Delivery Fee

I wanted to do a quick blog post about pizza delivery fees. As some of you know, I used to do pizza delivery for Domino’s back in college. Fun times. Lots of stories.

Anyway, pizza drivers are making less today than what I made when I did it due to delivery fees that pizza and other delivery places put onto the price of the order.

The summer I delivered pizza, it used to be $15.75 for the 555 deal from Domino’s. People would usually be nice and give the full $20 for tip; so we’d get $4.75 tip. I come into work one day, first order is a 555, go to the dude’s house and notice that it’s now $16.75… I thought he might have ordered an extra topping or something… Nope, it was the new $1 delivery fee. All of a sudden I was getting less money with the 555’s. Not only that, a lot of people stopped tipping as much since they were under the false assumption that the extra $1 went to the driver when it did not. It went to corporate profits.

The Huffington Post did a good article on it.

So just to set the record straight: a delivery fee DOES NOT go to the driver. Please tip these guys. It’s hard for them. It’s their wear and tear on their cars. They live off minimum wage and tips and whatever minuscule money they get per run (when I did it it was 85 cents a run).

Verizon Wireless “Surcharges”

Isn’t it bull s**t that we have to pay “surcharges.” They’re getting to be ridiculous. These “surcharges” cost me $13 a month. My Verizon bill is almost $200 for two phone lines, 700 minutes, unlimited text, and 6 GB of data on one phone and unlimited on the other.

But these “surcharges” go up every month it seems.

When I hover over the ? on my bill, a bubble appears which explains their surcharges

It states:

Verizon Wireless Surcharges – Includes charges to recover or help defray costs of taxes and of governmental charges and fees imposed on us by the government. Other Charges and Credits – includes charges for products and services, and credits owing.

So it’s the governments fault? I see. The government charges too much in taxes so they need to pass that onto their consumer. Makes sense.

But wait. It turns out they don’t pay taxes! What the f**k? They actually make a s**t ton of profit and still pay no taxes. They even get money back from the government!

At least they create jobs right? Nope. Turns out, their tax breaks don’t even create jobs.

It’s such bull s**t. I think I’m going to start to complain. Why should I pay more to pad their bottom line even more than it is now when they pay nothing in taxes? I pay taxes! You pay taxes! Why should we pay more of “their taxes?”

I’m fed up with this country sometimes. It’s bull s**t.

Spread the word.

Successful Government Programs

As some of you may have watched, Rush Limbaugh was on the Jay Leno show last night, talking nothing but trash. Leno got in there a few times to correct Rush on a few of his “misunderstandings”. Most of what he said, of course, were lies. I debunked a few as he was saying them on my twitter.

The one lie I loved the best was him claiming that there are no successful government run programs. I desperately wanted to tweet but, come on, my list would be well over the 140 character limit Twitter has.

I decided just to blog about it quickly here and list a few successful government programs. Some of these everyone uses in their day to day lives, without even realizing it:

Federal Highway Administration
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
Environmental Protection Agency
Tennessee Valley Authority
National Park Service
Medicaid
Medicare
National Aeronautics & Space Administration (NASA)
Social Security
Family & Medical Leave Act
National Weather Service
Consumer Product Safety Commission
Centers for Disease Control & Prevention
Government Grants
Food & Drug Administration
Americans with Disabilities Act
Servicemen’s Readjustment Act (GI bill)
Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act (another GI bill)
Peace Corps
European Recovery Program (Marshall Plan)
Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC)
Car Allowance Rebate System (CARS or cash for clunkers)
Morrill Land-Grant Colleges Act
Public Broadcasting
Public Schools & Universities
Public Transportation (it has a lot of faults but a lot of people need it to get around)
Public Libraries
Fire Department
Workers’ Compensation (ex Sate Compensation Insurance Fund of California)
Rural Utilities Service
Federal Aviation Administration
Community Development Block Grant
Housing & Urban Development (HUD)

It turns out there are a lot of successful government run programs, making this list rather incomplete.

Quickie On Tort Reform

I was trying to remember the source… I believe it may have been Bill Maher or Chris Matthews… but I remember hearing how California and Texas both passed tort reform.

Some think that tort reform can solve this health care problem. Texas is a prime example that it can not.

Texas passed tort reform back in 2003 by capping payoffs from malpractice cases. One article said it increased doctors in the state. Yet today, Texas is the uninsured capital of the United States with 24.4% of Texans being uninsured.

What people think is tort reform encourages more doctors and lowers insurance costs. However, this data shows that tort reform does not work to lower costs. Insurance rates should have gone down, hence more people should afford to be insured.

If tort reform worked, Texas and California wouldn’t be that high on the list of uninsured states.

Debunking Public Vs Private

Side Note: Since this post will kind of be a health care debate post… sort of… and since I couldn’t digg the article yesterday since Digg was being stupid and not letting me submit it, I’ll link to an interesting article about how the health insurance companies hurt policyholders.

Now, I’ve heard a lot of arguments from the right (and some blue dogs on the left) these days of why a public option in health care would be a bad thing… like a healthy competition is a bad thing. It started me thinking of how public competes against private. Brian and I spent an hour coming up with a pretty good list of ways public competes with private:

  • Public vs Private mail – For example USPS vs FedEx.
  • Public vs Private schools – For example colleges can be public or private. Most private colleges (and schools) are more expensive. Wouldn’t private schools not be around at all if everyone put their kids in public since it’s cheaper? There are REALLY good public schools (example UMD)… yet there are still private schools out there… wonder why.
  • Public vs Private airports – Here’s a list of public and private airports in Maryland. I don’t hear any private airports (or conservatives) wining how the public ones take all the business away. Private airports are still in business, oddly enough.
  • Public vs Private space agencies – For example NASA vs Scaled Composites (which is a child of Northrup Grumman).
  • Pubic vs Private hospitals – Thinking there probably shouldn’t be any private hospitals still around… oh wait, there are.
  • Public vs Private radio – Ever heard of NPR? Nothing about the right crying “unfair” they’re competing with private radio stations.
  • Pubic vs Private banks – This one really gets me. I don’t hear anything about people being mad at government run banks or credit unions. You’d think they’d offer higher interest rates on savings accounts (you know, since they don’t have to worry about profit). Which in turn, you guessed it, causes the private to go out of business. But none of that happens. Public and private are just as competitive. In fact, I bank with ING Direct and I get a much better interest rate than if I banked with NFCU.
  • Public vs Private television – PBS versus almost anything else. How come PBS isn’t kicking butt on the ratings? Oh yeah, they suck. So people go to private… Hmm… apply that theory to healthcare… Case in point, if this public option sucks, people will flock back to private. Private just needs to be… what’s the word… oh yeah, COMPETITIVE.

Pretty sure this list is incomplete. Can you think of more?

Now, I don’t hear anyone on the right (or anyone for a “free market”) arguing against any of these. If public was so good, we wouldn’t be having this debate, would we? These major things would all be run by the government and there would be no private. And I’m guessing Obama’s socialism would be a much larger number than 0.21%.

And regarding the argument: “oh well when one of the companies doesn’t have to worry about a profit…” Honestly? If your life depended on a decision from someone NOT in it for the profit or someone IN it for the profit, I can’t imagine why anyone would put their life in the hands of someone who’s only looking out for their profit.

Debunking A Cash For Clunkers Article

I’m fairly certain this article is right leaning:

Five Reasons “Cash For Clunkers” Is A Joke

By now I’m sure you’ve heard Obama has passed a bill, Cash For Clunkers. I visited Yahoo news today like I usually do since Yahoo is my home page and I read this interesting, BS article.

  1. Not sure if the author of this article has ever traded in a car but you can’t get much for it. Nine out of ten times you’re better off trying to sell it on your own. Dealerships usually rip people off. In the article it even states that you’ll get MORE for it with the CFC bill than you would normally… Not really seeing why the bill won’t work if people are getting MORE MONEY from their cars.
  2. Yeah average price of a new car might be $24,000 but honestly, if you’re hurting for money and need a car, I’d go with a Rabbit or a Yaris. Even now with Ford and GM not doing so well, I’d go for a Focus. Much cheaper than the $24K this guy is saying a new car is. A Yaris costs $12,200 MSRP, negotiate a little, could get it down to $11,500 easy… CFC makes the car a whopping $8,000. Say you had to borrow $9K, that’s only $174 a month at 6%.
  3. Some people might not need their big SUV anymore, or their truck, or their minivan. And some trucks DO get better fuel efficiency than before. And if your truck is old and on its last leg, now could be the perfect opportunity. Furthermore, the bill states different qualifications for trucks.
  4. This argument is weak at best… and pretty funny. Don’t scrap your car because it MIGHT be a future classic? Pretty pathetic. Yeah, I’m going to hang on to my 1994 Chrysler cause it might be worth much more one day. And how do classic cars get value anyway? Because there are only A FEW LEFT. I honestly don’t think people are going to keep their junkers in hopes that one day (could be 20 years or 50 years down the road) it could be worth something. You know how much it costs to store a car? The guy who wrote this article certainly doesn’t.
  5. That’s a problem with Ford and GM, not with the CFC program. If they were hoping this bill provided a boost to the automotive business here, they would have put in the bill that the car must be traded in at a Ford or GM dealership.

Re People’s Participation: I actually know a few people that can benefit from this program. One of them is going to participate and trade his 1993 Mercedes in for either a Toyota Prius or a Toyota Yaris.

Debunking The Right About Higher Taxes In Maryland

I usually have some pretty good debates with my fathers lawyer who is a Republican. He always likes to blame Democrats for the problems we face in our state and in our country (like all good Republicans, right).

Anyway, so he recently said how one third of the rich people in this state have since moved or changed their permanent residences due to O’Malley hiking up their taxes. So, what the Right likes to think is that it drove out rich people and increased taxes on the working. They’re correct, but let’s take a look at the numbers:

The increase on the rich of they “grinned and bared it” would be another $106,000,000 revenue to the state.

In reality it put us in the hole -$100,000,000. (Figures from the Wall Street Journal.)

So that’s a -$206,000,000 swing that we have to make up to (baring that the tax increase on the rich would balance the budget) keep the budget balanced for the year. In other words, Maryland needs to make up $206,000,000 MORE than last year.

According to Wikipedia, the population of Maryland is 5,633,600 people. Assuming that only half pay taxes, which is more than fair in my opionion, that leaves us with 2,816,800 tax payers.

Doing our math on this:

$206,000,000/2,816,800 = $73.13 per tax payer

So, the Right (and some Democrats no doubt) lead you to believe that increasing taxes on the rich will drive them away leaving only the middle and lower classes to make up the difference. Sorry but I’m a lot happier paying barely $100 more A YEAR than other alternatives… look what California is facing. Also keep in mind that inflation is a little more than 4% a year so an extra $100 per tax payer may not be so bad.

Of course this blog is assuming the rich were driven out because of higher taxes. One article from the Baltimore Sun actually suggests it’s due to the estate tax being so high in Maryland.