A Geek With Guns

Chronicling the depravities of the State.

Archive for the ‘Money Management Mishaps’ tag

Apocalyptic Financial Predictions Aren’t Just for Libertarians Anymore

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Apocalyptic financial predictions are a staple of libertarianism. This isn’t without merit. Governments around the world implement financial policies that can lead to nowhere but ruin. However, the mainstream media has always laughed at these libertarian predictions… until now:

Financial experts noted several ominous economic indicators, including skyrocketing student loans and U.S. household debts, that could predict a crash “worse than the Great Depression,” according to a report in the New York Post.

Goldman Sachs predicted that this year’s U.S. fiscal outlook would be “not good,” and that U.S. household debt had been increasing since the 2008 housing crisis led to American taxpayers bailing out the big banks.

In 2018, experts said, a $247 trillion global debt will be the greatest cause of the next cataclysmic financial crash. Additionally, low wages and the U.S. national debt’s steady rise are expected to drag down the economy.

This is from Newsweek of all sources.

Granted, the only reason the mainstream media is jumping onboard of the SS Financial Meltdown is because Trump is in office. If Hillary had won and implemented the same policies that Trump has, the mainstream media would still be laughing at predictions of financial meltdown. Regardless of their reasoning it’s still funny seeing this kind of story appearing.

Written by Christopher Burg

October 17th, 2018 at 10:30 am

Fiscally Conservative

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If you ask most people what one of the major difference between the Republican and Democratic parties is, they will tell you that the Republican Party tends to be more fiscally conservative. The Republican Party is in power now so a wave of fiscal conservation is upon us, right? Not so much:

The U.S. federal budget deficit rose in fiscal 2018 to the highest level in six years as spending climbed, the Trump administration said Monday.

The deficit jumped to $779 billion, $113 billion or 17 percent higher than the previous fiscal period, according to a statement from Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney. It was larger than any year since 2012, when it topped $1 trillion. The budget shortfall rose to 3.9 percent of U.S. gross domestic product.

It turns out that neither party is fiscally conservative. And really, why should they be? They’re not spending their own money. They’re not even primarily spending out money. They’re spending the money that they’re printing. Since they can print an infinite amount of money, there is no motivation for them to spend less… at least until the whole financial system collapses due to an irreconcilable misallocations of resources. But that’s a problem for the next generation, right?

Written by Christopher Burg

October 17th, 2018 at 10:00 am

I Want to Alter the Deal

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The Witcher series of games have been phenomenally successful. In fact their success has overshadowed the books that they were based on. Unfortunately for the author, he made a bad deal and now wants to alter the deal:

“I was stupid enough to sell them rights to the whole bunch,” Sapkowski said at the time. “They offered me a percentage of their profits. I said, ‘No, there will be no profit at all — give me all my money right now! The whole amount.’ It was stupid. I was stupid enough to leave everything in their hands because I didn’t believe in their success. But who could foresee their success? I couldn’t.”

Sapkowski has now made a public demand for six percent of the profits obtained for the lifetime of the franchise, which adds up to more than $16 million for The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt alone.

I especially enjoy how he admits that he was initially offered a percentage of the profits and turned the offer down because he didn’t believe that the project would be successful. So even he’s admitting that his failure to capitalized on his novels was entirely his fault.

Higher risks generally come with greater rewards, which makes sense since there needs to be a justification for taking a risk. Sapkowski played it safe and took the low risk/low reward option. Generally speaking, if you can bear the brunt of losing out on a high risk/high reward situation, take it. Sapkowski had income from his books so he may have been able to bear the brunt of not receiving any money on the series if it flopped. If you ever find yourself in a similar position, give the high risk option some serious thought.

Written by Christopher Burg

October 5th, 2018 at 10:00 am

Security Theater Is Expensive

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During the Super Bowl Minneapolis was effectively turned into a giant prison camp. Barriers were erected, snipers were positioned, Humvees were cruising around, and heavily militarized law enforcers from numerous agencies were marching around. While all of that security theater may have looked impressive, it was also expensive:

The department is expected to spend $175.6 million for the fiscal year, coming in at $1.9 million over its $173.7 million budget, according to new projections from the city’s finance department. The projections were a part of a second quarter 2018 financial report presented to the Ways & Means Committee on Tuesday.

“The Police department expects to come in $1.9 million over budget due to payments to other agencies and overtime related to the Super Bowl and SWAT for the X-Games,” read an earlier draft of the report released on Monday. In the final version that was presented at Ways & Means, the wording was revised to “large planned events.”

It’s a good thing that Minneapolis has so many tax cattle to make up for this shortfall. It’s also a good thing that the National Football League was able to subsidize its security expenses by shoving a huge chunk onto the tax cattle. And let’s be honest here, you can’t put a price on the the convenience of the super wealthy tax cattle being able to attend the big game without the hassle of flying to it on their personal jet.

Written by Christopher Burg

August 30th, 2018 at 10:00 am

Altering the Deal

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I’ve never understood the business model of relying entirely on one other company for revenue. It might sound like a good idea at first, especially if the other company is being especially generous, but if the other company changes the deal, you’re shit out of luck:

Apple is shutting down an App Store affiliate program that shared a small percentage of revenue generated by third-party links to purchase apps or in-app content.

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Apple’s decision comes as a sucker punch to outlets like mobile gaming news and reviews site TouchArcade, which has long relied on the App Store affiliate program for a significant chunk of its revenue. As TouchArcade editor Eli Hodapp writes in a despairing post, the loss of the “reliable” affiliate revenue stream could very well kill the site, which will now lean more heavily on Patreon donations and Amazon affiliate links to stay afloat.

“I genuinely have no idea what TouchArcade is going to do,” Hodapp writes. “It’s hard to read this in any other way than ‘We went from seeing a microscopic amount of value in third-party editorial to, we now see no value.’ … I don’t know how the takeaway from this move can be seen as anything other than Apple extending a massive middle finger to sites like TouchArcade, AppShopper, and many others who have spent the last decade evangelizing the App Store and iOS gaming.”

Maybe deciding what TouchArcade will do if Apple cancels its affiliate program is something that should have been considered earlier. Especially since not too long ago Apple changed the terms of its affiliate program to reduce the amount of money affiliates received.

Threat modeling isn’t an exercise that should be performed exclusively by a company’s security team. Security threats are just one kind of threat that businesses face. Loss of revenue sources is another threat that must be considered.

Written by Christopher Burg

August 3rd, 2018 at 10:00 am

Government Creates the Problems It Solves

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Here’s a familiar story. A government body implements a new policy that causes major hardships for a large number of people then swoops in to “fix” the problem. That’s what’s happening here:

The Trump administration plans to offer up to $12 billion in aid to farmers hit by tariffs on their goods, an emergency bailout intended to ease the pain caused by Trump’s escalating trade war in key electoral states, Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue told reporters Tuesday.

First the government created the problem by implementing tariffs then it offered to redistribute some wealth to those hurt by the tariffs. Of course the redistributed wealth has to come from somewhere, which means another problem will be created by the government that it will then claim to solve.

Written by Christopher Burg

July 25th, 2018 at 10:00 am

The New College Scam

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Students in the United States owe an estimated $1.48 billion in college loans. This shouldn’t surprise anybody. The United States government has been handing out absurdly cheap loans for college students for ages now. With this influx of cheap cash colleges have realized that they can charge more. In response the government has doled out more cheap cash and the cycle has continued to its current state of a ton of outstanding debt that can’t be repaid.

Colleges, realizing that the student loan bubble is going to burst, have been looking for alternative methods to continue charging their current rates when cheap cash is no longer available to students. Some colleges are experimenting with taking a percentage of students’ future earnings:

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — As more students balk at the debt loads they face after graduation, some colleges are offering an alternative: We’ll pay your tuition if you offer us a percentage of your future salary.

Norwich University announced Tuesday that it will become the latest school to offer this type of contract, known as an income share agreement. Norwich’s program is starting out on a small scale, mainly for students who do not have access to other types of loans or those who are taking longer than the traditional eight semesters to finish their degree.

On the upside, students pursuing degrees that traditionally result in low paying jobs, such as interpretive underwater basket weaving, have an opportunity to obtain a cheap college education. On the other side of the coin though, students pursuing degrees that traditionally result in high paying jobs, such as computer science, get a less appealing deal.

I don’t foresee this strategy working out for colleges. It relies on students actually obtaining jobs after graduating, which can never be guaranteed. Moreover, in order for colleges to continuing charging their current prices, this strategy requires most students to get high paying jobs after graduating.

Written by Christopher Burg

July 24th, 2018 at 10:30 am

Voting Other People’s Money to Yourself Must Be Nice

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Affordable housing is a hot topic here in the Twin Cities. Most people believe that there isn’t enough and that the solution is to bulldoze a bunch of existing infrastructure so it can be replaced with luxury high-density residential buildings. However, the politicians in Washington DC perceive a similar problem in their area but are coming up with a different solution:

Democratic members of Congress want taxpayers to subsidize their housing, signing onto legislation that would allow them to deduct living expenses for members of the House of Representatives.

Rep. Bennie Thompson (D., Miss.) introduced a bill that would ban members of Congress from sleeping in their offices and would change the tax code to allow House members to deduct their spending on housing in D.C. up to $3,000. The deduction would not apply to senators.

Thompson has also proposed turning a vacant building near Capitol Hill into apartments for House members at the expensive of taxpayers, which critics have dubbed a “Congressional Animal House.”

Being able to vote other people’s money to yourself must be nice. You can’t find a place to live in a price range you desire? Just vote to force the taxpayers to build you an apartment complex. While you’re at it, you might as well vote yourself a special tax deduction for housing that doens’t apply to anybody else. After all, you’re far more important than the little people from whom you’re stealing so it’s not only OK, it’s the moral to do!

Written by Christopher Burg

June 26th, 2018 at 10:00 am

Prison Nations Are Expensive

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The concept of justice in this country doesn’t involve trying to make victims as whole as possible, it involves locking offenders in secure storage faculties for arbitrarily defined spans of time. Seeing justice in this way has numerous downsides. One of those downsides is that the justice system becomes expensive. Couple the expense of a storage-based justice system with a list of laws so long that no single individual can ever hope to memorize it entirely and you end up with a financial crisis:

Gov. Jerry Brown’s spending plan for the fiscal year that starts July 1 includes a record $11.4 billion for the corrections department while also predicting that there will be 11,500 fewer inmates in four years because voters in November approved earlier releases for many inmates.

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The price for each inmate has doubled since 2005, even as court orders related to overcrowding have reduced the population by about one-quarter. Salaries and benefits for prison guards and medical providers drove much of the increase.

The result is a per-inmate cost that is the nation’s highest — and $2,000 above tuition, fees, room and board, and other expenses to attend Harvard.

If California wants to spend billions of dollars for nothing of value, I can think of some alternatives that would at least have some kind of positive quality.

The only positive thing that I can say about a storage-based justice system is that it eventually bankrupts any government that implements it. Unfortunately, the bankruptcy doesn’t happen until a lot of misery has been created both in the victims because no real attempt has been made to make them whole again and the prisoners who spend years sitting in a cage doing nothing of value to anybody.

Written by Christopher Burg

June 20th, 2018 at 10:00 am

$1 Trillion Doesn’t Go as Far as It Once Did

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$1 trillion doesn’t go as far as it once did… literally:

The House Armed Services Committee has sent its report on the Fiscal Year 2019 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to the floor. And buried in that report are words of caution about the F-35C, the Navy’s version of the F-35 Lightning II, also known as the Joint Strike Fighter—and the Navy’s whole carrier air capability in general. The reason for that concern is that the F-35C doesn’t have the range to conduct long-range strikes without in-flight refueling—and the Navy’s tanker planes are not exactly “stealth.”

Perhaps I’m mistaken but isn’t this something that should have been considered when the jet was initially being designed? Isn’t coming up with needed capabilities the first step in designing a jet?

I’m firmly convinced that the F-35 was never seriously meant to be a legitimate fighter jet. Instead I think it was meant to be a perpetual stimulus package for the defense industry. That’s the only logical explanation for dumping over $1 trillion into a jet that still cannot fulfill the missions for which it is designated.

Written by Christopher Burg

May 23rd, 2018 at 11:00 am