Biden’s College Loan Debt Forgiveness Plan

If you haven’t heard, President Biden plans to go forward with plans to forgive up to $10,000 in college loans for individuals making under $125,000 a year. Obviously there are specific rules a debtor will need to follow in order to take advantage of the loan forgiveness. Reading through the articles, there are clear lines of political division masked behind the “concerns of the national debt/fiscally irresponsible”, “unfairness to those who have already paid”, and “increasing inflation”. Let’s breakdown some of the arguments as I see it.

1) Concerns of national debt. I find this argument inherently flawed. Both political sides have used this argument when the other side has been pushing a spending plans. Republicans criticized Build Back Better. Democrats criticized Trump’s Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. They clearly can’t be right and the criticisms from both sides are just smoke screens to confuse the voters.

Ultimately, voters really need to think about what kind of “national debt” is considered good debt. Using a line from advocates of higher education, taking on debt in order to obtain more schooling is good. The idea is that education will result in higher wage increases and overall higher wages making the debt more as an “investment” in the future. If voters are to also consider this “investment” hypothesis and apply to the national debt, what sort of programs are appropriate then for US to incur any sort of debt?

I personally believe investments in infrastructure, education and healthcare are critical for the future of US. These kinds of investments will undoubtedly payoff in the future (whether 5 years or 50 years) benefiting American people. Even just around infrastructure, did you know that US has an overall score of C- (https://infrastructurereportcard.org/). With tragic issues like what happened with the Flint water crisis, and even the current crisis in Jackson, MIssissippi, infrastructure improvements should be one of the top items on every American’s list. Improvements to fix/update highways, bridges, internet, electrical grids, water systems, sewage systems, etc… are critical since they are used everyday by millions of Americans.

With education, teaching future generations the skills needed is critical. It’s not just the advanced skills from “STEM” majors (aka science technology engineering mathmatics) but also the basic building/trade/technical skills that support every day life (carpentry, electrian, mechanic). Education helps maintain a bustling economy. Unfortunately, the emphasis on “advanced” skills seems to outweigh any thought about the basic trade/technical skills. It doesn’t matter how skilled a brain surgeon might be at the operating room table, if the hospital is not built correctly or wired correctly, or if the mechanic does not fix the surgeon’s car correctly…. that surgeon is useless to society if something happens to the building, or operating room or even his car.

And finally, healthcare is also critical to the future of US. By guaranteeing the right to a minimum standard of healthcare, the US government can ensure a standard of living for generations. If the government were to either set a minimum standard OR provide the minimum standard of healthcare, American’s would have access to yearly general check ups which would also provide a benefit of potentially spotting future health issues ahead of time instead of having to require ER visits to handle sudden (potentially preventable) medical issues. How can a “1st world nation” really say they are “1st world” when so many rely on ER visits for healthcare?

2) Unfairness to those who have paid. Why wasn’t this argument used when the US bailed out the banks and the automobile companies during the start of the great recession? If the US government can “pay” to save corporations, why can’t the same US government that “WE THE PEOPLE” created also “pay” the debts of students?

Back in the 2008, depending on the various sources (MIT, Wiki, Rolling Stone, Balance) the US government ended paying anywhere from a minimum around $500 BILLION to over $7 TRILLION. Assuming the numbers are accurate, the reader should be reminded that the $500Billion (minimum) went to corporations. At the same time, the American dream of owning homes were being shattered by foreclosures, under water home values and personal mortgage debt. American people were literally being ignored because the government made some calculation that certain financial institutions were just “too big too fail.” Hypothetically if the $500B were to have been distributed to the approximate 300M US citizens, each citizen would have received approximately $16,700.

With Biden’s loan repayment, eligible debtors would receive $10,000. Again depending on the various sources (CNBC, Daly Caller), the US government would be paying around $330 BILLION. The payment would only target a small subset of the US population based on the criteria set by the administration. At the very minimum some 20MILLION borrowers would now be debt free and be able to divert the loan money towards some other debt or future savings. That’s 20 Million borrowers who might now be able to stop living “pay check to pay check” and be able to have the ability to plan a more financially secure future.

3) Increasing Inflation. To be honest, I’m not sure how a sudden $10,000 deduction from a balance would affect inflation. Many borrowers are only putting $300-$1000 towards their debt on a monthly basis. At most the borrower will now have an extra $300-$1000 to spend on other debt or towards something important/necessary (maybe fix a car? or emergency fund?) I don’t think the extra money will lead to the increase in inflation so suddenly. I feel like pundits talk about the $10,000 as if borrowers are going to go somewhere to spend all $10,000 at once irresponsibly. Please let’s give the borrowers some credit…


Overall, I think Biden’s Loan Debt Forgiveness Plan is great. However, I think the amount of $10,000 is too much all at once. A more reasonalbe alternative would be $5,000 to knock off the borrowers balance. I also agree with the income restrictions qualification as a way to limit high earners from this program. In my study of American history, I’ve realized that America generally rewards or favors people and corporations through various financial benefits such as tax cuts, tax incentives, and even tax loopholes. Biden’s plan is one of those rare plans that try to help the common American citizen. What’s not to like about that?

Did the California DMV get hacked?

I don’t understand why the California DMV OTP challenge page to confirm my “identity” is in Chinese. Did they do some sort of upgrade and failed to keep the OTP challenge in English? Or… Did they get hacked? When a US or state goverment system goes to some foreign language page… it doesn’t really boost the confidence in that web page.

The DMV page also made it difficult. I could not contact a service representitave nor a technical representative to ask about the validity of this OTP challenge in real time. The chat bots are UTTERLY useless. I ended up having to ping them on Facebook and Twitter… but of course… tech service isn’t available their either.

A Simple Qualitative Coffee Ranking System

To be honest, I’ve been unsatisfied at just describing what I’m tasting. As a result, I’ve decided to expand “my coffee reviews.” I recognize I’m not an coffee connesiur nor I do I have formal coffee training as a barista or other coffee related mastery or associations. I also recognize that different people will describe different flavors when tasting the same beans.

What makes me the most qualified unqualified person? I have had over 2 years of different roasters sending me light/medium/dark roast beans and I’ve come to appreciate the complexity of the roasted beans’ aromas and flavors. In some ways, I want to establish some qualitative ranking system to discover what makes a good coffee bean roaster… perhaps a way for future recomendations.

There will be seven simple/submjective aspects that I measure “yes/no”.
1) Is there an intense aroma?
2) Is there a balance between floral, fruity, and nutty aromas?
3) Is there any other aroma that’s not floral, fruity or nutty?
4) On first sip, is there an intesne taste?
5) Is there a balance of floral, fruity and nutty/earthy tastes?
6) Is there a chocolate-like flavor with each sip or after taste?
7) Do I want to drink another cup immediately after finishing this cup

NBC’s War Games!? Seriously!?

I stumbled upon this YouTube video from NBC (click here) where US experts play a mock game of China invading Taiwan.

After my initial shock of the whole concept of the mock war game wore off, I think there are two major questions that really will determine how the invasion will play out.

1) What is America’s appetite to fight a war for another country? Or what is American’s appetite to fight a war based on principles of democratic freedom?

2) What is the global response if/when nuclear weapons are used?

For #1, let’s admit it that the current war between Ukraine and Russia is a proxy war between Russia and US/NATO allies. More importantly this is a proxy war of two political ideologies: autocracy vs democracy. Despite many countries currently helping Ukraine through money, weapons and other sources of aid, Russia is dead set to reclaim Ukraine. I’m not sure that US/NATO will ever send troops to help Ukraine push Russia out. I also don’t think US/NATO will retaliate even if Russia accidentally/purposely fires upon US/NATO assets resulting in loss of life. Ultimately, US/NATOs unwillingness to commit troops for bloodshed is Russia’s current saving grace. Furthermore, as this war continues to extend, reports about future famine in African nations looms as Ukraine supplied a significant amount of the world’s wheat. Nations who are affected by the lack of food may become important players in forcing peace by supporting Russian claims. How’s that for a global political russian mafia move?

For #2, I’m not sure how the world would respond. Would the global community come together to fight against the country who first used the nuclear weapon? Or would it only condemn the first user resulting in no real consequences? Based on the fact that the global community DID NOT condemn the invasion of Ukraine, I have very little hope that the global community will protest the use of nuclear weapon. I think the “NIMBY” attitude will prevail but I fear that attitude will only lead the world towards more negative feedback such as medical issues from radiation, contaminated food and land, and human migration to get away from the radioactive zones.

Let’s talk about Gun Control

US political inaction is pretty ridiculous. I think for the most part the Republicans are the ones who are do not want to anger their NRA donors. So much for representing the people right?

This is what I think the US should do immediately.

1) The US government should create a new department whose sole purpose is to create, manage, administer and enforce a brand new gun database.
2) The new gun database will register all new gun purchases going forward. Law-abiding citizens are also required to re-register their guns in this new database. As part of the startup, existing databases from any/all states will be used to cross check previous registrations with the new registration
3) Registration involves satisfying four different requirements. First, the gun owner needs to be trained at qualified gun training centers. Second, the gun owner needs to pass an psycholocial evaluation administered by a psychologist/psychiatrist to determine if the gun owner is deemed fit to handle the responsibilities of a gun owner but also as a “law abiding citizen.” Third, a registration fee must also be paid. The fee amount will depend on the type of gun being registered. The goal of the department is to be as self-sufficient as possible relying only on registration fees to be operational. Fourth, gun owners must maintain their training, psychological evaluation and paid registration fee every 3 years. Failure to do so will result in extra penalties, extra scrutiny and forced confiscation. After all law abiding citizens shouldn’t be missing payments.
4) The US government should also seek to regulate the gun market by setting higher prices for gun ownership. Simply put, the more damage a gun is capable of doing results in the gun being more expensive. Consequently, the more damage a gun is capable of doing, the more training, the more extensive evaluation and higher registration fee.

I will admit… I don’t know if this will work. But the fact that we’ve gone over 20 years without ANY LEGISLATION IS RIDICULOUS!! If we just look at school shootings, the fact that Columbine occurred in 1999 and we have also experienced many more deadly school shootings like Virginia Tech, Sandyhook/Newton, Marjory Stoneman/Parkland, and now Robb Elementary/Uvalde. And these are just school shootings. We’ve also experienced other mass shootings like in Las Vegas, Orlando and even in Buffalo. EGADS….

WE the PEOPLE of the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA must vote for change. We must vote against the NRA interests.

Public Transit supported by Car Driving and Highway usage?

Watching this YouTube video (https://youtu.be/zysL_lkdtys) on the Tokyo public transit system, the narrator points that car driving is highly discouraged through fees and tolls. The Japanese are essentially taxing the usage of cars in favor of public transportation. By making it economically inefficient to navigate by car, the Japanese may have provided a potential solution to limiting cars being driven. I truly believe a similar system will have to exist in major GLOBAL cities in order to accomodate any climate change initiatives to reduce car pollution.

Readers who are familiar with my social media feed may have remembered I had once posed a question of why CA can’t expand the current FasTrak system (or at least in the Los Angeles area) into a fee/toll per use of the highway systems. Every driver wanting to use the highway system would be required to have the fastrak transponder in order for payments be properly deducted. The fees obviously would be used to keep the highways maintained but any excess will go into supporting and expanding the woefully sparse public transportation in Los Angeles (either through light rail, subway, bus routes).

The fees should be kept at a level where people have to think about their own car usage, trip planning and alternative means of getting from point A to point B. These fees should be kept high enough either through dynamic market pricing based on usage or at a set price adjusted every 3-5 years based on the cost of maintenance. Given that potentially half a million cars use the LA highway system each day, the amount of money generated will quickly add up.

Would this system actually work? Japan shows it’s possible but their mindset from the start during the post World War 2 rebuilding was to purposely avoid car in favor of rail system. In US, it’s such a car dominated culture that switching to an alternative transportation approach would be almost impossible. Although newer generations might be more open to the alternative transportations compared to the older generations, I personally think that LA needs to commit to buidling/rebuilding their railway systems even co-opting existing freeways to build a rail system on top of it before implementing the toll usage. The current public transportation system has to be improved at least 10fold in terms of efficiency, speed, cleanliness, and punctuality.

This Incompetent Bank…

Ugh… what the fuck are you doing?

Recently, I received communication that my mortgage loan servicer was changing to a big branded national bank. I’m not sure why the original servicer wanted to sell my mortgage but I guess it happens frequently enough. I also currently use credit cards with this big branded national bank for a few years now and haven’t really had issues using their online portal to check on my various accounts.

About a week after, I still haven’t seen the mortgage account on my online portal. I called the provided customer service line and they apparently could not reconcile the differences between the information from the mortgage with the existing information in the credit card. Somehow they fixed it and the account showed up within an hour.

Fast forward about 5 days, I noticed that “my profile” is wrong now. The order of my name is all jumbled up where my middle name is now my “first name” and my first name becaume my “last name.” I messaged Chase to have them fix it and they said it’ll be done in 72 hours. 5 days later, it’s still not fixed and my mortgage account disappeared from the portal!?!

Seriously!? I called again and they were able to re-link the mortgage account but still haven’t fixed the name. Fortunately, I was able to get the phone number for “direct call-in.”

This is just stupid.

Ghost Kitchens

With the pandemic, I think ghost kitchens have become popular operating model than before.

What are Ghost kitchens (link 2, link 3, link 4)? They are basically health inspected approved industrial or restaurant kitchens that serve food from a variety of different cuisines. They can operate independently as a “Delivery/Pick Up” model and in some cases, can also operate out of a well known restaurant. In the latter case, the only way a person would know there’s a ghost kitchen is by the address when you go pick up the food. If you’re an existing restauranteur, a possible benefit in operating a ghost kitchen from your restaurant would be to serve a different cuisine than the restaurant…. say the restaurnt focuses on Italian cuisine, the ghost kithcen could be serving up a specific niche comfort food like Mac n Cheese and Grilled Cheese.

This idea has me thinking… For any ghost kitchen to be profitable, the kitchen would need to cater to a wide variety of tastes while obviously minimizing the food cost. So what is the minimum number of “different tastes” a ghost kitchen would need to maintain? If you look at some ghost kitchens (Colony, Kitchen United), the menus are extensive and cover quite a lot of cuisines.

The kitchen would need to cater to Asian, Middle Eastern, American, European, Latin, other tasts. Even within the Asian category, there’s distinction between Indian, Malaysian, Chinese and Japanese foods. Even Latin American cuisines, there’s distinctions between the Mexican, Guatemalan, Peruvian and even Brazilian foods. For European, the variation between the northern and southern countries are pretty astounding. Looking at German food and Italian food, the cuisine from each country is different. And even if we just talk about one cuisine… like American, there’s no such thing as “American food.” Americans eat a wide variety of food ranging from BBQ meats to pizza to fried foods like fried chicken. They are all uniquely different food. This is applicable across Indian cuisine, Chinese cuisine, etc…. there are different foods made from different parts of the country but are still part of the cuisine. Can you see the problem already? A ghost kitchen wouldn’t be able to cover all these distinct cuisines let alone the distintive dishes for each cuisine.

But, assuming it’s possible, a ghost kitchen will have to sacrifice less popular cuisines in favor of more popular ones. The kitchen will need to be able to make pizza, burgers and fried dishes (fried chicken especially). The kitchen will also need to make asian rice and noodle dishes and optionally be able to make popular asian entrees like indian curry, thai curry, broccoli beef or soy ginger chicken. The kitchen should also be able to make burritos, nachos and tacos. For more traditionalist dishes, italian pasta with various sauces Finally, middle eastern dishes like gyros, shawarmas and kebabs to round out the kitchen. If each listed food has at minimum 3-5 variations, the ghost kitchen has to be able to manage at least 20-30 different types of cooking styles.

But… I think these ghost kitchens will start a greater food revolution and food evolution. The close proximity of the various cuisines could lead to Indian Curry Poutine!? Broccoli Beef burrito?! Gyro pizza?!

What is Your Rich Life?

I recently listened to an old/earlier All The Hacks podcast episode “How to Live Your Rich Life with Ramit Sethi.” This episode is amazing. I totally recommend everyone to listen to this podcast and ask yourself one question…. “WHAT IS YOUR RICH LIFE?

This question comes at an interesting time in my life. During the last two years, I have actually been thinking of what it means to live comfortably. I’ve been watching, learning and reading on topics related to “FIRE” aka Financial Independence, Retire Early (Wikipedia), 401K contributions, what is a comfortable retirement, Roth IRA contributions, backdoor Roth, stock invesment, passive income generation, and probably a lot more other topics. I’ve been in the process of trying to set myself up for future success. Earning passive income fascinates me and will require time and money to setup in order to fully start generating that income. Passive income can come from a number of different sources mainly real estate, side hustle / business, and stock/mutual fund/ETF dividends.

But back to the question: WHAT IS MY RICH LIFE? Currently, I don’t know. Let me think about it.

***UPDATE***
I bought his book from Amazon to read.