Friday, April 25, 2008

Mike's View on Taxes and the Economy

Guess what? The economic stimulus rebate checks are coming a week early!! Oh, happy day!!! Is this a good thing? Not really, in my opinion. What will most of this money do? I'd be willing to wager that credit card companies are salivating right now. This money will put off the inevitable.

Let me explain. Credit card companies (or any industry that grants credit, think real estate) gave way too much credit. Especially to those who really shouldn't have it. Before the meteoric rises in the cost of living the past 12 months, these people were already financially maxed out. Now the government wants to take my money to bail them out. What do I get out of it?

So these handouts are arriving soon. Really, what can $600 do? Most people will pay bills, which won't help the economy. Those services are already used and the producers of said services have already laid out their money, so no one wins. If you're on the ragged edge with your credit cards, you'l get what, a month's reprieve? If we all take our money and go buy something new, that would help the economy. Give the consumer the power to spend and the economy picks up.

This brings me to another issue. I hear people saying the price of gas is too high, and the government should do something about it. Newsflash!! They already have in many areas, and it's called mass transit. I propose a mass transit tax that would be levied on any vehicle that can't get over 18mpg for it's average mileage. Not highway. I can get 36mpg with my 98 Accord, but usually my mileage per tank is about 26 because of around the town driving. If you drive a gas swilling truck or SUV, you have two chioces. Pay up or sell your car. Your amount of tax could be offset if you choose mass transit. A whole prorated table could be devised.

I keep reading the cronies saying if gas were cheaper, the economy could recover. Maybe, or maybe it's time to realize we need to be more efficient. Alternative energy sources are sorely needed, but please don't bring up windmills. Talk about ugly, and if they're in the flightpath of migratory birds, it can be disatrous. Bats have problems, too. The current solution is to drive more efficient cars. Just drove a Smartcar yesterday around the work lot. Impressive.

We can always raise minimum wage, right? HAHAHA!!!!! All that does is make the cost of living go up quicker. Imagine if we made minimum wage $9.50/hr? Well, the value meal at McDonald's would be about $12. I doubt all of us making more than minimum wage wold get raises...think about it.

Back to the whole oil issue. Why not drill on the north slope in Alaska? It's in a protected wilderness. What's funny is the argument against it is that it'll spoil the beauty. Well, guess what? You and I, as normal citizens of the US, aren't allowed to go in there legally anyway, so why not build a road or railroad and utilize a resource we have? Don't get me wrong, I love animals, and I don't want them to lose their homes and feeding grounds. But if it's done responsibly (look at how things are done in the Adirondack Park) it can work.

Finally, back to taxes. Yes this is a circular post, but it's been over a few hours I keep coming back to it. I firmly believe that the upper class pay enough taxes. Why should they pay even more? Do you know the current tax code for federal taxes? Let's just say this. If you make 1 million dollars a year and are single, you pay $524,164.00. Don't forget state taxes if you have them. And FICA, etc. Is that fair? You can argue they make more money, so they don't feel it as much.

Why be punished for being successful? Married filers for the same amount pay $517,296.00. Of course deductions come into play, but you get the idea. If you make $50,000.00 a year, you get to pay $22,461.00 as a single person. Married it would be $30,763.00. The lovely marriage penalty.

These are rough figures on very basic tables, but you get the idea. Yes, lower income brackets don't have as much money to spare. But when a majority of the nation's taxes are paid by the top few percent of taxpayers, who's getting the deal? Let's just taxe everyone at 44%. No refunds, etc. That would make it more fair, right? Or a value aded tax on goods at 23%. Works for Europe.

No one has all the answers. Too bad our presidential candidates can't admit it.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

I definitely am not anemic right now

This week I'm definitely stocking up on irony. I'm sure it's pretty apparent I love ironic situations. So let's feast on this bit of fun.

Nigella Lawson has been on the tele for quite some time, and as time goes on, she's gained weight. This is pretty normal as our metabolism slows down with age. So why are many fans and Food Network people upset with this? I mean, Nigella hosts a show that's all about making and eating food that's nowhere near calorically low. It's what the show is about.

Let's put this into perspective. Americans are one of the more out of shape populations in the world. Why should we care if a British tv cook has gained weight? No projection there, I'm sure. Besides, Nigella has never been small. So maybe if we enjoyed the tele, and paid attention to real life more, we'd be in better shape. In all meanings of the phrase.

And let's be honest, not everyone watches Nigella for the food.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

History is for everyone no matter how ironic

I've been lacking in motivation lately. Maybe due to several bouts with illnesses. Sinus infection, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, they all take a toll. So now I'm way behind in my training for this season, but I'm sure that after a short break I'll be able recover and start anew. I have a few goals this season, and then I can take stock of racing from there. Almost 20 years of racing down, so it's getting time to step it back a notch.

So, onto something totally semi related in a random way. Related in that there are wheels on bikes, and wheels on cars.

I read a car magazine from England called Octane. It's chock full of great photos, interviews, features on awesome cars, etc. One of the columnists is Jay Leno, a first rate gearhead. Nick Mason of Pink Floyd fame is another columnist, but that's immaterial today. Jay always has interesting views, and this month he hit on something really cool.

Back in the stone age of sports cars, Britain was a sportscar superpower. Aston Martin, Lotus, Jaguar, Triumph, Austin Healey, MG, Morgan, AC, and many others. One thing was certain: the cars almost always looked great. Those were the days when an artist would design a car, and an engineer would then be like "right, this looks good, I think I can pretty much make it work, see you Monday.". Now it comes down to an engineer designs the car, and a group of yahoos approve or disapprove it. So what is my point?

Leno mentioned how when he drives his white Jaguar XK120 coupe, women are always drawn to it. Recently Penelope Cruz was visiting Jay's garage, and she was walking around, past the Lamborghini "Countach, the fire truck, and then all of a sudden she shouts, "What's that?!" She just ran to the white Jag and sat in it. I find it ironic that she has lots of money, has traveled all over the world, and yet didn't recognize one of the most iconic cars of the postwar era. Most people my age have no idea what many cars of the past are, and when a new car comes along, they ooh and aah over the new design, the features, etc.

Most don't know that such "new" features like self dimming headlights (Caddies from the 50's), disc brakes (1955 Triumph), all independent suspension (lots of sports cars from the mid 50's), have been around well before we were born. Now, this isn't terribly important, except that if we aren't aware of automotive history, what other history don't we know? What history are we bound to repeat? My father loves to say "history doesn't repeat itself, people repeat history" and he's right. I cringe at the thought of appeasement, and "Peace in our time". (Bonus points to who can name who said that quote.)

So here's my challenge: learn some history. You won't be fooled into thinking something old is actually new. You won't be fooled as politicians make the same mistakes again and believe it's a good thing. Being aware of the past will help you decipher the future. Besides, you might gain some insight into human behavior.

As a closing note, here's a picture of a white Jaguar XK120 coupe. Another bonus question: why was it named the XK120? Enjoy the trip through the past.

Special thanks to Jay Leno for his always entertaning and insightful columns, and especially Octane Magazine for publishing them. Go check out their website at:

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Grow Up

Do we have any problems for real? Not compared to most of the world. I read a few forums on a regular basis., a Triumph Spitfire page, etc. Aand guess what? Bike racers are by far the whiniest of the lot. Of course, I'm wasting my time reading lots of this stuff, so I'm just as bad.

So that's it, I'll hopefully be racing sometime in May. Maybe later this month. But I need to get some other things taken care of. Like my car. The boomerang is about to turn, which means I wil begin reassembly soon. Not much more to write about. When there is, I'll be back.