One Way to Do Twitter Wrong

Some people don’t get it.

Last night, before going to bed, I took a moment to check Twitter notifications. I found two tweets from someone I didn’t know who had mentioned me without actually tweeting to me.

I’m not going to embed them here because I don’t see any reason to give this idiot any additional attention. But he’s a perfect example of someone trying to use Twitter to move markets — when he only has 49 followers.

Here’s the first one:

Idiot Tweet

He was referring to a blog post I wrote years ago about Groupon. I think he’s trying to say, in his semi-literate way, that if I advertised on Groupon, I could fill otherwise empty seats on my aircraft with Groupon customers. Apparently, he thinks these people will appear just when I need them and be willing to sit around and wait until I do.

Of course, his theory doesn’t apply to my business because I only fly by appointment and I don’t have seats that are not paid for. So why would I be willing to discount flights by 75% — which is basically what Groupon requires* — thus taking a deep loss on every Groupon deal flight? That was the point of my blog post.

He then replied to that post to add this:

Idiot tweet 2

Not very bright? Well, at least I can string a sentence together, buddy.

My response was simple: “Fuck off.” I then responded to the first tweet by thanking him for the link and following it up with a simple “LOL.”

And that’s when I discovered just how dim this guy is.

He responded:

Idiot Tweet 4

Not personal? He said I wasn’t very bright. That isn’t personal? And does he honestly think being a Twitter user with 49 followers gives him any clout? Enough clout to get me to delete a 6-year old blog post with dozens of comments?

I responded “Is there something about “fuck off” that you don’t understand?” (Yes, I know. I can be a real bitch. But if you had any idea of the kind of trolling I’ve dealt with over the past few months on Twitter, you’d understand why I now have zero patience for idiots on Twitter.)

But it was his response to my tweet thanking him for the link that proved how really dim he is:

Idiot Tweet 3

He didn’t realize that by including a link to my blog post, he was actually sharing it in his Twitter stream. Giving it more exposure. Best of all, he’d done it with a #GRPN tag, increasing the exposure beyond his 49 followers. Anyone looking for the #GRPN tag — people actually interested in Groupon — could potentially see it.

And bash him? Why would I want to do that? If I wanted to bash him, I could do it here by simply embedding his tweets without redacting his identity. But I’m not. Instead, I’m ridiculing him while keeping his identity anonymous. Truth is, I feel sorry for him. He’s so amazingly clueless.

So, to sum up, this clown unwittingly shares my blog post about Groupon with a #GRPN stock tag, says I’m not very bright, and then offers to delete his tweet if I delete the post.

I went to his profile to take a look. It was full of Groupon company and stock related tweets. They guy is an investor — that’s clear. For some reason, he thinks he can use Twitter to influence the price of Groupon stock or get more people to sign on for their “deals.” He’s big on tags like #ecommerce, #investing, #socialmediamarketing, #stocktips, and, of course, #groupon. He could be a bot, but even bots aren’t that dumb.

So I blocked him. He’s still probably trying to figure that out.

* Do the math: Groupon wants a 50% discount “deal” and then keeps 50% of the discounted price. That leaves me with a total of 25% of the original price.

A Note on Apple Stock

I’m doing some math this morning and I thought I’d share an old image.

In January 1997, in Apple’s darkest days, I purchased 50 shares of Apple stock for $16.75 per share.

Back in those days, you bought actual stock certificates and I kept mine in a safe at home. Over the years, I bought and sold more Apple stock using a brokerage account. Meanwhile, these shares snug in the safe, began to grow. Not only did they grow in market value as Apple rebounded and became the major technology player it is today, but there were three stock splits, 2:1, 2:1, and 7:1 over the years.

Apple Stock Certificate
Back in 1997, Apple stock looked like this.

I transferred the stock certificate and its offspring to a brokerage account before the 7:1 split, so it would be more liquid. I sold it off in bits and pieces over the years to help finance various other investments like my first helicopter and a small apartment building I used to own. Because of the splits, there were always shares to sell. In 2013 and 2014, these shares were instrumental in helping finance my crazy divorce and build my new home.

I still have some of those original shares. If you do the math — which I did this morning — you’ll discover that the shares I have left have a cost basis of about 60¢ per share. This morning, Apple opened at $114.57 per share. If I still had all the shares from this original investment (which, sadly, I do not), it would be worth $160,398 — all from a $837 investment by someone with faith in a failing company.

Congress Has the Whole Tax Thing Wrong

According to Warren Buffett, higher taxes for the super rich doesn’t kill jobs.

This morning, I was very pleased to read the words written by a voice of reason: Warren Buffett. Buffett is one of the richest men in the world, a man who built his fortune through investing. This article in the New York Times, “Stop Coddling the Super-Rich,” is his attempt to talk reason to the U.S. Congress using facts.

He writes:

While the poor and middle class fight for us in Afghanistan, and while most Americans struggle to make ends meet, we mega-rich continue to get our extraordinary tax breaks.

While this isn’t news, what’s refreshing about it is that it’s being stated by one of the “mega-rich,” a man who paid $6.9 million (not a typo) in taxes last year. He points out that while his 2010 tax bill was 17.4 percent of his taxable income, other people in his office paid 33% to 41% (with an average of 36%) of theirs.

Tax PictureIt’s the percentages that are important here. Imagine a taxable income of $100K. 17.4% is $17,400. But 36% is more than double that: $36,000. Is it fair that someone with a taxable income of $40 million like Mr. Buffett, who gets to keep about $33 million of that after taxes, should be paying a lower tax rate than someone making $100K who only gets to keep $64K after taxes?

If you don’t know the answer to that question, maybe the picture I provided here for you will help?

(By the way, I’m all for a flat tax and still can’t figure out why we can’t have one. The rate would likely be low enough that folks earning under $200K would save money. And wouldn’t it be nice to figure out your taxes by yourself in an hour instead of paying someone else to do it for you?)

Mr. Buffett goes on to tear apart the argument that higher taxes for the super-rich prevent them from investing or kill jobs:

I have worked with investors for 60 years and I have yet to see anyone — not even when capital gains rates were 39.9 percent in 1976-77 — shy away from a sensible investment because of the tax rate on the potential gain. People invest to make money, and potential taxes have never scared them off. And to those who argue that higher rates hurt job creation, I would note that a net of nearly 40 million jobs were added between 1980 and 2000. You know what’s happened since then: lower tax rates and far lower job creation.

These are facts from history, not vague guesses based on economic theories. And since Mr. Buffett has a reputation as someone with financial prowess, I’d tend to take his word on the situation before the word of the self-serving morons we’ve elected to Congress — career politicians who would rather lie to the American people than do what’s right for all of us.

Of course, all this makes me wonder why Congress is so insistent that taxes not be raised, even for the wealthiest Americans — people like Buffett who wouldn’t mind a tax increase if it helped the country out of its financial woes. Whose bank accounts are the members of Congress protecting? Their own? Their friends in major corporations who fund their campaigns?

They’re obviously not interested in protecting the bank accounts of the majority of the American people. With unemployment hovering around 9% nationwide, millions of people are tapping into savings, losing their homes, and giving up on the “American Dream.” Yet the government continues to subsidize the oil industry, which continues to reap record profits, offer tax breaks to companies that send American jobs overseas, and enforce a tax code that gives tax breaks to the mega-rich. (By the way, is it a coincidence that the oil industry donates generously to political campaigns? I think not.)

As the Debt Ceiling debates of July 2011 proved, the American Congress is dysfunctional. I really believe that all incumbents should be voted out of office in the next few elections. Start again with a clean slate, hopefully with people who care about their constituents.

But what can we do until then? Contact your Representatives and Senators. Tell them that you think Warren Buffett is right: that the mega rich should be paying the same percentage of taxes as the rest of Americans. If you email them, link to the New York Times piece I quoted here. Tell them to read it and learn. Remind them that they’re working for all of the American people — not the corporations who fund their campaigns.

We need to turn this country around and it’s obviously not going to happen if we wait for our dysfunctional Congress to do it for us.

And in November 2012, remember to vote for someone who has the American people at the top of his or her agenda — not partisan politics.