Back of the Envelope Calculation: “Billionaire Philanthropists” are Fucking Pathetic

Read this article:

Here’s how much America’s billionaires give to charity, in one chart

…and saw the chart:

And then did some math: 

The “average American” (that’s a family making $50k–$99k in this article here) gives ~3–6% of their income to charity each year. Now, that’s income, not wealth. If we want to apples-to-apples this, we need to gauge giving vs. wealth. It appears the “average” American’s wealth is something like $97,000  (which kinda sucks, given that the average American home is worth more than twice that—and is mortgaged to the gills).  So, we end up in about the same place: The average American annually gives money worth ~3% of their wealth. 

In other words, the average American is significantly more generous with their wealth than pretty much every goddamned billionaire out there.  Even Warren Buffet (who I actually really admire) is just a tiny bit above average on this one.  

So, if your argument against a wealth tax is “It’s OK for folks to sit on billions of dollars, because rich people are super charitable”—well, they just aren’t. In fact, multiple studies have found that as folks get poorer in this country, they give a higher percentage of their income to charity (and generally have zero or negative wealth). People at or below the poverty line often give ~10% of their annual income to charitable causes each year.  

So, yeah, give thanks on Thursday, sure—but give some fucking money, too, dammit.

Take 11 Minutes and Learn the Secrets to the Science of Persuasion

This video is mostly narrated by Dr. Robert Cialdini, who’s most famous for his book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion (where he first presented most of the ideas seen here).  This is a text book—if not the Bible—on how to talk to people about things that you really care about, and get them to see your perspective.

Cialdini started out as a research psychologist, and my understanding (which fits the tone of the book) is that he began working on the book—which catalogues and examines several categories of sales/influence tricks and techniques—as a sort of warning to lay folks. After its first publication, it became enormously influential among marketers, copywriters, businessfolk, and all manner of modern propogandists.  If you write for any purpose (e.g., speechs, op-ed, news, fiction, non-fiction, persuading folks on the fence to vote for this or that) or run any sort of business, you need to read this book.  For that matter, even if you don’t seek to persuade anyone of anything, I still strongly recommend every adult in America  read this book, in order to better understand how it is you’ve come to believe what you believe, embrace what you embrace, and reject what “just isn’t your thing.”

(While we’re on the topic, you really should also read Darrell Huff’s HOW TO LIE WITH STATISTICS; the black arts outlined in these two books cover the two major toolsets that the politically and economically motivated are using to manipulate you and your loved ones every single day.  Get your hands on Master’s tools; consider their possible applications in tearing down Master’s house*.)

Caveat: Yes, some of the hard data and studies in the original Influence haven’t aged well, but the bold strokes—about how people behave and how our minds get changed without our realizing it—is still rock solid.

BONUS: Check out this analysis of Oprah, and compare it with what Cialdini describes above:

Continue reading “Take 11 Minutes and Learn the Secrets to the Science of Persuasion”

Colt is ceasing production of consumer-grade assault rifles o_O

Washington Post: There are so many AR-15s in U.S. consumer hands that it makes no sense to produce more, Colt says”Stag2wi_

Three things worth noting:

  1. Colt is the father of the AR-15 and creator of the once highly profitable consumer-grade assault weapon niche. It’s enormous news that they’re out.
  2. This headline implies that the market is saturated because so many guns have been produced and sold, but if you read the article, that’s not what Colt said. They simply say demand is down. Yes, one explanation is that they overproduced and flooded the market. Another is that fewer people want these guns (often characterized as “the must vilified gun in America.”). Think about cigarettes: Demand for those in the US is also down, not because cigarette manufacturers overproduced and flooded the market, but because we worked hard to make having and using cigarettes less socially neutral and much more publicly controversial.
  3. Contrary to popular perception, while these guns are enormously popular with those committing the most heinous crimes, they are used in a vanishingly small percentage of total gun crimes.

 

Are you a grown-up American? Do you vote? Then plz take three minutes to get yr head around “marginal tax brackets”🇺🇸🌟

WaPo-wrong-on-tax-brackets2About half of all Americans fundamentally misunderstand how U.S. “tax brackets” work.  (Ironically, those in the traditionally “fiscally conservative” party are significantly more likely to fundamental misunderstand our tax system.)  As a result, many, many, many Americans argue and vote against both public interest and their own interest, with the sole beneficiaries being the extremely rich (both human and corporate).

Now’s the time to get your head straight.  The Twitter thread embedded below lays it out nicely, as does this article from the Washington Post (which takes just three minutes to read, and even explains why we use this somewhat counter-intuitive and often confusing tax bracket scheme).

This is your Civics homework for today.  It’s pretty easy.  I’m sure you’ll get a gold star!🌟

Happy Treat Yourself Wednesday!💸

Not for nothing, but I’m not a huge fan of Black Friday/Small-biz Saturday/Cyber Monday/Giving Tuesday/etc.  Yeah, there’s power in focusing our economic force on these specific days (obviously)—but also, there’s power in you just spending money on what you want when you want it.

Anyway, I love the denim from these cats in California, Brave Star.  The cuts work for my particular body, the construction is quality, and the materials a delight (more of my thoughts on Brave Star—who, incidentally, are still using some of the final bolts of historic Cone Mills denim I mention in the post at that link).

If you wanna give them a whirl, you can save $10 on dope-ass, sanely priced, all-American-made denim with that link. (DISCLOSURE: If you use that link and coupon code you save $10 and I get a $10 credit.  FURTHER DISCLOSURE: These are basically the only pants I wear anymore. I’m wearing a pair of indigo x brown Cone Mills selvedge Slim Straights right now, although my favorite are the various blacks. They are all good jeans.)

REBEL NELL X NELSON FOUNDATION #GIVINGTUESDAY

Rebel Nell works with local organizations to hire women transitioning from homelessness and teaches them to craft unique, wearable accessories made from the fallen layers of graffiti that grace the buildings and underpasses of Detroit.

DISCLOSURE: I’m from the Detroit Metro Area. My dad was born and raised in Detroit. We love that stupid city, my family has planted their hearts there, and I’ve bought Rebel Nell jewelry for my wife. It’s neat stuff!

But Rebel Nell isn’t just mining the lead-flecked ruins of Detroit to sell bougie baubles.  Through their non-profit arm—Teaching. Empowering. Achieving. (T.E.A.)—Rebel Nell provides all the wrap-around services to empower vulnerable women and families as they transition to a life of independence.  T.E.A. invests in training, education, skills development, coaching, and mentorship services (including basic employment opportunities), in addition to other support and assistance to these women. 

This ain’t giving away fish; it’s teaching folks how to fish, and making sure they’ve got a decent rod and reel to get them started.

This is Azzie. She’s Rebel Nell's production manager and an alum of their programs.
This is Azzie. She’s Rebel Nell’s production manager and an alum of their programs.

The Nelson Foundation provides financial support to individuals and organizations that use art to create opportunities that better our community.  (Note conspicuous name similarity—this is something my folks and older sister make happen.)  These usually take the form of direct grants and tuition support to underrepresented students in the arts in Michigan.

This Tuesday—November 27, 2018—The Nelson Foundation will be giving up to $5,000 to Rebel Nell/T.E.A. in matching funds. 

You give $1, and the Nelson Foundation matches that.  Everyone together gives $5,000 and the Nelson Foundation doubles that—boom!, $10,000 goes directly to supporting women and families getting free and building up their communities.

Click to give! Pay it forward. Spread the word. 

Thanks!

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Email yr Reps: Mick Mulvaney is unfit to head OMB/CFPB 🇺🇸🔥

Mick Mulvaney currently heads the White House Office of Management and Budget (which you likely don’t care about), and serves as the interim head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (which you really should care about).  Last week he was pretty damned brazen about being totally fine with prioritizing lobbiest/industry wishlists over the welfare of your average American, provided that 1) the average American in question wasn’t from his home state and 2) the lobbiest in question had ponied up (for real; he straight-up said this to a roomful of bankers.  Once again, we’ve crossed the line into cartoonish super-villainy.)

Anyway, he’s unfit to serve, both because he’s actively averse to the mission of the agency he’s heading and because he encourages corruption.  Here’s what I wrote to my reps; maybe you wanna contact yours today.

subject: Mick Mulvaney is unfit to head OMB/CFPB

Dear [NAME],

I’m writing as one of your constituents, deeply concerned about Mick Mulvaney’s current roles in the Executive Branch.  As was widely reported (and, I believe, confirmed by Mulvaney himself) this past week, he has a “pay-for-play” policy for lobbyists and special interests:

“We had a hierarchy in my office in Congress,” Mulvaney told those gathered at an American Bankers Association conference in Washington. “If you’re a lobbyist who never gave us money, I didn’t talk to you. If you’re a lobbyist who gave us money, I might talk to you.”  (He then went on to urge those gathered to buy influence.)

Not shockingly, those lobbying for payday lenders donated roughy $63,000 to his various campaigns. Earlier this year, in his role as interim head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Mulvaney dropped probes and enforcement actions focused on payday and high-interest lenders.

Given current reporting and his own statements and conflicts of interest, Mick Mulvaney seems generically unfit to head the White House Office of Management and Budget, and nauseatingly unfit to serve as the interim head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau—let alone White House Chief of Staff (his rumored next role).

For that matter, I’m not particularly comfortable seeing a man who so clearly accepts corruption as a “cost of doing business” return to the Legislature—but that’s for the people of South Carolina to sort out, may God have mercy on their souls.

Thank you again for your time and for continuing to fight the Good Fight in D.C.

All Best,

David Erik Nelson . . .

===============

SOURCES:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2018/04/25/trumps-rumored-next-chief-of-staff-mick-mulvaney-admits-to-selling-access-a-congressman

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/24/us/mulvaney-consumer-financial-protection-bureau.html

http://thehill.com/policy/finance/379919-mulvaney-ends-consumer-bureau-probe-of-payday-loan-collector-report

One by one, folks! We shall defeat them one by one.☝️

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Support Art and other Good Things™: Get $120 in DIY/Makerspace Books for $1!

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The Humble “Makerspace” Book Bundle from No Starch Press is live an insanely good deal!  Pay a buck, and get six rad DIY-ish books (including my first book—Snip, Burn, Solder, Shred—as well as a few of my No Starch favorites). Pay $8, and get another six books (including my second DIY book, Junkyard Jam Band).  Pay a bit more…well, you get the picture.  All in, you can drop $20 and get more than $400 worth of DIY while supporting excellent charities. HUMBLE-00ca3c278db017f39d002720c906997f81f5958d

There are so many books I love in this one! Yoshihito Isogawa’s LEGO Technic books are both amazing and agelessly inspiring, Carlos Bueno’s Lauren Ipsum has been huge for my son (he read it twice in a row when it first came out, and still hits it again a few times a year now—it’s like the Information Age’s Phantom Tollbooth), No Starch’s Scratch and Arduino books are rock solid, and Jason R. Briggs’s Python for Kids is an excellent intro to Python for everyone (i.e., it’s how I learned enough Python to work on a documentation project with a U-M roboticist last year).

Also, I’ll level with you: These bundles (and book/game bundles in general) are a huge boost to authors/creators, both in getting our names and ideas out there, and in getting money into our pockets.  When you buy a bundle like this, you’re doing a Good Thing™ for the dissemination of new art and human knowledge, in addition to getting a good deal.

Humble Book Bundle: Makerspace by No Starch Press (pay what you want and help charity)

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A Modest Proposal in the Wake of the Repeal of Net Neutrality

SILVER LINING ALERT: While the imminent repeal of Net Neutrality will, over time, prove to be a major net loss for folks in general, there are three groups that could make hay while this new, crappy sun shines:

  1. Victims of revenge porn
  2. Victims of child pornography
  3. Their lawyers

Why? Internet providers have fought for and won the freedom to build revenue streams around regulating which packets traverse their networks how fast—and even to completely throttle some packets based on whatever criteria they like.  If they can do that, then they can certainly be held accountable for what is distributed through their networks.  They are no longer neutral conduits of information—and they have deep pockets.

I, for one, am saddened by this likely fatal blow to a free and open Internet—but I really, really look forward to watching victims—of hacks, of interpersonal betrayal, of privacy invasion, of documented childhood sexual assaults—sue the ever-loving shit out of Verizon, Comcast, AT&T, et al.

Go get ’em, Tigers!