Government shutdown – workplace allegory

I was trying to figure out how to write what I feel about this stupid government shutdown, but I couldn’t really without getting into some nasty words. But then I saw this post a friend shared on his Facebook page. I copy-pasted it here, but these are neither my words nor my friend’s, I don’t know who the author is. I just think it represents what I think really well.

Edit: Initially posted as anonymous quote, this post has been re-tweeted (thanks, folks!), and the author of the allegory contacted me and asked to put a link to the original post. So here it is: Brian’s Original Post – Hilarious Allegory to the Current ACA aka ObamaCare Hoopla.

- hilarious allegory to the current ACA aka Obamacare hoopla -

So, Imagine that the company you work for held a poll, and asked everyone if they thought it would be a good idea to put a soda machine in the break room. The poll came back, and the majority of your colleagues said “Yes”, indicating that they would like a soda machine. Some said no, but the majority said yes. So, a week later, there’s a soda machine.

Now imagine that Bill in accounting voted against the soda machine. He has a strong hatred for caffeinated soft drinks, thinks they are bad you you, whatever. He campaigns throughout the office to get the machine removed. Well, management decides “OK, we’ll ask again” and again, the majority of people say “Yes, lets keep the soda machine.”

Bill continues to campaign, and management continues to ask the employees, and every time, the answer is in favor of the soda machine. This happens, lets say… 35 times. Eventually, Bill says “OK, I’M NOT PROCESSING PAYROLL ANYMORE UNTIL THE SODA MACHINE IS REMOVED”, so nobody will get paid unless management removes the machine.

What should we do???

Answer: Fire Bill and get someone who will do the fucking job.

Bonus: Bill tells everyone that he was willing to “Negotiate”, to come to a solution where everyone got their payroll checks, but only so long as that negotiation capitulated to his demand to remove the soda machine.

Bill is a fucking jackass.


- Brian K

They can agree or disagree about ACA all they want, but blackmail and extortion are not the way laws should be enacted.

ACA comes into effect now, and they’re afraid that all these horrible things they promised us because of it will never happen. Remember the “death panels“?

Your Little Adviser.

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IRS published information pertaining the ACA provisions (ObamaCare)!

There’s a lot of (mis)information floating around about the tax effects of the Affordable Care Act (AKA ObamaCare). Finally, there’s some reliable information on the IRS site that can help us understand the tax-related provisions of the law.

You fan find it all on this page of the IRS web site (click).

Please consult with your tax adviser/accountant (EA or CPA) on any tax-related issue. This article is for general information only, and is not a competent tax advice.

I took the liberty of summarizing the most interesting parts (at least in my humble opinion):

1. If you don’t need to file tax return for any other reason – you don’t need to file it solely for the future ACA purposes. This is important for many low-income taxpayers.

2. Employers are required to report the cost of your health insurance premiums on your W2 (with code DD). That has started last year, in fact, but just to make sure everyone is on the same page – these amounts are **not** taxable. They’re reported for informational purposes only, and I’m guessing the IRS needs that information to correctly assess the thresholds for “limousine” plans.

3. Itemizing medical expenses is now not as simple as it was (not that it was…). If in prior years the AGI threshold (the minimum amount of expenses before you can start deducting) was 7.5% of your total AGI – now its 10%. The good part is that if you get an ACA insurance, you’re likely not to reach even the 7.5% AGI threshold.

4. Tax “penalty” for not having insurance will only be assessed starting of the tax year 2014, i.e.: on the tax returns you file in 2015. Similarly, credits for insurance purchased on the ACA exchanges will also begin as of tax year 2014, i.e.: the tax returns you file in 2015.

For business owners:

1. If you have less than 25 full time employees, you may be eligible for a credit.

2. If you have 50 or less full time employees, you may be eligible for participation in the “Small Business Health Options Program” (SHOP).

3. If you have 50 or more full time employees, you’ll need to file a return describing if and which health insurance you’re providing your employees with.

More details are on the IRS ACA Provisions Page and on the ACA HealthCare.ORG page.

Your Little Advisor

(NOT a tax adviser!)

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Is religion for dumb people?

A research published in a recent “Psychology Review” shows very interesting data about the correlation between the persons’ IQ and their religious beliefs and behavior.

Researchers from University of Rochester in Rochester, New York and the Northeastern University in Boston, MA have analyzed significant amount of studies that show that there’s a negative correlation of ~0.24 (on the scale from 0 to -1) between a person’s IQ and the person’s religious behavior and beliefs.

According to the researchers, the more the person is educated – the more the correlation is stronger. For example, college graduates are less likely to be religious than younger or less educated people.

This confirms my own empiric observations: the more educated people are and the more intelligent people are – the less likely they are to become religious zealots. Sure, a lot will go to church/synagogue/mosque, but many do so not because of a strong religious conviction but rather to pay respect to their traditions. Rarely these people become fanatics. But those who are poor (and hence less educated), less intelligent (not everyone is a genius, after all…) – those are more likely to be brainwashed into fanatic bigotry.

So yes, the data is in. As Marx once said – religion is the opium of the people. Mostly uneducated masses. No wonder that they object anything that would lead to more educated society.

Your Little (and educated) Advisor.

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So the court has decided.

The Proposition 8 has been stricken down by the lower courts. The US Supreme Court tossed the appeal because the appellants have no standing. Finally, we have a legal precedence for people to mind their own f***ing business. I hope the bigots get the clue – the relations between two grown ups are none of their business. If the two grown ups happen to be of the same sex, or opposite sex, shouldn’t matter when it comes to the benefits and additional rights they get just because they make their relationship official.

DOMA Section 3, that defines the “marriage” for Federal purposes – got invalidated as unconstitutional. That was  so obvious to all that even the United States Department of Justice decided not to defend the statute any more. Millions of dollars the Republican majority in the House of Representative has spent on the fruitless defense and the prolonged suffering of the gay couples could have been spent much better in this economy. But hey, Republicans are all for fruitless waste of taxpayers’ money, aren’t they?

Unfortunately DOMA Section 2, that allows States to ignore other states’ marriage licenses, has not been challenged yet and thus yesteraday’s ruling doesn’t affect it. I hope it will get repealed by the Congress, and if not – invalidated by the SCOTUS next time.

It was a good day for all of us. Lets hope it will only get better from now on.

Your Little Advisor.

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Google being evil

So Google+ is a big flop, people don’t like it and don’t want to use it.

What does Google do? Forces you.

Many people are reporting that their most frequent chat buddies on Google Talk have been blocked automatically by Google, with the only available solution to be joining Google+ and unblocking them there.

Google are aware of the “problem” and claim it is a bug, however all the other (previously available) workarounds like using the stand-alone client to unblock have been disabled after being reported working to Google in this thread.

More reports and details here.

It appears that someone became quite desperate there in Google+ team, and after all the other strategies failed decided to just force people in to boost membership. And of course, you cannot become a member without providing a great deal of personal information, starting with your name.

Google, back off.

Your Little Advisor.

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Happy Victory Day!

May 8th/9th (depending on what heritage you have) is the Victory day – the day when the Nazi Germany capitulated to the allied forces. The Germans had officially ceased hostilities as of May 8th 23:01 (May 9th 1:00 Moscow time) 1945, and the appropriate capitulation documents had been signed in the presence of the allied forces commanders.

Let us not forget what that war was about, and who won.

USSR Soldiers' Memorial in Vienna, Austria

USSR Soldiers' Memorial in Vienna, Austria

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Safety Measures in Crowded Areas – Stay Safe!

Nothing can describe the sorrow and sadness that the recent Boston Marathon disaster has brought.

But, there are some ways for you to avoid getting hurt in case of a similar occurrence in the future.  Following these simple guidelines may save your life, and the lives of those around you. It has been proven very efficient in Israel, a country that has known similar deadly attacks during the most of the 65 years of its existence, and its about time to adopt it here in the US.

Unattended bags

Pay attention to suspicious unattended bags. In fact, pay attention to any unattended bags. DO NOT IGNORE THEM! Especially if its in a crowded, or soon to become crowded, area.

If you see a bag, and no-one claims it to be theirs, call the police and ask people to stay away from it. The police will take care of it and if needed – destroy it in a controlled manner.

If you see a bag that is just lying there do the following:

0. Don’t panic. Don’t let anyone near you panic.

1. Ask loudly “whose bag is this?”. If no-one responds – proceed.

2. Ask the people next to the bag “Is this yours?”. If they respond negatively or ignore you, suggest them to move further away, without causing panic.

3. Call local police (911 call may be in order) and inform them that you found a suspicious bag. Describe the bag and the location.

4. Move away from the bag, and notify anyone in the near vicinity that there’s a suspicious object found and they should move away.

5. Wait for the police to arrive and show the suspicious object to them.

6. From the point the police is there – follow the police instructions.

Suspicious people

People don’t like being suspected of bad things. So if you see someone who raises suspicion in your eyes in any way – don’t be rude, offensive or aggressive. Do not ignore your guts, however. If you feel someone is suspicious – notify the police, DO NOT APPROACH that person on your own.

What can be suspicious? Here’s a couple of examples (but all of these could describe a person who is not a terrorist in any way, of course, so again – exercise your best judgement and in any case – be courteous):

1. People dressed not as you’d expect. For example, someone wearing a big warm coat in a hot summer day would raise my guards. Especially in a crowded area.

2. People not behaving as you’d expect an average person. Someone who looks terribly stressed, worried, keeping his hands in his pockets could be a bomber. Could, of course, be a someone who’s worried about something and wants to keep his hands warm.

If you find yourself in an event

If you were unfortunate enough to find yourself in an event such as the Boston Marathon bombing – there are several things you could (and should) do:

1. Make sure you’re not wounded.

2. Take cover.

3. If you can safely help others – do so.

The reason for #2 is the way these attacks are carried out: multiple bombings in the same event. Why do they do that? First attack causes people to panic, run in all directions, and then start helping the wounded. The second attack targets those rushing to the scene to help. So if you’re a victim of an attack, you should always expect another explosion – so take cover.

These events are horrible, and no-one wants to be anywhere near to one. But unfortunately, those that carry these attacks out target the general public in order to spread terror and frighten you. Don’t let them succeed, don’t get frightened of any public event or occasion. Make sure the security is adequate, make sure to look around yourselves and notice any suspicious objects or people, and you’ll be fine.

Stay safe,

Your Little Adviser


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