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WHO SHOULD YOU VOTE FOR?

Overwhelmed with the 2016 election? A lot of people are. Here’s a handy, unbiased quiz to match you with a candidate that will best represent you.

https://www.isidewith.com/

Concerned about the validity of this quiz? Here are some advocates of it:

Forbes

New York Times

NPR

PBS

Obviously, a majority of this blog is heavy on the liberal side of the spectrum. But political views aside, JUST VOTE, DAMMIT.

VIDEO: Governor scolded by citizen

Governor Rick Scott (FL) got an earful from a dissatisfied citizen at his local Starbucks.

The New York Daily News reported earlier today on the situation. Here’s the video, quotes to follow.

 

“I’ve gotten a tremendous amount of positive comments,” the Scott heckler, Cara Jennings, told the Daily News about the video.

“Apparently a lot of people wish they were in a Starbucks to give Rick Scott a piece of their mind. He might want to have his coffee delivered for a while.”

 

You cut Medicaid, so I couldn’t get Obamacare,” Jennings yells, pointing her finger at Scott and silencing one of his aides who tries intervening.

“You’re an a–hole. You don’t care about working people. You should be ashamed to show your face around here.”

The two-term Republican tries to defend himself by saying he’s created “a million jobs” for his state.

“Great! Who here has a great job? Or is looking forward to finishing school? You really feel like you have a job coming up?” Jennings replies.

As Scott — with no drink in hand — and his staff walk out, Jennings gets in one more big dig.

“You stripped women of access to public health care!” she says, referencing the bill he signed just days ago defunding Planned Parenthood.

Quotes provided by the NY Daily News. Read the full story here.

THE PANAMA PAPERS – EXPLAINED

For those of you who don’t know about the Panama Papers, essentially a lot of big names were caught escaping income taxes by making “business expenses” to a “company” in Panama.

The user community of Reddit.com made some EXCELLENT “Explain Like I’m Five [Years Old]” posts explaining this phenomenon.

Here are my two favorites:

/u/DanGliesack for the simplest of simple:

When you get a quarter you put it in the piggy bank. The piggy bank is on a shelf in your closet. Your mom knows this and she checks on it every once in a while, so she knows when you put more money in or spend it.

Now one day, you might decide “I don’t want mom to look at my money.” So you go over to Johnny’s house with an extra piggy bank that you’re going to keep in his room. You write your name on it and put it in his closet. Johnny’s mom is always very busy, so she never has time to check on his piggy bank. So you can keep yours there and it will stay a secret.

Now all the kids in the neighborhood think this is a good idea, and everyone goes to Johnny’s house with extra piggy banks. Now Johnny’s closet is full of piggy banks from everyone in the neighborhood.

One day, Johnny’s mom comes home and sees all the piggy banks. She gets very mad and calls everyone’s parents to let them know.

Now not everyone did this for a bad reason. Eric’s older brother always steals from his piggy bank, so he just wanted a better hiding spot. Timmy wanted to save up to buy his mom a birthday present without her knowing. Sammy just did it because he thought it was fun. But many kids did do it for a bad reason. Jacob was stealing people’s lunch money and didn’t want his parents to figure it out. Michael was stealing money from his mom’s purse. Fat Bobby’s parents put him on a diet, and didn’t want them to figure out when he was buying candy.

Now in real life, many very important people were just caught hiding their piggy banks at Johnny’s house in Panama. Today their moms all found out. Pretty soon, we’ll know more about which of these important people were doing it for bad reasons and which were doing it for good reasons. But almost everyone is in trouble regardless, because it’s against the rules to keep secrets no matter what.

 

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Sometimes, the simplest explanation is the best explanation. 

/u/lucaspon with a slightly more advanced (and detailed) explanation:

You guys know income taxes, right? Okay, so companies also have to pay them, but business expenses are tax-deductible, which means that if companies spend the money they made they don’t have to pay the taxes on those moneys.

Stay with me.

Suppose you’re a newly rich guy in a capitalist nation and your company has made $300m in profits. You owe about ~35% in income tax, or $105m. I know right? That’s a lot of money.

Now let’s assume that you’re a good guy and aren’t inherently evil or anything. You go to a cocktail party with some also-very-rich friends (because, you know, that’s what rich people do, they flock together) and you’re talking to the “cool kids”, trying to mingle and stuff, and you complain that you have to pay this mind-boggling huge amount of money to the gov’t and how “that sucks, right guys?”.

Instantly they laugh at you and go like: “You silly, you must be new here. You’re not really thinking on paying all those taxes right? All you gotta do is spend most of that money so that your profits are close to $0, and you have to pay no income tax, duuh!”

Now, you can’t buy things for yourself with your company’s money prior to income-taxation (that’s against the law) and you don’t even want to spend it all at once, so you just transfer them to another fake company in Panama and label that as “expenses” in your company’s income tax papers. Yes. The same one your friends use. Incorporated by the same law firm your friends use.(Mossack Fonseca)

If you transfer $295m to Panama Co. and declare a $5m profit, you pay only ~$1.8m in taxes, about 1% of the amount you really owe the gov’t. And no one has to know that company belongs to you as well.

And voilà, with a simple combination of group-pressure and “well-if-everyone’s-doing-it-since-forever-and-nothing-has-ever-gone-wrong” thinking you’ve dodged the law and effectively stole millions from the gov’t and the peoples. Except that, well… things don’t always repeat the past, and now they have gone terribly wrong. Oh shit.

Alright. But it doesn’t stop here. These offshore companies in Panama aren’t obliged to disclose information about the owners, sources and use of the proceeds they incorporate.

And so, they can also be used to hide money earned from/used in criminal activities such as financing terror groups and prostitution forced prostitution/people trafficking and pedophiles and all sorts of disturbing inhumane things.

Hope I made a decent job explaining 🙂

You did, Lucaspon. You really did.

All quotes were derived from this Reddit page: 
https://www.reddit.com/r/explainlikeimfive/comments/4d8rta/eli5_the_panama_papers/?sort=confidence

HOW THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY WILL TRY TO KEEP BERNIE FROM WINNING THE PRIMARIES

Bernie Sanders represents the young person’s hope at obtaining affordable education faster than the US government can currently promise it. While Obama has been making efforts towards free community college for “responsible students,” Bernie wants to go so far as to make all higher education, not just two-year schools, free for all.

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That’s right. Germany is more “free” than us.

Here’s a quote from Bernie’s site directly:

“This is not a radical idea. Last year, Germany eliminated tuition because they believed that charging students $1,300 per year was discouraging Germans from going to college. Next year, Chile will do the same. Finland, Norway, Sweden and many other countries around the world also offer free college to all of their citizens. If other countries can take this action, so can the United States of America.” Bernie’s site.

Before too long, America will be one of the few remaining “first-world” countries to reject free higher education.

I should note that I do not see the Democratic Party as “anti-education” (in fact they have a long history of being very pro-education), however I am starting to see the party as anti-Bernie.

How do I know this? One word:  “superdelegates.”

“What are superdelegates?” you might ask. I had the same question. I soon found a [justifiably] biased explanation of superdelegates by The Young Turks:

TLDR:  Superdelegates are making it seem like Hilary is crushing Bernie in the polls when in reality, their numbers are quite close.

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As of today (March 18th, 2016), Clinton has a lead equating to just over 300-points against Sanders and, really, that’s not that much.

“But look at the visual! Clearly Hilary is our next candidate.” Maybe, but that really tall bar above her $600 haircut has a lot more to do with the famously spurious superdelegates than the vote of the people.

So the real question is:  “Why would the Democratic Party try to keep Bernie from being our candidate in the 2016 election?” I have a simple answer for you:

Because he’s different.

That might not the whole reason why, but possibly the most realistic reason. Think about it. Elections are tough, the party needs a candidate that won’t cause any waves or provide too many risks in the midst of the entire nation figuratively placing their chosen representative under a microscope of judgment and skepticism.

And when you’re up against what has been deemed as potentially the next Hitler, you’ll want your candidate to be as “ideal” as ideal can get.

(Warning:  video contains strong language)

So essentially, Hilary may not be the candidate young people and future generations need, but if it’s down to Clinton vs Drumpf, I suppose I can see why Democrats would be so cautious.

US FINANCIAL AID: A GLOSSARY

I realized that I’ve been using a lot of rhetoric in my articles so here’s a run-down of everything that might need to be explained. For those who come from countries with free tuition, or US students who are filing for the first time, this list is for you.

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For the squeamish, just imagine the dripping as your tears cascading down the FAFSA homepage.
  • FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) – Ohhh, the FAFSA. This cumbersome application is what any American student will need to complete before being eligible for any aid. Step one, file your taxes. Step two, file your FAFSA.
  • Grants – Federal grants are need-based and do not need to be repaid unless you withdraw from school.
  • Scholarships – You’re not going to get scholarships through the FAFSA directly, you need to apply for the thousands that are available elsewhere. Generally, scholarships do not need to be repaid, but if the conditions of the award are broken (e.g. your GPA slips, you change majors, you quit the same sport your entire scholarship was based on, etc), you run the risk of losing your scholarship(s).
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I’m not saying that student loans are predatory, but I’m definitely implying it.
  • Subsidized federal loans -A loan where the government pays the interest while a student remains enrolled in a qualified college or university. I know what you’re thinking:  “Why would the government even charge interest on student loans?” To which I respond, “That’s a great question. A great question indeed.”
  • Unsubsidised federal loans – Interest on the unsubsidized student loans starts to add up as soon as the loan is disbursed to the school.
  • [WATCH] More on federal or “DIRECT” loans.

  • EFC or Estimated Family Contribution – is the grand indicator of just how much aid a student is eligible to receive after submitting the FAFSA. High EFC = less aid, low EFC = more aid.
    • Students under the age of 24 with high income parents will have a higher EFC and less aid; even if parents refuse to contribute to the students educational finances.
    • The blow of EFC can be diminished in households with only one parent (e.g. divorce, death, estranged, etc), preferably the parent with lower income.
  • COA (Cost of Attendance) – the total amount it will cost you to go to college each year. This includes: tuition and fees, on-campus room and board (or a housing and food allowance for off-campus students), and allowances for books, supplies, transportation, loan fees, etc. It can also include other expenses like an allowance for the rental or purchase of a personal computer, costs related to a disability, or costs for eligible study-abroad programs.
  • Work-study – This is a part-time job that you’ll need to apply for while you are enrolled in school. The job typically only guarantees 10-15 hours per week and usually delivers paychecks monthly (instead of weekly or bi-weekly like “normal” jobs do). The upside of work study is that you get “on the job” training where you would not otherwise and the job is typically on-campus; the downside is that the hours are limited and the pay is typically minimum wage (plus or minus a few quarters per hour).
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Feel like begging for $1s on the stage? I don’t blame you.

COUNTRIES WITH THE MOST EXPENSIVE COLLEGES

So, who takes the cake in 2016? [Insert the proverbial, “the answer may surprise you!”]

BI writer, Lianna Brinded, reported on a study of top universities for the 2014-2015 academic year and the self-reported income data in 2013, “The list…shows that some parents are willing to spend over 90% of their income on a standard bachelor’s degree at public institutions for their kids.”

Essentially what this list comes down to is not necessarily “which country’s education costs more,” but rather, “which country’s education costs more in relation to income.”

Obviously, the US’s colleges cost more than the other countries’ listed, but because our EFC (estimated family contribution) is so high, our higher education does not, comparatively, burden us as much as it does for students living in Hungary, Romania, Estonia, Chile, and Malaysia.