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Archive for August, 2017

I’m currently writing this on a Tuesday, and two weeks ago on a Wednesday, I got sick. That means it’s been 14 days. It started as a sore throat, and then a stuffed + runny nose the next day, and then a cough two days later. The sore throat and stuffed/runny nose went away the same day.

The cough has lasted 11 days so far.

When I first get sick with a sore throat, nobody notices. And when my nose is stuffed and runny, because I’m at home or at my desk at work most of the time, no one notices. But I’m feeling pretty miserable. However, after the sore throat and runny/stuffed nose go away and the cough moves in, that’s when people start getting concerned about my health because that’s when they notice. But I’m feeling much better in this state despite having a cough.

I get offered cough candies, tea, and other home remedies now that I have this cough. I could have used those before, actually. I’m not convinced they help, either. When you get sick, your body responds by lining your throat and nose with lots and lots of mucous. That’s why your nose gets stuffy and runny. After the virus has been killed, your body is still producing it in lower quantities, but it all runs down the back of your throat and makes you cough. It’s your body’s way of responding to its own defenses.

But it’s still annoying.

 

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Last September (2016), the wife and I paid off the last remaining piece of the mortgage of the condo I bought in 2008. Ever since then, I’ve been debt-free.

I hadn’t been debt-free since 1996 when I first got a student loan. After that, I got a car loan in 2007, and a mortgage in 2008. I paid off the student loans in… I forget. I paid off the car loan in 2010. And then, as I said, we paid off the mortgage in 2016.

And I love being debt-free! As it says in Proverbs 22:7, the borrower is servant to the lender. I don’t want to be anyone’s servant (when it comes to money), I’d rather be the debt-owner (via holding bonds), or the owner itself (via holding stock, or property, or loans).

I don’t want to be in debt so badly that an opportunity came up to be in debt and I refused to partake in it despite the fact it would have resulted in a big savings. I need to get a new iPhone, the one I have – despite being a year old – is only 16 GB. That was a major mistake, I should have gotten the model with the most disk space because I’m always running low. It keeps filling up due to podcasts.

Best Buy was running a deal wherein you could get a new iPhone and save $150 or $200 or something on it if you signed up for a plan where you pay it off via installments. I couldn’t figure out how to pay it off all at once, and documentation on the web suggested that you couldn’t do that. That would in effect be like being in debt, it would add the payments onto the cell phone bill.

I wouldn’t do it. Either I pay for it all at once, or I don’t pay for it at all. I do not want to have to finance any purchase. Been there, done that; now finished.

Potential debt: don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

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One of the defenses that I hear President Trump’s defenders claim is that because the stock market is at all time highs, the overall economy must have confidence in him and therefore “he must be doing a good job. So what is everyone criticizing him for? Those criticisms ring hollow!”

Most people don’t understand why the stock market goes up. In fact, it goes up due to a multitude of factors like yield curves not being flat, the bond market having a lower yield than the S&P 500’s earnings yield, inflation being under control, consumer confidence being high, and so forth. Trump’s defenders would say that because he’s protecting jobs, people feel good about their overall financial picture and are spending money, and this is reflected in the stock market.

Except that’s not particularly relevant to the people who actually voted for Trump.

According to Gallup, in 2015 only 52% of Americans own stocks, which is down by about 10% since 2008. But it’s not that it’s only a bit more than half, the ownership of stocks is skewed towards people with more money:

Ownership_of_stocks

Furthermore, since starting from the 1980’s where the trend accelerated, wealth inequality has also increased. While everyone’s income has gone up since then, it has gone up the fastest at the highest levels of income as seen by the red line below:

EPI-income-inequality-chart

President Trump’s campaign initially ran on populism – that hidden forces in society were keeping the working class down, was outsourcing their jobs (due to bad trade deals with Mexico and China), and that’s why they were falling behind (and only Trump could fix it).

From the charts above (and other research you can do yourself online), it is the wealthiest that benefit from gains in stocks. But most of Trump’s support came from the working class who don’t derive much of their income from capital gains, nor do they even have high levels of income. Thus, to claim that that stock market is so great for Americans misses the point that it is leaving out Trump’s core constituency – they are not benefiting from this market appreciation.

Indeed, it’s the wealthy – the very ones that Trump decries (yet is also a member of that very class) who are reaping the good fortunes of the “Trump bump”.

During the election, the Democrats would say that the economy has recovered, and America was doing pretty well. The counter narrative (correctly) pointed out that these gains were not shared equally amongst all Americans but instead were concentrated in pockets of the country. Most of the job gains went to perhaps two or three dozen counties surrounding large cities, and most of the income gains went to the top 1% of the country. And they are continuing to go there.

Trump’s base is not benefiting by the one thing his defenders say is the biggest example of why he’s doing a great job.

On the other hand, the fat cats are doing just fine.

Mr-Burns-with-money.PNG

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