Posted by: hmchang | August 18, 2011

Life: Growing Mushroom – Day 1

I started to grow mushroom at home with the back to the root mushroom garden. Today is day 1 (Day 0 preparation: soak it in water). Let’s see what the founder started this idea!

Posted by: hmchang | August 17, 2011

Money: On the Tax Rate

Warren Buffet recently wrote an opinion on NYtimes urging to increase the tax rate for the rich 2% (annual income above 1 million). It is clear that people who use money to make money (through investment) need to pay less tax nowadays. The majority of us, the regular workers, contribute 1/3 of our annual income to federal, state, or social security. No wonder in “Rich dad, poor dad,” the author urge us to move to B and I quadrature — US tax rate favor those people.

OP-ED CONTRIBUTOR (source)

Stop Coddling the Super-Rich

By WARREN E. BUFFETT
Published: August 14, 2011

OUR leaders have asked for “shared sacrifice.” But when they did the asking, they spared me. I checked with my mega-rich friends to learn what pain they were expecting. They, too, were left untouched.

While the poor and middle class fight for us in Afghanistan, and while most Americans struggle to make ends meet, we mega-rich continue to get our extraordinary tax breaks. Some of us are investment managers who earn billions from our daily labors but are allowed to classify our income as “carried interest,” thereby getting a bargain 15 percent tax rate. Others own stock index futures for 10 minutes and have 60 percent of their gain taxed at 15 percent, as if they’d been long-term investors.

These and other blessings are showered upon us by legislators in Washington who feel compelled to protect us, much as if we were spotted owls or some other endangered species. It’s nice to have friends in high places.

Last year my federal tax bill — the income tax I paid, as well as payroll taxes paid by me and on my behalf — was $6,938,744. That sounds like a lot of money. But what I paid was only 17.4 percent of my taxable income — and that’s actually a lower percentage than was paid by any of the other 20 people in our office. Their tax burdens ranged from 33 percent to 41 percent and averaged 36 percent.

If you make money with money, as some of my super-rich friends do, your percentage may be a bit lower than mine. But if you earn money from a job, your percentage will surely exceed mine — most likely by a lot.

To understand why, you need to examine the sources of government revenue. Last year about 80 percent of these revenues came from personal income taxes and payroll taxes. The mega-rich pay income taxes at a rate of 15 percent on most of their earnings but pay practically nothing in payroll taxes. It’s a different story for the middle class: typically, they fall into the 15 percent and 25 percent income tax brackets, and then are hit with heavy payroll taxes to boot.

Back in the 1980s and 1990s, tax rates for the rich were far higher, and my percentage rate was in the middle of the pack. According to a theory I sometimes hear, I should have thrown a fit and refused to invest because of the elevated tax rates on capital gains and dividends.

I didn’t refuse, nor did others. I have worked with investors for 60 years and I have yet to see anyone — not even when capital gains rates were 39.9 percent in 1976-77 — shy away from a sensible investment because of the tax rate on the potential gain. People invest to make money, and potential taxes have never scared them off. And to those who argue that higher rates hurt job creation, I would note that a net of nearly 40 million jobs were added between 1980 and 2000. You know what’s happened since then: lower tax rates and far lower job creation.

Since 1992, the I.R.S. has compiled data from the returns of the 400 Americans reporting the largest income. In 1992, the top 400 had aggregate taxable income of $16.9 billion and paid federal taxes of 29.2 percent on that sum. In 2008, the aggregate income of the highest 400 had soared to $90.9 billion — a staggering $227.4 million on average — but the rate paid had fallen to 21.5 percent.

The taxes I refer to here include only federal income tax, but you can be sure that any payroll tax for the 400 was inconsequential compared to income. In fact, 88 of the 400 in 2008 reported no wages at all, though every one of them reported capital gains. Some of my brethren may shun work but they all like to invest. (I can relate to that.)

I know well many of the mega-rich and, by and large, they are very decent people. They love America and appreciate the opportunity this country has given them. Many have joined the Giving Pledge, promising to give most of their wealth to philanthropy. Most wouldn’t mind being told to pay more in taxes as well, particularly when so many of their fellow citizens are truly suffering.

Twelve members of Congress will soon take on the crucial job of rearranging our country’s finances. They’ve been instructed to devise a plan that reduces the 10-year deficit by at least $1.5 trillion. It’s vital, however, that they achieve far more than that. Americans are rapidly losing faith in the ability of Congress to deal with our country’s fiscal problems. Only action that is immediate, real and very substantial will prevent that doubt from morphing into hopelessness. That feeling can create its own reality.

Job one for the 12 is to pare down some future promises that even a rich America can’t fulfill. Big money must be saved here. The 12 should then turn to the issue of revenues. I would leave rates for 99.7 percent of taxpayers unchanged and continue the current 2-percentage-point reduction in the employee contribution to the payroll tax. This cut helps the poor and the middle class, who need every break they can get.

But for those making more than $1 million — there were 236,883 such households in 2009 — I would raise rates immediately on taxable income in excess of $1 million, including, of course, dividends and capital gains. And for those who make $10 million or more — there were 8,274 in 2009 — I would suggest an additional increase in rate.

My friends and I have been coddled long enough by a billionaire-friendly Congress. It’s time for our government to get serious about shared sacrifice.

Warren E. Buffett is the chairman and chief executive of Berkshire Hathaway.

Posted by: hmchang | August 12, 2011

Gadgets: Is it real iPhone 5?

Posted by: hmchang | July 15, 2011

Music: Korean’s Got Talent Sung-bong Choi

A lot of talents around the world.

Posted by: hmchang | June 16, 2011

Music: Sam Tsui’s Don’t stop believing

Wow, Sam Tsui  is awesome!

Posted by: hmchang | May 22, 2011

Music: 朋友九年多,抢了我两个女友

太有才了

Posted by: hmchang | May 18, 2011

Life: 研討會品酒之旅有感

今天研討會中,參加籌畫已久的品酒之旅,二點四十分左右,就看見一台Santa Barbara Airbus 停在我們的Workshop的旅館前面,司機名叫 Joe,約莫40來歲。這司機說他平常不開LAX線,專門做這種特別規劃的行程。沿著101高速公路上,跟我們說著這個植物的名稱、那棟建築的歷史,哪個名人的豪宅等等,很是開心。

到了第二個酒莊,剛好有一點空閒時間,他就問我在Santa Barbara多久了,是不是UCSB的學生,畢業之後有什麼打算等等。然後我也禮貌性的問他在SB多久了。他說他打從出生就在SB了,而他的老婆在之前的郵局槍擊事件當中不幸罹難了,他離開工作岡位1.5年,後來12歲的兒子叫他回去工作,他才回到Airbus繼續工作。本來Airbus安排他做辦公室的工作,後來他只想要開車,所以就轉成只做開車的工作。

當旅程結束之後,我跟Joe說謝謝。他祝福我在I公司有很好的發展,他說他有I公司的股票,都發了不錯的紅利。我跟他提起,Q公司也很好。他說,Q公司啊! 我在 1999 年就買了他們的股票,一直分割,現在已經賺了四倍有了吧。我大驚,如此神準的看盤功力,想必已經家財萬貫,他說他早已是Millionaire,開車只是興趣、打發時間。就在我無言的狀態下,我們互相道別了。

結果整個品酒之旅,最大的收穫不是品酒,而是這一個小故事。

這個故事告訴我們:

1) 千萬不要以貌取人,或者以身分來做任何的假設。

2) 當有了財富自由,工作真的可以只是消遣而已。

3) 賺大錢不用自己努力幹,鼓勵聰明有幹勁的年輕人加入自己有股票的公司也是一個方法。

Posted by: hmchang | April 27, 2011

Books: Enchantment

Posted by: hmchang | April 21, 2011

Fun: Galaxy

The Mountain from Terje Sorgjerd on Vimeo.

Posted by: hmchang | April 18, 2011

Gadget: New Camera Idea!!!

This is truly cool! You can take photos from the lens that wirelessly transmit data to the main camera body.

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