40, 50, 60 years from now, when I look back on my life, I’d rather be able to say I paid a few percentage points more in taxes so that my fellow humans could have a slightly better life, than leave this world with a ton of money in the bank that I can’t take with me anyway. It really is that simple.
Tomorrow, a $40 billion dollar cut in SNAP (food stamp program) goes into effect. For some perspective on SNAP: More than 900,000 veterans rely on it. More than half of all adults will rely on it at some point between age 18 and 65. 1 out of every 4 children in the U.S. live in homes that rely on SNAP. 45 million Americans — your friends, neighbors, family, maybe even you — rely on SNAP. Those are facts. Now for my personal thoughts..
1. The $40 billion Congress is trying to save on food stamps is roughly the same amount they wasted by shutting the government down. And they accomplished nothing by doing it. The Tea Party got NOTHING because they deserve NOTHING. Had Ted Cruz and his fellow arrogant overpaid prick buddies not gone on a power trip, they’d have enough to keep SNAP funded as it has been. Now, real people will suffer. That is indisputable.
2. It’s interesting to me that the GOP — America’s supposed “Christian” party — the ones who always want to talk about “What Would Jesus Do” — are the ones to literally and figuratively take food off of peoples’ tables. Related: They’re also America’s most hypocritical party. [Side note: I’m neither a Republican or a Democrat. I despise them both for different reasons. In fact, I despise the entire two-party system. (https://twitter.com/mbchp/status/396015588469792768)].
3. Most people don’t want to live on / rely on food stamps. Most people want a job. But apparently because the government is giving them so much money for food — about $5 bucks a day for a family of 4 — they miss out on all the good jobs because they’re so busy eating all that delicious food!
4. Sure, cutting food stamps by $40 billion saves us some cash. For perspective, that amounts to less than a quarter of one percent of the federal deficit. A quarter of one percent. That must be the going rate for letting 45 million people be even hungrier than they already are.
5. Fact: The median annual household/family income has dropped every single year for the last 5 years (http://www.deptofnumbers.com/income/us/), yet the cost of food has increased every year for the last 13 years (http://www.worldwatch.org/global-food-prices-continue-rise-0). Is this really the piece of the federal budget we should be looking at cutting to save money?
6. How about we invade a few less countries, spy on a few less foreign leaders, build a few less drones, and stop paying Congresspeople such high salaries ($174,000!) plus pensions and health care for the reset of their lives. Serving in Congress should be a privilege and an honor, not a career path and a means to set yourself up for life. (By the way: Congress hasn’t taken a pay cut since 1932. Instead, they’ve gotten nice fat raises.. no wonder they’re not concerned.)
7. I don’t mind so much of my paycheck going to taxes. Freedom isn’t free. What I mind is where it goes. Lining the pockets of crooked Congresspeople (who never can seem to do their jobs, despite being paid so much) is not my idea of a justifiable reason. Being the world’s police is not my idea of a justifiable reason. Shutting the government down and wasting tens of billions of a dollars — in this case, close to the amount of what food stamps are being cut — is never a justifiable reason, and taking food off of people’s tables who are already struggling will never be okay.
It’s never been so clear to me what a divided country we really are and I’ve never been so ashamed of where we’re headed.
BlackBerry Bought for $4.7 Billion
Today, BlackBerry announced they’ve signed a Letter of Intent to be acquired by Fairfax Financial Holdings for $9/share. That values them right around $4.7 billion. Fairfax already owns about 10% of the company and is its single largest shareholder. They plan to take the company private.
Fairfax chief Prem Watsa said in a statement:
“We believe this transaction will open an exciting new private chapter for BlackBerry, its customers, carriers and employees. We can deliver immediate value to shareholders, while we continue the execution of a long-term strategy in a private company with a focus on delivering superior and secure enterprise solutions to BlackBerry customers around the world.”
The big story here isn’t that the company is going private. It’s that BlackBerry’s largest shareholder thinks the current Board of Directors and executive leadership is garbage and that he and his team can do a better job.
Also noteworthy, Watsa says they plan to focus on delivering “enterprise solutions” — what will become of their consumer market? And how will focusing on the enterprise really play out in a world heavily dominated by BYOD?
That “long-term strategy” has been in place well before Thorsten Heins took over as CEO in January 2012 and has yet to produce any positive results. BlackBerry confirmed last week that it will lay off 4,500 of its workforce before the end of this year.
An Open Letter to Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz
Dear Mr. Schultz,
My name is Mike, and I’m responding to your open letter about the lawful carrying of firearms in your stores with an open letter of my own.
I realize your request is exactly that – a request – that customers not carry (“open” or otherwise) in your stores. I’m writing this letter because I fit in both those categories; I’m a Starbucks customer (every day, Monday thru Friday, on my way to the office) and a licensed, law abiding conceal and carry permit holder. My trusty Glock goes almost everywhere with me. I understand the prevalent “Starbucks on every corner” concept might leave you exposed to public demonstrations both for and against the lawful carrying of a firearm. It’s undoubtedly a controversial subject. I’m sure you, your legal team, and the eleven other members of your board of directors carefully weighed the options before you made this request.
I respect your right to prohibit the carrying of firearms in your stores. I know you specifically said it isn’t an official ban, but you see, law abiding citizens who have a legal permit to carry their firearm will treat it as such. That’s what law abiding people do. We don’t want any trouble. We avoid trouble at all costs. What you might not have considered – or maybe you did and you disregarded the notion – is that by requesting we not carry our firearms in your stores, you a.) let the criminals of the world know everyone in a Starbucks is unarmed, and thus, powerless to thwart any acts of violence they may commit inside your stores and b.) take a stance against the rights individual state governments have granted. It’s overwhelming, Mr. Schultz. 44 of the greater 50 states allow for “open carry” and 43 of the greater 50 states allow their citizens to conceal and carry with a permit.
Your stance against the rights of lawful, gun carrying citizens won’t have an effect on a criminal mind; that is, the people of the world out to do others harm. They don’t care what you say. You watch the news, Mr. Schultz. I’m sure you’ve seen the reports of countless incidents where trained, law abiding, gun carrying citizens have protected themselves and others during an attack in a public place. What your stance will do is, heaven forbid acts of violence be committed in your stores, prevent those of us who could have stopped that violence from being able to do so.
Mr. Schultz, I’ll honor your request to not carry on your stores’ premises. I’ll honor it by not visiting your stores at all. It’ll be an adaptation for me and it’ll take some getting used to. You’re a household name because you’re everywhere, and because you’re everywhere, you’re consistent and convenient. I know the Iced Venti Zebra Mocha I order here at home will taste every bit the same and every bit as great when I’m traveling. I appreciate that consistency and what being a loyal customer provides me. In my wallet, right alongside my conceal and carry permit is my Starbucks Gold card, which I’ve had since March 2009. When I pull up to the drive thru at my local Starbucks, they see me on the camera inside and ask “Hey Mike! Are we doing the usual today?” I’ll miss that great customer service, but thankfully I live in a city where you’re not the only place I can get a great cup of coffee with a smile. I don’t pretend my boycotting of Starbucks will affect you at all, or that you’ll even care. But if anything, your move has encouraged me to get outside my box and spend my money with the local coffeehouses of the world.
I’m always switching, testing and reviewing different phones. My main device (right now, anyway) is a Galaxy S4 on Verizon. However, I also have an account with T-Mobile that I keep open mainly for review units and testing. T-Mobile is a great company if you live in a larger city. Fast data speeds, really affordable rate plans, a pretty solid selection of phones, and the freedom to switch out devices as often as you want. I wouldn’t hesitate to switch to completely switch to T-Mobile if they just had better 4G LTE coverage. I travel a lot (including outside major cities), and that’s the single biggest reason I stay with Verizon.
If you’re anything like me, you use your phone mostly for data-connected tasks (email, social networking, photo sharing, etc) and text messaging. You don’t do much actualtalking on the phone. If T-Mobile has good coverage in your area, this rate plan I’m going to tell you about should absolutely convince you to switch.
Wal-Mart has an exclusive deal with T-Mobile for a $30 monthly prepaid rate plan that gives you 5 GB of 4G data, unlimited text messaging and 100 minutes. It’s technically only available if you purchase your SIM starter activation kit from Wal-Mart. T-Mobile retail stores cannot and will not set you up with this plan. However, if you dial 611 from your T-Mobile phone and tell them you want to switch to this plan, they’ll set you up. When I called, the representative had to get her supervisor to make the change to my account, which tells me it’s not something T-Mobile really wants to promote. Why would they, after all? The most comparable plan to this one, as far as data is concerned, is the unlimited plan for $70 a month. This one is less than half the price, and as long as you don’t need more than 100 minutes of actual talk time a month, it’s a no brainer. If you use more than that, minutes are 10 cents each.
Most of us live near a Wal-Mart, so you could head over and pick up the SIM starter kit and have access to the plan easily and legitimately. If you’re already a T-Mobile customer, it might take a little more sweet talking of the customer service reps. If you run into trouble, just hang up and call again until you get a representative who will make the change for you.
The $30 plan has $2.70 in tax on it, making the grand total $32.70 a month — about a dollar a day. It doesn’t get better than that, folks.