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Bernie Ziebart

The Engineering Perspective

The blog is a view of life, science, politics and education from an engineering perspective. As engineers, we are taught to view the world objectively. We can hope, believe and calculate a particular outcome, but natural laws are inflexible and pay no heed to who we are or what we believe. We must approach the objective dispassionately, while compensating for our own distorted perceptions. Balance is also a key element; balancing between the ideal and the pragmatic, balancing cost and functionality, balancing analysis with action, etc.

Scheduling routine critical self-analysis is the foundation to objectivity. If we do not fully understand and compensate for our own failures, tendencies, habits and skewed thought processes, we will not see the world as it is. Without a regular critical self-analysis we will see the world as we are and then fall prey to self-delusion.

Failure is a great teacher. When failure is coupled with perseverance, it produces the fruit of patience and humility. An engineer, fresh out of engineering school is typically set up for failure early and often. The failure breaks the new engineer of any ideas of self-importance, arrogance and book smarts. Only then can the new engineer be formed and molded into a productive element in the industry.


Phil Mickelson

Phil Mickelson

Phil Mickelson made the news earlier this week when complaining about the taxes that he pays to the Golden State. He mentioned the idea of moving to Florida to save millions in taxes. 

“There are going to be some drastic changes for me because I happen to be in that zone that has been targeted both federally and by the state and, you know, it doesn't work for me right now,” he said. “So I'm going to have to make some changes."

California voters in November approved Proposition 30, which, in addition to raising the state sales tax, carries a menu of new tax brackets that hit millionaires like Mickelson hard.

Phil was defended by Tiger Woods who claimed that taxes were a key element in his decision to move from California to Florida.

California taxes:

  • A 12.3% top state tax rate, up from 9.3%, on income above $1 million.
  • A 1% state mental health surcharge levied on incomes above $1 million.
  • A 3.8% Medicare tax rate, which includes a new 0.9% Medicare surcharge on earnings above $250,000.

And since Phil is self-incorporated, he pays an additional:

  • 1% in state disability insurance taxes.
  • 6.2% for state unemployment taxes.
  • 1.2% in federal unemployment taxes (also paid by corporations in Florida).
  • 0.1% in state employment training taxes.

On top of the income taxes, Californians pay high usage fees and property taxes (in comparison to Florida).

In 2012, Phil’s income was $61 million in winnings and endorsements. Gregg Wind, a partner at Wind & Stern, an accounting firm in Los Angeles, claims that Phil could save about $8 million on his 2012 taxes by moving to Florida.

Phil Mickelson back-peddled from his comments on taxation after getting hit with the firestorm that it had created and apologized for his insensitivity.

Comments made about Phil:

“He is a pampered 1%er”

“un-patriotic and selfish”

“Flee-bagger, avoiding the payment of his fair share”

And many comments that can't be repeated here.

My thoughts on Phil:

People pay to watch you play golf, not to talk politics. Don’t wade into politics and economics unless you have a backbone and can take some heat. If you want to move to Florida, go ahead and save $8 million, just don’t advertise it or politicize it.  In this environment of hyper political polarization, it is best not to speak your mind if you are an entertainer…unless you are a liberal entertainer.  But at least Phil was not advocating for a policy or policy change, he was just venting, and so would I if I was losing $8 million.

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