Direct Payment of Education in Haiti

I want to let you know about an experiment I have been involved in for the last 8 months, since

January 2018. I directly funded 2 students college education in Haiti.

My reason for doing this was because I believe that increase in dissemination of knowledge is what will ultimately improve the world.

Education in a foreign country, especially Haiti, is an order of magnitude cheaper than in the USA ($800-$1500 per semester).

I was introduced to the first student, Wathson, via a mutual friend, who lives in the United States, who had been supporting him via another organization as he grew up. Once he reached college age, the support through that organization terminated.

She had structured to have him come to the USA for college at the University of Northern Iowa but that fell through during an interview for a visa at the US embassy in Haiti. An unfortunate setback. Luckily, he was able to enroll at L’Université Notre Dame d’Haïti located in Port au Prince, which you can find more about in the link. Please note that this is not related to Notre Dame in the USA in any way.

The other student was a friend of Wathson’s. His name is Jhon. He is going to a different school, Universite GOC which is also in Port au Prince, Haiti. He is studying Engineering, which is important to me, being a mechanical engineer myself.

One semester for Wathson was $1,300 while one for Jhon was $840 due to being at different schools.

I am in frequent Facebook contact with both of these students and have contacted both colleges directly at various times. You can also via their websites if you are interested or I can relay information between you and them for you. You can also contact Jhon and Wathson via Facebook if you want, you can find them via my friends list.

Both students have invited me to Haiti, but unfortunately time and money say I can’t make the trip quite yet, although I would love to in the future.

I believe the constant contact allowed via Facebook and other forms of communication with people in distant countries should be a force for good in the world. I believe it should help us grow closer in community with other people as well as realize the difficulties they are facing.

I am asking anyone who has interest in helping educate people in other countries to contact me to help fund the next semester of college for these guys as well as Wathon’s sister who is hoping to start studying accounting in September 2018.

I have already paid ½ of Jhon’s next semester so between Wathson and Jhon I have $420+$1300 to pay, $1,720 total.

I transfer this money directly to them via Western Union and then they pay the colleges directly. I understand this is a leap of faith for some and it is fine if you feel that way.

If you feel there might be some value in this and I would be happy to accept donations and take responsibility to transfer the money to these guys..

At the moment, this transaction will have no economic benefit for you. There is no tax write off as this is not happening through a 501 c3 or anything. This is just people directly helping other people. I am trying to champion help for helps sake, reaching out to people in need and making a difference, for the long term, as I can.

There is a potential for an organization to appear in the future if there is sufficient interest in this endeavor. There are many other massive challenges in helping Haiti develop as a country, some of which are caused by our own actions, crop dumping.

You can contact me at hooglandaxel@gmail.com to discuss further if you are interested in helping or learning more about this activity.

Thank you for your consideration and interest. I have asked Jhon and Wathson to provide me some feedback about their first semesters in college so I will hope to share that soon.

One Way A Basic Income Could Work

There is probably more than one way a basic income could work but I want to share at least one that I have considered to help people see that it might be possible.
First I want you to consider if there are people living with a basic income in today’s society? What provides for their income if they are? Why is there a basic income provided for them?

There are many people living on a basic income today. There are many different groups receiving a basic income and they receive their basic income under different circumstances and provided from by different sources. Analyzing these groups and sources could help us understand the opportunities for more widely possible basic incomes.

The first obvious example of people receiving a basic income is children. They are provided for by their parents because the kids can’t provide for themselves.

Another group is the mentally disabled, again, because they can’t provide for themselves they are provided for by loved ones.

The third group that receives a basic income is those on physical disability from the government. Again, the requirements is that they can’t provide for themselves so they are provided for, this time, not by loved ones but because the government has mandated that it is important for us to take care of others who can’t take care of themselves.

The final group that receives a basic income is the retired. Their basic income is slightly different from the previous groups because they have created their own basic income. The reason they need a basic income is similar, in that many of them might not be able to physically work anymore so they have to create a situation where income is provided for them while they can’t actively create it.

So the similarities between all the groups is that they need money to provide their daily needs and they aren’t working themselves to create the income. The first 2 groups, kids and mentally disabled, are provided for by loved ones.

The physically disabled are provided for by the government and the retired are provided for by themselves.

Which of these is most applicable to a world wide model?

First, the love model? Where does the money for the love model come? The money from the love model comes from working income of the parents or loved ones who care for the disabled or children. The guardians have to continually create new income to cover the needs of those in their care. If they lose their job the basic income provided for the loved disappear. The important idea here is that income comes from continued work/creation of value.

Unfortunately love, doesn’t seem to be working for the world. It doesn’t seem like we’ve produced enough love to take care of all the people who need it. Love usually comes from a place of closeness and stems from family ties. I want to believe we are one human family, but by our mass actions, we have shown we are not there yet.

The 2nd way, governmental care, has an income collected from the working class. This class is likely providing for some loved ones already, and are also providing a basic income for another class, the disabled, who they don’t necessarily know personally or love directly. At a fundamental level, the income from the government really comes from the same place as the money from the first group, from working people continually creating value.

The government assistance model for basic income has shown some more success in places that have more government oversight as well as a more robust economy that can handle more being “siphoned” (taxed) from the working populace. The difficulty here is that that the governments money ultimately comes from the working people. They are only able to support so many non-working people. .

The final group, the retired, have their money come from growth or dividends of capital from businesses that they are owners in, stock owners or direct private business owners, that they have accumulated their whole life. Dividends are actually income (value), produced by the first group, the working class, but that is not awarded to the working class! It is awarded to the owners of the business. This is a very important concept because it gives us a glimpse of where we can obtain income if we aren’t working. If you are a business owner you will gain some profits from the business you own.
It is important to understand a business idea here. Your employees must produce at least as much value as you are paying them. Most businesses employees actually produce more value than they cost the company. They have to if the business wants to show a profit!

Think of the business that you work for. You should ask, how does this business make money. Then you should ask “How much profit per employee a year does this business create?” You should also ask “How much profit do I create for the business a year?”

Good businesses know how much profit they make per employee. For example, Facebook makes $188,000 per employee per quarter! That’s $752,000 per employee per year. That is why starting employees at Facebook can make over $100k a year, because they add way more value than that to the company each year. The profit you make over the salary you pay the employees is the extra profit that can be paid to the business owners. They are awarded this extra income for taking the initial financial risk of starting a business, investing in capital, etc. It is just as easy, or even easier, to invest in a business and lose all your money if you are starting from scratch.

The important idea from above, business owners can potentially gain income from a business in which they are solely owners, they don’t have to be doing any work and that is a form of basic income we see today.
Somebody has to do the work, today. These are the workers. Now I am going to ask you to take a mental journey to a future with me where we can envision a business, started by a person where they invest a lot of their money into fully autonomous machines, such that there are 0 people actually working in the factory. There is solar energy provided for the plant. There are autonomous robots creating, whatever product you want and the maintenance is also handled by robots. There are 0 people working in this factory, but the factory is producing a product, something of value, that other people will pay for. In this scenario, there is still a business owner, there is still value being created and income coming in, but there is no work being done by any people. This is exactly the scenario in which a basic income is viable. Now let’s say this person’s autonomous factory makes shirts. Now another person has a 100% autonomous factory where he grows food. These 2 people can create enough food and clothes between them, while neither is physically working himself, to feed and cloth each other. Now consider a 3rd person who has no factory of his own. The 2 autonomous factory owners factories can produce enough that they could feed and clothe this 3rd man but will they? That is the critical question! I believe in an abundance economy, which is what you would have when everything is being created from 100% autonomous work, that the capital owners, the factory owners, would be generous people. My belief stems from some fantastically rich people today, Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, Mark Zuckerberg, who have so much wealth to be in the position of capital owners who have 0 necessity for work and who are working to give it away.

Since we now have one idea for a possibility for how a basic income would work I think it should be pretty obvious that the goal is clear. We should work to invest in factories and other methods of creation that are 100% autonomous.

Once we are creating enough to provide for everyone the desire and ability to distribute the spoils of this abundance should manifest rather quickly from either the care and responsibility we feel towards our fellow humans, when our own survival is not threatened, or from the fear that our survival will be threatened if we keep a large segment of the population under-cared for. Either way, there should be a path for care for all when abundance is possible.

I realize that the thought of fully autonomous factories seems fantastical. But it truly is not! Complete autonomy is just the final step in what has been happening for many years, at least since the start of the industrial revolution. The increase in productivity of any individual is the hallmark of our age. I personally am paid more than the average person because the tools and knowledge I have access to allow me to produce more. Full autonomy is the final act in that progression. Infinite creation with no input. If you can’t see that end you lack creativity. It is the ultimate efficiency, which is what our economy is working towards.

Some examples include the push towards autonomous cars. While there is certainly investment upfront, the final output, value add, work done, autonomously is the obvious outcome. The best thing about the investment is that once the investment is made in full self sustaining autonomy, robots fixing themselves, that is the end of the cycle.

Then the imperative question is, who owns the robots?

How does the value get to the people who don’t own the robots?

These are important questions and ones that must be considered. If you aren’t able to consider that this is a very likely future though, we won’t’ get there and the answers don’t’ matter.

Redistribution Of Wealth Is Not Sufficient To Fix World Poverty

“We as individuals, we must extend peace and knowledge growth throughout the world, for that is the only way we all prosper.” – Axel Hoogland

Redistribution of wealth is not sufficient to fix poverty because there is not yet enough wealth in the world.

There is $217 trillion dollars of valuable stuff in the world.

$217 trillion/ 7 billion people = $30k/person.

Therefore, if you are one of the people reading this who has more than $30,000 in net worth you should consider redistributing your own wealth before you call for Jeff Bezos or Bill Gates (who IS redistribution his wealth) or others to redistribute their wealth.

We need to understand the difference between production and net worth.
This is the issue people, including Oxfam, have and perpetuate when they say “the richest 7 people could end poverty”. To say that a billionaire who “made” $40 billion in a year in capital stock appreciation could “fix poverty” is ignorant.No one is stopping any person from getting rich and giving all their money away. If you have a great idea to start a company, by all means, start it up and give your money away! Show us how it’s done!

Anyone who holds a significant amount of shares of a company likely created that company from nothing. They accumulated wealth because people use their services because their services or products work so we give them money for them. These people take something, add value, and sell it to us, making themselves rich and our lives easier in the process.
Most people are bad at making money or adding value or thinking creativity. That is why we work for companies that tell us how to add value. That is why companies pay us a part of what value we create, because we wouldn’t know how to do it ourselves.

Most people also have excess money from their jobs, which they then re-invest in the stock market or in government bonds because they don’t know what constructive thing to do with their excess money also.
You shouldn’t be mad at Bezos! He created a company, he did an Initial Public Offering (IPO) of stock. During an IPO people say “I have an idea that I think I can make you money.” People then agree with that person and give him the money they worked to earn, in the hopes that he will make them more money with it, because they can’t think of a way to make that money work themselves.

So, if someone has started from very little, made a move to say “I can add value” and people have both freely given them money (working capital) for stock (part ownership of a company) and then that person DID add value and create a very useful company that millions of people use for it’s efficiency, why would you want to then take that money away from that person who you gave it to in the first place? We should give those people more money! Which is exactly what happens in the stock market. The main purpose of the stock market it to get money from people who don’t know what to do with it to people who have an idea of how to add value.

The only way to raise the poor from poverty is to give them better tools to produce more. I am only as successful as the tools I have access to, knowledge being a tool. If you are a person in the middle of Africa, with no access to the knowledge that has been built up for hundreds of years, you are at a distinct disadvantage, through no fault of your own. This is one reason I like “One Acre Fund”. They are helping people learn to produce more, not just handing out charity. The old “teach a man to fish” axiom. That being said, there are many even more efficient ways to farm than these people are being taught. These other methods are initially capital intensive and lead to fewer workers to produce more goods, creating lower prices.

The other thing to note is that the world GDP is only $17,300 a year. As I mentioned above, the only way for everyone to be on a level playing field is to raise the worldwide GDP. How do we do that? Through investment in technology and innovation. As I said, you are only as good as the tools you have and the value you create. The more knowledge people have, the more tools they can use and the more value they can create. You can see some companies are very good at creating profit per employee like Facebook and Google. Others are not so good. We should continue to work to improve the profit per person which comes down to value created per person. People can only create more value with better tools!

Another thing we should learn about investment of capital comes from Norway and Venezuela. Both countries discovered oil and the oil was at least partially drilled by the state. What they did with the profits after that is instrumental though. Venezuela used the money to subsidize many things and pay for the government to run. This worked, as long as there was always more oil and people willing to pay for it. But once it ran out, bad times.

Norway took a different approach. They also saw the oil as belonging to the people, they could have paid each person some of the oil money (but they didn’t) but they did something (also somewhat socialist) but at least it involved long term thinking. They continued to collect taxes from the people but they used the profits from the oil sales to invest in real estate and businesses around the world! This will provide them income for many years to come. In fact the Norwegian Oil Fund, which holds assets around the world, has $1 Trillion dollars of assets! This is about 1% of the world stock markets! They own 0.5% of Apple, the company! I bet you didn’t know that. It is good that Norway has tied it’s success to the success of others. That way they are less likely to fight with anyone, as a decline in value of anything around the world negatively impacts them also. The Oil Fund holds about $200,000 per Norwegian. I bet Venezuela wishes they had that kind of money saved up, instead of having spent it.

I believe that this is a good way to see world relations. I am personally invested around the world also, via International and Emerging Market index funds.

Of the top 10 holdings in the Emerging markets fund, 7 of the businesses are in China, 1 in Russia, 1 in Brazil and 1 in South Africa. As you can see, it is in my benefit for the rest of the world to do good as I have invested in them also!

If you look in your 401K or other investments I bet you will find you also have holdings in other countries. It’s time to realize we are one world, one economy, we can’t win by hurting others because there are no others, we are all in this together.

Sovereign wealth funds (like the Norwegian oil fund) are basically a step towards Universal Basic Income. They use assets (oil minerals) that should be for everyone, if found on public lands, and invest the proceeds for the good of everyone. I mentioned at the very start of this post that if you split up the whole world’s assets there would be $30k per person. But Norway has $200k per person in this fund, from public land. Now we could ask if they should share that money with the rest of the world? I would argue no at this point, although it would be an interesting debate. But the facts are that would open it up to every country being obligated to giving away all it’s goods. I believe there is value to trade, but I think that this type of discussion should happen in all countries related to their assets. What we need to do is create more assets. Then each person could have more. $30k per person is not sufficient!

The USA does not have a sovereign wealth fund, but some states do. Texas is one. It is also funded by oil revenues and land. They use it to fund their public schools. A good use of basic income money and the point I am trying to make with this whole post, that education is important! It sounds like they need a little more in their fund to completely pay for school though.

“Although the FSP constitutes a majority of the funding received by public schools, public schools receive other funding, such as state and federal grant funds, and that funding is not described in this manual.” – Funding of Texas Public Schools

People need to realize that the world is so interconnected that we don’t win by making others lose. The Sovereign wealth fund of Saudi Arabia invested money in Uber, as well as many other things. Did you know you are making money for Saudi Arabia each time you use an Uber? We need to realize that the pie is not of finite size. Through education and innovation we can make the pie grow and it has to to make enough for everyone.

I can see why foreign governments are skeptical of any help by outsiders, as I wrote in a short story that I didn’t publish, yet. Many countries believe other countries don’t have the best wishes for each other. That has certainly been the case in the past. There has been a lot of exploitation of countries by each other in the past. We, young and old, need to realize that we have the greatest opportunity for collaboration in history! We can connect with literally anyone else on the planet! Learn what hardships and joys they have.We can learn that other people don’t really hate us and we don’t really hate them.

I am personally helping a young man in Haiti attend college there. I converse almost daily with him via Facebook and I am in contact with his school to try to learn what opportunities they have to help make their country better.

In your neighborhood, you want your neighbors house to look good, and you want your neighbor to be successful. You don’t think, I need to take my neighbor’s job because there is only 1 job in town. That is how we need to think about other countries.

It will be difficult. There are people who want to kill us. There are people who are born into societies and brainwashed to believe things that are not true. We need hard men and women to protect us from those people and countries. But as individuals, we must extend peace and knowledge growth throughout the world, for that is the only way we all prosper.

What Color is the Sky? A Book Celebration (and review)

“It’s a wonderful thing to behold when you see someone take control of their finances AND their life.” – Finley

I finished my 2nd read of “What Color is the Sky” this weekend. What Color is the Sky is the 2nd book by a personal friend of mine, Michael Finley. As I said in the title, this is both a review and a celebration of a great book. I believe it is one of the best investment books available because it delivers useful, actionable, information instead of vague concepts. Because of this I have personally bought and given away over 40 copies of this book to friends and family  (and I hope to give more in the future, and that people read them!). A great feature of this book is that each chapter is 2 pages long and covers 1 topic. The book delivers a wealth of information in a short enough read for the average person. The average person doesn’t want to or have time to read 30 pages about stock market bubbles, timing the market or index investing. Finley delivers concise, precise, useful information that shouldn’t tax your attention span.

There are 5 stages in the book.

Stage 1 is simply Finley giving you a pep talk. He wants you to know that you are able to manage your own investing, or at least that you should be able to find someone to help you along but who won’t screw you (like 95% of financial “advisors” (salesmen) these days).

Stage 2 includes a lot of chapters informing you about what smart investing is NOT.
Smart investing is not trying to guess which one stock will do good each month.
Smart investing is not listening to your uncle who is not educated on investing.
Smart investing is not trying to find the best managed mutual fund and changing it each year or two.
Smart investing is not  investing in something because everyone else is (housing bubble, tech bubble, tulip mania).

Stage 3 includes a many chapters informing you about what smart investing IS.
Smart investing is investing in index funds (or target date funds which are made of index funds).
Smart investing means you are diversified through various classes of investments (US, international, bonds, REITS).
Smart investing is understanding opportunity cost, the rule of 72, taxes and different types of account you can save money in (401k, 403b, 529, IRA, ROTH or traditional).
You could skip right to stage 3 of the book if you are really bursting to get the knowledge of what you should do, but if you do you need to go back and read the start of the book. This whole book needs to be read, by everyone and I will buy it for you, if you need me too. As Mike often mentions in the book, he is not paid by Vanguard to promote their product, he just believes they are doing what they do the best. Similarly, I believe Mike is providing the most unbiased, useful, actionable (helps you actually make investment decisions) advice in an easy to understand format.


Stage 4 builds on stage 3 with more practical actionable advice.
Discusses buy and hold (vs selling constantly to buy “winners”), different asset classes such as large capitalization stocks, small capitalization stocks, REITS and bonds.
Discusses international vs domestic stocks.
It also discusses rebalancing your portfolio, asset allocation as well as one of my favorite topics the 1 and done fund, the Target Date Fund.

Stage 5 is rather short. It encourages you to continue your financial education with recommendations of some good books. It encourages you to seek fee-only advisors if necessary.

Finley also uses a chapter to provide his vision for the future. He speaks about institutional investors, who are collectively losing million of our dollars to fund “managers”. Many large state and company investment funds offer poor funds. He wants to change that. We must demand the change and to do that you must be informed.
Finally, Finley encourages you to share what you have learned. As is his life goal, educating and empowering others to become the best they can be, he encourages the readers to help others learn more about investing and personal growth. That is part of what I am trying to do by writing this blog and this post, teaching others what I have learned in hopes that it will make their lives better and ultimately, make the world a better place. Active fund “managers” are generally providing negative value to the world and we need to stop that, so do your part, learn, become educated, get rich and live a rich, fulfilling life.

You can find Finley’s book here on Amazon (as I said I get nothing from this, he doesn’t even know I wrote this until he will see it on Facebook). I will buy you the book if you don’t think you can afford it. Leave a comment below if you’d like me to buy you a copy. You can’t afford to not read this book and I can’t afford for you to not read this book! Changing the way the whole market operates is in my, your and the world’s best interest. Forward to a better future!

My IRRATIONAL Fear – Short term market collapse

You NEED to understand that the market is risky, in the short term, but so is every other place to put your money, including under your mattress (inflation risk!). – Axel Hoogland (yes I quoted myself)

My IRRATIONAL fear is a short term stock market collapse (meaning stock prices go down for a year or 2, similar to 2008 market collapse) (Learn about what the stock market is here).I am afraid of this because I am continually telling people to invest their money in the stock market. Most people are already invested in the stock market (but don’t know how their money is being managed or what exactly they are invested in). Some are only invested in bonds (which is risky as you are losing money to inflation). Some will pull their money out of the stock market at the first sign of trouble or market dip, which happens often (dips) but usually the market recovers quickly and they would lose on the gains. When investing in the market people should always ask themselves “What do I need this money for?” You NEED to understand that the market is risky, in the short term, but so is every other place to put your money, including under your mattress (inflation risk!).

My greatest fear is being wrong. I hate to give people incorrect information. It is ok to be wrong on some things. If you recommend someone eat at a restaurant they will be upset with you if they don’t enjoy it they will choose to never eat there again and might just stop taking your advice on restaurants.

If you recommend something to do with investing people’s money, something that they don’t completely understand themselves, and they seem to lose money (even if it is only for a short time and then it comes back in a year or two) they may hate you forever. People will be sure that there was a better option for them to invest their money in. They will not know what that option was, but they will be sure it was better than following your advice.

Someone is is almost always better at doing something for you than you will be at doing it for yourself. Some things require training to learn how to do. Many people do not feel comfortable fixing their own car. They take it to an expert, a mechanic. They don’t feel they have access to the right tools or knowledge (and that’s often true) so they pay someone to do it for them.

Unfortunately many people are happy to let an “expert” manage their money, for a large fee! The problem is these people are not experts, they are “salespeople”! You don’t let the car salesman fix your car and you shouldn’t let a “financial salesman” manage your money. The truth is that as a whole all fund managers will underperform the stock market. This is because of the fees they charge and because they are bad at guessing (yes they are guessing) which companies will perform better than average on any given year. Whenever someone sells a stock remember someone is on the other side of that deal guessing that that stock is going up! As a whole, all managed money will underperform (measured by percent returns to clients after fees) the total amount of unmanaged (index funds) market. Certainly some money managers will pick good and outperform the market and many will underperform and pick worse stocks than the market average, but all charge high fees. That is why index funds generally are the best place to put your money. To further diversify you should put your money in a Target Date fund which automatically transfers your money to bonds (safer investments) as you reach retirement.

A question people often ask is

Q.The stock market is high, should I pull money out of the market?

A. I ask them “What will you do with your money it if you do “pull it out” of the stock market?” The stock market should always be at the highest it’s ever been because the world is growing in population, thus businesses are making more products to sell.

As Mr. Money Mustache recently posted about, there is always a recession coming, so instead of worrying about it, it is better to understand what might bring it about, understand what you are investing in and why, and ride the storm out. A benefit of all this is that if people understand what causes recessions, over spending followed by underspending, we (may) be able to avoid wild cycles and instead keep a nice steady rise in abundance in the future, that is my hope by helping to educate people on “The Stock Market”.

Now that I’ve shared my fear with everyone, and why it’s not a rational fear, you should continue to learn about investing and why it is probably one of the most important things you can understand for yourself and for the world. You can learn more about Target Date Funds (where everyone should start investing) from this post or this video.

Paris Climate Agreement

The USA is “leaving the Paris Climate Agreement”, in about 4 years, President Trump has declared by executive action. Many countries had ratified the agreement, meaning their leader and likely some congress/senate or other governing body agreed. About ¼ of the countries in the world signed it (including the USA) which means that probably just their leader agreed to it. That being the action that Obama took. That was a mistake on his side (although probably all he was able to do as there was likely no way Congress would have ratified it, being Republican at the time). Because of that, it was easily un-signed by Donald Trump.

(Picture from Business Insider)

As far as I can tell there were not really many actual ramifications to signing the Paris Agreement or leaving the Agreement for the USA from the rest of the world. You can read the Paris Agreement by clicking the link. You can also read the 5 page document the USA sent sharing what our plans were to meet the agreement.

Here are the important sentences along with an easy to understand graph.

“The United States intends to achieve an economy-wide target of reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 26%-28% below its 2005 level in 2025 and to make best efforts to reduce its emissions by 28%.”-  USA First NDC (nationally determined contribution) Submission

“ The United States has already undertaken substantial policy action to reduce its emissions, taking the necessary steps to place us on a path to achieve the 2020 target of reducing emissions in the range of 17 percent below the 2005 level in 2020. “ – USA First NDC (nationally determined contribution) Submission

These were self professed goals to work along with other countries in the world to reduce all our emissions together.

The US is the world’s second-largest carbon emitter, after China. Together, the countries accounted for 45% of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions in 2014.” – Business Insider

The USA is near the top of emissions per capita.

http://www.wri.org/sites/default/files/uploads/per_capita_emissions.png

If you take the time to read (Framework Convention on Climate Change) FCCC/CP/2015/L.9/Rev.1  document, better known as “The Paris Agreement”, you wil lfind reference to the “Warsaw International Mechanism” which is another body of individuals that appears to be around to provide some guidance to help make decisions related to climate change.

There is a reference to “$100 billion dollars” “from developed countries to developing countries” that some people seem to think the US is on the hook for. That is false. Here is the statement regarding $100 billion.

“”54. Also decides that, in accordance with Article 9, paragraph 3, of the Agreement, developed countries intend to continue their existing collective mobilization goal through 2025 in the context of meaningful mitigation actions and transparency on implementation; prior to 2025 the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement shall set a new collective quantified goal from a floor of USD 100 billion per year, taking into account the needs and priorities of developing countries; “ – Paris Agreement

There is no set plan where that money comes from or how it is counted for. Some of it is in foreign aid, some is hoped to be in private loans. Basically, it is just a hope at the moment and certainly not something the USA is on the hook for.
What we have done is Contribute $1 billion since Dec 2015 (when the treaty was signed by Obama) to the “Green Climate Fund”. This was ⅓ of a pledged $3 billion from Obama. Trump has canceled the rest of that money.

As Trump mentioned later in his speech, the United States has given the Green Climate Fund $1 billion already. President Barack Obama pledged a total of $3 billion to the fund by 2020 as part of a global goal of $10 billion, but Trump promised not to finance it as a candidate and Congress has not made further contributions since the election.” – NBC news

The whole $3 billion represented about $9/person in the USA (over 5 years) and only a very small percent of our $40+ billion in foreign aid each year. (US budget for 2016)

(picture from Washington Post)

Another source of money for the developing countries is the Least Developed Countries Fund (LDCF) which is administered by the GEF (Global Environment Facility unites 183 countries in partnership with international institutions, civil society organizations (CSOs), and the private sector to address global environmental issues while supporting national sustainable development initiatives. Today the GEF is the largest public funder of projects to improve the global environment. An independently operating financial organization, the GEF provides grants for projects related to biodiversity, climate change, international waters, land degradation, the ozone layer, and persistent organic pollutants.- Wikipedia)

So now that we’ve established that the Paris Agreement:

  1. Was not costing the USA anything financially
  2. The Green Climate Fund (separate from the Paris Agreement, was costing the USA very little, $2 billion as part of $40+ billion in foreign aid)
  3. Emissions reductions were self imposed at 17% currently planned and a projection of up to 28% reduction (compared to 2005 levels in the USA) by 2025.
  4. Was definitely abandoned by Donald Trump personally but not by individuals and businesses.

What do we do about that?

Assuming you believe in climate change (rising temperatures) and that it could have negative implications for people related to damaged crops, damaged houses and is already happening now, what can you do about it?

I actually hope Donald Trump abandoning the Paris Agreement is a good thing. I (naively) believe that maybe people will start to take individual actions to offset their own carbon footprint instead of thinking the government will do it.

Here are a few things you can do to offset your own carbon footprint.

  1. Support carbon offset companies/non-profits. Read this great article from Mr. Money Mustache about companies that do that.
  2. Plant trees! (You also don’t have to do that personally). Here is a company (OneTreePlanted) you can pay $1 to plant 1 tree or $100 to plant $100 trees! WOW. (I am not sure how effective they are at this yet. They seem pretty new, but maybe they’ll contact me after this mention, or maybe I’ll contact to them to get more information about their work.)
  3. Buy a more efficient vehicle!

The people of the USA need to get over the idea that what the President of the USA does has much direct impact on their lives.

While the President can certainly create policies which affect your life one way or another a few thousand dollars, the fact is that what the government is doing is really not that intrusive on your life, especially not related to how you personally pollute! Not in the USA. What people need to realize is that  people have power. We can choose to influence how businesses create products and we can vote for people who will represent our beliefs. If we choose to specify to pay a little more for renewable energy, companies will create it. You can do that for many electric companies.

You can do the same with businesses. You can “vote” with your dollar, instead of just your political vote. Vote every day.

Many business CEO’s and city Mayors in the USA have pledged to keep their businesses and companies to the Paris Agreement. That is laudable and it is really what they should do also. Why should a company start polluting more just because Donald Trump says he is going to? Many companies are already on the energy efficient path (which is inherently green anyway) due to cost savings. So that should not really be an issue. It is unfortunate that the global warming thing has been “sold” to people as “saving the earth”. Most people I know don’t care that much about it. But if it was sold as “saving you money” people would be all over it. Being more efficient is saving you money AND saving the earth at the same time. Let’s try to focus on that, individually, and collectively. Hopefully other countries, companies and individuals continue on that path, largely ignoring what Donald Trump says. As I have said, he really has little power in the arena of what most people and businesses do personally. I suspect that history will look back on him poorly for this action.

I really don’t know what Trump is thinking overall. He is certainly connecting with people who have a certain mindset, that the USA is somehow getting “screwed” by the whole world. I just do not see that. Would you feel “screwed” if you were helping a family member through a tough time? The whole world is our family, and it’s the only one we have and some of them are going through pretty tough times. We should be ashamed that a large percentage are starving while some are living in luxury. Some of the starvation is related to the damage we’ve done to the environment with our many years of technological advancement and our gluttonous use of fossil fuels for energy and transportation. Some is related to corrupt governments (which is something I’m thinking about also and I acknowledge it’s a BIG issue, but not the topic of the day, yet).  Once we all get on a path to being more efficient we will be doing everyone else a great service as well as future generations.

Mark Zuckerberg – Basic Income

Upsate 7-24-02018

It looks like UBI potentially funded by “the 0.01% is being discussed again.

Update 9-22-02017

It looks like Y-combinator is embarking on a basic income  experiment similar to what I proposed Mark Zuckerberg do. This is a good thing as it’s still an individual/private group doing experimentation that government can’t/won’t do.

“YC will select 3,000 people across two states and divide them into two groups. The first group will include 1,000 people who will receive $1,000 a month for up to five years. The second group of 2,000 people — which the study will consider its control group — will receive $50 a month.”

Original 5-29-02017

Mark Zuckerberg gave a speech for the Harvard commencement ceremony this year (2017). In it he advocated for a universal basic income, which is something I’ve been thinking and reading about for a few years. The most important question about a basic income is “Who pays for the basic income?” Some people have thought about this more than I have. You can read about how one guy thinks we should pay for a basic income here. There have even been a few basic income programs in the past. You can read about one happening in Finland here, as well as in Kenya here.  

When you have an idea as big as a basic income you need a path to get there. You don’t just implement a basic income to a whole country. I am often trying to figure out how to implement ideas fast, not necessarily perfectly.

I am excited that someone with as much wealth (from Facebook stock ownership) as well as a desire to change the world for the better (as self reported by Zuckerberg multiple times) is interested in a basic income. Luckily Mark Zuckerberg is a billionaire and his stock is rising, literally. Facebook is worth more every year. This gives Zuckerberg the rare opportunity to implement his own basic income study! No one can stop him! And if it goes well he will be able to prove to people that a basic income is a good thing that should be implemented wider.

If Zuckerberg owns $63 billion in Facebook stock. it should grow at at least 4% a year, which means he could sell $2.5 billion a year, and use that to provide a basic income. Which means he could give 25,000 people a basic income of $100k a year!

Since this is a test and that’s a lot of money and this is supposed to be a basic income, he could provide an income of  $30k to say 500 people, this would be $15 million a year, a pittance that Zuckerberg wouldn’t even notice! I think he should do this for say 5 years, and see what happens with those people.

We need this kind of leadership to show us that this type of program could work.

$30k*500 people =$15 million *5 years = $75 million over 5 years.
How much to manage this program? $25 million maybe? (maybe way less!) For a cool $100 million over 5 years.

Until someone is willing to run this type of program and shows that the people who receive the money come out more successful than otherwise, and that they aren’t just being lazy, it won’t receive large scale acceptance.

I believe this is a program Zuckerberg should take on with his new Chan Zuckerberg Initiative LLC (not a charity, which is fine, I think businesses can potentially make more changes in the world than charities, or at least it takes all kinds!). If he wants to contact me to discuss further why I think he should do this he can find me at hooglandaxel@gmail.com

Alternatively, he could contact the nice people at Give Directly, who I mentioned earlier. They seem more versed in administering something like this and could probably run the program for less than $25 million!