Josh Redman & Joe Lovano
“This place is yours now,” began Bill Cosby, MC of the SFJazz Center’s long-awaited grand opening. I couldn’t agree more Bill as I looked around the 700-seat auditorium to see everyone from House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to your everyday jazz lover cheer.
The one thing I cherish about San Francisco is its diversity. According to the 2010 United States Census, the ethnic makeup and population consists of: 48.5% Whites, 33.3% Asians, 15.1% Hispanics, 6.1% African Americans, 0.5% Native Americans, 0.4% Pacific Islanders, 6.6% from other races, and 4.7% from two or more races. Only New York City and Honolulu can rival such a mix.
With diversity comes acceptance of various cultures. With diversity comes tolerance of religion and sexuality. With diversity comes the strong fight for equality every single day. I wouldn’t have it any other way. In another 118 years, I’m sure all of America will look like San Francisco. If I’m wrong, you’ll just have to let me know.
The SFJazz Center in Hayes Valley is a product of a $64 million fund raising effort led by my friend Robert Mailer Anderson. Without Robert’s leadership and the collective will and generosity from donors, America’s first stand-alone jazz center would not exist today. The 35,000-foot space took over two years to build and is equipped with a digital lab and education center along with its 700 person capacity. There is truly no bad seat in the house.
THE IMPORTANCE OF JAZZ AND DIVERSITY Read more…
As I was taking in the trash bins this morning, I noticed my neighbor pull out of his garage in a brand new, $48,000 Toyota 4Runner Limited Edition SUV. Before now, all I saw was a crappy 1996 Honda Civic with dings everywhere come and go.
The 4Runner has a special place in my heart because it was the car I most longed for in high school. All the rich kids had the Toyota 4Runner, and I had a bike. Shitake fudge mushroom! With a nice 4Runner, it was easier to get the girls, which was frankly my #1 priority in high school besides getting good grades of course!
So instead of relying on an expensive SUV to impress the ladies, I had to work on developing my personality, humor, charisma, leadership and fitness instead. Seriously, what a drag! Having money is so much easier, but it might leave us delusional and depressed when we realize all that we’ve gotten wasn’t because of who we are.
Priceless Crowns At Rosenborg Castle, Copenhagen
We all know that it takes money to make money. If you want $10,000 a year in passive interest income at a rate of 2%, you’ll need $500,000 in capital to get there. If you’ve only got $25,000 in capital, well then here’s $500 a year, just enough to buy yourself a round-trip ticket to Hawaii. Wait a minute, that doesn’t sound too bad!
I’ve been highly anticipating the response to my introductory $980 Get On The Map (GOTM) service where I help bloggers and small businesses get noticed on the web. There’s a lot of art behind the science of pricing. Price too low, and you might be signaling an inferior product or fend off too much demand. Price too high, and you might not get any clients. Finding the intersection between marginal utility and marginal cost is a journey that changes over time.
Going about pricing a product out of the necessity of money vs. the necessity for fulfillment is quite different. I get fulfillment out of helping others by providing more value than the price I charge. That’s what keeps me excited. If I had to sell something to put nutritious McDouble cheeseburgers on the table for five children everyday, I’d feel the heat, underprice and likely provide poor value.
THE VALUE OF TIME IS DIFFERENT FOR EVERYONE Read more…
Our tour guide in Stockholm was not Swedish, but Albanian. She stood 5 feet 1 inch tall thanks to three inch heels. As we walked towards Old Town to see the Royal Palace, I often wondered whether she had ever twisted her ankles traversing the uneven cobble stone roads.
Bianca told us she’s a full-time lawyer who enjoys playing tour guide on the weekends as a part-time job. She’s been studying for six years and is getting a second Masters degree in international law. When I asked her how much tuition costs in Sweden, she surprisingly mentioned, “Free!”
“All citizens and EU residents have free tuition if they want to study university here in Stockholm, Sweden,” Bianca went on to say.
I can’t verify the veracity of her statement, however, with law school tuition commonly over $35,000 a year in the US, Bianca clearly has a good deal!
“I love everything about Stockholm! We have 1/3rd parks, 1/3rd water, and 1/3rd land. The government cares about us and you don’t have to work very hard to live a good life. Back home in Albania, the average person only makes 300-350 Euros a month ($390-$450 dollars),” Bianca explained.
I asked Bianca about the local tax rates. She didn’t know for sure, but said she pays about a 32% income tax through the Pay-As-You-Earn (PAYE) employer witholding system. She also pays a 25% VAT tax (consumption tax) on all goods. I was expecting Bianca to highlight a much higher income tax rate since 32% is similar to my effective tax rate, so I was surprised. But then again, our income levels are drastically different as you will discover below.
DIGGING A LITTLE DEEPER Read more…
Over the past 30 years, only the top 20% of household incomes have shown any relative progress according to the charts below. You will know from my top income earners chart that the income level for the top 20% is roughly $80,000 a year and higher.
What’s most apparent is how well the top 1% have done. The chart below has the top 1% of income earners at roughly $1.8 million in 2007. This gels differently with the IRS study that puts the top 1% income level closer to $380,000. However, the point is that the top 1% has seen a doubling of their incomes in the past 20 years, while the rest have barely budged.
DOES INCOME INEQUALITY REALLY MATTER NOWADAYS? Read more…
Middle Class Homes In Holland
I have a theory the majority of us, no matter how little or how much we make, consider ourselves part of the middle class. When I worked at McDonald’s for $3.25 an hour, I was dirt poor, but considered myself middle class because both my parents had jobs and I had a bicycle and a cozy home to come home to.
When I finally graduated from college and started making more money, I felt poor because all I did was work in expensive New York City! For example, I shared a studio with a high school classmate for $2,100 a month and that was in 1999! It was only until I moved to San Francisco did I feel I was part of the middle class again. Money was more plentiful, a starter home “only” cost about $1,500,000, and I had more free time to explore.
I’ve experienced all three classes to varying degrees and I believe there are wonderful merits to each of them. From the poor Haitian immigrant who goes to college and becomes the first black female mayor in Utah, to the billionaire investor who gives 99% of his net worth to charity, everyone tends to come to center. My favorite class is the middle class. But first, we must define what middle class means.
DEFINITIONS OF A MIDDLE CLASS INCOME Read more…
I can take two spots because I’m rich
I took my beloved Moose to the local sports store to get one of those foam rollers for my legs and back. If you haven’t tried a foam roller, you don’t know what you’re missing! Anyway, for some reason, the free parking lot was packed and a number of us had to sit idle in order to wait for a space to open up.
When I finally parked Moose, I noticed something annoying. A $125,000 Fisker KARMA electric car was hogging up two spaces! A 45 year old man came out of the car, blissfully ignoring the rest of us as he headed towards the elevator.
You can could tell he didn’t give a poop he took up two spaces with his overpriced car. I wonder if he would start giving a crap if he returned to a six foot long key mark? It seriously would not surprise me if this guy got carjacked one day. Hmmm, so that’s how class warfare starts!
UNDERSTANDING HOW RICH PEOPLE THINK Read more…