TED and Job Creators

Over the past couple of years I’ve watched a few TED videos, they are often educational, always informative and sometimes even entertaining as well. This one showed up in a Yahoo most watched/recommended list on a sidebar on a web search… I’d never heard of Nick Hanauer, but wikipedia and google search have, and he is is an American entrepreneur and venture capitalist and author of the book, The True Patriot.

Nick adds a great link to the chain in so much as I’m able to explain why the current argument over tax in the US positions the 1% incorrectly, but it also adds to my position about the UKs ongoing problem with its’ service economy and my analogy that it is like “eating your own children”. Nick makes the point that the 1% aka the super-rich are not job creators, the middle class are job creators. “Jobs are a result of an ecosystemic feedback loop between customers and businesses”. If the middle class collapses, then there is no one to buy goods; if there is no one to buy goods then the super-rich can’t create businesses to make, sell goods.

Nick also makes a good point that the super-rich really only add jobs as a last ditch effort, not as a first choice. Watch the whole video, it is only 5:50 and well worth your time.

Fiscal fairness, take the money and run

Early this month I posted this entry on “fiscal fairness” about paying taxes. This week two items have come up that show why the tax avoidance situation has become unsustainable here in the US and in the UK.

First up in the US in the story that Facebook founding backer Eduardo Saverin’s renunciation of his U.S. citizenship. It really doesn’t matter what he says, Eduardo benefit from the system in place here in the US, and now he is about to get billions of US$ from the Facebook IPO, On advice of counsel, he’s established residency in Singapore, where there is no capital-gains tax. Eric Liu has a good piece on time.com

Then there is Vodafone in the UK. In the UK Private Eye, satirical and investigative magazine #1312, the Eye has uncovered evidence of what it says is total collusion between Vodafone and the head of the Tax authorities in the UK. There has been lots of coverage of the let-off of Vodafones tax bill, but this is the first news of a link that shows how they did it. They’ve managed to get of billions of UK pounds in taxes by using an offshore tax haven in Luxembourg, and making billions in interest and paying little or no taxes. The problem with this for the US, is that Vodafone owns 45% stake in Verizon Wireless. Private Eye isn’t online, but here is a summary.

The problem with both these examples is that although they may be legal, although thats questionable, in both cases it is in essence asset stripping the economies that enabled to make the money in the first place. If everyone did the same thing, then the countries that are target of this manipulation prohibit the next generation from benefiting the same infrastructure you did.

Eric includes on his article a saying attributed to Bill Gates sr. You can read it in full here. Eric write this as “Bill Gates Sr., the father of the father of the first great high-tech fortune, often points out that there is no such thing as a self-made man. We need a country where the dream isn’t to escape to a tax-free island but to be like the elder Gates: responsible, reciprocal, and a citizen of the United States”.

Think of it this way, paying tax is buying civilization.

Money too tight to mention, credit no longer matters

I’ve finally had a financial epiphany. Since the summer of 2004 I’ve been totally focused on getting a perfect credit rating after I got turned down by AT&T for a lousy monthly cellphone contract as I had a -3 credit rating, despite owning a big house back in the UK and having a near perfect credit rating there.

Anyone that reads my rambling will know that until recently I was still anal retentive about this. Especially since I paid off my mortgage and much to my horror, my credit rating dropped. It dropped last month as well and is down from a high of 780, to 764. 764 is still in the top 5% but I was really hoping this would be one way I could make the top 1%.

The epiphany? Well, actually, just like I don’t much need AT&T anymore, I don’t need a credit rating. While there are a few things a credit check remains important for, the rating itself no longer matters, hopefully for me it will stay that way.

Edit to the credit

Some of you know I’ve been on a crusade to get the best credit score I could after arriving here in the US and getting refused a cellphone because I had a -3 rating, ie not-known, does not exist. Over 4-years I managed to get my credit rating to 730, and over the last 2-years I managed to get it up to 781.

One thing they tell you in all the credit score get rich quick schemes is that your credit score isn’t a measure of how much money you have, it’s the ration of debt to credit and your ability to pay. So paying off your mortgage, you’d think, would be a big ticket item in the rating, but apprently not the one I expected.

I paid off my mortgage last month, and this month saw the first report that included, or rather didn’t list my real estate debt. Guess what? My credit rating went down 10 points, to 771.

I guess it’s understandable, but it shows a massive flaw in the credit rating system. They don’t know how much I earn, they also don’t know why I no longer have real estate debt. So from that basis, I could be broke and homeless, just not using credit. By the end of the year I may make that illusive 800 mark, I have two hard inquiries on my record which will both age out after late Sept./Oct.

The Bike Through Bank

New tube Sir?So, as I pulled into the drive through ATM at the Amplify Brockton Branch yesterday to deposit two checks, worth combined less than $2, something grabbed my attention out of the corner of my eye. Yep, there was a guy on a bicycle in the drive through bank.

Apparently it’s not all that uncommon, all I know is I laughed hard until I started to try to deposit the checks. Here is a zoomed version.

No Hassle Cash – My foot

I’ve got one of those CapitalOne No Hassle cards, instead of getting worthless points, I get cash back based on how much I spend. I can use that “cash” on the same sort of useless purchases as I could with worthless points, or I can request a credit in my CapitalOne card account, or, yes, a check. I elected to just get the credit, $67.18 as an account credit.

Seemed like a good thing, I clicked, confirmed etc. and then got the message

Order Number: 19330721
Order Date: April 4, 2012
Estimated Posting Date: 5-7 business days

I guess they send themselves a check, after all an electronic transfer couldn’t take 5-7 business days, could it?

Banking in America

I don’t get it, I just don’t. For almost a year I worked to get away from the evil empire, Bank of America. I was proud that I’d moved all my business to a credit union, for UK friends and family, thats pretty much a building society. I bank with Amplify Federal Credit Union. I was pleased when just after the new year I shutdown my BoA account, cancelled my BoA credit cards etc.(1)

As much as Amplify have been really helpful, their inability to do electronic payments to accounts outside the bank has got me to the point where I think it’s time to move again. I just never realized how inefficient their processes were, how they were totally dependent of printed checks and that’s all just too slow for me.  Back in the UK at FirstDirect I can logon, enter an account number, routing code(for the bank), amount and date and in many cases the transfer is done electronically, often simultaneously and always within 2-hours.

At Amplify, I have to use the pay-a-bill system. Essentially this with a few details, allows me to tell them to print and mail a check.

So for example, today I logged on, had to enter a name, a full postal address, and only the account number of a payee; then I entered the amount of the payment, and could select the day I want to send the payment, I chose today. Low and behold the system informed me the payment would be received on March 27th. Note in this instance when they mean received, what they mean is a check would be received on 3/27, they couldn’t mean anything else since they didn’t ask for a routing number for the receiver.

My alternatives were Overnight check – $18.95. Yep some how they were charging me about $12 for them printing and handing my check to USPS for next day delivery, or some other courier company. The only other option is to do a domestic wire transfer, cost $15.

So I’m looking for other responsible banking options., None of the big international banks, ideas anyone?

This seems to be another area, like cellphone plans and cellphones in general where America is gradually has little more than a 2nd rate service. Which really is a shame. Anyone got any insights into why?