Berkeley CSUA MOTD:2008:January:17 Thursday <Wednesday, Friday>
Berkeley CSUA MOTD
2008/1/17-18 [Recreation/Dating, Politics/Domestic/SIG] UID:48961 Activity:kinda low
1/16    ACLU: Up is Down, Left is Right, Sex in Public is Private!
        \_ You misattribute... MN Courts 30 years ago say it.  ACLU
           just uses the precedent in a legal argument.
        \_ What did the prosecutor claim as illegal?  The sex or the invitation
           to sex?
        \_ GOP: War is Peace
           \_ Hello hippie!!!
2008/1/17-23 [Reference/Tax, Politics/Domestic/California/Prop] UID:48962 Activity:high
1/17    Bond insurers go foom.  MBI/ABK down 31%/51% respectively.
        \_ What is this, Bloomberg?
           \_ are you kidding? we're better than that.
           \_ Geez, just, you can see it.
              \_ I think he's asking why lame financial headlines are
                 being posted here.
                 \_ Yes, exactly. If you want to start a disucssion about the
                    state of the economy, that is fine, but up to the minute
                    stock ticker info is not going to do it.
                    \_ Oh, I'm pretty sure this is housing bust gloating. -pp
                       \_ As I explained to my desperate-renter-wants-to-be-a
                          -home-owner-waiting-for-big-housing-bust coworker:
                          As a home owner I don't care at all what housing
                          prices do except on two days: the day I buy and the
                          day I sell.  All the ups/downs in between mean
                          nothing to me.
                          \_ That's fine, but it's obvious your co-worker DOES
                             care, because he wants to buy, and wants a good
                             deal.  So why even say this to him?
                             \_ Because he's an ass.
                                \_ You have it backwards.  The guy was
                                   sending gloaty email links and smothering
                                   lunch chats with bad housing news smirking
                                   at the home owners.  I simply explained to
                                   him the way I and likely many other home
                                   owners view the ups and downs of housing
                                   prices.  Are you one of the bitter-renters?
                          \_ I'm a renter who wants to be a home owner, but
                             do not yet know much about owning a home.  Does
                             the housing price fluctuations affect your
                             property tax?  (Don't you pay a percentage of
                             increase in value?  What about if the value
                             decreases?)  Also, I'd imagine it would matter
                             if you ever need to take out a new load against
                             your home.  Feel free to clue me in.
                             \_ In CA, price fluctuations aren't really an
                                issue because of Prop 13. If valuations
                                fall below the assessed value, then yes
                                your tax can be lowered. However, since
                                increases are capped at 1% per year and
                                the rate of appreciation generally is more
                                than that, it is rare that homeowners worry
                                about it. It is safe to assume that your
                                property tax is ~fixed here in CA.  Other
                                states do things differently.
                                \_ I would not be surprised to see Prop 13
                                   modified in the next decade.
                                   \_ No one is going to push to have other
                                      people's taxes raised.  If anything they
                                      will push to have their own lowered.  But
                                      I seriously doubt anyone really has any
                                      clue what their neighbors are paying
                                      anyway so this whole line of thought is
                                      just silly.  What are your neighbors
                                      paying in property taxes?  Do you know?
                                      \_ Yes, I know. Just look on
                                People push to have
                                         other people's taxes raised all the
                                         time, you just aren't paying attention.
                                         What do you think Hillary's campaign
                                         promise to raise the top rate to 39.6%
                                   \_ I would. Homeowners are a big voting
                                      block. Who would vote to change it?
                                      \_ Everyone who bought a home after 1999,
                                         once they realize they are paying 10x
                                         in taxes than the neighbor who bought
                                         in 1977, for the same services. I don't
                                         think it will go away, just reindexed
                                         to inflation, not inflation minus 1.
                                         \_ They won't ever know what their
                                            neighbors are paying.  And if the
                                            taxes hurt that much they'll want
                                            theirs lowered, not their
                                            neighbor's raised.
                                         \_ That's how it works. You pay
                                            more today to get a break in
                                            the future when you are
                                            (presumably) retired. I don't
                                            have a problem that my
                                            neighbor who moved here in the
                                            1940s pays less tax than I do.
                                            He bought his house for less,
                                            too. I can't worry about that.
                                            \_ Nobody cares if they paid less
                                               when they bought the house.
                                               That's just pure strawman.
                                            \_ You can worry about whatever you
                                               like. My neighbors on each side
                                               own many rental properties. Even
                                               combining them all, they probably
                                               pay less in property taxes for
                                               much more city services than I do
                                               Why should these multi-
                                               millionaires get subsidized by
                                               everyone else? In the long run,
                                               taxes should keep up with
                                               inflation (or even GDP), unless
                                               you want service levels to fall,
                                               which is what has happened to
                                               CA over the years. The voters
                                               are slowly coming to realize
                                               this fact.
                                               \_ Ah here it is: class warfare
                                                  jealousy and envy.  They pay
                                                  less because they were smart
                                                  enough to get in early.  You
                                                  are now locked in at your
                                                  current rate and your future
                                                  neighbors will want to know
                                                  why you pay less than them.
                                                  Think your taxes should rise
                                                  to their level just as you're
                                                  \_ If property tax exists for
                                                     a reason, then it should
                                                     be raised if it needs to
                                                     be raised. I don't see
                                                     how you justify your
                                                     position. If you extend
                                                     the idea into the future
                                                     for all possible market
                                                     scenarios you see that it
                                                     is unsustainable. The
                                                     focus should be on keeping
                                                     the overall rate low, not
                                                     arbitrarily locking rates.
                                                     Capping the amount it can
                                                     rise per year would seem
                                                     prudent, but not making
                                                     that 0. It's not just
                                                     about fairness but market
                                                     efficiency: in my
                                                     experience people become
                                                     really "attached" to their
                                                     low tax rates.
                                                     \_ We effectively cap
                                                        property tax rates
                                                        because people should
                                                        not be taxed out of
                                                        their homes.  This is
                                                        still the U.S. the last
                                                        I checked where the
                                                        people are more
                                                        important than
                                                        government revenue.  If
                                                        the gvt needs more $$$
                                                        they should cut the
                                                        pork and increase
                                                        efficiency.  I've
                                                        worked for both state
                                                        and federal gvt for
                                                        many years.  There is
                                                        tons of room for pork
                                                        cutting.  They make
                                                        large corps look like
                                                        models of efficiency.
                                                \_ No, they pay less than me
                                                   because they were born a
                                                   generation earlier than me,
                                                   and then rigged the game in
                                                   their favor, not because they
                                                   were "smarter," as you claim.\
                                                   Property taxes should pay for
                                                   the city services required
                                                   to support them. Consistently
                                                   charging less than inflation
                                                   guarantees that this cannot
                                                   happen. Why should others
                                                   have to pay the tax burden
                                                   shifted to them? Who should
                                                   pay taxes instead of the
                                                   homeowner? Streets, schools,
                                                   police and fire protection
                                                   are not free. And even if you
                                                   did cut city services, the
                                                   anomaly of early owners
                                                   gaming the system in their
                                                   favor still remains. Why do
                                                   mostly wealthy older home
                                                   owners deserve a tax break at
                                                   the expense of everyone else?
                                                   I think the idea of a tax
                                                   break for an owner occupied
                                                   residence with a low income
                                                   senior citizen in it is great
                                                   but this not what Prop 13
                           That's still not an argument for prop 13. Cut _/
                           pork, great, benefit everyone. So what.
                           \_ Prop 13 only caps property tax rates if you
                              hold on to the house. If you sell, which
                              most people do, the rates catch up. Property
                              tax revenues are plenty high and do a job
                              tax revenues are plenty high and do a good
                              job of beating inflation. BTW, it's easy to
                              find out what your neighbor pays for tax if
                              you want to know. Why should you care?
                              Should a family of eight pay more property tax
                              than a single homeowner? They use more services.
                              It really sucks to live in a state where the
                              tax is not capped. In many states property
                              values doubled or tripled in the last few
                              years. Would you like your tax to go from
                              $3K to $9K a year just because speculators
                              are moving the market? How can anyone plan
                              and budget for that? It has nothing to do
                              with the cost of services tripling either.
                              No, I think CA got it right. If the state
                              needs more revenue then tax income.
                              \_ Adjusting Prop 13 so that property taxes
                                 go up with inflation after purchase, instead
                                 of inflation minus one, would not cause
                                 of two percent a year, would not cause
                                 anyone's tax to go from $3k to $9k in one
                                 year. Go fight that Straw Man somewhere else.
                                 \_ Whose definition of inflation and why?
                                    They are already keeping up with inflation.
                                    $10.3 BB before Prop 13 = $35 BB in 2006.
                                    (calculated from CPI).
                                    Actual amount collected in 2006 = $38 BB
                                    From Howard Jarvis:
                                    "Despite Prop 13's restrictions,
                                    today's government in California
                                    collects the same 16% of personal
                                    income in taxes, fees and assessments
                                    that it collected before Proposition
                                    13 passed. Today, the government in
                                    California collects and spends per
                                    capita in constant dollars -
                                    that is, incorporating population
                                    growth and inflation growth -
                                    more than it taxed and spent per
                                    capita in 1978."
                                    What has changed is the distribution
                                    of taxes:
                                    Schools: 53%, Counties 30%, Cities 10%,
                                    Other 7%
                                    Schools: 38%, Counties 26%, Cities
                                    18%, Other 18%
                                    Any homeowners, like Tom, who feel
                                    they aren't paying enough property tax
                                    are free to write a check out for
                                    more. It's easier to steal money from
                                    other people instead, though.
                                    \_ Right and all you have done is steal
                                       money from other taxpayers to reward
                                       homeowners for voting for you. The
                                       overall tax burden is the same, it has
                                       just shifted away from property tax, to
                                       one that is less reliable (mostly
                                       sales and income). Jarvis lies with
                                       statisics, btw, since the per capita
                                       inflation adjusted property tax burden
                                       has gone down. You forget the per capita
                                       part in your calculation there. Here,
                                       \_ Presumably the increase in
                                          population is a major driver in
                                          "inflation" so it is accounted for.
                                          \_ No.
                                       I will present you with a logic problem:
                                       Since the overall state spending per
                                       person has stayed the same since 1970
                                       \_ So why are the State's infrastructure
                                          and schools falling apart? Sounds
                                          like poor spending decisions. IOW,
                                          where's the problem then if
                                          there's plenty of money already?
                                          Why abolish Prop 13 to give the
                                          government more?
                                          \_ That is a good question, but
                                             Prop 13 doesn't have anything
                                             to do with it. "Three Strikes
                                             You're Out" is one reason.
                                             You're Out" is the biggest reason.
                                             The State is spending much more
                                             on prisons that it used to. The
                                             rest of the answer is not worth
                                             going into as a tangent on the
                                             motd. You abolish Prop 13 to:
                                             1) eliminate the boom/bust that
                                                goes depending on revenue
                                                so closely aligned with the
                                                business cycle and
                                             2) shift the tax burden back to
                                                the users of the services
                                                where it belongs, instead of
                                                poor schmuck third party
                                                \_ What poor schmuck third
                                                   party is that? Everyone
                                                   uses the services. As
                                                   for boom/bust, I think
                                                   abolishing Prop 13 is
                                                   the wrong way to go
                                                   about that. You know
                                                   that what will happen
                                                   is that everyone will
                                                   pay higher property
                                                   taxes and overall burden
                                                   will also go up,
                                                   because the State can't
                                                   stop spending like
                                                   drunken sailors.
                                                   \_ I already established that
                                                      per capita real spending
                                                      has been constant, so give
                                                      up with the drunken
                                                      sailors theme already. I
                                                      would prefer to see other
                                                      taxes, like sales tax, go
                                                      down as property tax went
                                                   \_ Where is your evidence
                                                      that the State spends
                                                      like drunken sailors?
                                                      As best as I can tell,
                                                      inflation adjusted per
                                                      capita spending has been
                                                      near constant, with a dip
                                                      after 1977, but then an
                                                      increase in the 90s, so
                                                      that we are back to where
                                                      we were in 1970 (and less
                                                      as a percentage of GDP,
                                                      the traditional way to
                                                      measure tax burden).
                                                      we were in 1970.
                                                      \_ We are spending
                                                         the same, but doing
                                                         less with it. If
                                                         we had to do as
                                                         much as before,
                                                         then we'd have to
                                                         spend a lot more.
                                                         That's why people
                                                         want to raise
                                                         taxes - the
                                                         amount of money
                                                         we used to spend
                                                         isn't cutting it.
                                                         My solution is to
                                                         figure out what
                                                         we're blowing
                                                         money on and stop
                                                         it. Then we won't
                                                         have to choose
                                                         between services
                                                         and high taxes.
                                                         Throwing more
                                                         money at the
                                                         problem is not a
                                                         solution. Revenues and
                                                         expenditures are same
                                                         as ever and yet the
                                                         infrastructure is
                                                         deteriorating. The
                                                         Throwing more money
                                                         at the problem is not
                                                         a solution. Revenues
                                                         and expenditures are
                                                         the same as ever and
                                                         yet the infrastructure
                                                         is deteriorating. The
                                                         problem is we're not
                                                         spending where we need
                                                         to, not that property
                                                         taxes ar too low.
                                                         taxes are too low.
                                             \_ While you're busy trying to
                                                prove that it's better for
                                                people if you tax people
                                                instead of corporations, why
                                                don't you also try to prove
                                                that US corporations don't
                                                benefit from the public
                                                education system.   -tom
                                                \_ I'm just responding to
                                                   the person who wants
                                                   to tax based on
                                                   services used. A single
                                                   person also benefits
                                                   from public education,
                                                   but where do you draw
                                                   the line on which
                                                   services you use and do
                                                   not use? Therefore,
                                                   it's better to just
                                                   charge everyone (including
                                                   corporations) the same.
                                       (in real dollars) and the proportion
                                       of tax revenue from property tax has
                                       declined, then the per person amount
                                       of (real) property tax has _____.
                                       A) Declined
                                       B) Increased
                                       C) Can't tell from information provided
                                       D) I don't know
                              \_ Q: Why should we care? A: because we pay tax.
                                 S: most people sell  A: not if they can help
                                 it because after a while that tax base is too
                                 big of an economic advantage to pass up, so
                                 it dicks with normal market forces. My family
                                 benefits a lot from prop 13 but it also
                                 complicates things because it adds this weird
                                 disincentive for them to sell their property.
                                 They just hang on to stuff because they are
                                 more profitable for rentals. I hate when gov't
                                 tax schemes dick with markets.
                                 Q: like your tax to go from $3K to $9K a year
                                 A: There are many ways to prevent someone's
                                 tax going 3-9k in 1 year besides locking their
                                 tax base completely.
                                 \_ It's not locked. It adjusts 2% per
                                    year plus whatever happens from sales.
                                    That seems reasonable. If you are in
                                    favor of a cap you are in favor of
                                    Prop 13 and the only question is what
                                    the cap is. Most states have no cap at all.
                                    \_ What the cap is makes a huge difference.
                                       2% beats inflation, so in some place
                                       where the home market was flat the base
                                       goes down in practical terms. 10% would
                                       basically be acceptable to me. I'm not
                                       really in favor of a cap, I'm just
                                       saying I wouldn't really complain if
                                       it was at least matched to inflation.
                                    \_ I am actually in favor of a cap, because
                                       I can see the advantage of giving
                                       homeowners more predictability over their
                                       tax bill. But it should be inflation and
                                       I think it should be retroactively
                                       adjusted back for homeowners since 1978.
                                       Okay, I know the latter will not happen.
                              \_ The real scam of Prop 13 is that it was sold
                                 to people based on the story of the aging
                                 grandmother taxed out of her too-valuable
                                 house, but the major dollar beneficiaries
                                 are corporations, who own more valuable
                                 real estate and turn it over less often.  -tom
                                 \_ To prevent corporations from getting any
                                    tax benefits we should make sure to put
                                    all the people on fixed incomes into the
                                    streets.  Great plan.  Very humanitarian.
                                    Perhaps you have a newsletter to which I
                                    can subscribe?
                                    \_ nice strawman.  Hint: You could have
                                       a law that taxes corporations
                                       differently than homeowners.  -tom
                                 \_ Then again corporations are not
                                    sending kids to school or using public
                                    services to the extent that private
                                    parties do when compared to property
                                    parties due when compared to property
                                    valuations, plus corporations provide
                                    jobs which increases the tax base.
                                    Corporations pay plenty of tax as it is.
                                    Corporations play plenty of tax as it is.
                                    If you make the business environment
                                    more unfavorable to corporations then
                                    you also hurt individuals, most of
                                    whom work for corporations and pay
                                    property taxes out of their earnings.
                                    \_ That's an ideological stance not
                                       backed by any real proof.
                                       \_ Proof that corporations don't send
                                          kids to school? They are paying for
                                          a service they don't directly use.
                                          Please explain why corporations
                                          should pay a different property
                                          tax rate from individuals. What
                                          about a property that switches
                                          from commercial to residential
                                          and back? It's silly to base
                                          property taxes based on use,
                                          unless the use causes for instance
                                          some egregious environmental harm.
                                          Corporations pay plenty of
                                          dollars in taxes as it is, but
                                          they get swept under the rug
                                          because they are "payroll taxes"
                                          when people like to focus on
                                          income taxes. How about we don't
                                          tax earnings and then dividends,
                                          \_ The assertion that it's better
                                             for people if you tax people
                                             instead of corporations is
                                             unproven and unsupported by
                                             evidence.  I would argue that
                                             it's silly to cap property tax,
                                             but if you're going to use
                                             Grandma's House as an emotional
                                             argument for Prop 13, it makes
                                             no sense to give corporations
                                             the same tax break as Grandma.
                                             \_ Maybe grandma is a shareholder.
                                                You have the mentality
                                                that it's okay to screw
                                                over corporations because
                                                they are faceless entities, but
                                                the reality is that we are all
                                                shareholders and customers
                                                of corporations. When you
                                                raise tax on corporations
                                                then who do you think will
                                                pay for that? It's not
                                                like money gets magically
                                                created. Now, I do agree
                                                that one major difference
                                                between a corporation and
                                                a person is that the
                                                corporation will live forever
                                                and never has to transfer
                                                property if it doesn't
                                                wish to. (It would be nice
                                                to know how often this
                                                really happens.) So maybe
                                                corporate property tax can
                                                reset after some period of
                                                time (e.g. 99 years)?
                                                \_ Who will pay for it?  The
                                                   corporation.  That's why
                                                   you tax them.  Taxes placed
                                                   on corporations don't come
                                                   directly out of people's
                                                   pockets any more than
                                                   taxes placed on people
                                                   come directly out of
                                                   corporations' pockets.
                                                   Chevron had $17 billion in
                                                   profit last year; you
                                                   really think it needs to
                                                   be protected from property
                                                   taxes?  -tom
                                                   \_ The corporation will
                                                      pay for it with the
                                                      dollars its
                                                      customers pay, which
                                                      will probably be a
                                                      regressive tax in a
                                                      lot of instances.
                                                      You don't think
                                                      Chevron isn't going
                                                      to try to pass the
                                                      costs along to its
                                                      customers? While it may
                                                      not be successful in
                                                      doing so, you're deluded
                                                      if you think they
                                                      are just going to
                                                      take the money out
                                                      of profits (which
                                                      also affects investors
                                                      like you and me and
                                                      probably everyone
                                                      with a pension and/or
                                                      401k). Or Chevron might
                                                      trim costs by laying
                                                      off employees.
                                                      Whatever happens,
                                                      you are redistributing
                                                      wealth from Chevron's
                                                      customers to the State.
                                                      You think this is a
                                                      good thing when the
                                                      State's budget is as
                                                      healthy as it has
                                                      been over the past
                                                      35 years?! Throw
                                                      more money at the State?
                                                      \_ Your connection to
                                                         reality is strongly
                                                         correlated with my
                                                         interest in continuing
                                                         this discussion.
                                                         Goodbye.  -tom
                                                      \_ The State's budget is
                                                         \_ Yes, the State
                                                            just has a
                                                            problem living
                                                            within it.
                        If your income jumped up and then
                        went down year to year, it might
                        be hard to adjust to it.
                        \_ Oh please. What the State does is spend every
                           dime the minute there is a surplus.
        \_ I hope this is a lame financial headline and that's it -op
2008/1/17 [Recreation/Dating] UID:48963 Activity:high
1/17    I remember being the first of my class to develop back in
        elementary school, and it only got worse from there! I have
        had the constant teasing, but being overweight as well, I
        use comedy as a defense mechanism so I would always turn the
        teasing into a joke...if that makes sense. Anyways, over the
        years I have come to accept the fact that most people know
        me as the girl with huge boobs, and I really didn't mind it
        until the back pain started. Then they hindered my ability
        to participate in sports. When I got older and started
        looking more like a woman than a girl (in general, not just
        breast-wise) I started getting unwanted attention, in the
        creepy way. And when I became sexually active, I became
        even more aware of how damn huge my breasts were! Sorry if
        this is TMI...but when you're making out and then a guy has
        to actually duck his head down to your belly button in order
        to get to your nipples, it's not such a great feeling haha.
        You've probably all heard this before though.
2008/1/17-23 [Finance/Investment] UID:48964 Activity:nil
1/17    So, I'm thinking about starting up a post-tax investment account
        with individual stocks.  (In other words, I'd like to get into
        small-time stock trading to try it out.)  What's the best/cheapest
        way to do this?  E-trade? Fidelity?
        \_ Any broker is fine. I use my bank (Wells Fargo) because they
           make it easy to transfer money from checking to savings to
           brokerage account and the fees are about average.
        \_ Fun answer: has a very powerful software program
           to trade options, futures, and stocks.  They have a "paper money"
           feature where you can place virtual trades and track how you are
           doing.  Tell us how you do!
           Boring answer:  Scottrade
           \_ If you are looking for cheapest, Scottrade is pretty
              hassle-free.  Another option is Sharebuilder, which is a bit
              different in that you buy a dollar amount worth of stocks
              instead of whole stocks.  I think it can theoretically be
              used to purchase those with high per-share prices, but I have
              no experience with it.  -Scottrade customer
              \_ Supposedly tradeking is all right, and $5 is reasonably
                 cheap for trades. MB trading is okay and has quite cheap
                 trades, but don't have a web trading interface (you have
                 to use this windows program). Zecco gives you a certain
                 amount of "free" trades, which would theoretically be great
                 for DCA into ETFs or something, but I must warn you that
                 their customer service is the worst I've ever seen (or more
                 like non-existent, I guess). They dinged me with invalid
                 "margin interest" debits, and I don't even have a margin
                 account. Granted, these debits were less than the several
                 dollars worth of trades I've done there, but when I emailed
                 their customer service, I got one bullshit email response,
                 and then they just ignored the rest of them.
2008/1/17-23 [Recreation/Media] UID:48965 Activity:nil
1/17    I Am Legend. Awesome.
        \_ Agreed for the first 4/5ths of the movie; then it went into
           Signs territory. Also, almost captured the essence of the
           book, then jumped ship. So close....
        \_ I thought this movie was formulaic, derivative, and redundant
           given the recent spate of zombie movies.  It's just another
           zombie flick, and not even the best of the breed.
2008/1/17-23 [Uncategorized] UID:48966 Activity:nil
1/17    "Superhuman jump rope"
Berkeley CSUA MOTD:2008:January:17 Thursday <Wednesday, Friday>