Category Archive: Uncategorized

Want tax reform? Exempt “deferred tax liability” retirement accounts.

I keep reading about the tax reform Congress and the President keep talking about, but all I really seem to see is proposals to ease business tax and increase tariffs, which may or may not put the economic blender on puree (as PJ O’Rourke once famously wrote).  Tariffs generally are a bad idea, but if judiciously applied in areas where other countries (cough, CHINA, cough) are dumping goods into our market below cost, then I’m cautiously for them.  Overall, though, tariffs are usually idiotic, as is taxing the income of expatrirate American corporations and individuals.  Repatriating dollars honestly earned and already taxed by foreign governments should not initiate further taxation by the FedGov.

But this has nothing to do with you and me in the middle class, groaning under the weight of income taxes free American citizens never had to pay until 1913.

I read yesterday that Social Security is now on track to run out of money by 2028.  Which is significantly sooner than what we were being told a few years ago, variously 2034 or 2045 depending on what politician was making mouth noises.  Not that anyone can actually live on a Social Security check, but I digress.

This got me to thinking about retirement accounts.  You know, 401(k)s, 403(b)s, Roth IRAs, etc.  All of these accounts are funded by pre-tax deductions from your earnings.  In the case of 401(k)s and 403(b)s, generally this is involuntary on your part — if you work for a company that offers one, you’re in the program, whether you contribute or not, because the company will contribute some minimum amount even if you don’t.  Generally it’s considered stupid not to contribute to these funds, at least up to the company’s “match”, which might be 3% or 5%, or might be some weird construction like “company matches to 3%, then matches half to 5%”, meaning that if you contribute 5%, the company will contribute 4%.  Whatever.

The point is that these are tax-deferred accounts.  That means you have to pay tax on them eventually — just not right now, so there is actually incentive to participate (same with a company insurance plan, if you’re lucky enough to have one in the era of Obamacare, since anything you pay for insurance comes out pre-tax).  So, OK, when do you pay that tax?

Why, at the point when you can least afford it — when you retire and start taking distributions from your retirement account.  And possibly worse, you pay the then-prevailing tax rate for such things, which might be higher than it was when you first started throwing money into the account.  So if between now and several years from now when I hope to retire, if Congress suddenly decides to start taxing retiree accounts at 50%, I’m screwed.  (And so are you.)

In the meantime, your retirement “savings” (generally, investments in mutual funds, which in turn are made up of shares of corporate stock) are subject to the vagaries of the market.  I had a tidy sum in my 401(k) in 2008.  After the crash, I had lost half the dollar value of the account.  Which, at first blush, sounds awful, but as my investment advisor reminded me, I still had all of the fund shares I’d purchased, and with stock prices then in the toilet, it was time to buy.  And historically, the market has always come back.  Which of course it has, and since I was buying 401(k) shares every two weeks (and increased my contribution to the maximum the company would match), the value of my 401(k) has more than doubled since then (particularly since the election, of course).

More than fixing the individual income tax, fucked up as it is, what would really make me sit up and take notice would be if Mr. Trump would come out for permanently exempting post-retirement distributions from any market-based retirement account that contains less than (say, for the point of argument) $5 million from being taxed.

That said, there should be the following restrictions:

  • If you take money out before you retire minimum retirement age, you pay income tax on what you take out.  [Edited a bit to better indicate what I meant.]
  • If you borrow money from your retirement account that you have to pay back, you can’t deduct the interest (and if you don’t pay it back, you pay income tax on it).
  • If you take more than the maximum allowable distribution in any given tax year, you pay income tax on the overage.  That said, the maximum allowable distribution should be generous, probably on the order of $50,000/year per person in today’s dollars.*  That means that a couple like my wife and myself, IF we had that kind of money in our 401(k)s (we don’t), could get along pretty well after retirement.

Also said, the government would have the following responsibilities:

  • If a retirement account contains more than the suggested $5 million maximum when its owner retires, income tax is paid on distributions taken only until the account drops below the $5 million threshold.
  • The baseline threshold at inception would be subject to increase or decrease annually, based on inflation/deflation as reported by the CPI.
  • The exemption from taxation of retirement accounts would be permanent, all future Congresses would be bound by it, and there would be a provision to shoot or hang any Congressman or Senator who proposed or voted for the re-institution of income tax on retirement account distributions.  And yes, I am serious about the last bit.

In other words, because you risked your money on a gamble that the stock market would continue to rise, and because you thereby contributed to the growth of the economy, you should get a pass on paying taxes on that money if you follow the rules and use it properly for your retirement.

Come on, Mr. Trump.  Be bold.  Throw this out there and dare Congress to ignore it.


* I believe this differs from the current program, where after you’re 59-1/2, there is no limit on distributions, you just have to pay income tax on whatever you take.

“We see that you’re using an ad-blocker.”

Fuck all sites that say this.  If your fucking ads weren’t so annoying, maybe I wouldn’t feel like blocking them.

Most so-called “ads” today are nothing more than click-bait to enrich someone who isn’t giving you value for your clicks. The ones that aren’t click-bait are, by and large, malicious sites trying to botify your machine. No thanks.

So again: Fuck you if you don’t like my ad-blocker. I’ll just go somewhere else.

Here’s a non-political rant, for a change.

Spam callers.

Otherwise known as assholes.

Being on the do-not-call list (either at the state or federal level) is a joke.  It’s a lot like gun control (OK, sorry, I did say this wouldn’t be political, but it is actually relevant), in that the do-not-call lists place restrictions only on the law-abiding.  Anyone who wants to run an illegal boiler-room call center that uses spoofed numbers to get around “unknown number” call blocks and so forth is not going to be stopped by a silly list of people who don’t want them calling.

Lately it seems that a lot of spoofed calls are coming “from” numbers in our own area code.  On our cell phones, the usual approach seems to be even more granular, with the numbers matching both area code and exchange (as if I would pick up a call simply because it came from the same exchange; I got my cell number from a vendor in Noblesville, many years and two carriers ago, and I can’t think of anyone I know who has a cell number in that exchange.

It seems to me that there are two things that need to happen.

First, phone companies have a duty to ensure that the information coming through CallerID is not spoofed and is accurate.  Unfortunately, it is all too easy to take a modern phone system and program whatever number you like into it.  This actually has a legitimate purpose — it is done to provide for direct-inward-dial systems where it is preferred to broadcast the main switchboard number of the company rather than the individual’s extension, and that makes sense.  But in turn, the phone company should be vetting the CallerID information being sent against a list of numbers registered to the phone “line” in question.  And yeah, with VOIP not using physical copper like the old POTS systems, that may be difficult to do, but I’ll bet it’s not insurmountable.  If a phone company can determine that the CallerID being sent by one of its customers is not on the list of authorized numbers for that line, it can either substitute the known main switchboard number for the line, or simply refuse to place the call at all.  I’m sure this is all a SMOP*, but nothing is impossible if you throw enough money at the problem.  And if the phone companies courteously excuse themselves from fixing their broken systems, then the Feds should step in and force them to do it.  There is no point in creating law and having a regulatory system if you’re not going to use it.  That is hardly the libertarian point of view that I would prefer, but since I’m enjoined from going after these spamming bastards with a shotgun, the gummint needs to get on the ball.

Second, the FTC needs to start actively cracking down on boiler-room operations.  Which is like asking the FCC to start actively cracking down on bad hams.  It happens once in a while for some of the more egregious violators, but even then, the regulatory agencies have no law-enforcement authority and for anything more than a proposed liability (otherwise known as a fine), they have to get the DOJ involved.  So, OK, do that.  Or call on local law enforcement.  But stop pretending to enforce the law by having people send in complaints that (so far as it seems) rarely end up with spammers in hot water.  (That goes for junk fax laws and the CAN-SPAM act for email, too.)

There is simply no sense in having these laws if they aren’t enforced.


*SMOP [Simple (or Small) Matter of Programming] 1. A piece of code, not yet written, whose anticipated length is significantly greater than its complexity. Used to refer to a program that could obviously be written, but is not worth the trouble. Also used ironically to imply that a difficult problem can be easily solved because a program can be written to do it; the irony is that it is very clear that writing such a program will be a great deal of work. “It’s easy to enhance a FORTRAN compiler to compile COBOL as well; it’s just a SMOP.” 2. Often used ironically by the intended victim when a suggestion for a program is made which seems easy to the suggester, but is obviously (to the victim) a lot of work. Compare minor detail.

At least Trump isn’t politics as usual.

Bobbi has a post up today musing about the Trump presidency as a “yawner” compared to, say, Johnson’s and Nixon’s.  I can’t disagree with anything she said.

I’ve no problem stating that I was a never-Trumper until Cruz fizzled. You can easily search this blog and see where I said I’d never vote for Trump.  I said I’d vote Libertarian if I had to.  But when Gary Johnson picked the egregious anti-gunner Bill Weld for VP, that put paid to that idea. And I had the sense at that point to drop my never-Trumpism like a hot rock when it was clear that it was a choice between either Trump or Hillary. Some on the right haven’t gotten to that point yet, and probably never will.  I feel sorry for them, because they are pushing back against history, and history never, ever loses.

Now, Trump was not my ideal candidate by any stretch of the imagination.  The truth is that Trump is neither left nor right, neither conservative nor progressive, neither fish nor fowl. He’s a businessman first and a populist second. He got tired of the constant anti-business attitude that emanates from Washington, under both Dem and GOP leadership, and decided to do something about it. Of course, as a billionaire, he could muse, like many of us do, “If I were president…” — and then actually suit action to words. By abandoning the politics of political correctness, and by enunciating a message that resonated with the American electorate — making America great again, subtext “after the disasters known as Clinton, GW Bush, and particularly Obama” — he clearly tapped into the psyche of the silent majority, because he beat the polls, not handily, but in sufficient numbers in sufficient states to win the Electoral College. (I’m minded of Joe Kennedy and the statement attributed to him regarding Jack’s first run for the Senate: “Don’t buy a single vote more than necessary. I’ll be damned if I’m going to pay for a landslide.”) Of course he also benefited from poor campaign decisions by Hillary, like her not campaigning in Wisconsin and probably losing there because of it.

Since the election?  Reagan was the Teflon president, I don’t know what they ought to call Trump, possibly the force-screen president, because all of the turds the Dems AND the GOP have thrown at him have either vanished into the ether or bounced back onto the throwers.  Trump’s base doesn’t care.  They somehow have the ability to tell the truth from the lies.  And most of it’s been lie after lie after lie, starting with the “Russia thing”, which was clearly made up out of whole cloth the day after the election to “explain” Hillary’s surprise loss.

Trump doesn’t care about party as much as he cares about restoring balance to the political environment and getting Washington out of things in which it has no business meddling. Like, gee, business, which has been slowly asphyxiating to death under the last three administrations. People can say that is selfish on his part because he’s a businessman, but like Reagan said, a rising tide floats all boats. Fix how government treats business, and everybody benefits.  The entire entrenched political class hates him for this — Dems and GOPes alike — because it threatens their little fiefdoms built up over the past half-century and more.  And you wonder why the GOPe won’t get behind Trump when the rank and file of the party seem to be willing to give him a chance?

Like Glenn Reynolds says, “Worst political class ever.”

And it doesn’t hurt that Trump’s a patriot at the same time, and willing to flex a little military muscle to put a stop to things like Daesh,* and Lil’ Kim’s megalomaniac drive to nuke the world.  Don’t think for a minute that he’s bluffing.  I don’t think Trump bluffs about anything.  The fat boy is going to find this out if he ever manages to loft a real nuclear weapon into the air — and maybe before.  The Chinese already have a strong inkling of it, and the mad mullahs in Iran would be well warned to have it on their radar, too.  The Russians?  The Russians are a joke, if a nuclear-armed one, because no matter what Putin does, the US can bankrupt them by simply opening the fracking taps wide.  We’re already on course to do that with our new ability to export natural gas and oil.  (Now if we could just get rid of the Jones Act…)

Then there’s the border wall.  I got to thinking the other day about Trump’s insistence that the Mexicans would pay for it, and their huffy rejoinder that they wouldn’t pay a dime for it.  The more I think about that, the more I think the left got it wrong (as usual) and so did the Mexicans (also as usual).  Hell, even the GOPe has gotten it wrong.  If you look at the recent ICE statistics on illegal border crossings from Mexico, they are way, way down.  And some re-crossings are happening in the other direction.  This is because the illegals here and the potential illegals there are more and more concerned about just how serious Trump is about rounding them up and sending them back.

The upshot of this is that I think the wall has already been built.  It’s a metaphorical wall built by a constant drumbeat of policy from the administration that says we aren’t going to put up with this any longer.  You don’t need concrete and steel and millions of dollars’ worth of labor (and graft — don’t forget the graft) to simply lay down a strong policy and then start enforcing it.  If Mexicans are afraid of what might happen if they cross illegally and get caught, they won’t cross.  And that’s a wall if I ever heard of one.

And as for the Mexicans paying for this metaphorical wall?  Can you say that they aren’t paying for it?  Somebody has to feed those people, clothe and house them, find them jobs, etc.  Remittances from the US back to Mexico are also dropping.

For once, it’s not Uncle Sucker paying Mexico’s welfare bill.

I haven’t even mentioned how Trump has the hapless, partisan press on the run.  I hate the fact that nobody took his Twitter account away from him after the inauguration, but what the hell, it makes the press go cuckoo for coco-puffs.  They spend so much time worrying about his latest tweet that substantive change being made by the White House goes right over their heads.  And now CNN has damn near committed suicide over a stupid YouTube video retweeted by the president.  Couldn’t happen to a nicer bunch of assholes.

Having a Grand Master Patriot Troll as president?  Yeah.  I can live with that.  Winning is good.


* I like calling them Daesh because apparently they hate it.  It’s an acronym for their name in Arabic, and apparently the acronym is close to the Arabic word for “shit” or something like that.  Anything that pisses those bastards off is OK with me.

Something to think about

Speaking of lying liars and the liars who speak lies, I just ran across this Forbes article about Microsoft lying back in January about how “insecure” Windows 7 is, to scaremonger people into upgrading to Windows 10 lickety-split.  This, despite the fact that Microsoft is committed to extended support for Windows 7 until January 14, 2020.  (Note:  Forbes dislikes ad-blockers, so you’ll have to either give them a one-time pass or use a browser without an ad-blocker.)

I have one machine that auto-updated to Windows 10 about a year ago, and given what I use it for, I intend to roll it back to Windows 7 at some point when I have a clear weekend to run all the Windows Updates it will need for a scratch re-install.  I also have an Intel ComputeStick that came with Windows 10 and (as I understand it) can’t be downgraded.

I don’t like the new interface, even when all the stupid panes are disabled and it goes back to looking more like Windows 7.  I don’t like the fact that configurations you could make easily to the OS configuration in Windows 7 are now hidden away under layers of obfuscation, or simply can’t be made anymore at all.  And I definitely don’t like the privacy approach (which is to say the non-privacy approach) that Microsoft has taken with Windows 10.

The fact that the current generation of processors doesn’t play well with Windows 7 doesn’t really bother me.  I don’t have any machines with current processors 🙂  And well, as long as eBay is around, it won’t be hard to find fast CPUs and motherboards that still support Windows 7.

The boss just suggested that some of the interface problems go away with a cheap add-on called Start10.  For $4.99 it’s worth a try, but I still think that one machine is going back to Windows 7.

Obligatory FTC Disclaimer:  I have no connection to StarDock or the Start10 software.



Today is the real Memorial Day.

Thank you

Thank you to those who made the ultimate sacrifice for home and country.

I don’t give a shit who you are

but if you are the son of a bitch who leaked information about the Manchester Bomber to the press, we will find you and you will die slowly.  Screaming.  Maybe.  If we leave your tongue intact that long.

Or (and more likely, unfortunately), when you’re caught — and you will be — you will for sure spend a great deal of time as a guest of Uncle Sam in one of his Big Houses, paying for your felonious bullshit.

That is the fuck all.

…no, actually it’s not.

You fuckers out there who are actively working to undermine the President of the United States, legally and fairly elected under our fucking Constitution that none of you actually believe in?

You’re next.

Like Charlie says, this is wrong, it’s evil, and it has to stop.  It has to stop now.  I have GRANDCHILDREN.  They are going to grow up in a world free of terrorist assholes and left-wing morons if I have to die to make that happen.

Grow the fuck up.  Stick your soi-disant antifa bullshit up your fascist asses.  If you can’t do that, then get the fuck out of the way and let the grown-ups deal with this.

Now that is the fuck all.

Third anniversary

Still love you. Still miss you.


It’s a beautiful thing. Democrats have been pontificating that they had no confidence in Comey since before the election, claiming he threw it for Trump (doubtful, Hillary was simply a lousy, unlikable candidate who forewent campaigning in states it turned out she really needed), and now they’re all pouty and screaming “Constitutional crisis!” because Trump, who had no confidence in him either, gave Comey the Order of the Boot.

And before you get your panties in a wad, Fucky Chuckie Schumer is on record as saying he lost confidence in him, too. Not that that will save any left-hanging panties from being wadded, but you can’t say I didn’t try to help.

Make up your minds, people. You can’t have it both ways. You already tried that with 43 — either he was dumber than a box of rocks and Cheney was really the power behind the Resolute Desk, or he graduated from Yale and HBS, and flew fighter jets in the Air National Guard. It’s either one or the other, can’t be both.  And signs point to the latter a lot more than they do the former, even if I ended up disgusted with the end game of his administration.

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