Sunday, June 28, 2015

Growin' Taters...

When we first got the dog Tatalina (Taters) about three months ago (Another dog run...4/8/15), we didn't realize how shy she was. And while she has warmed up quite a bit around Andy since then, she's still pretty wary of me. But we've found that dog biscuits rule, so no matter how shy she's acting, she'll still come to me for a treat. In fact, since Andy's taught her to sit and give paw, she'll almost immediately jump on her house, sit down and lilt her paw when she see's a biscuit. But the real interesting thing is how much she's grown in these last few months. While she seemed like big fuzzy puppy when we got her, she's grown into a long, sleek sled dog.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

A note to Don...

About the same time as this article came out about how the Department of Labor and the Obama administration wanted to expand the fiduciary standard (the legal requirement that financial advisers and brokers put your best interests first) to cover retirement accounts, Congress decided to make your retirement worse by blocking the new regulations:

http://www.slate.com/articles/business/the_bills/2015/06/fiduciary_standard_for_retirement_accounts_republicans_don_t_want_to_expand.html

Then I got this interestting form letter from our lone congressman Don Young (original formatting was lost in transfer):

DON YOUNG Congress of the United States
Congressman for All Alaska House of Representatives
WASHINGTON OFFICE: Washington, DC
2314 Rayburn Building
Washington, DC 20515
202-225-5765

Dear Sir,

The Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) was designed to protect the beneficiaries of company pension plans in the private sector.  A major point in the legislation was outlining rules for fiduciaries, or providers, of pension plans. For example, fiduciaries were responsible for distributing plan rules to employees with pension plans.  Additionally, ERISA protects beneficiaries by giving them the legal rights to sue for benefits.

*******
Although the Department of Labor has the goal of protecting pension participants, the new definition of "fiduciary"(the fiduciary is the main person giving advice; the new definition would remove the stipulations "regular" and "primary basis), unnecessarily hurts all parties involved.  The providers newly classified as fiduciaries will have extra responsibilities and will be burdened by more clients than the provider can handle.  By overburdening providers, there will likely be a swath of errors in the private sector retirement system and massive destabilization.  Opponents point out that the fiduciary would be able to retroactively declare exemption from fiduciary liability if the fiduciary feels that he or she was not impartial when giving retirement advice.  In essence, should the participant's retirement plan not go as planned, the fiduciary can seek exemption from responsibility.  The employer also faces challenges as he or she has to disregard decades of regulations. Especially during these difficult economic times, it is unwise to destabilize the private sector's retirement plans.

Americans have a right to be concerned with the continued expansion of federal regulation over retirement fund policies.  I have often said that Congress passing regulation is not nearly as bad as giving unelected bureaucrats the power to create their own regulations.  The proposal gives the Executive Branch too much regulatory power. The new definition can easily become burdensome, even though it is only a small part of what it means to save for retirement.  This issue and other new requirements, that I believe will be overly burdensome on employers and the financial sector, are just a few of the reasons why I oppose bureaucrats who overstep their powers.  In conclusion, this legislation will upset business practices and hurt the American economy at a time when it cannot afford it. Please know that I will be watchful as the Department of Labor reviews ERISA.

If I can be of any assistance in the future, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Sincerely,
(signed)
DON YOUNG
Congressman for All Alaska
DY/PM


Now I do understand that the Repugnants in Congress feel it's their sacred duty to disagree/defeat whatever their most hated adversary, the commie, socialist, fascist, muslim loving, american hating president does. But opposing increased regulation on an industry that had almost bankrupted our country? That's just too much.  I over-rode my normal aversion to politics, took him up on his offer and contacted him:

To: Rep. Don Young, Congressman for All Alaska
Re: From the Desk of Congressman Don Young: "burdensome fiduciary regulations"

Dear Don:

Moran (sp) noun: Conflated with moron; one with an opposing view, considered especially stupid or foolish. “Get a brain, moran!”
After the economic collapse of 2008 when the unregulated derivative markets made many retirement and investment funds worthless, it seems inconceivable that anyone with an once of perspective would consider the regulation of anyone who gives investment advice a bad idea. But there you go, keeping the world safe for the investment establishment while the individual investors are left to fend for themselves. Your justification is a gross oversimplification and postulates unlikely consequences. As the lone congressman for Alaska, you seem more concerned with the east coast financial community than with the retired citizens of your home state.
And congratulations on your recent wedding.

Sincerely,
BJ

Haven't got a reply yet, I suspect I won't be hearing too much from the lone congressman for a while.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Who's wiring?...

It all started out just as some simple wiring to finish a project that'd begun last fall. In the course of getting stuff together, I found a connector that belonged on the wiring cover (wire mold) going to the water pump. But when I tried to snap it in place, somehow it shorted out the hot (black) wire. When I moved the wire to see what happened, the hot wire to the water heater also shorted. So now we had no water and no clue why.
After shutting off all the breakers to the basement, I disconnected the wires and saw that a sharp edge of the metal wire mold covering had cut through the insulation and shorted it out. So decided to replace that section of wire mold with BX conduit (flexible armored pipe). I had some laying around, so was able to scab together a bypass for the shorted-out wires. The funny part was that after it was finished, it reminded me of the wiring hanging about in Dr Who's Tardis.