Yahoo! Finance has an interesting look into the finances of President and Mrs. Obama.
Category Archives: Political
Asians in the Board Room
Apparently, my Asian brethren and I are under represented in the Board Rooms of Silicon Valley. Not sure what can be done about it, but I certainly intend to be a part of the force that changes it.
I would have to agree with their assertion regarding “the failure of Asian executives to mentor talented younger colleagues.” First of all, I’ve had few bosses who were actually Asian. When I was at Accenture, I knew one Senior Executive and one Senior Manager who were each Korean. The Senior Manager was a good mentor and teacher (I believe he was recognized a few times for his ability to mentor others, especially analysts like myself), but I don’t believe he ever made a specific effort to reach out to the other Asians on the team.
I guess we’ll see. I’ve got mentors at my current job, but none of them are Asian, and regardless, there are few Asians at my company.
If we, as Asians are to break through that “glass ceiling” we’re definitely going to need mentors and training in this area. It certainly isn’t for lack of talent or brains that we’re missing out.
Hurray Miss California
Chuck Colson of Prison Fellowship and publisher of BreakPoint Commentaries wrote an interesting article about Miss California, Carrie Prejean.
Miss Prejean is an outspoken Christian who chose to stand by her beliefs during last Sunday’s Miss USA competition rather than capitulate to what the judges would have liked her to say. As part of the final round, contest judge Perez Hilton, an openly gay gossip-blogger asked Miss Prejean this divisive question:
Vermont recently became the fourth state to legalize same sex marriage. Do you think every state should follow suit? Why or why not?
Without batting an eye or giving a “politically correct” response, Miss Prejean responded that she believed marriage should be between a man and a woman. She even clarified that it was not her intent to offend: “No offense to anybody out there, but that’s how I was raised and that’s how I think it should be — between a man and a woman.”
The remark likely cost her the crown and title of Miss USA, but I’m sure a bigger crown awaits her in Heaven.
Way to go Miss California! May we all have the courage to stand for our beliefs the way you did.
They’re not rich???
Yahoo! Finance had this article that left me rather incredulous and with a bitter taste in my mouth: Wealth-Less Effect: Earning Well, Feeling Otherwise
The article tackles the “plight” of those who earn $250,000 per year or more. They’re feeling slighted because President Obama’s proposed tax changes will likely have the biggest effect on them.
Frankly, I feel like the Parnells, around whom the story revolves, are really just a bunch of whiners. They make $260,000 per year. According to US Census data for 2006, households that earn $250,000 or more are in the top 1.93% of the population. That is to say, of the approximately 116 million households in the US, comprising about 306 million people, they make more than 98.07% (113.8 million) of them. And they’re not rich?
Consider this: the mean household income for 2006 was $66,570. The median household income for 2007 wasn’t far off from that: $50,740. Let’s look at this graphically:
What you’re looking at is a graph of the distribution of annual household incomes for 2006. (Again, this data is from the US Census Bureau.) You can clearly see that people making more than $250,000/year are way out on the left side of the graph highlighted in red. The mode is clearly distinct at the $100,000 to $149,999 range. The mean is close to the center and just a bit to the right.
So the Parnell’s income bracket is highlighted in red, and they’re making more than five times the median household income from 2007–nearly four times the average for 2006. And they’re not rich? Absurd!
Here’s a few choice morsels about their standard of living:
- They earn $260,000 per year.
- They have three kids.
- He drives an Infiniti (it’s more than 10 years old).
- They vacation in Sandestin, FL every year at a family house there.
- They live in a 2,500 square foot house.
- They have medical insurance.
- They are able to make monthly contributions to their 401(k)
- They “tithe” $1,300 per month–that’s not a tithe. A tithe is ten percent, they’re giving closer to five percent, but I’ll let God take that up with them.
- They bought a piece of land (the article doesn’t specify why); when combined with the mortgage on their house they pay $4,000/month.
- They’ve financed their cars.
- They’re insured (the article doesn’t specify, but I’d guess it includes the medical–mentioned above–dental, car, and home insurance.)
- They have a college fund for their kids.
- After all those expenses, they’re still left with $1,200 each month. I’d call that “fun money.”
That’s just one example from the article. I’d hate to know the “dire straits” of James Duran, owner of an HR company in Silicon Valley and president of the Hispanic Chamber of Congress in California. He “only” makes $400,000 per year, and in his own words, “I’m barely getting by.”
Are we’re supposed to feel sorry for them because they’re “not rich”? How infuriating!
Ms. Parnell states: “Our needs are being met, but we don’t have a load of cash to cover wants…I can pay my mortgage and I can buy some clothes. I’m not going without, but I’m not living a life of luxury.” Since when was an Infiniti not a luxury? For that matter, since when was owning an Infiniti a “need”? How about taking an annual vacation in Florida, or the ability to contribute to a 401(k), or having $1,200 leftover each month after all the “needs-based” expenses have been taken care of? Their cash flow isn’t covering their “wants”? It seems to me they’ve got an awful lot of “wants” covered by that $260k. And don’t even get me started on their house.
I don’t know when they bought their current house, but according to this article on ABC, 5 years ago the average house size was 2,349 square feet. Thirty years prior to that, it was 1,695 square feet. So thirty five years ago, families lived in houses 67% as big as theirs, and they’re not satisfied? How insipid!
I’m not going to bother with a point by point rebuttal of just how rich they are; the statistics speak for themselves. But I think they could take a lesson from the pages of a particular Pauline letter. In Philippians 4:11-12 Paul encourages the church by stating, “I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” Paul learned to be content whatever the circumstances. There were times when he had plenty–plenty to eat, plenty to drink, plenty to spend–but there were also times of need–times where he was hungry and tired, shipwrecked and beaten. Yet, in spite of it all, he continued to remain content–even joyful–throughout his experiences. And what was his “secret”? It’s right in the next verse: “I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” He learned to rely on God. Paul knew he, in and of himself, was inadequate. But he knew that God would give him strength, and with God as his source, how could he not remain content?
In Matthew 22:21 Jesus clearly admonishes his followers (and the Pharisee’s who were trying to trick him) to “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.” So we inescapably need to pay taxes whether we like it or not. It’s not fun and it’s not easy, but we need to do it. With that in mind, the Parnells need to quit their whining, take a biblical perspective, and remain content whatever the circumstances. They may have expressed it in the interview and it never got recorded, but absent that, there’s a surprising dearth of thankfulness in their tone. The very least they could do is be thankful for what they already have.
Hope you Finished your Taxes
I hope you finished your taxes today, and that you were able to get your last minute IRA/Roth IRA contributions to the broker in time. Tax day, aka file-or-else-day, is nearly over. And today is the deadline to get your retirement contributions in for 2008. Once it’s over, it’s gone.
Better to start saving early rather than late.
Blago? A bit disrespectful, no?
I thought this was a rather interesting title for an article from ABC News:
Blago? I know he’s been a rather difficult and defiant defendant, but does he really deserve to be disrespected like that? Maybe I’m missing something; maybe that’s his nickname. But if it’s not, it seems inappropriate to abbreviate his name and turn it into an epithet barring a good explanation. That’s like calling Gov. Schwarzenegger “Schwarz”, or calling Thomas Jefferson “Jeffer.” Pretty presumptuous if you ask me.
Does this really change everything?
I firmly believe that this whole election/inauguration has focused too much on the race of our President. Maybe I can’t really relate or identify with Obama and the plight of Blacks in this country. Granted, as a Chinese American, my ancestors never faced slavery at the hands of “the white man” but that doesn’t mean we didn’t face oppression and discrimination as well.
Regardless, I feel like too many people are emphasizing the “blackness” of our new President, and failing to mention much else. I don’t see President Obama as a black President. I see him as an American President. I feel that in some ways the continual emphasis on President Obama’s “blackness” is a subtle, but persistent continuation of racism in this country. The dictionary defines racism as “a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race [emphasis mine]”. The attention to race in this matter may not belie a belief of “inherent superiority”, but I do believe it calls attention to the italicized portion above.
I do not see race as the primary characteristic of our President. As a political figure, I see his ideologies and philisophical leanings as vastly more significant than his race. But CNN has an interesting article about the effect of having a Black family in office for the first time. It points out that “the Obamas are offering America a new way to look at the black family,” and continues to explain “the new first couple offers America an example of a black, passionate, marital relationship.” I think that’s an excellent point. The Obamas seem to have a wonderful and passionate marriage, and the article points out that this hasn’t been portrayed in America since “The Cosby Show” (one of my all-time favorites).
Now that’s a point to which I can assent.
IL Governor Impeached
Looks like it didn’t take the Illinois House of Representatives very long to impeach Gov. Blagojevich. And it was nearly unanimous: 141 to 1. MSNBC has a really good FAQ on the impeachment process and what it means.
As with the impeachment of a US President, impeaching a governor isn’t really all that significant. It’s really akin to a grand jury indictment. The really important, meaty stuff happens once and impeachment has occurred. That’s when the Senate can begin it’s Impeachment Trial. If two thirds decide he’s guilty, they can convict, and the governor will be removed from office. Basically, it’s the same process for the Federal government.
Frankly, I think he needs to be removed from office as soon as possible. He’s been defiant and unapologetic. Though I’m not from Illinois, I have relatives from there, and the people of Illinois deserve better than this.
It feels somewhat disrespectful to laugh at this list, but I’ve gotta say that it’s pretty funny. The Associated Press has compiled a list of “Bushisms”–words or phrases misspoken by President Bush, and it was a good laugh for me. (Note, they may not be work-safe, not because they’re inappropriate, but because you might start laughing hysterically, which isn’t exactly becoming of a professional at work.)
Here’s a couple of my favorites:
- “Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we.”
- “Make no mistake about it, I understand how tough it is, sir. I talk to families who die.”
- “I remember meeting a mother of a child who was abducted by the North Koreans right here in the Oval Office.”
Chuck Colson on Rod Blagojevich
Chuck Colson has a wonderful commentary on CNN about his ability to relate to Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich. My friend Andrew had this listed on his Gchat message.
Frankly, I’m surprised that CNN ran such a commentary/opinion. But it’s good to see that Colson stays true to his evangelical position and unabashedly shares the gospel.