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I hold it that a little rebellion now and then is a good thing, and as necessary in the political world as storms in the physical.

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Tuesday
Jul222014

CORPORATE INVERSIONS AND THE MISLEADING "NEWS"

There's been a great deal of press lately to reflect the allegations, mostly from "progressives", that corporate inversions are inherently wicked. Were these "progressives" being uncharacteristically honest they would admit that their objective is to extract more tax dollars from corporations, thus enabling those "progressives" to "earn" more votes through targeting the spending of those taxes. 

It is, in a word, nonsense. A corporate inversions is simply reincorporating in a non-U.S. nation in which that company also does, or will do, business. The objective IS driven by tax policy in the U.S., however. A U.S.-based company is taxed on all earnings, even those generated outside of the U.S. once that money is brought back into the U.S.; this is referred to as "repatriation". So, naturally, companies wish to avoid paying our country's very high corporate tax rates so they often don't repatriate foreign funds. And that has "progressives" salivating over the prospect of yet more "other people's money" waiting to be wasted.

By incorporating outside the U.S. companies can use earnings as they choose and can even decide to bring the money to the U.S. for investment here, without paying our taxes (on funds that have already been subject to taxation by the nation in which the earnings were generated. In a recent Wall Street Journal article, the Chairman and CEO of Abbott Labs, presents a cogent, rational, and factual case FOR inversions. He notes...

Inversion doesn't change a company's tax rate. A company pays the same tax rate in the U.S. after inversion as it does before inverting. A company also pays the same tax rates in foreign domiciles before and after inversion.

The respected Tax Foundation has also spoken out against the misinformation being bandied about by uninformed or duplicitous "progressives", and offers supporting comments on the Abbott position. 

If there's any doubt that this is just another phony issue, concocted by "progressives", let's look at the impact of addressing this issue. A recent piece in The Federalist noted that the Congressional Joint Committee on Taxation estimates that "fixing" the inversion issue would generate $2 Billion/year. Even that relative pittance is likely overstated since it assumes that 100% of all funds would be repatriated; that's an absurd assumption. http://bit.ly/1jVhnPH

As with much of today's political debate, corporate inversion is surrounded by so many lies and misrepresentations--all designed to backdoor yet more corporate tax dollars at the expense of our free market--that effort is too often expended on getting to the baseline of fact and truth. "Progressives" are simply wrong on this issue, and have been dishonest in presented their case.

Friday
Jul182014

IF ONLY HE WAS AS INTERESTED IN LEADING AS HE IS IN GOLF

Our President likes to golf. Many other of our Presidents also liked to golf. But, in the face of governing at a time of massive financial, social and legal upheaval, Obama golfs and fundraises way too much.

As of this week, it appears he's played 176 rounds in his 5-1/2 years in office.  But it gets better!

You see by all accounts, including the New York Times, he plays a very, very slow round of golf....like a 5-6 hour round. As President, he doesn't wait for the foursome in front of him; there is no foursome in front. There is nothing, other than his own self-absorbed personality, which drives this tediously slow pace of play. (In similar circumstances, President Bush once finished a round in about 1-1/2 hours. The typical golfer, with no "interference", should finish a round in, maybe 3 to 3-1/2 hours.) 

So let's say President Obama plays a 5-1/2 hour round 176 times so far. That's 968 hours or the equivalent of 40+ days. Let's assume the normally busy President works a 10 hour day, every day, 7 days a week. That means since taking office, President Obama has "worked" a total of 20,020 hours. But, let's at least subtract the 968 hours we know he was golfing and not working. So his theoretical "work time" since taking office would be 19,052 hours. 

And that means our President has, so far, devoted 5% of his time to golf. 

BUT...as of 2 days ago, he has also attended--sit down now!--393 fundraisers. (Washington Post. July 16, 2014; http://wapo.st/1p32xpm ) Let's assume travel and attendance at these fundraisers requires an average of 2 hours per event. That's 786 hours or another 4% of his precious Presidential time.

So, by my calculations, President Obama spends a minimum of 9% of an average day engaging in activities which have nothing whatsoever to do with governance. And, of course, I haven't counted his vacation time, since presumably Presidents always have "working vacations".

Now imagine any CEO for any business in the country who works a 50 hour/5 day work week. Now consider that CEO took 4.5 hours each and every week, during business hours, to engage in golf or skeet shooting or whittling. In essence, that CEO would be taking off one afternoon one day a week for personal indulgences. That CEO would almost certainly have a short career. 

Yet, President Obama gets a pass! The message to this admittedly small controversy is that it really gets almost no attention from the press. Imagine a very reticent  press, too weak-kneed to even mention this lackadaisical Presidents misspent time, as being a reliable reporter of more critical truths. I often think of the always-prescient Thomas Jefferson's words:

The basis of our government being the opinion of the people, the very first object should be to keep that right; and were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.


Thursday
Jul102014

IS MARIJUANA MORE DANGEROUS THAN ALCOHOL?

I suppose this debate will go on for years to come. But there is increasing evidence that alcohol is far more dangerous and costly to society than marijuana. In this podcast, the Freakonomics crew explores the issue in some detail. They speak with Prof. David Nutt, a psychiatrist at Imperial College London and former chairman of the U.K.’s Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs. He was terminated when he contended that alcohol and cigarettes "are more dangerous than cannabis and ecstasy". 

This is a fascinating and very inofrmative podcast. 

Tuesday
Jul082014

IF YOU THINK OBAMACARE IS WORKING, YOU'RE NOT PAYING ATTENTION

The Obama Administration demonstrated its normal incompetence in front of the entire country when its three-years-in-the-making ACA enrollment website crashed. But, now that that the furor has subsided how is Obamacare doing?

Let's start with the impact on business. A recent survey indicates that a sizeable majority of business executives, 82% in fact, think the ACA will not control health care costs nor will it improve the health care system's efficiency. 

ACA will help my company more effectively control health care costs,” while another 82 percent disagree with the statement that “the ACA is improving the efficiency of the health delivery system.” As costs rise employers are considering converting their plans to a "defined contribution" approach, under which the employer would give an employee a fixed amount to be used to buy coverage. If the experience with the infamous "cash balance" pension plans is any precursor, this approach enables employers to hold costs down to reasonably predictable levels simply by capping its contributions. 

Another approach being widely considered is to increase deductibles and co-payments. Regardless of the means used fundamental employers will be aggressive in shifting costs to the "end users"; i.e., the employee and dependents.

Because ACA also imposes a 40% excise tax (comonly referred to as "the Cadillac tax", since it only applpies to very "rich" plans. Since unions tend to have the most rich plans, its members will be hardest hit. And efforts by union-members' employers to hold costs down is already causing collective bargaining issues in both the private and public sectors.

The new "slacker tax" is already impacting costs. That is the mandate that any adult child under age 26 can be covered under the parents' plan. The costs of that will, like all costs, be borne by the employer and the employee--even those without "slacker kids".

All of this points to costs increasing; not, as promised, dropping by $2,500 per family. In fact, based on the Congressional Budget Office's estimates, the cost of EVERY newly insured person will run taxpayers $53,192 over the next decade.

Saturday
Jul052014

THIS KIND OF EXPLAINS OUR SOCIO-ECONOMIC WORLD USING JUST 2 COWS