our society. If anything, they are the backbone that powers our economic engine.
  3. It would be a really stupid waste of talent and resources for us to deport college graduated, skilled workers because of their immigration status, when our companies are actively going overseas looking for those skills.
  4. I do not begrudge “illegal” immigrants. If we were put under the same circumstances, we’d all be illegal immigrants. In fact, I would venture to say, if under those same circumstances, you did NOT become an illegal immigrant, you are probably not a very good parent / family member.
  5. With all that being said. I am willing to pay more taxes and a higher cost of living if it means we can provide a better life for the illegal immigrants and work towards an effective immigration policy.

Anyways. I am just writing this blog because it really irks me when the places I rely on for reasonable and logical conversation, is instead dominated by xenophobic and misguided hatred.

Lower mortgage rates

I just completed a refinance of my mortgage down to 3.5%. That is, historically, pretty low.

But it has always been in the back of my mind that there is something inherently inefficient about the way mortgages are made.

1. While my original mortgage and refinance is handled by a “mortgage wholesaler/broker”, it is, without a doubt, that within a couple of weeks, my mortgage will be sent back to Bank of America.

2. If that’s the case. Why doesn’t Bank of America just cut the crap and lower my rate themselves? This will save me and them a ton of processing fees and paperwork.

3. Their reasoning is, Bank of America does not have the human resources necessary to help everyone refinance. That is why they work with brokers.

4. I call bullshit. I do not think it’s that hard to write a program that finds borrowers, who have a unblemished record of paying on time, and offer them lowered rates.

I was reminded of this inefficiency today when I read this article:

http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2012/08/08/with-rate-twist-banks-increase-mortgage-profit/

The gist of it is this “Interest rates on mortgages and refinancing are at record lows, giving borrowers plenty to celebrate. But the bigger winners are the banks making the loans.”

My take away is — Banks are taking advantage of the inefficiencies in our economy and making a butt load of money.

Bankers and economists will argue that they are providing a necessary service, or “lubricating” the machine.

While I don’t blame them for taking advantage of the opportunity, who wouldn’t, I think it’s a shame that we do not have rules and regulations in place to prevent this type of arbitrage…

Question: Why would a bank go out to its customers and ask them to pay less?

Two reasons

1) I think it makes good business sense to provide your customers with the best service they can find. In this case, I had to go through a third party for a service that I believe Bank of America could provide to me much easier. If there was such a thing as a choice — I would have left BofA because of this. I remember when I first got insurance with AAA, on my very first year, they sent me a rebate check of the amount they did not use (like a dividend I guess). This made me a AAA customer for life.

2) This one is much more of an ideological stance — I think that in our current economic situation, banks should be inclined to help customers when possible (blah blah blah, something about putting money back in the hands of the middle class). I understand that there is no business incentive for them to do it (other than what I mentioned above), but that’s why, like I said, I wish there were regulations to force them to this. This is predicated on my beliefs that the banking industry is responsible for our economic crisis, and as a condition of them receiving a bailout, they should be forced to provide these types of services which is a net benefit to the American people. If we were under different economic conditions, I would not ask for this.

Racism and bigotry in America

I often wonder why in this age of globalization, there are still so many instances of racism and bigotry in American society. And I am not talking about prejudice or stereotypes, I don’t think humanity will ever outgrow those problems, I am specifically talking about hate towards another human being just because of their skin color, or sexual preference, and not for any other reason.

After watching an episode of “Cold Case”, it occurred to me that perhaps the reason that hate is still prevalent in our society is simply because many of the people who were taught hatred as a child, are still alive today.

People who grew up during, and before, the civil rights era, are still here living among us. Whatever hatred they were taught, or witnessed in their lifetime, still lingers with them, and eventually with all of us, to this day.

I see hope in our future though. Although there are still plenty of bigoted and racist people, I don’t believe that as much hatred is being taught today as before.

However, if there is one place swimming against the current of progress, it’s Fox News and the ultra-conservative mouth-pieces like Limbaugh.

States giving tax credits for companies to move

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/05/nyregion/christie-gives-new-jersey-firms-tax-breaks-for-short-moves.html

  1. Providing tax incentives for companies to move from one state to another = loss jobs at original site
  2. Job growth is not guaranteed, and often inflated because it includes jobs that the company would have hired for regardless
  3. Giving millions in tax breaks to random companies is ok by Republican standard, but giving loan guarantees to develop a new industry, and create high paying, American jobs, (ala Solyndra) is wrong.

The government can’t do anything right

It makes me really angry when I hear people say that they don’t want universal healthcare because they don’t trust the government to do a good job managing their health.

If you think for-profit companies can do a better job, I can make you a long list of companies I have to deal with every day that I absolutely hate. Not just dislike — HATE: AT&T, Comcast, Southwest, and Best Buy just to name a few. The government does not have a monopoly on being terrible, so stop pretending like everything will be better without them.

 

housing price and income

Heard something interesting on Forum today. Warning: this has not been fact checked, but just noting it here for future reference.

Texas has more public employees than California
But has a smaller public budget than California
Because they pay their employees 30% less
They can afford to do this because housing prices are lower.

So the point here is, the key to getting more people employed is to lower housing cost.

Allowing home values to plumet is possibly good for improving employment rates.

Interesting. Must investigate this further.

The selfish liberal

The other day a friend called me a “bleeding heart liberal”. But honestly, there is nothing “bleeding heart” about my progressive stance. In fact, most of my motivation are pretty selfish

Universal Health Care – Sure, I support universal health care because I want everyone to be taken cared of. But more importantly, I support universal health care because I absolutely hate the process of buying health insurance. Even worse, I hate having to rely on my employer to provide me with medical coverage. Why would anyone want their employer to be responsible for their health and well-being?

Illegal immigration – Yes, arresting and deporting illegal immigrants is tragic because is destroys families. However, I am more interested in protecting illegal immigrants because it is absolute stupidity to believe that the US agricultural economy could survive without this labor force.

Education Funding – Everyone should have an equal opportunity at a quality education…. Because… I am sick of dealing with incompetent, ghetto, and ignorant people.

Environmental Protection – Trees are nice, who wouldn’t want to hug them? But even if that’s not your thing, how could you argue against protecting the limited resources we have on this planet. You have to be a special kind of stupid to think that we can drill our to prosperity.

Margin Call Movie Quote

While the movie strays far from reality to focus more on the human drama, it had one beautiful scene.

If you really want to do this with your life you have to believe that you’re necessary. And you are. People want to live like this in their cars and their big fucking houses that they can’t even pay for? Then you’re necessary. The only reason they all get to continue living like kings is because we’ve got our fingers on the scales in their favor. I take my hand off and the whole world gets really fucking fair really fucking quickly and nobody actually wants that. They say they do but they don’t. They want what we have to give them, but they also want to play innocent and pretend they have no idea where it came from. That’s more hypocrisy than I’m willing to swallow. Fuck them. Fuck normal people.