EppsNet Archive: Money

Monday Night at the Chevron

20 Mar 2017 /
Chevron

I like the sodas at Chevron . . . they’re not restaurant quality, but they’re better than the flat, tasteless sodas you get at most other gas stations.

On the downside, Chevron as often as not has some donate-a-buck-to-charity shakedown going on at the register. Today the place is plastered with photos of bald children with brave smiles on their faces . . .

“Would you like to donate to St. Jude pediatric cancer research?” the clerk asks.

“I already donated two dollars last week and they haven’t cured it yet?”

 

Meanwhile, I notice another employee plucking all the hot dogs off the rotisserie with a pair of tongs and dropping them in a trash can . . .

“You have to throw those out if they sit too long?” I ask the clerk.

“Yes.”

“Do you ever pluck a couple off and eat them if you’re hungry?”

“No,” he says, with the kind of look someone would give you if you asked them to eat something inedible . . .


I Almost Got Into a Fistfight With a Realtor

13 Mar 2017 /

My wife and I stopped by an open house yesterday . . . after looking around, my wife said something to the listing agent, an oily-haired Chinese guy, about the fact that we’re working with a buyer’s agent and he said, “No agent! You get a better deal with no agent.”

“So we cut our agent out of the deal and save some money,” I said. “It sounds like that’s what you’re suggesting.”

“Agents charge 2 percent. You get a better deal with no agent.”

“OK, but I like to get paid for my work. I’m sure you like to get paid for your work. Why would you suggest not paying someone for their work?”

“It’s up to you,” he said. “You can save some money.”

“How about if we just talk to the seller directly and cut you out of the deal?”

“I have a contract,” he said.

“They don’t last forever. When does it expire?”

So I don’t think we’re going to get that house, but I didn’t like it anyway . . .


EppsNet Investment Tips

27 Dec 2016 /

Shares of Warren Buffett’s firm Berkshire Hathaway soared 20% in 2016, helping to boost Buffett’s personal fortune by $12.3 billion – more than any other billionaire in the United States.

Forbes

Buy and hold . . . buy and hold.


It Never Ends

10 Dec 2016 /

I just received an email alerting me that the Irvine Public Schools Foundation’s annual fundraising campaign ends December 31.

Let me guess, the next annual fundraising campaign starts on January 1.


Vatican Splendors at the Reagan Library

19 Sep 2016 /

They had a funny rule in the Vatican exhibit: photos were okay but no selfies. I could stand in front of an artifact and have someone take a picture of me, but I could not take a picture of myself.

I asked one of the docents about the reason for that. “Does it detract from the holiness of the enterprise or what?”

“No, people taking selfies tend to lose track of their surroundings and start banging into the art.”

 

I bought a souvenir T-shirt for $32 in the gift shop. They made me sign the credit card slip, even though a lot of places trust me for amounts under $50.

“Trust but verify” as President Reagan himself used to say.


20-Something Girlfriends

17 Sep 2016 /
Mel Gibson

Mel Gibson expecting NINTH child: Lethal Weapon star, 60, announces his girlfriend, 26, is pregnantDaily Mail Online

Here are the ages of Gibson’s current children: 36, 34 (twins), 31, 28, 26, 17, 6.

OK, Gibson is better looking than I am, he has a lot more money than I do . . . on the other hand, I’m younger and taller (Wikipedia lists him as 5’10”).

It gives one pause . . .


What Would You Charge for an EpiPen?

29 Aug 2016 /
EpiPen

I don’t mean hypothetically, I mean I literally want to buy an EpiPen from you right now. My kid got stung by a bee, his face is swelling up like a balloon and his lungs are about to shut down.

I see a lot of people are mad at Mylan for charging $600 for EpiPens but they don’t seem to be mad at everyone else in the world who won’t sell them an EpiPen at all.

Not to mention, $600 for a life-saving treatment seems like a pretty good bargain to me.

Hillary Clinton has called for reducing the price of EpiPens. Hillary Clinton has never lifted a finger in a productive enterprise in her life. She will not sell you an EpiPen no matter how much you want or need one.

If the amoral profiteers at Mylan have an obligation to sell cheap EpiPens, why doesn’t Hillary Clinton? Why don’t you?


Carmack on Government

22 Aug 2016 /
John Carmack

My core thesis is that the federal government delivers very poor value for the resources it consumes, and that society as a whole would be better off with a government that was less ambitious. This is not to say that it doesn’t provide many valuable and even critical services, but that the cost of having the government provide them is much higher than you would tolerate from a company or individual you chose to do business with. For almost every task, it is a poor tool.

Given the inefficiency, why is the federal government called upon to do so many things? A large part is naked self interest, which is never going to go away — lots of people play the game to their best advantage, and even take pride in their ability to get more than they give.

However, a lot is done in the name of misplaced idealism. It isn’t hard to look around the world and find something that you feel needs fixing. The world gets to be a better place by people taking action to improve things, but it is easy for the thought to occur that if the government can be made to address your issue, it could give results far greater than what you would be able to accomplish with direct action. Even if you knew that it wasn’t going to be managed especially well, it would make up for it in volume. This has an obvious appeal.

Every idealistic cry for the government to “Do Something” means raising revenue, which means taking money from people to spend in the name of the new cause instead of letting it be used for whatever purpose the earner would have preferred.

It is unfortunate that income taxes get deducted automatically from most people’s paychecks, before they ever see the money they earned. A large chunk of the population thinks that tax day is when you get a nice little refund check. Good trick, that. If everyone was required to pay taxes like they pay their utilities, attitudes would probably change. When you get an appallingly high utility bill, you start thinking about turning off some lights and changing the thermostat. When your taxes are higher than all your other bills put together, what do you do? You can make a bit of a difference by living in Texas instead of California, but you don’t have many options regarding the bulk of it.

Helping people directly can be a noble thing. Forcing other people to do it with great inefficiency? Not so much. There isn’t a single thing that I would petition the federal government to add to its task list, and I would ask that it stop doing the majority of the things that it is currently doing. My vote is going to the candidates that at least vector in that direction.

— John Carmack

More People I’m Sick Unto Death Of

1 Aug 2016 /

Is anyone else sick of paying for an ever-expanding army of bureaucrats to meddle in their lives? Or is it just me?


In Politics, An Honest Man Does Not Get Rich

17 Jul 2016 /
Sam Rayburn

I have been unable to save much money in my life. I have been in politics, and in politics an honest man does not get rich.

That’s not true, there are LOTS of rich politicians. Oh wait . . .

[Sam Rayburn was one of the most powerful American politicians of the 20th century. He served as the Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives for 17 years, the longest tenure in U.S. history. His savings at his death totaled $ 15,000.]


George Orwell: “I Told You So”

25 Jun 2016 /

WASHINGTON (AP) — An Associated Press review of the official calendar Hillary Clinton kept as secretary of state identified at least 75 meetings with longtime political donors, Clinton Foundation contributors and corporate and other outside interests that were not recorded or omitted the names of those she met.

Clinton campaign spokesman Nick Merrill said that Clinton “has always made an effort to be transparent since entering public life.”

In addition to the unrecorded meetings with donors, this effort at transparency includes setting up a private email server to use as Secretary of State, and giving speeches at $200,000 per to Wall Street banks and investment firms, foreign governments and other special interest groups under a contract that prevents anyone from releasing a transcript of what she said.

Merrill went on to say, “War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength.”


Why is it Okay to Hate the Rich But Not the Poor?

11 Jun 2016 /
Scrooge McDuck

There is a feeling outside Silicon Valley that those inside the tech business are living in a tone-deaf bubble of arrogance. . . .

Here is the evidence that Silicon Valley is living in a bubble of its own arrogance.

Startup founders feel entitled to hate the poor.

The author seems to be based in the UK, which is outside Silicon Valley, so he writes “There is a feeling outside Silicon Valley that . . .” and inserts his own opinion. It’s a “feeling,” you see, and it exists outside Silicon Valley. Very clever.

If it’s okay to hate the rich (which it seems to be), why is it not okay to hate the poor? If it’s okay to hate people without knowing anything about them other than their economic standing, why is it okay to hate the rich, but not okay to hate the poor?

Why not hate the rich and the poor? I.e., I hate everyone who’s economic standing is significantly different from my own. No, it’s always I hate everyone who has more money and stuff than I do.


The Ideal Consumer

15 May 2016 /
Makeup before attendance

The ideal consumer is someone who is anxious, depressed and constantly dissatisfied. Academic studies from the most respected institutions show that sad people are bigger spenders. Why do you think our lives are saturated with images of flawless, unattainable beauty?


See You in Hell

15 May 2016 /

Satan

[See You in Hell is a feature by our guest blogger, Satan — PE]

Along with pleas for money, almost 100 percent of the cardboard signs I see being held by people on freeway off-ramps and the like include the phrase “God Bless You.”

There seems to be a correlation between belief in God and begging for money on off-ramps. Notice that you never see Satanists begging for money.

Why don’t they pray for the money? Maybe they did pray and God told them to make a cardboard sign?

I tell my acolytes if they need money, learn to code.

See you in Hell . . .


Wasteland

2 May 2016 /
Dan Bern (album)

And those that had money looked good but weren’t too happy
And those who didn’t have money didn’t look so good
And weren’t too happy either and in a city of three million
two hundred and sixty nine thousand nine hundred eighty four
Everyone was lonely

Dan Bern, “Wasteland”

‘Natural’ Product Claims Can Be Murky

1 Apr 2016 /

Whole Foods Markets Inc. last fall started selling a new brand of laundry detergent called Nature’s Power, whose green bottle claims the product is made “with plant-derived soaps.”

Its top active ingredient, a commonly used cleaning agent called sodium laureth sulfate, is found in plenty of its mainstream peers, including Arm & Hammer, which like Nature’s Power is made by Church & Dwight Co. Sodium laureth sulfate can be produced from coconut oil, palm oil or petroleum.

“It is the same chemical compound, regardless of what it’s derived from,” says Clarence Miller, a professor emeritus of chemical and biomolecular engineering at Rice University in Houston.

A Church & Dwight spokesman said the sodium laureth sulfate in Nature’s Power “is plant-based and not the same” as the sodium laureth sulfate found in Arm & Hammer. Whole Foods declined to comment.

WSJ

Let’s also note that in addition to being made by the same company as Arm & Hammer, with the same active ingredient as Arm & Hammer, Nature’s Power sells for 114 percent more than Arm & Hammer.

In other ‘green’ product news, S.C. Johnson, makers of Windex, also sell a multi-surface cleaner under the Mrs. Meyer’s brand for 127 percent more than Windex.

‘Natural’ and ‘organic’ are marketing terms, and ‘green’ is what you have to shell out to buy ‘natural’ products.

Natural Products


How People Learn to Become Resilient

21 Feb 2016 /
Reslience

[Developmental psychologist Emmy Werner] found that several elements predicted resilience. Some elements had to do with luck: a resilient child might have a strong bond with a supportive caregiver, parent, teacher, or other mentor-like figure. But another, quite large set of elements was psychological, and had to do with how the children responded to the environment. From a young age, resilient children tended to “meet the world on their own terms.” They were autonomous and independent, would seek out new experiences, and had a “positive social orientation.” “Though not especially gifted, these children used whatever skills they had effectively,” Werner wrote. Perhaps most importantly, the resilient children had what psychologists call an “internal locus of control”: they believed that they, and not their circumstances, affected their achievements. The resilient children saw themselves as the orchestrators of their own fates. In fact, on a scale that measured locus of control, they scored more than two standard deviations away from the standardization group.

Something to think about if you’re positioning yourself as a victim of circumstances, or telling others, including children, that they are victims of circumstances, that their efforts will not be rewarded fairly, that powerful forces are conspiring to keep them down, etc.

Granted, most or all of the people in the second group seem to be in it for personal aggrandizement, i.e., You can’t make it in America so you need me to make a big fuss on your behalf and get handsomely paid for it, either in the form of money or in political power.


Tony Robbins’ Wealth-Building Tips Seem Pretty Useless

18 Jan 2016 /
Tony Robbins

Tony Robbins has 6 tips for Building Wealth Now. Let’s look at each of the tips and apply the “would anyone advise the opposite?” filter to assess the value of Robbins’ advice.

  1. Don’t lose money. I’m not kidding, that’s the first tip. Would anyone advise “Lose money”? No. So this “tip” is useless.
  2. Look for investments in which rewards far outweigh risks. Would anyone advise “Look for investments in which risks far outweigh rewards’? No. Robbins recommends using “the 5-to-1 rule,” in which the potential returns on an investment are 5 times greater than the potential losses. Why 5? Why not 10? Or 100? Where do you find these investments? I have no idea.
  3. Don’t overpay taxes. Would anyone advise “Overpay taxes”? No.
  4. Diversify. Would anyone advise “Don’t diversify”? Possibly. There’s a couple of schools of thought on diversification: 1) Don’t put all your eggs in one basket; and 2) Put all your eggs in one basket, then watch that basket. So there’s a tip for you: Diversify.
  5. Watch out for mindless spending. Would anyone advise “Spend mindlessly”? No. Robbins says if you spend $40 a week on restaurant meals, consider inviting friends over for a low-cost dinner at home instead. “In a year, you’ll have saved $2,000. If you invest that $2,000 every year, in 40 years you’ll have half a million dollars.” No, in 40 years you’ll have $80,000. Maybe. Given some assumptions about your rate of return, you might have half a million dollars, but on the other hand, you might make some bad investments and wind up with nothing.
  6. Stop sabotaging yourself. Would anyone advise “Sabotage yourself”? No.

Another Thing I Like About Donald Trump

15 Jan 2016 /

Democrats don’t like him and Republicans don’t like him either.

The overarching theme of American politics is Democrats vs. Republicans, Team Blue vs. Team Red. It’s a freakishly expensive clown show for which we pay trillions of dollars a year to watch the Red clowns and the Blue clowns throw pies in each other’s faces.

Nobody really cares about truth, substance or common sense, only whether their team is winning.

When Obama replaced Bush, Democrats didn’t care that Obama kept all the same wars going and started a few new ones, kept the torture programs going, kept Guantanamo open, ramped up drone warfare, cozied up to Wall Street, etc., etc., etc. All the things they hated when Bush was doing them were okay now because their team was winning.

Elect Hillary Clinton and we’ll get four to eight years of trench warfare against Republicans. Elect a Republican candidate (other than Trump) and we’ll get four to eight years of trench warfare against Democrats. At a cost of trillions of dollars per year.

This election offers a unique choice — Trump — the best chance we may ever have to blow up the system and start over, which is long overdue.


Cashing In

12 Dec 2015 /
Joseph Heller

When I look up, I see people cashing in. I don’t see heaven or saints or angels. I see people cashing in on every decent impulse and every human tragedy.

— Joseph Heller, Catch-22

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