Search This Blog

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Sequestration - silly word

All we've heard lately (well, except for the Harlem Shake), is talk of "Sequestration".  Do you know what it's all about?  Pull up a chair and get a Red Bull, kids, and I'll tell you.  First, a couple of definitions:


  1. The action of taking legal possession of assets until a debt has been paid or other claims have been met.
  2. The action of taking forcible possession of something; confiscation.

The term came into being many, many years ago (back in the 15th Century, according to Before our clown-like Congress (did I just write that out loud!?!) started using the term in conjunction with our budget deficit woes, I always thought of Juries being sequestered during a big Charles Manson-like trial (lasted from July 24, 1970 to April 19,1971, (An account of the Charles Manson Trial)).


Now, well, since 1985's Gram-Rudman-Hollings Deficit Reduction Act, Sequestration is the term used to describe automatic spending cuts that are (supposed to be) "across the board" cuts.  The reasoning was that instead of  the deficit being just a number left over after the budgeting process was complete, it became an amount agreed upon by Congress and the President.  If the total budget deficit exceeds that authorized by the Budget Resolution, then funds are to be held by the Treasury. In this budget cycle, cuts of 2.4% have to be made.

The funds withheld are from discretionary, not mandatory spending, meaning "Entitlements" such as Social Security, are not touched (interestingly, since Congressional salaries come from the mandated spending side of the ledger, I presume they won't be affected)


The same 2.4% of the total budget has to be withheld under the Sequestration rules (the word is stupid, IMO). This comes to about $85 billion. 


Where does the $85 Billion come from then, you ask?  Here is a handy dandy discussion of where the cuts will come from (summary: Education, Defense, Public Health and Social Programs) :

It is a true statement that the biggest spending programs (Social Security and Medicare) are not included in these cuts - this is where a lot of the arguing is coming from.

Note:  Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and CHIP equal about 41% of our total budget (in 2011) - again, this is not part of the Sequestration.  Defense, at 20% of the budget, is part of the Sequestration.

OK.  'Nuff said.  If you've hung with me this long, you are probably bored, so here is a link to some hilarious accounting jokes:  Just for Fun

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

I'm not a prude/TV kind of stinks

I have been known to let loose of a few choice expletives, on occasion.  As a matter of fact, I believe that the "F" word is one of the most versatile words in the English language.  Think about it, it can convey any emotion.  Go ahead, use it in a sentence to express surprise, eg, "What the F... was that?", or I'm so happy I could cry. "WTF, it's raining", says the guy below, much to my Grandmother's chagrin. You get the picture.


I love TV.  I love sitcoms, I love educational TV, I love dramas and I love Zombie shows (Ooh, Walking Dead: I'm glad Shane died, but hated to see Lori get it, Rick is off his rocker, and hasn't Darryl turned into a nice young man!).  Sorry, digressing again.


While a well placed word can add lots to a TV show, it seems to me that cursing, talking about various types of sex (and sex toys) and just dropping crude language into a show for no apparent reason has almost replaced creative writing on the old TV. I'm a guy, so it follows that I like to aimlessly channel surf.  I swear, it's getting to the point that I can't even flip through the channels without hitting an inappropriate moment during the three seconds before I change again.  It's kind of cringe-worthy, really.


I'm not a prude, I can sling words with the best of them (and do, quite often), but C'mon, man!

(Pretty sure he is saying "C'mon, man!")

Let's get some creativity going instead of ALWAYS playing to the lowest common denominator.  I think that Newton R. Minnow (remember him?) was right when he said:

"When television is good, nothing — not the theater, not the magazines or newspapers — nothing is better.
But when television is bad, nothing is worse. I invite each of you to sit down in front of your own television set when your station goes on the air and stay there, for a day, without a book, without a magazine, without a newspaper, without a profit and loss sheet or a rating book to distract you. Keep your eyes glued to that set until the station signs off. I can assure you that what you will observe is a vast wasteland.
You will see a procession of game shows, formula comedies about totally unbelievable families, blood and thunder, mayhem, violence, sadism, murder, western bad men, western good men, private eyes, gangsters, more violence, and cartoons. And endlessly commercials — many screaming, cajoling, and offending. And most of all, boredom. True, you'll see a few things you will enjoy. But they will be very, very few. And if you think I exaggerate, I only ask you to try it." 


All that being said, I watched the first two episodes of season one of Downton Abby last night, and it is pretty good stuff.  Yep, dealing with adult themes, but without the need to run through the English countryside talking about vibrators.  Go figure.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Thoughts on the minimum wage

I learned yesterday that in 1968, when unemployment was 3.6%, the minimum wage was $1.60 - this translates, in today's dollars, to $10.37 per hour. Put differently, if the minimum wage had kept up with inflation since 1968, it would be $10.37 per hour, instead of the $7.25 that it is under current law.

This started me thinking about a whole slew of things, mainly centered around "Obamacare" and "Job Creators".  One thing that really infuriates me, is how businesses are finding ways around having to provide health insurance for their employees.  Normally I'm all for companies trying to be efficient, reduce costs - trying to maximize shareholder's return on investment, but I believe that business owners have at least somewhat of an obligation to provide living compensation for their employees.

This leads me to the term "Job Creators".  We heard this term used ad nauseam during the last election.  I was talking with my wife the other day, and she made a very good point.  She said (paraphrasing her greatly), that if the jobs created keep employees at or below the poverty level and don't provide for health care, then the workers are more like slaves than employees. Link:  Did you know that the average Fortune 500 CEO is paid greater than 380 time more than the average worker?

To be fair (with manufacturing jobs at least), the USA is competing globally, and as a result, many manufacturing jobs are lost to countries where pay is abysmally low. And Lord knows, we flock to Walmart (and others) to buy the lowest priced stuff possible. Not a knock on Walmart, more of an indictment of our culture.

DISCLAIMER: I'm not (obviously) an economist, I'm just sharing my opinion.

It doesn't make sense to me though, when talking about the service industry (specifically the restaurant industry), where we are not competing globally, why a business owner would not want to provide a living wage to his/her employees. The immediate argument, I think, would be that owning a restaurant is difficult and the failure rate is extremely high. However, what I've seen in my 20+ years as a CPA, with experience advising restaurant owners, is that most restaurants fail due to initial undercapitalizaion. This leads to panic when customers don't crowd the restaurant in the first weeks, followed then by the owner changing hours, and ultimately, weeks later, customers go to the restaurant, find it closed, and never come back.

Trying to tie all of this together, we seem to live in a country where it is becoming increasingly more difficult for the average person to succeed.  Healthcare costs are through the roof (I'm struggling to provide decent insurance at an affordable price to my employees, and welcome the advent of "Obamacare", as it should lower my overall costs), unskilled workers are undeniably slipping backwards - read my first paragraph, and the gap between the "have's" and the "have-nots" continues to grow.

I'd love to hear other, non-inflammatory, opinions about this.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Slow motion fail (physics lesson, sorta)

Get something to drink, make yourself comfortable.  When you get back, I'll tell you about my Chevy Chase-worthy fall across my house.

Go ahead.  I'll wait.

Ok.  Ready?

This morning, I was sitting on the couch, drinking a cup of coffee, when my dog Lynsie barked to be let back in - this is Lynsie:

Did I ever tell you how Lynsie got her name?  One of the first babysitters that my daughters had was Lindsey Cooke (now Lindsey Wagner).  The girls loooved her.  They loved her so much that when we got a puppy, Kate wanted to name the dog after Lindsey.  Kate was pretty young and didn't know how to spell Lindsey's name, and she spelled it sort of phonetically: so, Lindsey became Lynsie, and there you have it.


Back to this morning.  I had let Lynsie out to eat breakfast and do that other stuff that dogs do, in the back yard, in the morning. Typically, when she is finished she stands at the back door and gives an imperious bark, AND YOU'D BETTER BE QUICK ABOUT LETTING HER IN!

So, I jumped up off the couch to let her in.  In the process of getting up, my enormous big toe (right foot, if you are wondering), somehow became stuck in my pajama pants leg.

Those pajamas; that toe.

I tripped and started falling close to the green chair in the picture above (it needs to be re-upholstered, btw). This is when time slowed down.  Oh, yeah, I was falling.  I had time to think about falling, as well as time to contemplate Peyton Manning's overtime interception against the hated Ravens on Jan. 12; Beyonce's Halftime performance at the Super Bowl; the Super Bowl itself  (Insightful commentary on the Super Bowl here), and many other things.

But what I wasn't able to do, was to stop myself from falling all the way out of the den and into the kitchen. All in slow motion.  Against the little table, into the louvered doors that lead into the laundry room, against the door jamb that separates the den from the kitchen, and finally, the kitchen floor itself.

Newton's First Law of Motion says, essentially, that objects tend to keep on doing what they're doing (unless acted upon by an unbalanced force).

I was falling.  I kept falling.  I was the right side of the picture above. Inertia.

The entire left side of my body hurts, and my right shoulder is wrenched, BUT, I let Lynsie in and luckily wasn't carrying my coffee when I took my trip.

I hope you've enjoyed this little story.  Have a safe rest of the weekend. Keep your toes in line, and your pajama bottoms pulled up.

Thursday, February 7, 2013


Over the last year, I've gone from a round headed, svelte 195 lb'er, to my current, round headed 207 lbs (not so svelte).


I'm "boopie".  What is boopie, you ask?  Boopie is exactly what boopie sounds like.  Kinda squishy.

Me, last year:

Me, this morning:

I know.  You are saying that you can't really tell the difference, right?


Interestingly, this change has coincided with my 80% decrease in running, coupled with my 3% increase in eating.  I'm beginning to see a correlation.

This was just a short post.  I think I'll go to the gym. Can someone suggest a word that is the opposite of boopie?

Monday, February 4, 2013

Ian's 2 minute Super Bowl Recap

Pocket vs. Pistol

1st half:  Whole lot of Pocket, not so much Pistol; Ray Lewis emoting

Halftime: Beyonce, Beyonce, Beyonce


Start of 2nd half:  Going vertical; going yard; takin' it to the house; all over but the crying; Jacoby Jones


Lights out

After that, lots of Pistol, not so much Pocket.  Also, leftover Beyonce tingles (the cause of the blackout?)

In the end, the Pistol Package was shelved when poised for the win, instead preferring to abandon the strength of the running game in favor of the passing game (see: Les Miles Chick Fil A bowl late game management).

And then, the Fat Lady Sang, and it was over.

Also, Beyonce:

And Ray Lewis.  Sigh