Friday, October 8, 2010

What is Bank of America worth to you?

It is easy to gloss over on the huge numbers on the news about how much money the Federal government is giving whoever needs their ass saved this time. I wanted to reduce it to something more personal for us all. What does federal government spending mean to me?

So I started poking around for data and here is what I found:

These numbers should be correct given:
138,000,000 Federal Taxpayers
43% Of the Federal revenue comes from Federal income tax

(The amount of money * 43%) / number of federal tax payers
(1,000,000,000 * 0.43) / 138,000,000 = 3.11

When the government says we are going to spend 1 billion dollars, that is on average $3.11 dollars of your tax money.
Of course as different taxpayers pay different percentiles, this number could be higher or lower for you specifically, but on average its $3.11.

So, on average, this is how much YOU paid to keep these companies afloat:

Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) (2008) $ 2181.16 (US dollars)
Fannie Mae / Freddie Mac (2008) $ 1246.38 (US dollars)
Citigroup (2008) $ 872.46 (US dollars)
American International Group (A.I.G.) (2008) $ 560.87 (US dollars)
Bank of America (2009) $ 443.08 (US dollars)
Bear Stearns (2008) $ 93.48 (US dollars)
Auto Industry (2008) $ 77.90 (US dollars)

Here is the major sections of the budget broken down to your level:
Defense $2436.67
Interest on loans $582.68
Discretionary spending $1361.6
Other Mandatory (I don't really know what that means) $1891.38
Medicare / Medicaid $2106.38

So far, the total outflow of federal bailouts is at $551 Billion, thats $ 1716.88 from you. Of that money $246 Billion has been payed back to us, that $766.52 back to us.

I do believe if Bank of America or AIG called me up and said "Can we borrow about $500 dollars? Were are in a pinch!" I believe my response would be a few expletives followed by slamming the phone down, how about you?

I believe I have found accurate information, and done all my math correctly, if you see something wrong please point it out.

Data Sources:
Federal Income Tax as percent of total Fed revenue:
138,000,000 Federal Taxpayers
Individual bailout sums:
Bailout totals:

Friday, January 2, 2009

The linux desktop or RE: The Truth About Linux

I wrote this as a comment on a pcweenies comic about linux, and decided to share my view here as well.

Linux has been a viable desktop for typical users for a long time. If all you want is a word processor and internet browsing, then linux has been a functional solution since abiword and Netscape navigator, and a mainstream-able solution since openoffice and firefox + flash.
The problem has always been installation. When you really think about, vanilla windows isn't even there. MacOS is because they have the hardware platform locked down. People can reinstall windows because they have custom discs from the OEM that are either drive images or the OEMs drives rolled into the windows installer.

Many people talk about the mom test, and I have a typical mom. She uses Gentoo Linux. She cant maintain it,or install it, but she couldn't do that for windows either.

Really what we are talking about is the tipping scale of barrier to entry and Microsoft dissatisfaction. Mac has a higher barrier to entry because its a learning curve plus an expensive cost. As Linux installers get more slick and easier to use, like Ubuntu, more people will give it a try.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Bad Parenting or RE: Megan Meier

I am sick of every time something bad happens, people, especially parents, turn to legislators to solve their problems. This is a rant about people giving up their freedom so they don't have to be parents.

The fact is, if Tina Meier was a half decent parent, her daughter might not be dead now. People that are not mature enough to be online unsupervised should not be, and Megan Meier wasn't (obviously). Unfortunately everybody matures at different rates and there is no clear cut-off age, the US government errs on the side of caution and you cannot vote or enter into contract until you are 18. That would be a bit harsh for most of the nations youth to wait that long to be online unsupervised, but if you area bad parent (yes I'm talking about you Tina) it would be a good fail-safe age. It takes good parental know how, and you cant let your own laziness affect your vigilance.

Laws and government are not a substitute for parenting, morals, common sense, and courtesy. Every single law in an infringement on freedom, and should be treated in that respect when being contemplated by legislators. The public at large has gotten in the habit of demanding the government "do something" when something goes wrong (Katrina, Megan Meier, 9/11, the "war" on drugs). When are people going to wake up and realize that the government is horrible at doing anything (Katrina, 9/11, the "war" on drugs)?

Tina: If you read this, I know I'm being harsh on you, but please I implore you, don't use what happened to your daughter to try to get lawmakers to create legislation. Even if you succeed, it will be drug into the supreme court and struck down under first amendment rights (as it should be). Use your voice to raise awareness in parents that they need to wake up and watch their children. They are to precious and impressionable to be let loose on the internet alone.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Illigeal Imigration in the USA, or why I hate spin words.

Ugh.. the linguistics battle has really heated up over all this, and I hate battles of spin words, instead of thoughtful discourse. I prefer to argue ideas rather than ideology.

What the talking heads seem to be arguing over now is what they are calling amnesty. Amnesty means we dont throw illegal immigrants (ill get to this phrase in a bit) in jail. It does not mean we have to give them citizenship. It simply means we would forgive them for the transgressions they have made.

The language tactics are very blunt, with arguments like "how can a human being be illegal" and other such nonsensical drivel. A human being isn't illegal, they commit illegal actions. As well with the push to use "undocumented migrants". Well, entering this country without documentation is illegal, so at the best the statements are equivocal, and at the worst, "undocumented migrants" is simply more vague.

Both sides of the fence seem equally absurd to me. Building a fence, its not a solution, the Britons live on an island and they have over half a million illegal immigrants! Its not physical access, a fence or a canal or a desert wont keep people out. Its how much you care about that line in the dirt, its people. It you want to prevent the illegal transit of drugs and people over your border, you have to have people watch it. What is needed is a competent, well funded, and equipped border patrol. Give them the authority and the means and they can do it. This is the only way you are going to stop it and you can do it at any time, border security has nothing at all to do with what is decided about the illegal immigrants that are already here.

What we don't want are leeches on our social system. The illegal immigrants we want to keep are the ones that work, the ones were fighting over, the productive helpful workers.

So the answer is simple: Grant amnesty and issue "Resident Worker" visas to every "illegal immigrant" that is valid for one year. Make renewal of this visa contingent on employment with deportation the consequence for failing to renew. This solution should appease everyone with a legitimate concern.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Global warming or Proving anything with statistics

Ok, I've been brooding and debating this for a while.

What we have a 2 relevant, and really neat, data sets. There is an anecdotal, and thusly irrelevant, data set commonly referred to as "the hockey stick" which is over too short a time period and to small a change to matter. The first 2 that I speak of are CO2 and temperature over about 4 ice ages. The data follows each other quite nicely. The implication is that increased CO2 causes increased temperature. The bad news for the drum beaters is that this is not necessarily a causal relationship. It might be, but it might not, we don't know enough. If the CO2 caused the temperature directly, it should be a lot hotter. I wont site cases, as that just begs petty squabbling, ill just state that there are anecdotal cases that could indicate that CO2 causes increased temperatures, and conversely, that increased temperatures cause increased CO2. These possibilities fuel arguments by oil baron lobbyists against doing anything about CO2 emissions.

Fortunately the above is irrelevant. The cold, hard, inconvenient truth: We need to cut CO2 emissions to 0, now. Weather or not CO2 is causing the temperature to rise, we should be better custodians of the planet. Whatever the effect the massive enviromental changes we are making is, it isnt good or natural. We can do it, now, it wont be easy, and some of you wont like it, but heres how:

We build nuclear fission power stations everywhere. These are not nice long term solutions, but they are "carbon neutral". Now we have plenty of electricity, but the big problem is fuel cells and battery powered vehicles aren't practical for immediate widespread adoption. Solution: hydrogen. It doesn't have draw back of having to replace all the road vehicles, or the battery charging / swaping delima. There is plenty of it, we make it from sea water with the power stations we just built. And when you burn it what do you get? watter! Ok, now we need to get rid of all these nuclear waste creating fission reactors, fusion to the rescue! Build them right next to the fission reactors, because it looks like we will need tem to jump start a fusion reactor.

There we go!, just like that we have a happier earth and no Exon or Mobil, we will still have BP, because there not stupid, they see the writing on the wall, they are vested in many alternative fuels like hydrogen, but a solar powered gas station still looks funny.

The death of Microsoft or Why do you want a computer?

Ok, quick and to the point:
Google will kill Microsoft with Linux, and you dont want a "Personal Computer (PC)".

Heres how it works:

First consider: Why do you want a computer?
I don't have real numbers, but I'm sure between middle schoolers and business executives 90% of the people out there answer: browse the web (IE, Firefox), send and receive email (outlook, thunderbird), type stuff up (word,, play music and movies (iTunes), run your business (quick books, excel)

Now consider why you don't want a computer:
It can break, get infected, and loose all your data. Its stuck in one place, and expensive to keep replacing and upgrading. Isn't that enough?

Ok so whats that got to do with Google and Microsoft?
Lets connect the dots.
Google can offer most of these applications online, in a web page, where you can get to them anywhere, and it doesn't take a "computer", as you know it, to do it. Let me introduce you to the thin client.

It has a low power processor, a little solid state flash memory, and some ram. Its not a power house, and it doesn't need to run windows. 256Meg of storage, 128Meg of RAM, and a 800Mhz processor built into the back of a flat panel screen running Linux and Mozilla's Firefox will run any web page you need. It has no moving parts, and can be configured in a manner that if you do get a virus, or a program crashes, you turn it off, back on and your good to go (I know some of you say thats what I already do, but it doesn't always come back up).

A lot of what you need is being reborn in the old school model of centralized computing on the web. Google is at the forefront, the benevolent dictator with the "don't be evil" mantra. But they are just the beginning, where you start, complete with a search button. Their gmail is just the first step, and they already have a spreadsheet. Others see this, and are ready for tomorrow. QuckBooks, the preeminent (god knows why.. such a clumsy piece of software, i guess it makes sense to CPAs) accounting software, and turbotax, already have 100% online versions. iTunes, with the might of apple could be 100% web based tomorrow. Google has programmers working with, one of the few functional competitors for Microsoft's Office, and theres already speculation about a Google sponsored online version. These developments aren't lost on Microsoft either, they see the writing on the wall, and have their own online version of Microsoft Office already

So if you buy into all this, and so does everyone else, suddenly your workstation is small, cheap, and less likely to not work. Plus, it doesn't have anything sensitive or personal, so if someone steals it, all they have is a terminal. So now when you go... anywhere all you documents, email, balance sheet, is just a login away!

Of course there are those saying what about the gamers! Those games wont run on wimpy thin clients! Your right, but your question holds the seed of a better solution! So the above premise is that web pages will replace programs and all you need is a web browser. Games are neat on a computer, and I play plenty of them, but they wont stay here. The current game generation, all of them, the Wii, playstation3, and X-Box 360 come with web browsers. Theres your thin client already, sign up and throw your computer away.

So, with all of this, why do you want a computer?

I'm sick of safety

I am sick of all this safety. I saw on CNN a device that will full body x-ray you on your way to your airplane. We do not need to be this safe. Don't get me wrong, I'm for being as safe as is reasonable, but I put reasonable ending at the point that it infringes on my personal liberties. I don't want to have to second guess all my decisions, think to myself, "How could this be perceived as a terrorist threat?", when all I'm doing is something as innocent as, oh... say... reselling cellphones?!? The politicians and pundits tell us that these provisions are only against terrorists. What is a terrorist? After the Liquid Explosive scare in Briton, and the fact emerging that they were all Britons, not Saudis on student visas, and the shoe bomber, more and more people are saying that future terrorists will be found among us. More and more the terrorists will look like us, our friends our neighbors. The evidence will be thiner and thiner. The "Miami 5" took photos, and boasted to an undercover agent. As far as Ive heard, the Britons only had a plan, and an ominous "go ahead" from an Afghan cave. How long until the evidence for the prosecution is simply subscription to a certain set of ideals? How long until all that is needed is a blog post?

Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death --Patrick Henry

Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety -- Pennsylvania Assembly

We will not walk in fear, one of another. We will not be driven by fear into an age of unreason, if we dig deep in our history and our doctrine, and remember that we are not descended from fearful men -Edward R Murrow

"The only thing we have to fear is fear itself." -Franklin D. Roosevelt (yes, I know it was just a bank scare)

The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves - William Shakespeare in Julius Caesar