A partial explanation

I got an explanation on health insurance from my mother-in-law. She tells me that “anything taxable to the employee is generally taxable to the employer”, which I guess I knew but didn’t really think about, since I’ve never been the employer.  So, if health insurance is not taxable, then it becomes a relatively cheap benefit for the employer to offer.

I still think saying that it “encourages employers to offer insurance” is a little strong.  It encourages them to offer it instead of other benefits that might be taxable, but the real “encouragement” is that (another thing I learned from my mother-in-law) most states require it by law.

Certainly it seems likely that fewer businesses would offer health insurance if they had to pay taxes on the money.  So I’m still not exactly clear on who this proposal is supposed to help.  I’ve sent another email to my mother-in-law seeking further guidance, but I believe she’s out of town for the weekend.  And I’m out of town starting Monday, so we may all have to wait.

$10 minimum?

I need a new dry cleaner.  I just picked up five shirts.  The total was $7.13.   They wouldn’t let me use a credit card, and I only had $5 in my wallet.  She said there’s a $10 minimum on credit cards.  Is it just me, or is that pretty high?  I’ve heard of $5 minimums, but $10 seems steep.

Anyone know a good dry cleaner in Columbia Heights?  I’ve heard nothing but bad stories about Georgetown Valet and Oxxo or whatever they’re called.

Im trying to understand this

Bush Tries to Resuscitate Health Insurance Tax Plan

Under current law, workers who get health insurance through their jobs do not pay taxes on the value of the insurance, which encourages employers to offer insurance as part of their benefit packages.

So, why does this encourage employers to offer insurance?  Clearly this encourages employees to want insurance through their employer in order to get the tax break.  And, obviously, this is a benefit to the employee, which makes the employer more attractive.  But the employee still benefits from the health insurance whether or not they are taxed on it.  I’m just not seeing the extra benefit for the employer beyond being able to offer a slightly better deal to employees.

Anyway, more importantly, what effect would Bush’s proposal have on this?

The Bush plan, unveiled in January, would substitute that tax break with a standard deduction that would go to any taxpayer with insurance.

Bush has recently said that “he might be satisfied with replacing the existing tax break with a tax credit, rather than a tax deduction.”

So, let’s say we stop offering a tax break (And by that I include credit and deduction and whatever else) on only employer-provided insurance.  Assuming that current practice actually does encourage employers to offer insurance, will changing the law discourage it?  It seems like an important point that the article suggests but doesn’t address.  And I can’t address it myself without seeing how it encourages employers to offer insurance in the first place.

Can anyone explain this to me?

The Kennedy Center is spamming me

My wife and I are going to see Phantom of the Opera at the Kennedy Center with my father-in-law next month, and I bought the tickets at their website.  Now they’re spamming me, and refuse to stop.  I tried their email preferences page, but every time I click anything, it selects all of the “send me junk mail and spam” options, and refuses to do anything else.  I emailed their web support on June 20th:

I am unable to unsubscribe from your email list.  I would like you to email me with updates related to shows for which I have tickets.  I do not want any other emails from you.  I do not want any regular mail from you.

Thank you.

Then again today after receiving more junk from them:

Customer # 3747291 requesting action on issue # 58603.  I contacted you on June 20th, 2007, because you are sending me email spam, and your opt-out page on your website does not work.  I received an automated response, and then nothing.  Today, I received another spam message from you.  I would appreciate your immediate action on this matter.  I would like you to send me emails only in response to this issue, and for changes or updates to shows for which I have purchased tickets.  Never contact me by postal mail, or by email for any other reason than stated above.

We’ll see what they do.  Unfortunately, I don’t think the toothless CAN-SPAM act is applicable here because I have a business relationship with them.  And, also unfortunately, they have something of a monopoly on large-scale theater in the area.  Since both my father-in-law and one of my sisters-in-law are theater fans, it seems likely that I will return to the Kennedy Center.

In any event, I am annoyed by their junk mail, and I want it to stop.

Contesting a parking ticket

June 27, 2007 Adjudication Services P.O. Box 37135 Washington, DC 20013 To Whom It May Concern:

I am writing to contest a parking ticket, citation #[redacted], that I received yesterday, June 26th, 2007. I recently moved to the north side of the 1400 block of [redacted] St. NW, and registered my car. I was told that, since my street is not zoned residential, I would not receive a Residential Parking Permit. I usually park on the north side of my street. However, on Tuesdays, the north side is closed for street cleaning, and so I moved my car to the south side of the street. Yesterday, I received a ticket for failure to display an RPP. According to the DDOT website, the 1400 block of [redacted] St. NW is not zoned residential. I have enclosed a printout of the DDOT web page listing the blocks of [redacted] St. NW which are zoned residential, and the 1400 block is not listed. I understand that the residential parking zones are designed to prevent commuters from leaving cars parked in residential areas all day, and I applaud these efforts. But in this case, my car was parked perhaps fifteen feet from the front door of my home. Clearly this is not the behavior that the parking zones were designed to prevent. Therefore, I would greatly appreciate it if you would forgive this parking ticket. Additionally, steps should be taken so that I and my fellow residents are not subject to similar tickets in the future.

You may reach me during the day at my work phone number, [redacted], or at home in the evening at [redacted]. Thank you very much for your attention.

Sincerely, Senor Complain-o

The street is NOT zoned

According to the DC Department of Transportation website, our block is NOT zoned residential.  Neither side.  My guess is that the sign says “residential” because they don’t make custom signs for our weird un-zoned street.  I printed out the DDOT search page showing that our block isn’t zoned residential, and we’ll be contesting this ticket.

Now theyve done it

The DMV told me to get a petition to have our street zoned residential.  The woman I talked to was very nice, but completely failed to address my concerns.  “Is there another street nearby that’s not zoned where you could park on Tuesdays?”  Honestly, I don’t know.  And I won’t find out.  I was parked 15 feet from my front door, and I got a ticket designed to keep commuters from parking all day in residential zones.

I’m going to contest the ticket.  I’m going to write my councilmember.  I don’t know if I’m adequately portraying how ridiculous this ticket is.  It means that I’m subject to a ticket, every Tuesday, unless I drive around and find some other street to park on that isn’t zoned. 

This isn’t over.  I will not pay this ticket.  If I can’t park on the street where I live, then there’s something deeply wrong with the system.

Another parking ticket to contest

DC is a little crazy with their parking tickets.  When I registered my car, I thought I would get a Zone 1 designation on my registration sticker.  The 1500 block of our street is Zone 1 parking.  Most of the surrounding streets are Zone 1.  But not my block.  So I didn’t get issued a zone designation – it says “No RPP”.  RPP stands for Residential Parking Permit.

This morning, I moved my car to the right side of the street for street cleaning on the left.  This afternoon, I got a parking ticket for failure to display an RPP.  I can’t display an f’ing RPP if I’m not issued one.  Are they telling me that, on Tuesdays, I just have to drive my car to work, and not return until I can park on the left side of the street?

This is ridiculous.  The DMV is closed now, but they will be hearing from me tomorrow.

I would rant some more, but I have to go pick up my wife.