Cheat Sheet Q&A:
Today’s topic: States usurping the Electoral College
I read an article by Dick Morris on Newsmax that said 9 states have voted to remove the Electoral College. I don’t know if it is true but it said they only need about 7 or 8 more states to ratify. If it is true, this would be a major change and open up even further the confirmed voter fraud like the 2012 elections where certain precincts had over 100% (of registered voters) voting Democrat.
I have feelings and thoughts in both directions on whether or not the popular vote should be the deciding factor in elections. But I also believe in voter ID laws. I would really like to get your opinion.
Bottom Line: Well the premise of the article you read is true. It hasn’t received much attention but ten states and the District of Columbia have passed legislation to pledge 100% of their electoral votes to the winner of the national popular vote. While states don’t have the right to change the Electoral College process, they do have the right to determine how their electoral votes are distributed. The states (and district) that have adopted this process are:
California, D.C., Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont & Washington
- Those states and D.C. account for 165 Electoral votes
270 Electoral votes is the number of votes required to win a Presidential Election. So effectively if states representing just 105 electoral votes were to sign on to this vote pledge it could be a very real situation for future Presidential elections. It’s quite clear who is driving this effort. All of the states that have passed this state law are traditional blue states that have been reliable states for Democratic Presidential nominees since 1984 (Reagan’s landslide election win).
So what’s my opinion…? It’s a fundamental argument really. The founding fathers set up our country as a representative republic; the United States is not a democracy. If states effectively find and end around to the Constitution with Presidential Elections they will have effectively democratized the Presidential process. If the Constitution could be usurped by the states when picking a President what’s next? It’s important to remember the purpose of the Electoral College. It’s to ensure that every state is represented equitably based upon their population. There have been four Presidential elections that would have had different outcomes had the Electoral College process not been in place. The Presidents that would have never been:
- John Quincy Adams
- Rutherford B. Hayes
- Benjamin Harrison
- George W. Bush
There is also another argument to be made. Who are state leaders really looking after if they decide that your vote, which is intended to determine who your state will support, instead is only included in how the rest of the country votes?
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So how far does Social Security really go these days?
Bottom Line: Social Security was never designed to be a primary source of income in retirement. We know over the course of time that increasingly that is the case as many Americans aren’t financially prepared for retirement. But just how far will the average person get with their Social Security payment?
The firm Healthview Services studied how much the average person collecting Social Security pays in out of pocket medical expenses (including their portion of Medicare if they’re on it). They found that by next year, the average Social Security recipient will use 70% of their monthly Social Security payment for healthcare expenses… And that trend will only grow.
- By 2025, 98% of Social Security payments will go to cover healthcare expenses
So as you’re planning for retirement you can essentially assume that you’re Social Security is a wash with what your healthcare expense will be and that you’ll need additional streams of income to support your day to day life.
How much are you really worth to your employer...? Knowing your number is key:
Bottom Line: Do you know how much the average person doing what you’re doing in your area actually earns? Don’t feel bad, most people don’t. Knowing could provide you with a significant advantage as you’re either interviewing for a new job and asking for a certain salary or if you’re looking for a raise with an existing employer. Two websites that you can use to help make your value determination (generally for free) are:
You can make your case for how much you’re worth based upon average incomes for your services and how you compare to the average person in your professional capacity. Building an analytical case for your value should significantly improve the likely hood that you get the starting salary you should command or the raise that you may well deserve.
If you want the best mobile deal - sign the contract:
Bottom Line: We’ve seen more changes in mobile plans for smart phones in the last six months than in the prior six years combined. The good news is that competition is driving the overall cost of smart device ownership and use lower. That is with one possible exception.
T-Mobile kicked off a trend of non-contract based mobile plans vs. the traditional two year contract. But is it a good deal? Generally speaking its not…
The benefit to you from signing a two year contract is a subsidized phone. The majority of the expense of the phone is paid for upfront by the service provider. For example. The actual cost of an iPhone 5S if you were to buy it at retail is $649. However the cost to you if you sign a two-year contract with the average service provider is $199 (these numbers are similar for other leading smart phones).
Research from the Wall Street Journal demonstrated that for the average current model phone you’d actually end up paying about $200 more over the course of two years by not signing a two year contract with the average service provider plan. Now maybe the flexibility of not being under contract is worth it to you but if you’re paying $600+ for a phone you’ll likely want to keep it for two year at least anyway. So unless you really do want service provider flexibility you’ll be better off staying with the two year contract model over the long run.
Is staging a home really worth it?
Bottom Line: Staging a home has taken on a life of its own in the HGTV era. Along with shows dedicated to various ways to decorate and position a home to sell; we have companies that now professionally stages homes. So how much of an impact does staging really have on would be home buyers?
The College of William and Mary studied this by surveying 820 home buyers. Like homes were presented. Some of the homes were staged and some were actually made to look unattractive – often with extreme colors like purple walls. Here’s what they found:
- There wasn’t a difference in the price that home buyers would be willing to pay
That’s not to say that there isn’t any potential benefit to staging though…
- For home buyers who liked multiple homes they were more like to purchase the like staged homes over the un-staged homes
So perhaps the takeaway is that staging can be a positive for helping you sell your home more quickly but don’t expect it to net you more money in process.