The Big Think

November 7, 2013

Baylor Nation

Filed under: Humor and Fun — jasony @ 10:31 pm

Erin and I just finished listening to the entirety of the Baylor/OU game tonight on the radio (well… internet radio). I haven’t done that in a long time. What fun! Exciting, fun game with a great payoff (BU 41–OU 12). Lots of fun to monitor FB and see the gleeful alums and friends posting pics and statuses about it.


Good Advice

Filed under: Business — jasony @ 9:50 pm

The best careers are not planned.

Hidden Fees

Filed under: Politics — jasony @ 10:04 am

What that Sneaky Fee on Your Phone Bill Means | The Fiscal Times:

“The free-phone program has even poked its way into a debate, mostly among conservatives, over whether entitlement programs like this will ever be trimmed or eliminated (the scenario is that the welfare state implodes as financially unsustainable) or remain a politically untouchable part of American life, whatever the cost.

Robert Weissberg, professor of political science, emeritus, at the University of Illinois, says a free phone with unlimited minutes, ‘may quickly become an inalienable right–in six months a basic phone may also be insufficient if friends have an even fancier gadget.’

One carrier executive, Gary Carter, manager of national partnerships for Assurance Wireless, apparently already considers free phones a civil right, or something close to it. A blogger for the New York Post quoted him as saying, ‘The program is about peace of mind. It’s one less bill that someone has to pay, so they can pay their rent or for day care. … It is a right to have peace of mind.’

Since each income–based entitlement can serve as a gateway to other related programs—getting on the burgeoning food stamp program triggers qualification for a free phone—each new benefit can be seen as ‘earned’ by participation in a previous one. The deeper problem, Weissberg says, is that behind the benevolence, today’s federal help profoundly differs from the past interventions, breeding ingrained dependency and infantilizing the people it wants to help.”

This program is a perfect example of entitlement creep. What started as a well intentioned program (subsidizing low income people so they can get a basic landline for emergencies) has grown completely out of hand, wasting money and using the threat of social condemnation (“you’re not against the poor are you?”) as a buttressing argument in order to maintain and grow an out of control bureaucracy and dependent constituency at the expense of taxpayers.

We don’t have smart phones, partially because we’ve decided it would be unwise to spend the $4000+ over the period of the two year term for the privilege (that’s the cost of service plus the cost of two iPhones prorated over the contract). That’s more than $2400 extra dollars over what we’re currently paying (about $75/month total after taxes combined). We’ve also recently switched our land line to the uber-cheap Ooma ($3.71/month all in!) in order to save about forty bucks a month. It’s really helped. We’ve decided that we won’t buy what we can’t responsibly afford and are putting the extra money elsewhere (sadly, not into our HSA for our health care but instead into increasing insurance premiums for little-used health coverage).

Anyway, I wish that sort of common sense existed in our government. Eventually you run painfully into Stein’s Law.

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