Running Mate

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Our guest on today’s podcast is Matt Anderson, author of Running Mate: In Order to Form a More Perfect Union. It’s a fictional thriller about a modern day presidential race where the Republican candidate shocks the establishment by choosing the Democratic nominee as his potential vice president. What follows is a thoughtful and exciting exploration of how the country scrambles to digest this bombshell, and along the way, forces the reader to really think about whether the current ultra-partisan political climate is really what the founders intended, or if there could possibly be another way…

We also talk about the writing and publishing process. Get the Running Mate eBook at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Itunes. Order a softcover and learn more at runningmatebook.com. Thanks, Matt!

***************ALSO**************

As promised, here is the Dollar Menu challenge video!

 

Men’s Fashion and Style

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The quickest way for you to set yourself apart from the pack at the workplace, at a party, or at a job interview, is to be well-dressed.  In this episode the good guys dive into uncharted territories by discussing fashion tips that can be used by all guys who are looking for a leg-up on the competition.  Do you think you are a fashion forward fella?  Have a listen to this podcast to see if you follow the rules of male fashion and style.  Thanks for listening!

 

Rule 1:  Good tailoring is crucial!  Find a good tailor and put him to work making your clothes fit you like they should.

Rule 2:  Wear a tie when you are asking for money.

Rule 3:  Dark skies = dark clothes

Rule 4:  Ties should run button to button.  They should cover the top button on your shirt and the top button on your pants.  Nothing more, nothing less.

Rule 5:  Listen to the podcast for many more male style tips

 

Aquatic Civilization

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How do we find enough room for our ever-expanding population?  Eventually, it’ll be time to invest in some real estate under the waves, and we’re not talking about Disney’s The Little Mermaid here.  Imagine huge domes containing farms, houses, movie theaters, gyms and the like, all on the ocean floor.  Recent scientific breakthroughs have moved this dream a little closer to reality, and society is already taking the first steps toward aquatic life.  Check out this hotel nearing completion off the coast of Fiji.  Listen up as the Good Guys discuss the merits and challenges of extending our civilization into the other 70% of the planet.

Jules’ Undersea Lodge

Energy Islands

More technical discussions of underwater civilization

 

 

 

 

             

 

Massive weight loss

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Most of us think we need to lose a couple Elle Bees, right?  But what about 170?  Seems crazy right?  Friend of the show Zach gave us a great interview about his incredible journey from 350 to 160.  If you want more, he’s blogging at http://zachisrunning.com.  Check him out and follow his amazing journey.  Here is a before and after to give you an idea…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

More fun in the other segments as usual.  Thanks for listening!

 

 

 

Mortgage Schmortgage

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Election season is here, and one of the things we always hear about during these campaigns is tax reform. Candidates say they want to simplify the code, make it more fair, etc. Now we’ve talked about the deficit and financial problems before on the podcast in a macro sense, but for this pillar, I wanted to take a deep dive into one tax phenomenon in particular; the mortgage interest tax deduction. I got interested in it after hearing a couple other podcasts like planet money talk about it, and following the history of why it exists in the first place and where it is now was pretty eye opening.

Quick income tax history lesson:

In February 1913, the 16th amendment was ratified and put into law, allowing congress to enact a federal income tax for the first time. Inflation adjusted, this fell disproportionally on the rich, where individuals with incomes over $65K had to pay 1%. Then if you made over a half million, a few more tiers kicked in, with the highest tax bracket at 7% for those making $11M. This meant 98% of Americans paid no federal income tax at all. Yeah occupy wall street!

So most tax historians best guess as to why the personal interest deduction exists, is that it was simply too cumbersome and difficult to keep track of what was exactly a business (taxable income generating) expense, and a personal one. Especially when there were way more family farmers etc. Plus, since only 2% of Americans were paying income tax at all, it didn’t seem like a huge deal to allow for this deduction, as those high income entities were more likely to purchase things with credit for taxable income generation.

Fast forward to the early 1980s. Over the years the tax base had broadened considerably so a lot more people were paying personal income tax. Also, a lot more people owned their own homes, and the vast majority now financed those purchases with a mortgage. There was a big financial crisis in the early 80s much like there is now, and there was a big push to reform the tax code to get things back in line. Sound familiar? The CBO came up with a list of a bunch of things they could do to the tax code to balance the budget, and one of them was to limit the deduction for the personal interest expense.

Finally in 1986 there was a pretty big overhaul that did indeed limit the MID a bit. It no longer was able to be used on unlimited residences, could only be on your primary home mortgage, and it also made sure that you couldn’t deduct credit card interest either, as credit cards were becoming more prevalent. But in general, it still remained, and has basically stayed that way since.

So enough of the history, let’s look at where we are with the MID today. Still, the main purported goal is to encourage home ownership. So let’s think about what exactly that means and how we could measure it. In order for something to increase ownership, it has to take its effect at the margin. The ultra-rich are always going to buy homes, and the ultra-poor are always going to rent. So at the margin, we need to look at the hypothetical person/family that is deciding whether to rent or own. If, at that margin, the MID doesn’t encourage ownership, then we shouldn’t even have it. And this is the person that we are purportedly trying to help right? And the person that is going to have a horrible time if we get rid of the MID?

So today, who is taking the MID? Since 1991, only between 21 and 26% of taxpayers claimed the MID. Most of these taxpayers were in the top brackets. One of the main reasons people don’t claim it, even if they do have a mortgage, is that the standard deduction turns out to be more than the mortgage interest deduction would be.

Currently, the standard deduction for a married couple is $11,900. So anyone who is married and filing jointly gets to deduct that amount from their tax bill automatically. So in order to make it worth it for a couple to itemize and claim the MID, they would have to pay very close to that amount in mortgage interest. So I dug a step further to see if I could find what the average mortgage payment was and how much of that was interest. The most recent data I found said that the median home price in 2010 was about 220K. So let’s just assume the person put 10% down and is carrying a 200K mortgage. Chose 6% as my rate and saw that the first year of payments, $11933.29 was the interest portion.

So to sum up;

  • The MID started out as kind of a quirk in the tax code, probably there just for simplicity when we started the federal income tax in 1913. Never was there a mention of using it to encourage home ownership
  • Because of the standard deduction, people at the margin (the people that it’s supposed to encourage) aren’t taking advantage of it, and probably wouldn’t benefit from it. Only 1 in 4 Americans even claim it, and most are richer.
  • Liberal and conservative economists tend to agree that it doesn’t make sense to have this deduction anymore, but to suggest getting rid of it is a political hot potato, because of decades of rhetoric about how it symbolizes the American dream, and heavy pressure from the housing lobbies.

 

So that’s just one odd piece of the tax code that you can think about the next time people talk about simplifying the code. It seems pretty benign at first, but when you dig into it, it becomes hard to justify the 130B loss in revenue that the government loses by having this in place. I kind of wonder if there are other parts of the tax code that follow this same trend…

Life Hacks

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Life Hacks are clever, non-obvious ways to solve everyday problems. Originating from computer programmers who found new and “embarassingly” easy ways to complete tasks, the term Life Hack has blown up on the blogosphere and now hundreds of websites, blogs and reddits are completely devoted to helping you find ways to hack your life. In this podcast the Good Guys review some of their favorite Life Hacks as an introduction to a new segment for upcoming podcasts. Let us know if you have any Life Hacks that would be perfect for a GGTK! Thanks for listening!

Check out these links for other great Life Hacks!

www.HackCollege.com

www.43folders.com

www.lifehacker.com

Starting A Business

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Hey everybody! Ever wanted to start your own business? Well little did you know that one of our resident Good Guys, Mitch, has done just that. This week Mitch and his business partner Andrew give us a glimpse into how they got their business off the ground. We also spend some time going over our dreamlining challenge from last episode. Lots of good stuff in this one, thanks for listening!

Check out Vigilante Products on eBay. Mention this podcast episode and Mitch said he would throw in a discount, w00t!

Olympic Trivia


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Whether you are in love with the olympics, or sick of them – you WILL be watching.  Why not enrich your knowledge and/or gather some things to distract yourself during the seemingly endless coverage?  I took more than my fair share of online quizzes and wrote down all of the ones that were not incredibly boring.  Here are all the questions – play along with the episode, and you will definitely have some stuff to talk about with your buddies.

The first Olympic games (776 BC) were held in honor of which Greek figure?

Zeus
Athena
Achilles
Hercules

What do the five interlinked Olympic rings on the flag represent? 

The number of countries in the first olympics
The 5 major Continent blocks (Americas, Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia)
The 5 world races
5 is the number most associated with Peace

What do the colored rings on the flag represent

Designer’s favorite Colors
Each color exists at least once on every nation’s flag
Water, Stone, Fire, Light, Earth
Committee Vote

What do the colored rings on the flag represent

Designer’s favorite Colors
Each color exists at least once on every nation’s flag
Water, Stone, Fire, Light, Earth
Committee Vote

What is the Olympic Motto?

‘Citius, Altius, Fortius’ – faster higher stronger
‘It is not to have conquered, but to have fought well.’
‘The important thing is not the triumph, but the struggle.’
‘It is not to win, but to take part.’

__________ were not allowed at the first modern Olympic games in 1896, as their inclusion was deemed “impractical, uninteresting, unaesthetic, and incorrect.”

Medals
National Flags
Women
Uniforms

In what year did the Olympic flag Debut?

1896
1920
1965
1992

Which country is first in line during the Opening Ceremony’s Parade of Nations?

The country with the most medals from the last Olympics
The host city
Greece
Alphabetically 1st

Which of the following sports has not been an event at the Summer Olympics?

Tug-Of-War.
Croquet.
Roller hockey.
Live Pigeon shooting.

What word was eliminated from the Olympic Charter in 1971, causing controversy and dramatic changes in competition ever since…

Christian
Aggregate
Intentional
Amateur

Every 2 years, the Olympic torch is relit using…

The sun
Flint and steel
Leftover Oil from the previous torch
The torch is never extinguished

A Marathon is 26 Miles and 385 yards.  This distance is set because…

It is the distance between Athens and Marathon Greece
385 yards was added on so the queen could get a better view
It makes a lot more sense in metric
It was the farthest any runner got in the first Olympic marathon race

How many times has the winter Olympics been held in the southern hemisphere?

0
2
3
5

The first suspension for drug abuse was at the 1968 Mexico City Games. The drug in question was ______________. The competitor was a Swedish pentathlete, Hans-Gunnar Liljenwall.

Marijuana
Cocaine
Tetrocyclera
Beer

How many modern Olympic games have been cancelled?  Over the past 117 years only three Olympic Games have been cancelled and in every case it was due to a World War. (1916, 1940 & 1944)

1
3
4
0

At the 1900 Olympics in Paris, champions were given ________ instead of medals as they were believed to be more valuable

grapes
paintings
silken robes
cocks (male chickens)

What percentage of the silver medal is silver?

100
92
67
8

Which city hosted the Winter Games only two years after the previous Winter Games had been held?

Calgary
Moscow
Salt Lake City
Lillehammer

Basketball has been a regular Olympic sport since 1936. From then, until the year 2000, only three teams have won Gold. The USA and Russia (or earlier the USSR) are two of them. Which is the only other Country to take the gold medal?

China
Serbia
Yugoslavia
Australia

In what order do athletes enter the stadium at the CLOSING ceremonies?

No particular order
By country and medal count
By country ascending
By country descending

 

 

 

The Dan Plan

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If you quit your job and spent all your time _________ , how good could you get? How many times have you asked yourself this on Thursday afternoon in your cubicle?

This week, we had the great pleasure of interviewing an incredibly Good Guy To Know; Dan McLaughlin of thedanplan.com.  Two years ago Dan quit his job as a commercial photographer to try and become a professional golfer. He had never played a serious round in his life, and wasn’t even sure if he should golf left or right-handed

This would be pretty amazing on its own, but where it gets really cool, is that he didn’t do this just to follow a dream (it really was never a dream at all), but he’s testing a theory. That theory set forth by Dr. K Anders Ericsson, and popularized by Malcom Gladwell’s popular book Outliers, claims that in order to excel at some endeavor, natural talent is less important than spending 10,000 hours of deliberate practice honing the skill.

The tricky part of the study, is that this theory was based on only observational data looking at various groups of people that had already attained ‘expert’ status. So be they violinists, or hockey players, Ericsson found that the ‘experts’ usually attained that level only after 10,000 hours.

So the Dan plan is all about conducting an actual experiment. He deliberately chose golf, not only because it’s a fun outdoor activity (and presumably more marketable to the mainstream), but because it was something easily measurable, non-subjective, and has a very defined endpoint. If he chose to become an expert stand-up comic, it would be pretty difficult to gauge his progress, and certainly impossible to decide when he became an expert. Golf affords the opportunity to track a handicap, and ultimately we will know he’s reached the elite level when he gets his PGA tour card.

So please have a listen to the interview and visit Dan’s website. This project is about so much more than golf. It’s about how far a human can push themselves towards accomplishing incredible things. Dan just recently passed the 3,000 hour mark and his progress so far has been remarkable. Oh yeah, and he’s doing this all on his own dime, so check out the donation page on his website, and help him keep this project going so that next Thursday afternoon when you’re sitting in your cube, you really CAN say “yeah, if I really went all in, I could definitely become a professional _________”

Travel Hacking

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Travel hacking is simply defined as the utilization of technology, rewards programs and social connections to travel the world.  At its most basic level, travel hacking allows you to see more of the world for less but as you follow travel hacking deeper into the rabbit hole, you find that it is much more than that!  In this podcast, the Good Guys interview Scott Meyer, an expert in travel hacking, and an all-around GGTK.   Listen as Scott teaches us the tips and tricks to saving money while traveling all over the world.  You think you know, but you have no idea!  Thanks for listening!

Hey Listeners!  Go check out Scott’s Travel Hacking Norway book!  You can get the book locally at Ingebretsen’s in Minneapolis, online at Amazon (visit http://travelhackingnorway.com to get there quickly) and on his site at: http://scottdavidmeyer.com
Also, Scott offers FREE tips on travel hacking twice weekly at: http://scottdavidmeyer.com
Some of the sites Scott mentioned were:
CHALLENGE UPDATE:
Chad has proposed the greatest challenge of all time and every listener should try this one with us.  Go out and buy a botte of Glenlivet 12 year scotch and finish off every day for the next 2 weeks with a little nightcap! All good guys to know should have an appreciation for the finer things in life!

 

Scotch Pronunciation Guide:  http://www.esquire.com/features/drinking/scotch-pronunciation-guide-5836909?click=main_sr