Tag Archives: ramblings

Friday Afternoon Ramblings – 8/23/2019

In my previous post, I mentioned Nick Hanauer and his belief in a wealth tax. I also pointed out what I see as the shortfalls of redistributing wealth via the government. However, it’s not productive to do that without offering an alternative solution, so as promised, here is my idea for how the super wealthy could impact the lives of average Americans.

On a completely voluntary basis, people with a net worth over one billion dollars could establish foundations that help individuals launch small businesses. Right now, there are millions of working people around the country who have the knowledge and skills to run a small business in their area of expertise, but they lack the capital to purchase the equipment, form the proper entity, and take the plunge into self-employment. They also might lack the knowledge to navigate all of the legal and bureaucratic obstacles.

However, if wealthy individuals like Nick Hanauer provided grants and also business coaches to assist with getting small businesses off the ground, more individuals could have opportunities to be self-sufficient. Because the money is not being filtered through the bloated bureaucracy of government, more of that wealth goes directly to the people Hanauer wants to help.

The major advantage of following this path is that people will have the opportunities to build businesses and wealth for themselves. Instead of government handouts, people will be offered a hand up to self-reliance. Instead of being tethered to larger businesses that may or may not pay decent wages, people from every social stratum could have more equal opportunities based on the effort they are willing to put into growing their businesses.

Obviously, this is merely a thumbnail sketch of the idea, but I believe that it is an idea worth pursuing by those who have the means to make it a reality.

That’s all for now.

Wednesday Afternoon Ramblings – 8/14/2019

Recently, I heard a podcast on Planet Money in which Nick Hanauer described his trepidation about the widening wealth gap in America. In case you aren’t familiar with him, he was an original investor in Amazon. Needless to say, he is on the wealthy end of that equation, and his opinions have ruffled a few feathers. His TED Talk on the subject has been removed, and many wealthy, powerful people disagree with his premise that the wealth gap is an issue.

He proposes that we should implement a wealth tax on the super wealthy in an effort to reinvest that money into communities. While I do agree with him that we need to close the gap, I vehemently disagree that a tax is the correct way to solve the problem.

First of all, the government is too inefficient and too bloated to make a substantial transformation. Maybe, maybe 50 cents on the dollar would get back to the communities that need it. The rest would be sucked into the bureaucratic black hole.

Second, nobody likes to be taxed. Nobody. We pay them because we must, but nobody likes it. Taxation simply feels like extortion. So gathering support for Hanauer’s will be difficult.

I have an idea for a system that would be better, and over the next few days, I think I will share it on here. In the meantime, you should check out Planet Money. It’s a pretty good podcast with a lot of informative stories about economics.

That’s all for now.

Monday Afternoon Ramblings – 8/12/19

I’m happy.

No qualifiers, no hyperbole, no BS. I’m happy.

I can’t explain exactly why. My life is far from perfect, and by many objective standards, my career has been a failure. I don’t have many creature comforts, and I basically live day to day financially. However, when I wake up each day, I’m grateful for the food in my fridge, the roof over my head, the opportunities in front of me, and the people who are close.

Many of my clients have plenty of money, but I wouldn’t classify any of them as happy people. Some are too petty to find joy in anything. Some are too selfish to appreciate the warmth that comes from sharing with those less fortunate. Some are just miserable individuals. I wouldn’t trade lives with any of them.

I know that a major contributor to my happiness is the gratitude I feel for the positives I do enjoy. If you are not happy and want to change your life, that’s the first and most important step you can make. Find the good aspects of your daily life and take a moment to feel real, sincere gratitude for those items or moments or people. That simple act transforms your perception. Instead of dwelling on all the things you don’t have, which is an infinite loop of dissatisfaction, you will begin to appreciate the little stuff that enriches you.

I know I’ve mentioned this before, but it bears repeating. Happiness is choice. So is misery. You are in control of which way you perceive the world.

That’s all for now.

Monday Afternoon Ramblings – 8/5/2019

I took the boys back to Jacksonville last week. That trip is so bittersweet. The drive down is always fun as we laugh and joke through each state. I’ve become intimately familiar with every rest area on the path and have a handful of travel centers I like to use. The boys have become quite familiar with the scenery as well. This particular trip down Collin actually drove a little, his first time doing so on the interstate.

The drive back is much more subdued. The car is too silent, and typically I just want to get home. It always takes me a couple of days to shake off the blues.

For the first time in a long time, I took a week off to enjoy the last couple of days with them, make the drive down and back, and rest up afterwards. Now I’m getting back into my flow, so I’ll try to knock out a few new posts this week.

That’s all for now.

Monday Night Ramblings – 7/15/2019

Really busy couple of weeks, so I haven’t been able to write a post recently.

This summer has been one of the best of my life. My kids have been here with me since early June, and they have helped me with the business quite a bit. If you’ve known me for any time at all, you should already know how hard my divorce and the loss of custody of them were on me. For the last 11 years, I have felt like a part-time parent, relegated to nightly phone calls and twice a year visits that always ended way too soon.

I missed too many firsts to catalogue, and I’ll never get those back, but this summer, I have gotten to be a real dad again. I got to teach my oldest how to drive and my youngest how to put in a full day’s work. I’ve gotten to talk to them for hours on end and joke and be silly and be stern and instill values and all of those things a father is supposed to do.

My hope for everyone is that they can find healing and love and purpose for their lives. If I could give everyone the blessings I’ve enjoyed these last three years, I would gladly share them with all. Life is too short, too fragile, too beautiful to allow anger and bitterness to consume you. Gratitude and thankfulness are much more pleasant paths to traverse.

That’s all for now.

Tuesday Afternoon Ramblings – 7/9/2019

On Black Friday of 2016, I found a cheap chainsaw on sale for $99. I heat my home 100% with wood, so at that point in my life, the deal seemed worth it. Unfortunately, the worthless piece of junk tore up within 4 months, and the company refused to cover it under warranty. In related news, I will never purchase another Poulan product for the rest of my life.

In March 2017, I had about $200 credit available on my card and about $150 cash. I was just getting the first baby steps of the tree and landscaping business going when that POS chainsaw laid down on me. At that point, I had to make a choice: buy another cheap POS or get something of quality.

At a local hardware store, I found the 18″ Shindaiwa pictured above for $309, plus tax. After tax, I had less than $5 left on my credit card. That was a difficult choice to make. If the tool doesn’t live up to the ratings, I’m broke. However, there comes a point when you have to take a chance. In economic terms, this is called measuring risk and reward.

I’ve used the Shindaiwa for 2 1/2 years now. It’s my primary tool in the business. The only one that rivals it is my Tanaka weed eater, but that’s a post for a different day. The chainsaw has broken down three times. Two were covered under warranty, but one was a wear item. I’ve probably used $600 worth of chains and bars in that timeframe. I’ve downed some sizable trees and processed a lot of firewood with it.

Looking back, that decision, to scrape together all of my capital and use it to make one major purchase for the business was one of the best steps I’ve taken. The tool has paid for itself a dozen times over and continues to do so. A mediocre tool might have gotten me through one year, but then I would have been replacing it, spending at least the same total amount of money in a shorter timespan. I’ll probably replace that saw within the next year, but it will always hold a special place as the cornerstone of this business.

That’s all for now.

Independence Day Ramblings (a day late) – 7/5/2019

The real problem isn’t Colin Kapernick. Or Donald Trump. They may be the symbols for anger, but they are not the problem. The problem is that we as a society fear and loathe the “other” in whatever form it takes.

The problem is that we don’t listen. We shout insults and obscenities at each other over personal beliefs instead of finding common ground and working towards reasonable solutions to real problems.

The problem is that we take examples of the extremes and generalize that to a whole group. We allow mass media machines, which only thrive when we tune in and consume their ads, to constantly poke at our anger for that other group and inflame our hatred for them, mostly so we will tune in tomorrow to see what new outrage “they” have committed.

Then, we act surprised when someone shoots up a school or a government building or whatever.

The problem is that we no longer respect each other’s right to life, right to culture. We are quickly slipping into a fascist wasteland where any dissent is met not by thoughtful deliberation but violent resistance.

The problem is that we so desperately want to be seen as part of the clever, intelligent side that we completely and utterly dismiss the opposition with straw man caricatures and derisive memes that dehumanize and degrade them as something unworthy of human compassion and rights.

The problem is that we have forgotten that living in a free society means that everyone is free to believe as they wish, and as long as they are not actively calling for harm to another person, they have a right to hold and express those beliefs. If we aren’t willing to defend the freedoms of those we disagree with, we don’t deserve freedoms ourselves.

Freedom isn’t about getting your way. It’s about all of us finding a way to live together. It’s about listening and sharing ideas. It’s about accepting that there is room for all of us in this world if we will just focus on finding solutions instead of inciting hate. We have the most beautiful framework ever created, a framework that has allowed itself to grow and morph and adapt to include more people and more views as time has progressed. Everyone who lives under the umbrella of that framework should take a moment and be grateful.

That’s all for now.