Should Tennessee Take Bailout Money?

That’s what Blue Collar Muse is asking.  Here’s my take..

If bailouts are bad, they are bad. If people think they are good, they are ok still bad.

But here’s the thing….if Tennessee (or any other state) were to refuse the bailout money, does that mean those dollars wouldn’t be invested spent in another state? Someone is going to be standing there with their hand out.

Wouldn’t we be better off to take the money and then, ahem, “invest” it for an interest in future revenues of another state? For instance, why not buy 1% of Georgia’s state income tax for the next 10 years, or a piece of California’s lottery action, a some of Florida’s sales tax?

I’m just thinking out loud here.  I’m sure what I’m proposing is either illegal or would be deemed so pretty quickly by an executive order–can’t have the States exercising this kind of power and making these types of decisions, right?

I know I’m wrong here…tell me why.

Planning For “Change” Financially

The Only Real Change I Expect   

The Only Real Change I Expect

I am not a financial advisor, lawyer, or accountant.  You should consult with someone with this type of expertise before making financial decisions, but it’s never to early to start thinking about how you should plan financially to survive/improve/thrive with the changes that may occur in the next year or two.  I’m sure people with a lot more smarts than me will have some ideas, but here are some things I’m thinking.  Feel free to add your own.

Get rid of your consumer debt.  Financing things that are going down in value (cars, boats, Whopper value meals) is never a good idea, but is especially bad when when you need to have financial flexibility.  Pay off your cars and credit cards ASAP.  Even if things work out famously, being debt free is liberating.  You’re going to need the extra cash to pay higher prices for goods and services.  You may think only corporations and rich people are going to pay more, but the reality is that the people who buy stuff from them are the ones who will pay.

Open foreign accounts.  Definitely consult your accountant and lawyer on this one. I’m just a guy who looked it up on a web site.  According to the IRS a person must report a foreign account via FBAR if:

1.  The person has financial interest in, signature authority or other authority over one or more accounts in a foreign country, and    
2.  The value of the account exceeds $10,000 at any time during the calendar year.

Invest in assetts that will be more difficult to seize.  Cash and equities can be taken pretty easily.  Of course, according to Kelo, land may not be that safe either.  As long as it’s taken for the common good, right?  Still, if things get really bad at least you can grow a garden.

Defer your income if possible, for as long as possible.  Tough to do unless you own a business.  But if you do own a business you are probably in the most danger of being hit.  If you can put earnings/income off long enough, we may return to a more sensible philosophy.

Save a little extra cash now.  Tax increases will probably be retroactive to the beginning of the year they are increased.  That means if your taxes go up you’ll have to pay extra taxes on money you were taxed on at the original rate.  You’re going to need the cash for that.

Act now to help elect a fiscally responsible representative in your district for Congress in 2010.

Again, I don’t have any financial expertise…just some things going through my mind and things I’ve heard others talking about.  Remember–I’m just an idiot with a keyboard.

Write It All Off

Cosmo KramerKramer: They just write it off.

Jerry: You don’t even know what a write off is, do you?

Kramer: Do you?

Jerry: No, I don’t.

Kramer. Well they do, and they’re the ones writing it off.

Jerry: I wish I had the last 20 seconds of my life back.

HT to Auramae via Twitter for this article on Wired. When you’re making a living blogging about your personal life, can you write off personal expenses like condoms? That’s what Soccergirl is attempting to do, and I for one am all for it.

In an age when bloggers and podcasters are making a living — or trying to — by blogging and podcasting about their personal lives, what exactly is legitimate? And if writing off your personal life is as easy as writing about it online and getting some Google ads, why doesn’t everybody do it?

Well, it turns out that you can’t write off things that you buy if you’re using them primarily for personal use, which makes sense. But just for laughs, I thought about all of the things I could write off since I’ve been blogging:

Cable TV (lots of blogging about The Wire, Lost, and Rock of Love), internet access (obviously), gas to drive around town, running shoes, and my taxes themselves.

Hillary Clinton and the Economy

I can’t believe she said this:

“It’s time for a president who is ready on day one to be the commander in chief of our economy,” the New York senator said, reframing her leadership campaign theme. “Sometimes the phone rings at 3 a.m. in the White House, and it’s an economic crisis.”

So what is the solution at 3 am? Do you get on the phone to the Chairman of the Fed and beg him to drop interest rates 0.75%? Do you decide to take away buy people’s property and pay other people to flood it? Do you log into your online account and borrow millions billions trillions from China to write out checks to the American people that are just big enough to allow them to buy some stuff from…China?

Do you then go back to sleep after one of these snap decisions, resting easy that the situation has been resolved?

To be fair, it’s not just Clinton, and the American people are encouraging them to stick their noses where they don’t belong. I can’t remember where I read this (thanks to public education), but it describes the powers and duties of the President of the United States pretty clearly.

He shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by Law: but the Congress may by Law vest the Appointment of such inferior Officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the Courts of Law, or in the Heads of Departments.

Where does it say the President is in charge of the economy or even has anything to do with the economy? And seriously, do we want one person to have that kind of power? Wasn’t that exact situation a major factor in that war fought a couple hundred years ago?

Sundown in the City Explained

If you aren’t local to Knoxville, you probably haven’t heard of Sundown in the City. If you are local to Knoxville and haven’t heard of Sundown in the City, I’d make the case that you aren’t really local. The quick skinny is this–it’s a series of outdoor concerts held downtown that features acts that are longer on talent than they are on notoriety. There is no fee for entry–cost is covered by sponsors and the the City.

The music is great, but many of the acts continue to be underappreciated by the KTown crowd. That’s because the social component of SITC is just as big, if not bigger, than the music. The sell beer, so you inevitably end up with pockets of people who all know each other standing around gossiping about their mutual friends who didn’t make it to Sundown that week. The loud music in the background is borderline distracting to them. It also offers the “pretend-we-live-in-Greenwich-Connecticut” crowd from West Knoxville and Farragut the chance to come see how the “pretend-we-live-in-Greenwich-Village” downtown crowd rolls.

One of my friends contends that he is more or less required to go every week since his taxes go to support it. And to him, Sundown in the City and Boomsday are the only two legitimate functions of City government.

Anyway, this year’s lineup has been announced. There are a couple of must sees on here for me (Robert Earl Keen and The Presidents of the United States of America) and a couple of others I’ll go check out if I have the time, which I probably won’t. If I’m lucky there will be a group of people standing around gossiping about me.

April 17: Galactic with Garage Deluxe
April 24: Susan Tedeschi with Todd Steed and the Suns of Phere
May 1: Umphrey’s McGee
May 8: Josh Ritter and the Hackensaw Boys
May 15: North Mississippi All Stars
May 22: The Presidents of the United States of America with Cutthroat Shamrock
May 29: Robert EarlKeen with Jypsi June
June 5: (not yet booked)
June 12: Citizen Cope
June 19: Marc Broussard with Erick Baker
June 26: The Everybodyfields and Amy LaVere
July 3: The Wild Magnolias

The Real Immigration Problem

I don’t talk about the whole “illegal immigration” thing here much, mostly because I think it’s a tad bit silly.  But now I’ve got my own immigration story.

800 miles ($100 in fuel and two days of driving) to Memphis and back

$400 (paid before the price was increased) fee to fill out a lot of paperwork

A 15 minute interview, and viola…

The Missus is going to get her citizenship.  Hopefully the swearing in will be a little closer than Memphis.  Of course we’re happy, but there are a couple of things about the whole process that I don’t understand.

She’s been here for 23 years.  She went to college here.  She went to grad school here.  She’s taught in multiple school systems.  She’s been paying taxes for a looooong time.  No problem letting her mold young minds, but issue her a passport?  No way.

Her brother has been here for 25 years.  He also went to college and grad school here.  He’s paid taxes (and lots of them) for a long time too, and he was only recently able to get his green card so that he isn’t dependent on the work visa he had through his current employer.  They both speak without accents and write English better than most people who were born here.

Why do people like this have to drive 800 miles for 15 minute interviews and practically beg to be a part of this country?  Isn’t there some way we could use ball bearings or lasers or computers or something to determine who is here (legally) and being productive?  Wouldn’t it be easier to simply send them a letter:

“Hey!  We noticed that you work your ass off, don’t break the law, and are a perfect example of everything that is right with this country.  We also noticed that you haven’t joined officially, and we’d really like for you too.  Get back to us and let’s make this happen–we’d love to have you!”

Why Are Public Schools All or Nothing?

A friend at work home schooled his daughter up until high school, and one of the reasons he mentioned for sending her to public school this year was that she wanted to be involved in the band. That got me thinking. He pays taxes just like everyone else in the county. Why does his daughter have to accept an entire education that is inferior to the one he can provide her at home just to participate in band?

Then I really started thinking. Why can’t parents pick and choose which courses their children receive from public schools and omit the ones they don’t want? And isn’t disallowing a home schooled child the opportunity to take a single class that their parents don’t feel comfortable teaching them, say calculus, without enrolling in the full curriculum a denial of services afforded to all residents by the Constitution of the State?

I know the initial response to this is that state funds are tied to enrollment, but why can’t the school count students fractionally based on the number of courses (services guaranteed by the State) they use?

I’ll have more to say about this in the future, and I don’t want to jump completely off the cliff until I have time to think about it more and read a little, but this sounds like a reasonable proposition to me. In fact, I wonder if there would be grounds for a lawsuit against a county/state if a parent attempted to try something like this. I’m no lawyer, but it seems reasonable.

What do you guys think?

Ron Paul and Wolf Blitzer on 12/2

Here are the two parts of Ron Paul’s interview with Wolf Blitzer last night. He gets to cover a lot of ground in this interview–Iraq, monetary policy, globalism, taxes, and fund raising. I also received Dr. Paul’s newsletter today that addresses a great point regarding last week’s debates

mainstream politicians NEVER attack an opponent they think is far behind. The McCain campaign, we’ve heard, is worried sick about New Hampshire, and they thought a slam at me would help. Ha! Of course, it only strengthened our forces.

Enjoy the video, and don’t forget about the Tea Party on December 16!

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How Sad Is It That This Makes Me Happy?

The KNS reports that Scott Moore would like to repeal the $30 wheel tax in Knox County.

“In times of a slow economy, we ought to be able to help our citizens and put some money back in their pockets,” Moore said this morning as commission’s Intergovernmental and Finance committees began meeting.

It is also wise to put money back in the citizens’ pockets when their county government is a mess and they have little faith in it.

Regardless, I’m can’t help but be happy when our overlords graciously offer to return money to the people who earned it.