Blog

Short blog posts, journal entries, and random thoughts. Topics include a mix of personal and the world at large. 

Don't let fear stop the great

Yesterday I talked about getting a motorcycle for commuting to and from work. As is my wont when it comes to these sort of things, I dove way deep into research. As mentioned, the positives of owning a bike is obvious: low purchasing and running cost, the ability to filter through traffic, great gas mileage, and ease of parking. 

As with anything in life, there are potential negatives, too. I live in an apartment with a gated communal parking lot, so the bike will expose to the weather elements, and more worryingly, potential thieves. Any two men (or burly women) can simply pick up the bike and load it onto the back of a truck. No amount of locking device can foil this simple act of plain physics. 

Naturally I agonized over this prospective deal-breaker, spending hours reading up on theft deterrents and best practices. It seems the consensus is that if you rather not worry about your bike getting stolen all the time, it's best to not buy one at all unless you've got secured parking (i.e. a garage). At one point I gave up on the idea of motorcycle ownership entirely because I'm the type of person who tend to have anxiety about these things. 

But then I realized that this is all incredibly stupid: why should I let fear - and the potential actions of people I cannot control - dictate my decisions? As someone who loves cars, getting into motorcycles is a natural extension and something to experience in life. I shouldn't let the possibility of theft deter me from checking that off to my list. Practically anything we do in life carries negative potentialities so either we can stay home, be a loser and do nothing, or ignore what we can't control and get after it. 

It won't be easy to not be obsessive compulsive about people stealing my bike, but I've got to learn to accept it. The best antidote is insurance: just as I do with my expensive camera gear, the bike will be insured for theft. I'd be made financially whole should some guy decides he wants my motorcycle more than me. I should let that be my peace of mind and focus instead completely on enjoying the ownership experience.

Mustn't let fear stop the great. 

Walking on the roof garden. 

Walking on the roof garden. 

Why are used car sales taxed?

It’s occurred to me that California charges sales tax on used car sales, and it makes absolutely no sense. I understand if a dealership is selling the used car, but why must I pay tax even if its from a private party? Surely I don’t have to pay the State anything if I were to purchase a flat-screen television sold by some dude on Craigslist who’ve probably stole it. 

Maybe we are obligated to report and pay sales taxes on those sort of purchases and it's just that nobody does it and it isn't at all enforced. We are however forced to do so for cars because each motor vehicle is required to be properly registered with the localities, ergo the government knows everything. 

Well, that really sucks, because the State is essentially double (or triple) taxing a product. Hasn’t a merchandise done it’s duty to society already (in form of the sales tax) when it was first sold? I think it should be illegal for government to double-dip on this, and yes it’s mainly because I don’t want to pay. My next car will likely be used and priced into the six-figures so the tax bill - especially when registered in San Francisco - is going to be enormous. 

I understand the other side of the coin: by instituting sales tax on used cars, not only does California reap the revenue benefits but it also prevents auto dealerships from titling their inventor (thus converting new cars into used) thereby lowering the out-the-door price for customers. Imagine the adverts of “pay no sales tax” plastered in front of dealer lots next to the giant inflatable figures.

Perhaps I'm in a truly small minority: people that care about taxes during car shopping. I bet the majority of consumers simply look at the sale price and regard taxes and license fees as something insignificantly tacked on afterwards. You can afford to do this in Oregon where there is no sales tax, but for me living in San Francisco the final tax bill when buying a car is nearly 10 percent of purchase price. 

10 percent of $100,000 is $10,000, and that’s all going to the State on a car they’ve already taxed at least once. I consider that to be thievery in the highest contemporary order. 

Follow the light. Climb! 

Follow the light. Climb! 

Taxation is theft

There is no such thing as a free lunch. If you're not paying for it, someone is. 

It seems in response to and in preparation for upcoming elections, a sizable faction of the Democratic Party have been gaining traction, offshooting from the success of Senator Bernie Sanders during the 2016 primary. They're the Democratic Socialists (of America), and the group is heavily in the spotlight recently due to congress-hopeful Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez unseating a Democratic incumbent in New York. Some proper party-on-party friendly fire. 

President Trump have swung the Republican party so much towards the right fringe that the inevitable pendulum swing back left would naturally match it in severity. This explains the rise in popularity of the DSA platform, with promises of free health care, free higher education, and a decent wage for every worker. The platform’s emotional appeal is immense, a left-leaning equivalent of border security and ridding the country of illegals for Trump’s base. 

It sure sounds good on paper, doesn’t it? Who would say no to job guarantees and free college? 

Right, but then the age old question becomes: how are we going to pay for it? Indeed there are no free lunches. The obvious and sole avenue to acquire the money is to tax and tax a lot, especially the super rich. Because both parties can’t seem to cut spending ever, we can only resort to take from the rich to increase revenue. 

It bears repeating: taxation is theft. 

Do the wealthy have a moral responsibility to give back and take care of the poor? An argument can be made for the affirmative. However, agency and decision should reside with the individual, rather than compelled by government (i.e. tax). I think Bill Gates and Warren Buffett have done well to corral a hundred or so billionaires and millionaires to donate their wealth. The campus where I work at is full of buildings and wings made possible by generous donors (The Coppola family, to name one). 

People say for a country as prosperous as the United States, it ought to have no issues in providing socialistic services. But think of how the United States become affluent in the first place. It certainly wasn’t socialism. It’s Capitalism, and we’d be careful to deviate from that at our peril.

Because how is Venezuela doing these days

Currently reading: Ray Dalio's magnum opus. 

Currently reading: Ray Dalio's magnum opus.