Sunday, December 27, 2015

How much did you really pay for medicare, social security, foreign wars, and welfare?

One of the reasons Americans have voted in so many policies and benefits is that they never considered the costs of the benefits or how much they would pay for it. Anything that is provided by the government is funded by the US tax payer either now or in the future.

Whenever taxes are withheld from your paycheck, everyone knows they are paying for roads, social programs, education, and police. But how much do you individually pay for these things?

If you are curious, you can pull up your last year's tax return and allocate the amount of tax owed by the expenses of the federal government.

In 2015, the United States federal spending was $3.7 trillion. Of this amount, the six largest budget items make up about 88% of total spending. The six largest budget items are as follows.

Medicare/Medicaid                                                       $1008 billion
Social Security                                                              $889 billion
Defense/War                                                                 $583 billion
Income Security (government assistance programs)    $303 billion
Federal Pensions                                                           $257 billion
Interest on the United States debt                                 $228 billion

As a percentage of total federal spending, the break down is listed below.

Medicare/Medicaid                          27%                      
Social Security                                 24%                                                            
Defense/War                                    16%                                                              
Income Security                                8%
Federal Pensions                               7%                                                
Interest on the United States debt     6%    

For example, lets say Bill paid the federal government $3900 in taxes for 2015. This how much he would have paid for the six largest federal budget items.

Medicare/Medicaid                           $1053                      
Social Security                                  $936                                                        
Defense/War                                     $592                                                          
Income Security                                $312
Federal Pensions                               $273                                          
Interest on the United States debt     $234


Friday, December 25, 2015

What is the optimal amount of government?

One of the questions I've wondered about for a while is if there is an optimum amount of government. Depending on a person's values, everyone will give a different response. Some on the left believe that government is directly responsible for prosperity so they want a government as big as possible. Conservatives want a smaller government, libertarians want government to get out of the way, and anarchists want no government. With these different view points, no one can agree on what the optimal level is.

Most people would not even know how to numerically measure how much government we have. Thankfully, Aaron Clarey gave a good way to measure the size of government. At least, I heard it from Aaron Clarey, someone else might have come up with it. The measurement is government spending as a percentage of GDP. Today in America, government spending equals about 40% of GDP. This is why America's economy is described as a mixed economy. Shockingly, Cuba is also described as a mixed economy.

The next factor to look at would be the economic indicator that best measures prosperity. So, it is important to consider either GDP or GDP per capital.  The higher the GDP or GDP per capital is in a country, the higher the standards of living will be. Other factors to consider would be purchasing power parity but to keep things simple, I believe the optimal level of government would be the spending to GDP percentage that yields the greatest GDP.

Being on the right side of the political spectrum, I hear a lot of opinions about how much waste and inefficiency is caused by the federal government. I do think that most of the right can agree that 40% government spending to GDP is way too much government. With welfare, WIC, SNAP, section 8, and other government programs, there is about 45 million Americans completely dependent on government programs for survival. In order to take care of these people, the federal government has to tax the hard working productive workers. Unfortunately, having this kind of welfare state encourages the poor to keep having children in order to collect more benefits. At the same time, the poor are deterred from earning more money because higher incomes will make them lose their benefits. If these programs were to be phased out of existence, the poor would not be deterred from trying to advance in careers. At the same time, they would not have so many children and they would have to scrape and claw their way for survival. Either that or perish. Which ever outcome that happens, we would have less of the poor.

With people off of welfare, there is less need to tax the productive citizens which gives them greater incentive to work. At the same time, those people formally on welfare are contributing more to GDP.

One of the biggest issues I have with government programs is that they are all a deferral of personal responsibility. Unemployment income is there to protect workers in the case they lose their jobs. Social security is there to protect workers from not saving enough for retirement. Medicare is there in case a man gets stricken with an illness. Unfortunately, these programs enable bad behavior. People today live paycheck to paycheck because there is some sort of safety net in place. But are there somethings that should be deferred to a bigger entity?

Often, one of the biggest criticisms I hear is directed at libertarians.

"What about the roads?"

Roads, infrastructure, and defense are too big of expenses for the average citizen to pay for. This is the biggest argument for having a government. Roads, infrastructure, and defense allows the average citizen to produce GDP at a high rate. Without roads or computer infrastructure, economies would be all on the local level. Physical movement becomes a real limitation. Roads and infrastructure would only be created by people if they perceive they could make a profit from it. Defense would also be needed to protect the country from foreign invaders. It is these things which I believe government does have its usefulness.

So then, what is the optimal level of government? Forty percent government spending to GDP seems way too high and zero percent seems completely unreasonable. Until I can find a better answer to this question, I'll simply go with Bernard Chapin's suggestion of the 10% state.

On a side note, while searching for the 10% state, I found that Cappy looked into this back in March of 2015. The essential government functions could be cut to a small as the 6.5% state.

Either way, it would be useful for any political active conservative to shoot for cutting government spending. The current 40% government spending to GDP is way too much.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Coffee, gas, and impulse spending

The other day, I was only my way to the Shell to fill up on gas. As I was filling up, I noticed an advertisement on the pump. Get a free coffee with a fill up (minimum $20). With gas being $1.80 per gallon where I live, I wouldn't exceed $20 per fill up. I would however exceed $20 if I filled up with premium fuel which costed $2.60 per gallon.

Oh, I see what they are trying to do.

I filled up with regular unleaded and the total amount came out to be $16.35. One cup of coffee would only cost about $2. I looked to the pump across from me and saw that the last customer paid exactly $20 for a fill up.

Impulse spending can be large ticket items. Impulse spending can also be several small transactions as well.

One free coffee would be all the motivation a man would need to go inside the food market and pick up the free coffee along with a pastry and some other item.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Genetic Failure

It is part of every mans biology that compels him to want to pass on his genes. He wants to pass on his legacy because he knows that his life will end one day. And if he can't pass on his genes, he might feel ... inferior.

This is was Liquid was feeling. Being a clone of the greatest soldier in history, his life was not really his. He was created to be a pure back up to the Big Boss. Liquid, Solid, and Solidus were all cloned and the ability to reproduce was engineered out so that no new copies could be created without the will of the patriots. Not only could they not breed, they were given significantly shorter lifespans. By the time Solid was in his 40's, he had the body of a man well in his 70's or 80's. After Liquid Ocelot's insurrection, Solid only had a few months to a year left to live.

We are all on the verge of death on the genetic level.

In order to break the curse of his heritage, Liquid wanted to create Outer Heaven. A military nation where war was perpetuated and soldiers would always have a place.

Solidus, knowing that his time was limited, wanted to destroy the patriots plan of censorship and go down in history as the man that freed America from tyranny of the patriots. He would be an exon in history. That would be his legacy.

Before the Shadow Moses incident, all Solid wanted to do was raise huskies and compete in dog sledding races. But afterwards, he dedicated his life to destroying nuclear bipedal tanks.

Every man has the urge to want to pass on his genes. If not that, he wants to do something to leave his mark on the world. But I have to think about it more logically. Not passing on genes might make a man feel inferior, but what about the man that does pass on his genes?

His offspring will be there to continue on his name, genes, and bloodline. However, when he dies, his genes will be gone. Once he is dead, his offspring and legacy can do no good for him.

It is for this reason I don't see the need to personally have children. It is for this reason that I want to try to use up as much of my wealth and money before my genes fade away. I'll take this life and enjoy it the way I want to live it.

Friday, December 18, 2015

The "Starter Marriage" Strategy

This happened a few years back when I was talking to an old friend. At the time, she was in her mid twenties. Towards the age of thirty was probably when she would want to find a husband and get married. It was then she told me her strategy of having a starter marriage.

She said she would find a man to marry but intentionally not have children with him in the very likely situation of having a divorce. The rationale was that she would use her first marriage to test the waters and see all the challenges of being married. And then experience all the mistakes that would lead to a divorce. By the time of her second marriage, she would have experienced what works and what doesn't work in a marriage and then she would feel safe enough of have children with her second husband. It this way, it was her second marriage that would be the successful marriage.

I don't think it was her intention to divorce rape the first husband for resources however I can't rule out that option. She wanted to have a husband and children to take care of her and provide for her.

Writing about this anecdote makes me sad on two levels. The first being was that my old friend had been through some rough patches getting out of a long term relationship and she had other personal problems she had dealt with growing up. I remember when I brought this up with her, she started shaking out of nervousness.

The second level is that this is probably what is common in today's dating market. Men and women today are just so broken that pair bonding is harder and harder to achieve.

With all that being said, try to never get involved with a woman that thinks starter marriages are a good idea.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

The warnings we got in high school

Throughout high school, there were a lot of lies they told us about our futures and what we should expect. In my case, I was lucky to grow up in a conservative state. I never heard the advice "do what your heart tells you and the money will follow".

A lot of the real world knowledge came from my sociology teach oddly enough. She was the best teacher I had in high school because she didn't lie to us. She told us like it is. Being that she taught sociology, she didn't bother to follow the book or teaching materials for a good 70% of the semester. She boiled down sociology to the following statement.

"Life sucks and then you die." She really didn't sugar coat it at all. When you go or your friends go to college, they may have different experiences and become different people. During one class session, she was trying to convince one of the students not to major in journalism. The journalism industry is pretty flooded and good paying jobs are highly competitive. The student that was resisting eventually went on to participate in the OWS protests. It was from my sociology professor that I heard about the reality of the college system. She stated that college degrees are no where near as useful as they were in the past because college degrees have become more and more common in the last few decades. As a result, the job market became more and more competitive. Not only that, but tuition was constantly increasing in price. I only wish she could have more insight about what a worthwhile and worthless major was.

I had an economics teacher that was a conservative. During one of our class sessions, he mentioned that raising the minimum wage does nothing to help the poor. As the cost of labor increases, business have more incentive to fire excess staff and move towards automation.

I had a teacher that taught personal finance. She told the class a story about how her son was completely set on going to a traditional college to get a four year degree. She was trying to persuade her son to consider all of his options. She mentioned that trade schools only take two years to complete, are much cheaper than traditional colleges, and provide a man with good work percipience before entering the labor market. This was the closest I ever came to a teacher specifically recommending becoming an automotive mechanic, welder, or carpenter.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Trying Amazon Affiliate Again

A year or so ago, I tried making some money off the Amazon Affiliate program. I tried making some test orders to see if it worked but I never made any commission off of it. Also I wasn't sure if the program would net me money in the state I lived in.

I'm trying the program again to see if it works now. If anyone is about to buy something from amazon, please click the amazon banner in the top right of my blog. I just want to make sure if it will work this time for me.

I'd appreciate it greatly. Thank you.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

60 years worth of consumables

After celebrating another birthday, I always like to keep track of where I am and where I'm going. I'd estimate that I'd have another 60 years left to live and I wondered how much 60 years of consumables would look like.

I like to look at these figures to get a general idea of how much money I still need to earn.

60 years is roughly 21915 days.

I'd estimate a man would need 3 cans of food a day. 60 years of food would be 65745 cans of food.
One roll of toilet paper lasts about a week. 60 years of toilet paper would be 3120 rolls.
A tube of tooth paste should last about a month. I'd need 720 tubes left.
A large container of shower gel lasts about 4 months. I'd need another 180 containers.
One bottle of shampoo lasts me 6 months. I'd need another 120 bottles.
I'd spend a little extra on clothing and buy 3 sets of clothing a year. That totals of 180 sets of clothes.

It isn't a total list of consumables but its a start. It doesn't include major items like lodging and health care but if a man can afford all of this, he is in a pretty good position in life.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Would Nuclear Disarmament Put the World at Risk?

Over the last few months, I've heard news reports of people getting killed in mass shootings. It seems like a new one pops up every month or so. When it comes to guns, I believe that more guns make the world a safer place. After all, if everyone was armed and carrying, there would be less situations where one man could take out 20 people in a movie theater, school, or shopping mall. If everyone is armed and everyone knows everyone is armed, a deranged maniac would be shot to death if he tried something stupid. However, this is a just a theory. It is also likely that in the chaos and confusion, every armed man would think every other armed man was the deranged maniac and then there would be 200 dead men instead of 20.

I will admit that I have a strong bias to the first position. If everyone knows everyone is armed, then there is a deterrence to actually using a weapon. Commonly, these mass shootings have been happening in gun free zones. Deranged maniacs just want to shoot as many people as possible without getting shot at in the process. This is why police stations and military bases are usually not targeted by deranged maniacs.

I then started to wonder about a larger scale. Nuclear weapons are pretty much just really big guns. Today, there are about 17,000 nuclear weapons around the world in different countries. Throughout all of history, the atomic bomb was only used twice. The bomb that destroyed Hiroshima wiped out 90,000 to 150,000 people while the bomb that destroyed Nagasaki wiped out 40,000 to 80,000 people. The amount of nuclear weapons in the world could easily wipe out 700 million people on the low end.

Over the last several years, nations have been working towards disarming the nuclear weapons however it seems like total disarmament would be impossible. As countries continue to disarm their weapons, the countries that still have their weapons would be in more of a position to threaten other countries. The theory of nuclear deterrence falls to pieces.

By making the attempt to get rid of nuclear weapons, we might be increasing the risk of a deranged maniac actually using one. And even if total disarmament happened, the knowledge of how to develop the weapons still exists. Pandora's box was opened when that knowledge was discovered.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Dreams of Neo America

When the leaders in charge of the country mismanage the country and the future looks like it is going down the toilet, it is very easy for a man to feel depressed. Management of the nation is completely out of your hands, you have no control over major decisions.

To fix this mess, it seems completely futile to protest the government for positive changes. Any changes for the better will have to be made on the individual level. This is what you do have control over.

Sometimes a man would want to leave the nation behind in order to find a better home, a better nation where he could thrive. However, I've heard the opinion that just about every other country is in worse condition than my home.

Well, what if a man could form his own nation? A single man couldn't form a nation all by himself, well not a legitimate one anyway. For the last few years, my dream has been retiring as early as an age as possible. To do this, a man has to subject himself to the cheapest possible standard of living and find an adequate paying job in order to save up a war chest. With a good enough strategy, plan, and execution, a man could possibly have all the money and resources needed for the rest of his life by the age of 30, 35, or 40. What would a man do at that point?

In a few years, I'll be living in a steel shipping container somewhere in the south while I'm growing vegetables. I've had the idea of living alone for decades, but what if there were other people that wanted to live this sort of life? We wouldn't be subject to having normal jobs as we have already accumulated all the resources we needed. We would just be enjoying life doing things like farming vegetables, building furniture, or modifying houses.

The people attracted to this sort of lifestyle would be a high quality stock. People that knew what was important of life. Not people addicted to reality TV, popular culture, social justice warrioring, or consumerism. These people would be chasing the American dream of our founding fathers and that dream was freedom.

Neo America would not be a legitimate nation. It would be completely contained inside America. It would have no currency, no organized government, and it probably won't have a self sustaining economy.

Neo America would just be an idea. It would be a group of people that decided to pursue freedom to the best of their capabilities.