Steve Gillman's Blog

This is my personal blog. My writing services are offered on the website homepage. Here I just keep readers of my books and my newsletter subscribers up to date on what I'm doing. I also use this as a creative outlet for anything I feel like writing about.

Recent Posts

Is No Income Tax a Good Thing?

December 13, 2015 - Florida has no individual income tax, a situation my wife and I could appreciate when we first moved here. As our income dropped it became less relevant. But apart from our personal cost/benefit analysis, what does a lack of income tax mean to various groups of people, and specifically, what does it mean to the poor?

Logically, when compared to states that do tax income, Florida's lack of a personal income tax benefits those who have larger incomes. The poor don't have as much income to tax, so they can't benefit as much from such an arrangement. That's clear enough, right?

Of course the tinkle-down theory suggests that, when left untaxed, the wealthy will shower the poor with wonderful jobs cleaning their toilets, mowing their lawns, and... Read More: No IncomeTax

My Monday Money Games

November 7, 2014 - This year I've made money dozens of ways and used dozens of strategies to cut our expenses. The bills get paid and we save money. But I make it a point to enjoy most of what I do, which is why I'm not getting rich.

The self-help theory found in many books that says you should "Do what you love and the money will follow" is largely nonsense. Well, unless you happen to love sales and marketing and self-promotion as much as the authors of those books -- in which case the money often does follow. Otherwise, I figure if you enjoy your work and can pay the bills, great -- and if you hate your job, well, make enough money to do what you love even if more money doesn't follow.

What I love to do is play money games, but on a small scale. I enjoy chasing credit card points, getting bank bonuses, and using intricate savings strategies, like "stacking savings. An example of the latter: I recently bought our cat food for 50% off by buying it on sale, using a coupon, and paying with a discounted gift card that I bought using a 2% cash-back credit card (that's four strategies on... Read More: Money Games

Falling Wages - My Own Measures and What the Statistics Say

October 17, 2015 - Are wages going up or falling? You might think it's an easy question to answer, but there are so many different ways to measure how much we make that it is difficult to know exactly what's happening to employees in the United States.

For example, should we look at household income as being indicative of how well people are doing? The problem with this figure is that it might remain the same as more and more households have two people working or employees work longer hours. Can we really say that we're doing no worse if we need to work harder than ever to make the same amount of money?

I have my own ways of comparing what I experienced in the past to the situation today. For example, my old journals and notes tell me that I averaged $8.63 per hour as a pizza delivery driver in 1985, in Traverse City, Michigan. The BLS inflation calculator says that's equivalent to... Read More: Falling Wages

The Job Interview Answers in Your Head

October 11, 2015 - Do you have a job interview coming soon? Honesty is the best policy if you want to keep those unemployment compensation checks coming. But what if you want that job you're applying for, or at least want the paycheck and health insurance that comes with it? In that case you might have to massage the truth a little to come up with answers an employer wants to hear.

Of course, when your future boss looks at you and asks you things that are too personal, too stupid, or just can't be answered honestly while maintaining any chance of getting the job, you can always look him in the eye and, doing your best Jack Nicholson, say, "You want the truth? You can't handle the truth!"

But say it in your head, of course. That's where you have to keep all of your best responses. This more-interesting conversation going on in your imagination will... Read More: Job Interview Answers

Other Posts

Flying El Cheapo Airlines

November 3, 2014 - When I booked my $285 flight from Tampa to Denver with Frontier Airlines, I assumed it would be a low quality experience and that they probably don't clean the planes. I also assumed they would charge for food and checked luggage and the seat assignment if I wanted to pick mine. But I didn't care where I sat and I bring snacks and hand sanitizer. I just wanted a cheap flight.

Of course the modus operandi of big business these days is deception. It is deception verging on fraud, but perhaps not quite crossing the line (although I might draw the line differently if I was a regulator). There's a reason why uber-cheap Spirit Airlines is the most hated airline in the U.S., and it isn't because of the uncomfortable seats.

I booked the flight through Expedia, and somewhere in the process (and it is a process), they mentioned that "The airline may have extra charges for carry-on luggage and extra services." I don't recall if I learned this before or after... Read More: El Cheapo Airlines

My Accidental Participation in Democracy

September 18, 2014 - This is my mostly true story of a trip to the polls...

One November morning I went to our local public library to get a book. You know, one of those square things made out of pieces of paper that have things printed on them. Anyhow, as soon as I got out of the car and saw the gauntlet I would have to walk through I realized it was Election Day (which is apparently important enough to be capitalized according to my grammar checker). There are laws stipulating that political activities have to be a certain distance from the polls, but our library has a long covered walkway leading to the door, providing just enough barely-legal space for a dozen red-faced people to loudly educate us citizens.

I took the pamphlets that were handed to me because well... you have to if you want to pass by without the voices getting louder. I glanced at the political sales pitches briefly once inside. Mostly they explained... Read More: Choosing Which Turd to Vote For

How to Make $2 per Hour Writing

August 12, 2014 - The pay scale indicator started at $2 per hour. That should have been a clue. I had signed up for Freelancer.com, a popular freelance platform to look for writing jobs, and I poked around to see what was currently available. One project that caught my eye involved finance articles. I could do that. But I noticed the rate was $3 per article, and the client required that the writer have a Bachelor's degree from a U.S. university. I laughed, thinking this was an anomaly. Then I started to get emails like the following from the website: Here are the latest projects and contests matching your profile and... Read More: Freelance Writing

I Made $2.71 per Hour

My internet business income had been falling for a couple years so I decided in early 2013 that it was time to get a job, just in case. I didn't realize how low typical pay was now, because I hadn't had a job in about nine or ten years. After discovering that a 48-year-old with no recent job experience is not what most employers are looking for, I went to Labor Finders, a temporary work... Read More: Less Than Minimum Wage

Is Non-Conformity a Mental Disorder?

Did I have a mental disorder as a child? Perhaps not according to the standards of the time, but using today's "scientific" understanding I must have had one, because I was crazy enough to think for myself. For example, when I was in junior high school me and a friend were accused of knocking over some tables in the lunchroom and so we were ordered by a teacher to stay after lunch and clean the room as punishment. Since I didn't knock over any tables, and the teacher didn't want to hear that, I simply left, and my friend followed... Read More: Non-Conformity Disorder

My Skeptical Look at Jury Duty

I received a juror summons a few days ago, and so each evening after 6:00 I have to call in to see if I'm needed at the courthouse the next morning. It's rude to give us prospective jurors just twelve hours' notice that we can't go to work the next day, and it's exploitive to pay us just $15 daily for serving. I'm a skeptic of the whole "duty" concept, to say the least. It's possible I'll get in trouble for snickering or sighing when the judge bring ups that "citizens duty" crap, as he probably will. I've been through the selection process once before and listened to the little speech the well-paid judge made. For those readers who do not know about my attitude and/or perspective on such "social duties," I'll make it very clear: "Duty" is a concept invented to... Read More: Jury Duty Fraud

The Politics of Personal Responsibility

I want to suggest a set of rules that we can use when deciding who to vote for and what laws to support. We might call them strong guidelines, because I do not believe in absolute rules, but these ones make sense to me in most contexts. They start with the simple proposition that we should not support laws which require actions which we would feel were unethical if we did them ourselves. In other words, if it is wrong for me to do something, it is wrong for me to hire others to do it (which is what we are doing when we vote for... Read More: Politics and Responsibility

Windows for President

It had been rumored for months that the first non-human candidate might be entering the presidential race, but now it is official. At a press conference held this morning Microsoft announced that its new Windows 8 operating system will soon be on the ballot in all 50 states. It isn't clear how this will be accomplished, but the process has "been in the works for a while" according to a Microsoft spokesperson. High-ranking members of the Republican and Democratic parties were consulted as far back as two years ago, but negotiations broke down quickly with... Read More: President Windows


Other Pages

Monkey Prostitution - A true story from the economics lab.

Family Duty - What do you really owe to your family?

Context - How important it is in judging almost anything and anyone.

The Morbid Math Report - How many people will die as you read this page?

A Case for Higher Tax Rates on the Rich - I try to clear up some misconceptions.

The Politics of Personal Responsibility - Is it right to vote for that which I could not do?

Taxing the Middle Class - An example of how the rich pay less.

What is the Value of Labor? - More questions than answers.

Thoughts About Money - Wages as profit and more...

Living Cheap in Naples - Part two; cheap meals and entertainment.

Are We Less Violent? - A look at the evidence of history.

The Stroop Test - Test your mental coordination!

Windows for President - Microsoft makes a presidential bid.

Radical Welfare Reform - Lower cost for a bigger safety net?

Do I Love This Country? - I don't hate it.

Can We Be Born Again? - My non-Christian answer.

The Spread of Pathogenic Ideas - A parallel with natural phenomena.

Bounty Hunting - An excerpt from 101 Weird Ways to Make Money.

Discrimination Against Atheists - It is common, to say the least.

Is It Arrogant to Think for Yourself? - An answer.

Marriage and Immigration - If we eliminate marriage, what about immigration?

Mountains I Have Climbed - A list and links to pages were I've written about my experiences.

First Television Interview - On FOX news.

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