Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Pet Peeve of the Day

What's up with people who have administrative assistants answer their phone but don't provide them with any information like when a better time to call back would be? If you're going to have someone answer you phone, at least equip them with some information. Why the heck don't you just have me roll straight into voice mail away?

Quote of the Day

I love this quote:
"I'm a very well-educated, successful, intelligent person," he told the paper. "This is insane to me that I have an armed guard outside my door when I've cooperated with everything other than the whole solitary-confinement-in-Italy thing."

Click here to read the entire article. I find it ironic how this moron proves my point about the U.S. health care system being better than anywhere else.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

My Plan for Universal Heath Care

Rather than just come out with some half-baked idea about increasing income tax to the rich and forcing businesses to pay more medical coverage, I have an extremely actionable and inexpensive plan to provide for universal health care coverage.

Step 1: Tax the crap out of unhealthy behavior. Whatever the tax on on cigarettes and alcohol is, freakin' quadruple it. Institute a new tax on trans-fat or whatever it is in junk/fast-food that makes people obese. In fact, just institute a new tax based on body mass.

Step 2: Tax the crap out of polluting businesses, especially fossil fuel burning companies. I think government is missing out on a HUGE opportunity to both increase revenues and do something good for the environment by not taking action here. Pollution is a sizeable negative externality that government should try to curb. I cringe every time the news reports the number of deaths from a cold front and people rally for the government to subsidize heating oil costs. Why don't these people just wear more clothes in their homes? And where are all the Greenpeace folks then?

Step 3: Build more parks and playgrounds. Gym membership fees are outrageous. A little jog path with a few pull-up bars works just as well. We just need more of them.

Step 4: Ban American Idol. Is there a more effective way to get people off their couches and exercising more?

Step 5: Sponsor more beauty pageants. Feminists always talk about the evils of women with poor self-image and all the eating disorders the media causes. Simple solution here is to promote a healthier definition of beauty. A little government propaganda could go a far way here.

All kidding aside, I think the key here is for people to take more responsibility for their own health and stop thinking that government can effectively provide health care for the population. And before anyone points out that many other countries do in fact have universal health care, ask yourself this: If you were ill, which country would you go to seek treatment?

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Unsolicited Resume Advice

I've been noticing a strange trend lately. More often than not, I've been seeing resumes which are longer than one page. I'm not talking about full CVs that headhunters send which are understandably longer. I'm talking about good old-fashioned "hey, I'm responding to your job posting" resumes. I've always felt that the purpose of the resume is to get you an in-person (not on the phone) interview. The resume only needs to get the perspective employer interested enough to talk to you and doesn't need to list each and every merit badge you earned while in the Boy Scouts. As such, one page should suffice. And if you simply can't squeeze everything into one page, there's nothing wrong with 10 point font.

That being said, nothing will ever come close to matching the three-page resume I saw while working in Alabama last year that listed "skills" such as "The ability to hear a sound and discern from which location it came" and "The ability to see what is happening to one's side while one's eyes are focused forward." I'm not sure what's sadder: the guy's resume or the fact that I actually spent an hour interviewing him.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Best PR Person EVER

I don't know whom he/she is or how much he/she gets paid but Lindsay Lohan's PR agent must be the most talented PR person on the planet. How else do you explain her being rated as #1 in Maxim magazine's Hot 100?

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Why Jump Off a Building When You Can Enlist?

I don't understand why people jump off buildings to kill themselves. It just seems like a horrible way to die. I'm not talking about the falling or even the landing but rather the senseless damage that will undoubtedly be done upon landing. Seeing as how most tall buildings are in urban areas that have some degree of pedestrian traffic, chances are pretty good that an innocent bystandard may be injured. Best case scenario still has the body landing on something else and still causing expensive damange.

Why don't people who want to die just enlist to serve in the military? Serving in the military might give some distraught people a feeling of purpose in life and a reason to live. The worst case scenario is that they die in combat and are no worse off than if they had committed suicide.

Just a thought....

Monday, May 07, 2007

Why I Love Sales Taxes

There's no denying that government spending is sometimes a good thing (unless you're a anarchist, that is). While one can argue how much government should be spending, I don't think anyone (other than the aforementioned anarchists) will argue that we shouldn't have a government at all. That being said, governments need some way to raise money. There's really only one way a government can raise funds: taxation.

Side note: Some of you Public Finance guys out there might take issue with the statement above and say that governments can issue bonds to raise funds. While this might be true in the immediate term, eventually the governments will have to pay off the debt through some other means which comes back to taxation.

Side note 2: OK, I guess the government can also seize assets and sell them off to private individuals in order to raise money but that's not sustainable in the long term and detrimental to a well-functioning state.

Back to the story. With taxation being the only way to raise money, we're left with only two choices: taxing production or taxing consumption. As a firm believer in the free market, I abhor anything that inhibits the creation of value. Taxing production does exactly that. The tax reduces the incentive to produce. Taken to an extreme, there would be no incentive to make goods and provide services people want and shortages would abound (think Cuba -- more on this in the future). Income taxes are a form of production taxes since you pay according to how much wealth you earned.

On the other hand, sales taxes are consumption taxes. They collect funds on transactions that take away from the public good. Each time someone consumes an item, there is less of that item to go around. The more you consume, the more sales taxes you pay.

Many people think that sales taxes aren't fair because poor people can't afford to pay their proportional share of the tax burden. Sales taxes naturally adjust for this since wealthier people can consume more goods/services than the poor and as such would pay more in sales taxes. Wealthy individuals who don't consume goods/services aren't putting a strain on the system and as such shouldn't pay the same amount as those who consume more.

Agree? Disagree? Let me know!

Hedge Fund Bubble Alert!

You know the bubble is about to burst when there's a website called ""....

Notes from My Business School Reunion

I spent the weekend in the Bay Area attending my business school 5 year reunion and came away with the following thoughts (in no particular order):

1. My classmates at Stanford aged very well. For the most part, everyone looked pretty much the way I remembered them looking. A handful of people had shorter or longer hair but for the most part just about everyone was instantly recognizable.
2. While there were a lot of people missing that I really wanted to see (I think turn-out was about 50% of the class), there were so many people in attendance whom I haven't seen in such a long time that it was easy not to focus on the missing people.
3. Evening events should always be indoors!
4. There was virtually no involvement from the faculty or staff at the reunion. I think it would have been nice if the Dean had attended and given a few words.
5. The event was far too short. I could have easily spent an entire week just hanging out with my classmates talking about work and life and such.
6. There are no changing tables in the men's bathroom in Arrillaga. What's up with that?
7. I was a bit surprised by the number of people who confided that they are having trouble conceiving a child. Most of my classmates are only in their early 30s, well-educated, wealthy, and in great physical shape. Just more data for my assertion that natural selection for humans may be dead (to be the subject for a posting some time in the future).
8. Although I spent only two years with these people and haven't seen many of them in 5 years, we were able to pick up old friendships very easily.

I'm definitely looking forward to seeing all of my long term partners at the next GSB reunion!

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Quick Thoughts on Immigration Rallies

I don't have too much time this morning but wanted to jot down two thoughts about the immigration rallies yesterday. And for the record, I'm a HUGE proponent of increasing immigration and immigrant rights but I'll explain that some other time.

First, why on Earth do the protesters wave MEXICAN flags and wear red, white, and green? If they're trying to fight for immigrant rights, seems a lot more sensible to wave around an AMERICAN flag and wear red, white, and blue, doesn't it? Wouldn't they want to show their pride in being Americans and loyalty to the US?

Second, why do they demand rights? If I were one of the organizers of the rallies, I would demand to pay income taxes. What? That's right. Take the contrapositive position and instead of "No taxation without representation", shout out, "Representation with taxation!" Seriously, wouldn't the anti-immigrant movement look pretty stupid if they were against people who wanted to pay income taxes and be treated as equals?

Just two quick thoughts to start the morning....

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