Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Manifesto de Vivando-Merde

Recently there were some 'Parting Words.' That got me thinking. Here are some "Staying Words"

Manifesto de Vivando-Merde (or, shit to live by)

(1a) Want my respect? Earn it. You will get it no other way. You will not get it because you have kids, because you are black/white/male/female/christian/fag/short/fat or anything else. You will never get any respect if you use of those things as a crutch or as a tool to get attention. You have no right to my respect, it is a gift from me to you, a reward for not being a dumbass.

(1b) If you get respect, you will know because I listen to you, I will help you, and I might watch your back. You might even get invited to lunch. But remember, you can lose my respect in a heartbeat. Just like all things in life, earning it is harder than losing it.

(2) Want to get treated like you are worth something? Do something worthwhile. Finish something before it is due, do it better, do it well, or figure out how to do something more effectively. Above all, do not inconvenience me, that makes you worth less than nothing to me, more of an obstacle, to be dealt with accordingly.

(3) Want me to be friendly to you? Shut the fuck up. I will come to you when I want to talk to someone. If I am not talking, it is because I have nothing to say to you. If I am not listening, it is not because I didn't hear, it is because you are blathering about nothing important to me. I already know what is going on with you, because you told everybody else three times already. I can hear, I can hear a lot better than you think. I can hear you breathe in the dark. What makes you think I do not already have the information I want?

(4a) If I want you to take something personally, you'll know. Trust me, you will.

(4b) If you take something personally that I did not intend for you to take that way, you are not only stupid, but also arrogant. If I meant you, you would be painfully aware I meant you. There is no need for you to assume I mean you. If I do, you will know.

(5) If you act like, or say you know something... You'd better. If not, you will be made miserable and encouraged to go elsewhere. How far you are forced to go, depends on how big your mouth is.

(6) You will get my attention when I choose to give it to you. No sooner. You have no right to my attention, you will be punished if you try to force me to give you attention. If you force me to pay attention to you, you will not want the kind of attention you get.

(7a) Never start a sentence with 'Why didn't you...' if you do not want a sarcastic answer. I do what is on my list, I do what is important to get done. I do what I consider valuable or worthwhile. None of the former includes what you want. If it should get done, it should be explained to me, quickly, accurately, and without preconceptions how it should be done. Then I will do it when things of that priority get done in the way I see fit. I have no other system.

(7b) Things will get done in the order that I see them necessary to get done. Yes, I may do them to get you to shut the fuck up, however, be aware that you just forced me to pay attention to you, and that you will suffer as a result.

(8a) Yes I make mistakes. Sometimes they are big ones that cost time or money. I learn from them. Sometimes, I learn a lot from my mistakes. Sometimes I learn nothing from them. When I learn nothing, it is because I made the mistake of trying to work while you were yammering at me. So shut your mouth and go back to work and we will ALL learn more.

(8b) I do not expect you to not make mistakes or to be perfect. However I DO expect you to learn from your mistakes. Perfection is not attainable, however it should be your goal.

(8c) If you make the same mistake twice, you were not paying attention the first time. Make it three times, and you are plain stupid.

(9) Shit breaks. Get used to it. If you are lucky I may help you fix it. However, I cannot change the fact that shit breaks. So shit will break. Get used to it. If you don't like it, you were born in the wrong universe, to fix that, kill yourself.

(10) If you do not know who is doing it, nobody is. I come to meetings to listen to what you are doing, and to share what I am doing and so we can get some things done together. Pay attention, I assume you are. There are only a few people in the building, most of them talk too much. You have no excuse for not knowing what I am doing, and no grounds for complaining that you did not know. I know what you are doing already, and I do not have to leave my office to find out. You do not know because you do not listen.

(11) Weakness is not a virtue. Stop acting like it is. Weakness makes you worth less to me, and beyond getting any respect, ever.

(12) Do not let me detect a sense of entitlement. You will get what is coming to you anyway in one way or another, you do not need to tell me what you should get. What you think you will get and what you eventually get will never be the same.

(13) Do not ask me stuff that is on our web site, on our support site, or on any web site, or newsgroup indexed by Google. At best, you are wasting my time and making yourself look stupid and lazy. I learned much of what I do and know by figuring it out myself. You should too. But I do not expect you to duplicate my effort, so will share with you what you need to know. Once.

(14) I do not care if you think you do not have time to learn by yourself. I play dumb games on the internet, I watch 8 episodes of Friends and Sponge-Bob Square-Pants every week, I mess around with my computer, I have downloaded more porn than you thought existed, I read Slashdot several times a day, and I stare off into space a lot. I STILL have enough time to learn what I need on my own. You have no excuse not to learn what you need, aside from weakness, stupidity or being lazy. This is not my problem, it is yours. Do not expect me to act like it is anything other than your problem. If you do not solve your own problems, they will follow you to your grave.

(15) If you are shown, taught or given documentation on something but don't know it tomorrow; do not be surprised if I act like you are stupid. My cat has a brain the size of a walnut, yet she knows what "NO" means and changes her behavior based on the word. If you cannot translate words on paper or in a classroom into real life actions, die now please, you are a waste of biomass that could be used for roaches or something else more useful than you are.

(16) If you do not take care of your own data, nobody will. Don't stick files in stupid places then act all surprised when they are lost. Do not take risks with your data, I don't. Do not ignore what I say when I tell you how to deal with your data. Do not complain when shit breaks and your data is gone, I told you how to keep it safe and you fucked yourself anyway. How is that my problem?

(17) I do not send you pointless emails. Read all that I send you, I promise I will make them worth your while. Respond to them or delete them, or keep them, print them, pound them up your own ass, do whatever suits you. However, you will be responsible for the information contained in them.

(18) Feel free to make judgments about me, as I will make judgments about you regardless of your wishes. Deal with it. You will be judged to my standards as I judge myself. Deal with it. I will act on my judgments. Deal with it.

(19a) Your problems are yours. Do not agonize over them in front of me. The answers are obvious to me. You are not solving them because you are weak, pathetic, or stupid. Talk too much about them, I will give you the answer, in a way you will find unpleasant or rude.

(19b) I didn't come to work today to hear about your goddamn garden, your wallpaper, your bathroom, your new car, what you did last weekend, or what that stupid fuck you married did, or how big your boyfriend's cock is. I don't give a shit about your kids, and I don't want them here, especially if they are spoiled or unsupervised. I came here to do some tasks, sometimes I do them well. Ultimately, I do this work because I can get some things done and get paid for it. Do not think for one moment I would stop and give you the time of day if I did not work with you. If you are an exception to this rule, you will know. If you are unsure... then you are not an exception to this rule.

(20) If you need to spend time/do something with your kid or family. Fine. But do not expect me to do more work due to your choice to have children or finger-fuck Christmas presents with your family. I make my own choices, I deal with them. You make your own choices, deal with them. I will not deal with your choices for you.

(21) Do not, ever, ask me to do something you would not do yourself. I will do the same for you.

(22) Do not have contradictory opinions. I will notice them. I will exploit them to make you feel as worthless or stupid as you really are. Do not think that I do not have contradictory opinions. I have them. Exploit them if you can.

(23) Do not expect me to do more than you do, even though I often do more than you do the entire week in one day. Your expectations are your own, my interaction with them will only to be to cram them back down your throat.

(24a) Do not complain about being busy. I know what you are doing, what you did, and what you ate because you are NOT busy. If you were busy, I would not know these things. If you were truly busy, you would stay later. If you were truly busy, you would be at your desk all day, not out here talking about your child, your club, you church, your car troubles, or the play you went to last week.

(24b) The only responses to a high workload from you I will respect is more work, more efficient work, faster work, and more accurate work. When you are out going to that play, going to your club, or flicking your own clit, I was at home doing stupid grunt work and making up for shit you didn't do during the day. Do not expect me to be happy about that. Ever.

(25) I know when you show up, I know when you leave, I know what is on your hard drive and what you download on the internet. I know this, because you do not clean up after yourself. Generally, I do not care about these things. However, I will use them against you should I so desire. Remember, every mistake you make is another tool for me to bludgeon you with when the time comes. For your own protection, do not attack my faults if you have any of your own. I retaliate.

(26) The computer in front of you is the most complicated device you will ever encounter in your entire life. Treat it that way. I can make it work, but you might not like how I get it working. So do not break it in the first place.

(27) Do not complain about scarcity and then waste yourself. Do not whine about how much you get paid then waste company money. Do not bitch about what you think you deserve, how much memory you need, or how your computer works. If you cared about these things, you wouldn't download stupid screen savers, you would take care of your computer, you would turn out the lights and your monitor at night, you would close your window when air conditioning is on, and above all, you would be working and making some money - not complaining. The company cannot give it to you if you don't make it for them in the first place. Learn that. It may keep you from getting laid off some day. It might have kept you from getting laid off last week. (ha ha!)

(28) Do not send me jokes. There is nothing on the internet that you can find that I have not already seen. The only good an email joke does for me is give me more ammo to get you booted from the company when the time comes. Remember, I can complain just as well as you can. If management acts on your irrational whining, they will act on mine as well. Do you really want me to have that kind of power?

These are "Staying Words". They may seem harsh. The world is harsh place. Earn my respect and I will watch your back. Lose it and you are cast to the random wasteland created by your own weakness and ineptitude. Deal with it.

Monday, February 07, 2005

On Taxes

The richest X% people pay Y% of the total tax burden!! This is so unfair! *

I call bullshit on that being unfair, furthermore the statement is a meaningless comparison.

Let’s do a little simple math, and it will be clearly demonstrated that the statement above while may be true, the tax situation it describes is not necessarily unfair and the comparison is nonsensical. First off, let’s make a sample spread of more or less what a model town might look like;

Population and Income Bumfuckville, FL

Persons at Income Income Level

So most are low income working class people, there are fewer people with white-collar jobs doing better, even fewer really industrious salesmen, and one CEO of a company. This is a hypothetical example kept simple to demonstrate a point, but the real world will have people making A LOT more that 500k, and A LOT more people at the lower two income brackets.

Next, we take a look at how the people in this town are taxed;

Tax rates for Bumfuckville, FL
Income Tax Rate

The town has a simple "flat" tax rate. No tax loopholes for big ticket finances, but not a progressive tax either. Just a simple percentage calculation of total income, then send that portion in to run the town.

Let's look at the income buckets and their contribution to the town funds;

Town Taxes per income "bucket" for Bumfuckville, FL

Persons at Income Income Bucket Tax RateTown Collects
100$10,000 5%$50,000

Total Town Taxes Collected = $200,000

The "10k" income bucket puts in a total of $50,000. The "30k" bucket puts in $75,000. The "50k" bucket puts in $50,000 and the "500k" bucket puts in $25,000.

The town ends up with a total of $200,000 to spend that year.

Ok, let's go back and look at the first part of the statement; First the "*". Sometimes this is just "the most", sometimes it is a percentage or fraction of the taxes collected. In any case, the
number always implies that the richest people are paying more than what is fair for them to pay as taxes. That, as I will show below is simply not true.

"The 1% of the richest people"

That identifies the bucket the statement is talking about. In this model, that corresponds with that one guy making $500,000 per year.

The second part of the statement;

"pay Y% of total tax burden!"

This is a switch in scope, the statement is not comparing the rich guy with the poor guy's tax rate, but rather the total income for the town with town income contributed by the "rich guy bucket". Remember, the rate is exactly the same for everybody in the town.

So let's see how much that one CEO contributes to total taxes in the town;

25,000/200,000 or 12.5% or about 1/8 the total tax burden. Wow, that looks like a lot. That one guy is paying for one out of every 8 town employee's salary, 1 out of every streets that get re-paved.

Let's see how one of the housekeepers stacks up;

$10,000 at 5% is $500. So 500/200,000 is 0.25%, one quarter of one percent or 1/400 of the total town budget. This guy pays to paint one mailbox.

In other words, the rich guy pays 200 times the proportion as the poor guy does, while both are taxed at exactly the same rate. Even changing these numbers around by adding more buckets, making the highest income higher (How much does Bill Gates make per year now days?) and changing the total number of people in each bucket... there is still this supposedly shocking number at the end. That the rich guy contributes more as a percentage of the total of taxes paid than the poor guys does.

Heck, even ALL of the poor guys only contribute $50,000 total, which is 1/4 the total taxes collected vs. 1/8 the total for the ONE richest guy.

That rich guy sure must be paying a lot.

True... he is, but he makes a lot more too. However, his tax RATE is exactly the same as everybody else in town. The tax rate being the same for everybody is about as fair as it could be (and makes the numbers in these examples very clear).

Let's increase this model a little bit, and add a few more rich guys (more like real life, the super rich ones);

1 guy earns $1,000,000, one guy earns $5,000,000, and one guy earns $10,000,000. These guys pay in at a rate of 5% again; $50,000, $250,000, and $500,000 respectively. Sum
these up and it's $800,000 for these three guys, added to the original town budget of $200,000 nets $1,000,000 (one million) for taxes. The town now has a lot more money with just these three guys moving in. No WONDER those little po-dunks fight tooth and nail to get those Escalade drivin' FIBs to purchase summer homes in their town...

Ok, so the hypothetical example was a little weak. I made it deliberately conservative to make the numbers easy to follow, as well as build a "worst case" to make my point.

Now let's look at the ratios again lumping in "the rich" from the statement above together to make this more realistic, and for fairness sake let's put in the white-collar guys the low income bucket too.. they can't afford houses without having dual incomes so they are sort of poor. So poor plus white collar; total taxes paid is $40,000. "The rich" pay in $825,000. Those four rich guys pay a little more than four fifths of the total town budget. They could buy the place.

What does this show?

That you can arbitrarily change X in the statement above by simply sliding your "rich" scale ever so slightly. Take that CEO guy out, and the "a little more" part drops out, leaving "the rich" paying 4/5 of the total tax burden. That one guy that screwed everything and ended up paying for 1 in 8 streets is rendered insignificant by these other, richer yet guys moving in.

So the statement is true, even if you play around with the numbers... at cursory glance, or with quick calculations that the listener might do in their head it seems like a valid statement.

How could that statement still be true but at the same time be total garbage as an argumentative point? It's that sneaky little change of scope. The first part of the statement is talking about a tax bracket or income level as a whole, then the second part switches scope comparing what the rich pay to the total town income as a proportion. That is just like saying, which is bigger? 355 ml or 1/3? ... only it's sneakier. Both the numbers in the statement look like ratios. They are not. The first phrase sets up the subject using the ratio as a name for the bucket, the second phrase specifies a ratio (of total taxes). Two % symbols, one ratio one name for a bucket. Sneaky.

It's obvious that "Which is bigger, 355 ml or 1/3?" is a meaningless question. That statement above in bold up there, that's a meaningless statement for the same reason, the two numbers are not in the same scope or of the same units. They cannot be compared.

So. When someone says "The richest X% people pay Y% of the total tax burden!!!" and then go on to imply that this is so unfair are either

a) lying or deliberately misleading you


b) too stupid to understand "Which is bigger, 355 ml or 1/3?" is a meaningless question


c) A Republican bastard trying to sneak you into agreeing a regressive tax is a good idea because those poor rich folk must be overtaxed and deserve yet more tax breaks.

Either way, the statement is false and should be disregarded, along with the opinions and so called "facts" from anybody who offers the statement up as justification for an opinion about tax laws. You might not want to give the Republicans your vote either.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Morality in binary, off or on?

Exploring the fine line between obligation to a moral patient and random acts.

In school (the big one) I learned about some of the things people think it means to be human. Most of them passed into a blurred memory after a while. One stuck out, and I can't tell you where or when or how it came to me, but it's there. It's this; humans are a moral agent such that they are not as anything else as of yet discovered in the universe. With that classification implies two other categories of stuff, the "moral patient" and the "not morally bound."

A moral patient is something that needs to have moral consideration but has no will or obligation to act morally itself. Common examples are everyday animals, those that one might meet in passing via food, those that we might meet at random and those that we might invite into our homes. (Specifically invite, some simple rules apply to those that come in uninvited that I will not cover here.) As a moral agent I must consider the moral patients I encounter in this world when I make decisions and add an aspect what _should_ this thing have, how _should_ it be treated... and so on. Where the root "ought" is factored in.

Things to which we might not be morally bound; the snow on my driveway, a car tire, mold on my cheese, grass on my lawn and plants that I do invite into my home (houseplants).

There are fine lines here, some might say they feel a moral obligation to the plants in their homes. I suspect that aside from the obvious mushy-feelings that the act of inviting something into one's home... carrying on the care and control over the life of, and the quality of life of that thing is an act that can only be done on a moral patient. Thus, the invitation into one's home (for example, there are many other types of obligation to care) is an act that elevates things of no moral standing to the standing of moral patient. This is a deep rooted multi-cultural phenomena that I attribute to the "reciprocity" theory of survival/evolution.

Things examples in my personal life that fall into this realm are; heirlooms (some of which have no value and are snot-ugly), a shred of pajama's from a high school friend sent in a letter as a joke, a houseplant adopted from a neighbor, a houseplant adopted from my wife's former roomate, a can of shoe polish (which I never use now that combat boots are no longer part of my daily attire) that I bought when I really didn't have money to spend.

I am morally bound to other human beings in various ways. A spouse, parents, those I work with (and for), those I spar with online in first person shooters. These are not of which I write. Then there's the things that cross path with me that end up becoming moral patients without intending to, becoming moral patients without an invitation from me, but becoming moral patients just because they are. Let me repeat that again more clearly, becoming moral patients just because THEY ARE. ("E", as in they exist, and ARE.)

To my right is my front door. Outside my front door is my porch out in the cold. Above my porch is a crappy light hanging "chway-co" or off kilter, inside the crappy light is a bird. I am pretty sure he has been sheltering in the light for a while. (I know it's a he because the females do not have the same coloring, see apendix below for example of the critter.) As sometimes on the way home at night had that "holy shit was that a bat?!?" moment on my porch as the bird decides I am too close and flits down to the spruce tree nearby. Once I even stepped back to wait for the swoop-dip-swoop characteristic of a bat, but only heard the rustling of a nervous avian in the branches. Knowing then that the bird chose to fly during the middle of the night (how many do that?)well the ones that are SLEEPING when you disturb them do.

I have no doubt that thousands of these creatures shelter nightly in places hidden to avoid predation and stay out of the rain all over Madison every single night. Yet this one wears no invitation, not even a house or a bat shelter (forwhich my neighbors have already adequately supplied the neighborhood bats) have I put up. Still this thing sits there in a shelter my house just happens to provide, or rather my need not to fall on my face on the way up the stairs on the way home...I can't imagine its all that comfortable. Not a good perch really, to the side without support for one of the spindly-avian legs and without good sight to the sides.... except I know that 40 watt bulb out there is putting out 8% light and 92% heat.

Its warmer in there. Probably much warmer in there than it is out in that tree. There sits that bird... in that light... warmed by a porch light I only want on when my wife expects, or when I expect someone that is invited or when I myself am on the way home. The light costs me less to leave on than the cost of the brandy I sipped while writing this (I buy el cheapo brandy too), and really I could not care about the kilowatt hours, it's replacing the bulb itself that is a pain... yet still I wonder...

Do I turn the light off tonight when I go to bed?

Appendix Photo, photo of a similar bird