Conquering Your Financial Empire

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Albert Gallatin and his Influence on America

Published February 12, 2017 in Government - 1 Comment

History has always been a fascination of mine.   It’s probably no surprise then that the history of money, and all things pertaining to it, would also interest me.  I’ve read about the Federal Reserve, and the rise of fractional banking, and the legal differences between banking regulations; heck I’ve read about just the general history of money starting with seashells in China to the import of a uniform alphabet – thank you Phoenicians – to ease the burden of foreign trade.  However, the one thing that has always been of utmost interest is the history of people in money.  Everybody knows the Barons of Bank: Alexander Hamilton, David Ricardo, the Medici family and Henry Thornton.  They’re all well-known names.  Despite escaping public familiarity (at least for finance that is) Albert Gallatin is still one of my favorite biographies.

Gallatin was a Swiss immigrant born in Geneva, Switzerland who emigrated at 19 years old.  Even though he had secured a recommendation from Benjamin Franklin, Gallatin floundered as a businessman in Maine.  After just two years he sent word back home to tell them of his troubles.  His family, anticipating his letter, had already secured another recommendation from Dr. Samuel Cooper – Cooper was the minister of a parish attended by a who’s who list of American Revolutionaries and also an alumnus of Harvard College.  Cooper secured Gallatin a professorship to teach French at Harvard University in 1782.  I’ve always chuckled at Gallatin’s turmoil at the beginning of his American life.

He struggled along for quite a few years; yet, he turned out to be one of America’s top negotiators and diplomats as well as an astute banker (albeit terrible businessman).  Given his struggles, there is simply no way for him to have predicted the importance he would have in American history. Continue reading

Single Payer Healthcare and the Repeal of Obamacare

Published November 14, 2016 in Government , Policy Analysis - 1 Comment
Would a Single Payer System Make Pills Cheaper?

Trump is the president of the United States.  I’ll add that to the list of “Things I thought I’d Never Say”.  Now that it has happened I’d like to say a few things without getting too into the weeds of political debauchery.  I didn’t vote for him, but I will stand behind him.  That said, I absolutely understand the fears of all the minorities that he openly degraded and threatened – I stand behind them too.  I will call out any attacks I see on people through a Trump presidency.  At this point though, he hasn’t done anything except rhetoric.  At this point he’s not a bad president.  I’m willing to give him benefit of the doubt to see what happens.  He has already changed his view on repealing Obamacare.  Perhaps he can change his mind on other things too.  Maybe he will be more pragmatic than people believed; just as Obama was more pragmatic than his idealistic campaign set out.

There.  Now back onto some sweet, sweet finance!  On topic though, I’d like to talk about Obamacare and why I fear what Trump may do to our healthcare system.  I am going to take a direct positional stance on how I feel healthcare should be run.  Many of you may disagree – I welcome that – and if that’s the case, let me know in the comments.  Continue reading

Military Contract Bonuses: Government Claw Back Edition

Published October 25, 2016 in Government , Retirement Planning - 2 Comments
Contract Bonuses - Angry Pug

I’ve got a lot of respect for the military.  They endure things that the average person could not cope with.  This is especially true during a wartime situation like the United States has been faced with since 2001.  We send our men and women to serve all across the globe.  Some make it back and some don’t – it’s a sad, but true, fact.  However, to compensate our soldiers, we pay them in outstanding fringe benefits like education, pensions, and healthcare.

Sometimes during wartime, when ranks run thin, we even pay them with contract bonuses.  The same type of contract bonuses you see athletes or corporate executives get to entice them into signing contracts.  Generally, so long as the term of the contact was honored – and there was no malfeasance by either party – they are irrevocable and free to enjoy by the signing party.  Last year, Peggy Johnson, then an executive with Qualcomm, received a $7.8Million bonus to sign with Microsoft.  Could you imagine the outrage if, 10 years from now, Microsoft claws back that bonus saying she was ineligible for the bonus because the Board of Trustees didn’t vote on it?

Strangely enough though that’s exactly the case that’s happening to nearly 9,700 troops associated with the California Guard.  The L.A. Times reports that the soldier’s bonuses are being clawed back – and I’m pretty peeved about it. Continue reading

Sleepover at the Sheriff! What I learned About Professional Hardships

Published October 10, 2016 in Career , Government - 7 Comments
Professional Hardships? Let us know!

In every job, you will have professional hardships.  I had my first major one while working at the sheriff’s office.  As most of you know, Central Florida was hit by Hurricane Matthew this week.  I’m a dispatcher, so I’m considered part of the essential emergency staffing.  This meant that, from 5:30 AM Thursday to 6:00 PM Friday, I was working and sleeping at the sheriff’s office.  We were fortunate that Matthew went further east than originally predicted, and our lock down was lifted early.  But I learned some very important things about work and personal life.

Before I get into that though, I want to take a moment and shout out to all of my coworkers – including

Professional Hardships?  Let us know!

Professional Hardships? Let us know!

those from neighboring agencies.  My living situation was pretty miserable, but it pales in comparison to those deputies and officers that were literally living in their car for days as they responded to calls when wind would briefly die down.  When I left the sheriff’s office, the road patrols were still required to be on emergency staffing, meaning they didn’t get to go home.  They handled their professional hardships with tact and diligence.  Bravo on them all.  They embody all that is right with protecting and serving.

Further, while the road units were outstanding on the road, the communications center also performed admirably.  We received TRIPLE our normal 911 call volume on Friday.  Not a single 911 escaped agency standards.  All phones were answered in under ten seconds to keep us in line with national accreditation standards.  When the going gets tough, the tough get going.

Now, onto what I learned. . . Continue reading

Why Wells Fargo Should get the Death Penalty

Published September 14, 2016 in Government , Policy Analysis - 5 Comments
Wells Fargo Grave

I love a good bank drama.  Watching executives get called up to Capitol Hill and watching question after question fired at them and seeing them squirm; it’s great fun.  I’m by no means anti-banking though.  I went to school for economics and even got offered a job at a boutique firm up in NYC as an investment analyst.  I even refuse to use mobile deposit and avoid drive-thrus if possible because I just enjoy the face-to-face interaction of a bank visit.  Frankly, I just find it amusing to watch a guy making $6Million a year try to justify a crooked action that needlessly cost people, and cities, money.

Thus, when Wells Fargo got busted for their most recent lapse in judgment I got giddy with excitement.  This hasn’t been a good year for Wells Fargo after getting smacked with two other settlements this year.  However, this new one is a little disappointing because there was really no reason for it.  Wells Fargo, in an attempt to reach their sales quotas, was conducting fraud by opening unasked for customer accounts and then closing them shortly after.  It was purely a numbers game. Continue reading

The Apple Tax – Is $15 Billion Fair?

Published September 9, 2016 in Government , Policy Analysis , Taxes - 3 Comments
Measuring the Apple Tax

Between Brock Turner’s release from jail and Kaepernick’s refusal to stand the EU Apple tax went under the radar for many people.  It’s actually a fairly interesting case though!  This “Apple tax” is to the tune of $15Billion dollars.  Which is a fairly small portion of Apple’s oversea industries.  They could pay this tax, repatriate all of their offshore earnings at 35%, and still have over $100 billion left over for dividends and investments.  So the money isn’t the issue.

The issue is one of fairness and paying your share.  To be fair, I don’t think news sources are doing this case justice.  Those who are for the tax aren’t being considerate of the fact that Apple acted in good faith.  Those who are against the tax aren’t taking into consideration the special treatment and tax evasion that Apple went through.

Personally, I refuse to buy Apple products.  I think they’re morally perverse and I find their product quality versus their product pricing to be flawed.  You pay more for less.  However, the EU commission is going about this the wrong way.  They’re trying to enforce a rule that doesn’t exist, for actions that preceded the current version of the EU. Continue reading

Hillary Clinton Economic Plan – Part 2

Published September 5, 2016 in Election 2016 , Government - 0 Comments

Hello readers!  This is the review of the Clinton economic plan.  It’s the final part in what has been an incredibly laboring article series.  I’ve always researched my candidates for election and spent a few hours doing so.  However, to double back and then check sources, facts, and figures only to really dissect the potential economic outcomes was a lot of time.  All told, I spent seven hours researching Trump and another seven writing the articles; for Clinton, I spent about 10 hours researching and 10 hours writing the articles.

As I discussed in Part 1, Clinton’s tax policy should raise government revenues by $1.1Trillion over 10 years.  This is a key component of her overall vision.  She has plans and ideas to revamp nearly every facet of American economics and social norms.  As some commenters have brought up, it will likely be a struggle to pass these kinds of tax reforms.  Consequently, it will be even harder to shape the country like she wants without more deficit financing if she doesn’t get those tax reforms.  To add more trouble Obama apparently had a tense meeting at yesterday’s G20 Summit.  The word on the street is that he and China’s President, Xi Jinping, had a bumpy start on talks of protectionist views and unfair trading practices.  China is one of our largest financiers of deficit spending, as they are one of the largest buyers of available Treasury Bonds.  Shaking up the politics now, could lead to financial consequences later.

With all that on our mind though, let’s dig into the Clinton economic plan! Continue reading

Hillary Clinton Tax and Economic Plan – Part 1

Published September 1, 2016 in Election 2016 , Government - 2 Comments

Like I promised in the Donald Trump presidency breakdown (part 1 and part 2), I said I would keep it fair and look at Hillary Clinton’s platform as well.  I put it off a few days knowing that, unlike Trump’s piecemeal platform, she would have a fully-rounded and comprehensive plan.  And boy was I right – too right.  She has a stance and idea for every issue that you ever discussed in passing at the pub with your friends, or over the water cooler at work, or in the privacy of your own home.  Even things you didn’t know were issues for the Presidency, like Alzheimer’s Disease and Autism (not to dismiss these, but I always thought they were the job for research and medicine, not political footballing).  In total, she has 37 different issues she has pinpointed and each has a short 300 to 500-word narrative.

The Clinton breakdown will follow the same pace as Trump’s.  First I will discuss the tax ideas of Clinton; then, in the next article, I will discuss her over-arching economic plan.  One thing I have to applaud both candidates for is their use of the website.  Clinton has a very streamlined page, following the format of many social media sites – a useful link-filled and permanent header, a muted video about Trump and then a collection of related articles and media just under.  Each one of her landing pages has her text and then a few trackbacks, related articles, and then social sharing buttons.  It truly markets to the people that are likely to frequent her page – young Millennials.

For Trump, his site is blockier.  Everything has a place.  His landing pages are text-heavy, but still use easily read bullet points.  The right side of his pages has a toolbar for quickly sorting through links.  I will say, I did get lost trying to find one of his press releases because they weren’t labeled incredibly well.  I ended up giving up and just using my internet history to find the page I was looking for.  Overall though, his site is very easily navigable and relatable to the type of voters likely to frequent his page – older, traditionalist Republicans.

Well, without further hesitation, let’s get into the Clinton tax plan! Continue reading

Donald Trump Economic Policy – Part 2

Published August 24, 2016 in Election 2016 , Government - 0 Comments

This is Part Two of the Donald Trump presidential platform.  If you’ve missed out on part one, which was about his tax policies, check it out here.  Part two will take a broader look at the Donald Trump economic policy.  Here I’ll look at what he’s proposing as far as trade and regulation, and then tie in the revenue changes and what I think might be some issues facing him – political or otherwise.

As a brief overview, Trump has some interesting ideas for healthcare and immigration (the wall withstanding).  My own personal belief, his healthcare solution may actually be quite viable.  His trade relations are rather protectionist, which is antagonistic to economic theory and American history.  Furthermore, per his protectionist beliefs, it seems converse to his constant claims to want to engage in more free market practices.

So, let’s take a look at the Donald Trump economic policy. Continue reading

Donald Trump’s Economic and Tax Policy – Part 1

Published August 23, 2016 in Election 2016 , Government - 2 Comments

With August coming to a close, and the battle for the U.S. Presidency about to come full steam, I thought it fitting to review each candidate’s economic policy.  This is a personal finance blog after all, and what is more key to personal finances than taxes and jobs?  This is the format that the review will take: first, I will describe the policy and then I will explain the impact and what I believe are going to be the positives and negatives of the policy.  That said, I’m going to try to find the negatives of each policy – for both candidates.  Politicians have become quite adept at putting lipstick on a pig.  Furthermore, we are all about to become inundated with why a candidate’s plan is awesome; by understanding the negatives of a policy, you should at least have an idea of what questions to be asking about each candidate.  I will attempt to stay as objective as possible by using economic theory as a backdrop for my critiques.  Due to the enormous amount of material that will be covered I have decided to play the article out in two different posts – one the pertains to just tax policy, and the other that encompasses economic and trade policy.  I think the separation of the two should allow for an easier read, while also still giving proper due diligence to each topic.

As the political underdog and rambunctious cowboy candidate, I decided that Donald Trump should be the first candidate reviewed.  He’s provided soundbite after soundbite for the nightly news to replay; however, not usually for his economic proposals.  The facts that I have collected have come from three places: his website, politifact.com, and the Tax Policy Center report on Trump’s tax plan.  While those create the crux of where my notes come from, I have also done some side research to validate claims that I felt were skeptical.

So without further ado, let’s welcome to the stage, Mr. Donald Trump’s tax policy! Continue reading

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