Windows 8 Update 3/6/2013

It’s been a few months now, and I’ve adapted fairly well to my Windows 8 machine. It works, but I can’t say that it is an improvement over Windows 7 in any way shape or form. There are two things that I think are worth noting. First is the return of the “Blue Screen of Death”…which I had just about forgotten about. It has now happened to me six times, including once this morning. It happens kind of randomly, but I think it always happens when I am using Internet Explorer or Google Chrome web browsers. Out of nowhere, I get a message that says “system_service_exception”…it takes about 20 seconds to log it, then it shuts down and restarts. Curiously…after the restart, it can’t find the wireless network, but another restart fixes that.
Thankfully…Windows 8 boots up pretty quickly, but all in, aside from the annoyance, count on losing about 5 minutes of your life.  As I noted in my first review, I don’t really demand a lot from my PC, but I do usually have a browser open with 10+ tabs. I realize this can use a lot of memory…but crashing the system? Really!! I think I have crashed my windows7 7 machine once since upgrading to the 64bit version of excel…and I routinely have absolutely enormous excel files and massive database linked pivot tables open all day every day. Even when I bog it down…all I have to do is take a coffee break, and when I come back…the ol’ girl has righted herself…I can save, close a few things, and move on. This is quite frankly unacceptable, my problem is…at this time, suffering through hours of hold and attempting to translate gibberish speaking help desk folks….would be worse than just losing 5 minutes of my life once a week….I’ll keep you posted if the math on that changes. I will note that to date, I have not lost any excel files…yet
The second issue could very well be related…maybe 4GB just isn’t enough for windows 8? I haven’t done any scientific comparisons, but it just seems like 4GB isn’t enough, where as on my other machine…4GB is more than enough to handle everything I do….with the exception of some very large access/excel processes. These still work….they are just slow. On this machine, I don’t really handle access/excel files of that size, so that has never been an issue. But all I have to do is open a browser with a handful of open tabs, and memory usage seems to jump up to 60-70%+ and stay there.
I may just get additional memory and see if that fixes all of my problems…

 

Uncle Madoff Sam’s “Social SecurityTrust Fund” – How a nation of suckers fell for the oldest trick in the book

Bernie Madoff Sr. 1935 (BM) : Ok everybody step right up. Have I got a deal for you today!! All you have to do is give me 15% of your paycheck from the day you turn 18 until the day you turn 62, 65, 67, 70?? In exchange for this modest contribution, I will, at my sole discretion, give you a meager monthly benefit until the day you die.
(Kid): What if I die at 60…do my heirs get anything? Can I take out a 401k loan against it?
(BM): No and No.
(Kid): Ok…it’s 1935 and life expectancy is only 58. Are you sure this is a good deal?
(BM): Oh yes…absolutely. I’ll post a spreadsheet on Facebook that proves it out.
(Kid): Well…what will you do with my money for the next 50 years until I need it?
(BM): Well, I’ll probably lend it to the government, who will spend it on a lot of stupid things, but don’t worry, I will be sure to get the IOU’s notarized. 
(Kid): But congress is just a bunch of no good crooks and thieves. I wouldn’t trust a congressman as far as I could throw him…
                Ok…enough fun. It never ceases to amaze me that we as a nation trust our government, run by universally despised politicians with our personal wellbeing in retirement. You would probably think pretty hard before letting your brother in law borrow $1k so he can make his mortgage this month, but if you are an average worker, making $50k per year, you are sending uncle Sam right about $7500 per year (15%) for this promise, that just about all of us know is BS. What could the average worker do with an additional $625 per month, $1250 if you are a couple? Pay off their house in 10 years? Pay cash for a car instead of financing? Maybe…just maybe fund their own darn retirement?
                Let’s take that average worker, and assume that over his career, his average annual salary is $50k, and that over his 49 year career (18-67) he thus pays in $367k. Furthermore, we are going to just ignore compound growth ect….we are just going to assume that investment return equals inflation…ie if inflation is 3% in a given year, then investment returns are 3%. Regardless of the real number, this employee gets to 67 with an equivalent of $368k in the bank. It’s not a huge nut, to be sure….the average retiree gets about $15k per year from Social Security…so again assuming no real returns, this nut will last 24 years, to the ripe old age of 91. After that…he has to move in with his kids, grandkids, or great grandkids. We should all be so lucky right?
                So this begs the question. If a worker could simply keep that 15% of his paycheck and hide it under his mattress getting no returns for 49 years, and still be better off than he would with social security…why the heck does this program exist? It’s quite simple really…social security isn’t a retirement program…it’s a Ponzi scheme now, and it always has been. Rewind back to 1935. You have a depression going on, the electorate is already a little pissed, and FDR needs money to pay for his programs. Enter Bernie Madoff Sr. (yes..I’m joking)
“Hey Mr. President… I have an idea. The electorate will never go for a new tax…in fact they would probably roast us alive. So instead of calling it a tax, we’ll just change the name and put a bow on it. Those dummies will lap it up. We’ll create a “retirement” program (as he does air quotes) and call it social security. Everybody will have to pay into it, so we get a steady revenue stream to spend on whatever we want.  Best of all, most of these saps will die long before we have to pay them anything. Sure, it will blow up in the end, but we’ll be long dead by then.”
That’s how I imagine it happened. I could be wrong.
                So here we are, 77 years later, and the little Ponzi scheme that could is still chugging along, if not as gracefully as before. No longer much of a cash contributor to the federal coffers, Social security is teetering the other way with a mountain of fake IOU’s ready to be cashed by the senior voting bloc. And now….decision time. When Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme was exposed, some victims lost everything. While we can feel sorry for them, this is how it should be. Imagine the outrage if instead of letting these poor fools suffer, instead the federal government made them whole, and to pay for it, added another line item to your paycheck. $5 a week for the Bernie Madoff Victim’s fund. No Thanks!!. I wasn’t foolish enough to invest in a Ponzi scheme, Why should I pay for your mistakes?
                Except….with Social Security, we are all victims. We all got screwed…if you will, and it continues to this day. The only moral solution to this massive injustice is to shut the whole thing down. Why should our youth, or even anyone under 50 pay another nickel into this injustice? Those most responsible for this situation are today’s retirees. They bought the scam hook line and sinker decades ago and kept electing the clowns in congress who perpetuated the scam. Let’s just call it what it really has become. In addition to its Ponzi roots, Social security is just a huge welfare program where the wealthy and powerful elderly voting block essentially robs their children and grandchildren on a monthly basis. If my grandparents can’t make it without their government cheese, I’d be happy to take care of them myself, and I’d bet you would too. Sure…there will be some without family, but I bet it’s a small portion. With all that extra money flowing into workers pockets instead of being lost in the Ponzi scheme, who knows…maybe worthy charities will see an uptick in donations.
                But alas…what should happen is rarely what does happen. Instead, the Ponzi will just go on, and the deal will get worse and worse.

Daily US Deficit For 1/9/2013

The US Daily Deficit for 1/9/2013 was $10B primarily due to $11.5B of social security payments made yesterday. Social Security payments of around $58B per month  go out in four monthly batches.  The first goes out on the third of the month…usually about $25B. The next three batches go out on the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Wednesday’s of the month and are around $11B each. This timing issue makes comparing year on year numbers throughout the month a little tricky. For example…in 2012, the second Wednesday of the month was 1/11, compared to 1/9 this year. Looking at the charts below, you can see that January 2013 outlays are a full $18B ahead of 2012 through 9 days, which is a pretty big increase. However, around $10B of that is due to SS timing. Revenue continues to pace ahead of 2012 and cost is a bit ahead, even after adjusting some for timing. All in all, through 9 days everything is looking pretty much in line with last year with increased revenues being offset by increased cost.

I don’t expect a lot of excitement for the remainder of the month deficit wise, but there will be a large surplus….maybe next Tuesday. I’m not exactly sure what it is, but it is related to income tax witholding…wild guess is that for some entities, taxes withheld from paychecks are sent in on a specific date a few weeks after a quarter closes??  Whatever it is, expect a spike in revenues on that day of around $15-20B.

The “Debt Limit Cushion” is at $47.4B, and shrinking roughly at the expected pace. Using last year as a guide, we only get to 2/3, not 2/15 like the last projection I saw…I will reiterate that I do not have enough data to accurately model “Extrordinary Measures” but last year, the cash deficit between 2/1 and 2/15 was $174B. Need I point out that we currently have $47B in hand, and three weeks left in January? I will continue to keep my eye out though….what I expect to see is a substantial reduction in imaginary “Intragovernmental” debt, currently at 4.856T, offset entirely by an increase in external debt exchanged for cash. Effectively what they would do is push that debt off balance sheet, ignore it, and then issue new debt for cash, technically staying under the limit. Just a little bit shady, but nothing in comparison to the “Trillion Dollar Coin”…don’t get me started.2013-01-09 USDD