Texas famously has no state income tax. Business taxes are also famously low. So where does the state get its money? Property tax is largely the answer. While this sounds somewhat reasonable, it has two problems. The first is that it is very regressive. The richest people in Texas (and everywhere) tend to spend a much smaller proportion of their wealth on housing. In fact, a very wealthy person doesn’t have to live in an expensive house at all.
An even bigger problem for most people is that they don’t really own their house. They have a mortgage. So they are literally paying a tax on a debt. It is difficult to get figures but there is $10 trillion in mortgage debt in the US. So Texas, at least, is funded by a tax on middle class debt. Sounds a bit outrageous, and maybe it is.
So why can’t we tax other debts? One problem (well, I consider it a problem) is very wealthy Americans have untaxable assets, like stock, and are only able to operate tax-free by taking out loans against these assets. Like the assets, these loans aren’t taxed either. So the wealthiest Americans go along year after year, decade after decade, paying no tax. So why not tax their debt? We do it to the rest of America.
This is enough to make me consider getting a Twitter account.
We tend to watch HGTV and Food Network by default. Our favorite food show is Guy Fieri’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives (or “Triple D”). The ultimate TV version of comfort food. You always know what you are getting, and that isn’t a bad thing. From the Atlantic:
I continue my family photo archiving project. Tackled a box filled with old photos of me, mostly. Some interesting odds and ends. A set of Richard Nixon commemorative postage stamps, an old Disneyland ticket, a birthday card from the 1970s, unopened, containing a $5 bill, plus a collectable Danny Bonaduce Partridge Family card!
I read Eric Hoffer’s The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements a very long time ago. I believe I heard my father mention it when I was very young and it got my attention. If you want to know how mass movements arise, or more correctly, are constructed, read this. Saw a blog post in my news feed discussing Hoffer and his True Believers. A good overview, but I still recommend the book.
Still making my way through old family photos left to me by my father. He was a photographer, so there is lots to wade through. He also wasn’t very well organized, which in some ways actually simplifies the job. I’m almost done with all the old family 8mm movies. I have had several hours of film professionally scanned. I also have an older model Wolverine 35mm film scanner which works well for slides and negatives. For photos I have a flatbed scanner / printer, but the idea of running literally thousands of prints through that system was a non-starter. I had taken to using my phone camera on an inverted tripod and just uploading the files, uncropped.
Recently my wife happened across the new Google Document Scanner app for our Android phones called Stack. A nice little app that includes OCR. I started using it before realizing it only saves PDF. I looked around again and found the new Google PhotoScan app. I have to say, I’m sold.
The PhotoScan app is made to use as a handheld photo scanner that takes multiple photos and stitches, crops and adjusts automatically. I didn’t need or want this sort of function. Luckily you can turn it all off and just do straight JPEG capture with automatic cropping. You need to be a little careful to get the cropping to work. The border has to be somewhat narrow with nothing else visible. I used a large white board as a background. Then all the photos get automatically uploaded to Google Photos without taking up any space on your phone. Just what I was looking for. Did over 1,500 photos over two days. Could have done more, but much of that time was spent learning about getting cropping to work the way I wanted.
I was wondering about the history of slavery in the British Empire, since this seems to be the root of American slavery. Britain declared slavery illegal in 1773, just three years before the American colonies started their rebellion. Somehow I was never taught about this in school. The story is more complicated, with a history going back centuries. A good, short read in wiki on the subject.
Everyone seems to be worried about inflation all of a sudden. I’m skeptical. First I don’t really think 5% or 6% inflation is even a problem. Well, not for most Americans anyway. Inflation is bad for people with cash and actually good for people with debt. If you have a debt, including a mortgage, then inflation is your friend.
The job market is also suddenly hot. Many people near retirement seem to be retiring early, and sadly about a million Americans have died from COVID-19. Add in the folks who have been disabled by long COVID and there is certainly a hole in the labor market. I have even been able to personally witness some hiring managers and H.R. people flailing in this new environment. Workers are picking their jobs, instead of companies getting to pick their workers. It almost makes me want to go out and apply for jobs, just to torment those who used to torment me.
Of course this sort of thing is “bad for business” (in other words “good for workers”). An old Class Warrior like Alan Greenspan would have shut this all down by now, jacked up interest rates, and had Americans begging for a job, like in the good old days. We will see how long the assault of the Inflationistas can hold out. A good read from an otherwise neutral party, which I confess, I am not.