Friday, August 19, 2011

Why $250,000 as the Cutoff? or WWJD with that Cash?

The big fiscal legislative issue of the lame duck session was the extension of the Bush Tax Cuts. Everyone gets something? Nobody gets anything? Do we go in the middle with some number picked out of the air?

I guess the $250,000 number was a campaign promise from 2008 that needs to be honored.

But seriously, you can't make it on $250,000 PER YEAR?

People actually have the unmitigated gall to complain about this?

Part of the reasoning of the rich and greedy was, "We need to extend the Bush Tax Cuts to keep the Economy Productive!"

If the Bush Tax Cuts were supposed to spur jobs; where are they? We should be up to our ears in job openings right now.

If those who benefited from the Bush Tax Cuts were going to create jobs, they would have by now. They haven't; therefore, we need to make the cuts go away for at least those making more than $250k per year. I don't what to hear the "fairness" whining from the BMW crowd.

The reasoning behind the whining is that you can't raise taxes during:
  1. A recession
  2. A depression
  3. A flush economy
  4. A snowstorm
  5. A year starting with a "2"

All of these seem to be really valid reasons to stop raising taxes. (Read this as sardonic)

I know I have a hard time wrapping my small wallet around that $250k number. I am sure most of you reading this may feel the same way. But I am not going to make this a class-warfare argument to extend the cuts for those under $250k, but not over the magic number.

I am going to make it a competency issue.

Let's take as a given we live in a capitalist system. That system only works properly when there is a free flow of cash. Money brought into the system is then sent out again in the form of reinvestment. If we stop reinvesting in the system we get a clogged system (kinda like your home plumbing). Yeah some stuff may get through, but we will have an eventual large and smelly problem.

Those people who are making more than $250k per year and are not reinvesting it are the problem. They are the clog. We tarp'ed them; we stimulated them; and still nothing. They are either greedy or incompetent. If they are greedy, tax the hell out of them! None of us have any sympathy for them.

If they are incompetent we need to use the tax laws to make them competent. If you are bringing in that kind of coin and can't figure out how to shelter it to get it under $250K, I don't think you can handle that kind of cash.

Sorry, you need to flush it back into the system. Create a small business entity that will hire somebody to do something. There are plenty of people who would love the opportunity to do something. There are a lot of hard luck cases right now that you can hire. Would you rather a tax bill go to the government or a neighbor down the street who needs a job?

The tax laws are such that you can do this. Incorporate yourself, pay yourself a salary out of the corporation and set the corporation to do other stuff. Talk to an accountant. Get you number under $250k and start producing for the economy. You want to make money - invest it in our people. I want you to make money. Really, I do! The more people you hire the quicker we get the economy back.

Otherwise, if you don't do this, then you don't deserve to have that much money.

This is no different than the Parable of the Talents from the Gospel (Matthew 25:14-30).

If you are unfamiliar with this particular story it is the one where 3 guys walk in to a bar (a rabbi, a priest and a duck) and...

Oh, no, sorry - different parable...

3 guys are given various sums of talents (or cash) by their master. The master goes away and leaves these guys to their own devices. 2 of the guys push the limits with their cash and double their investments. The third guy buries on the cash and didn't get anything for it.

The master comes back and gives big atta-boys to the two guys who tried. The master looks at the third guy and gives him the "What-the-hell-did-you-do-nothing-for" speech.

Moral of the story: Take your Talents (read:Cash) and make them multiply. Bury them and you should get ripped a new one from Jesus Christ (and the IRS).

Monday, August 15, 2011

Pay 2 Play at the Iowa Straw Poll

I like to wait until the smoke clears in the mainstream media and find an unoccupied spot on the chessboard to make a stand.

The Iowa Straw Poll was over the weekend and I became interested when Steven Colbert took his SuperPac Money and started running ads.

The thought of messing with Rick Parry (with an A) instead of Rick Perry (with an E) was a really cool idea. I hope he extends this into other situations.

What I didn't realize until I looked further into it was each of those voters had to pay $30 to vote in the Straw Poll. This blew me away for a couple of reasons.

  1. It is not a good thermometer to take the temperature of an electorate that is essentially broke.
  2. I cannot believe that Colbert's iteration of Rick Parry gathered no votes. If they were counted in with Rick Perry - then the Colbert Nation did have a significant impact. I hope that the Colbert SuperPac employs a lawyer or two to impound the ballots and demand a recount. If the GOP cannot run a fair election within it's own party - how can anyone expect fairness at a larger level?
  3. Based on the results of the Straw Poll - Tim Pawlenty dropped out. I didn't think that his demographics were going to be the frothing-at-the-mouth Republican that would put the family food money on the table to vote for him. I got the impression that he was going for a more moderate and reasonable crowd. He would never get a crowd this intense.
  4. Since Michele Bachmann won this poll with a total of 4832 votes, this election could have been had for the paltry sum of $200,000 ( 5000 votes to be bought * ($30 per vote plus $10 lunch money) ). It would have exposed the real nature of this type of polling.

If you think that $200,000 is a staggering amount - think about all the commercials that went into this. Think about all the media time it generated on the news stations. This was a product that was sold to the consumers as content on the national news cable stations. Wrapped around that content were advertisements. $200,000 is a drop in the bucket.

Stepping away from the Iowa Straw Poll makes me think the whole thing was gamed like a sleazy carnival's 11 foot basketball hoop.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

S&P and Other Parasite Companies

Published: Huffington Post 8/9/11

I am a one man operation. I like it that way.

I get calls all the time from companies looking for the Owner/IT Dirtector/Head of Food Services -- you get the idea. They want to sell me stuff I am not generally interested in. It goes with the territory.

Occasionally, I get calls from an over-perky, over-caffeinated Dun and Bradstreet marketer (they got 2 strikes right there). The call generally goes something like this:

Hi, can I speak to the head of finance?

You got him. What can I do for you?

We noticed that we have no record of your company, Find A Nerd, on file. People are making inquiries.

What do they want to know?

They want to know about your credit.

What did you tell them?

We couldn't tell them anything -- that is why I am calling.

That's good.

Don't you want people to know about the financial position of your company?

No. Why?

We sell that information to other companies.

So you get paid to tell people about my company?

Yes -- and you can have a report too if you sign-up!

But, I already know about my company.

But you will see what we are telling other people!

So what do I get out of it?

You get to be known as a Dun and Bradstreet subscriber!

OK -- what are you going to pay me for my information?

Nothing -- actually -- you pay us.


So we can rate you properly.

Oh -- let me get this straight -- so you charge me to get my information so you can turn around and tell other people about my information?

Yup -- isn't it great!

But they are paying for my information too?


Wow -- you got it going both ways. Do you like the book Catch-22?

Not heard of it -- what's that?

Nevermind -- I don't think I want you to tell other people about my business.

But but but...

And we go around in circles for a while because I have this odd notion that I should get a cut of the action if they are going to sell my information.

I look at these guys as just a bunch of parasites.

Now we have another parasitic company (in my eyes) doing essentially the same thing. Standard and Poor's sits there and "rates" companies, governments, whatever and gives them a score. I don't know who gave them this power, all we know is they have it.

The information being gathered by S&P is being used to set a reputation about the companies it rates. The 500 Companies don't get a cut of the profits S&P makes on selling their information. But S&P can destroy them.

They are now using this power against our economy and our country in a profound way. This firm held Congress and the president hostage to get what they wanted. Then they shot the hostage.

Moving the rating from AAA down may have caused world markets to tank.

American business has a vested interest in having responsible people running this firm. This company asked for a compromise out of Congress and the president and got it. Then -- the first chance it got to do the most damage -- Friday afternoon after the markets closed -- they struck. The downgrade had all weekend to simmer in Asia for a Monday Morning Tanking.

Can American companies defend themselves against this ratings system? It appears this ratings company can drive other companies out of business.

As stock prices go down, the companies can become targets of takeover bids -- further chaos in the marketplace.

What can the business community do to force S&P to take responsibility for tanking these firms and the jobs of the people who work for them?

To keep S&P honest there needs to be a way to place a check on them.

I am no lawyer -- but can these companies sue for a cut of the S&P action? I am sure each of these companies has a copyright on their names. Every time Standard and Poor's references a company name -- should they have to pay a royalty to that company because of copyright laws?

After all, if the company's name or brand did not exist S&P would have nothing to sell.

It is their good names on the line when S&P played games this weekend and watched the values of these stocks start to bottom out.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Rick Perry's Revival as a Soccer Match?

Published: The Huffington Post 2011.08.04

Was looking at "Rick Perry Day Of Prayer Shadows 2012 Ambitions" and saw that of the 71,000 plus seats only 8,000 were going to be occupied.

I thought about the Gospel story of a man who prepared a great feast and invited all his friends. None of them showed up. So the man walks out and gathers everyone else he can find to attend his feast. He gets a full room and a lot of fun. Then the original invitees start complaining. The man essentially says, "Look -- you didn't want to come so I invited them -- they're having a good time and so am I. You have a problem with that?"

I started thinking about soccer (God knows why -- The Philadelphia Union is losing Carlos Ruiz so I guess they need some prayers). My mind turned to the European and MLS Soccer stadiums where each of the teams fans come out in their own colors to sing songs and cheer for their team.

Then I started to think: What if Atheists started showing up at this Rick Perry thing? They got nothing to do on a Saturday afternoon (or Sunday mornings for that matter). They could all show up wearing big Scarlet A Tee-Shirts.

Hey -- it's Ramadan Month - I could see a competing section of Muslims walking in with big green pom-poms.

Catholics start showing up in White and Yellow Miter caps.

Jews in blue yarmulkes.

Protestants show up in Alligator shirts and plaid golf pants.

Pagans and Druids show up with Pine Sprigs.

Charismatic Christians can cheer in tongues.

Mormons can work the crowds on the way in and the Jehovah Witnesses can work the crowds on the way out. (During halftime of the rally they can send teams out to try to convert each other with leaflets and magazines.)

I am not a big fan of Rick Perry. I think he's more than a little wacky -- a side effect of global warming is that a lot people's brains have roasted down in Texas.

But I am a big fan of God (sorry Atheists and Agnostics) and The United States Constitution (sorry Theocrats).

When I looked at the FAQ for this event I saw that it was an exclusive Evangelical Christian thing. The man set a feast and they ain't showing.

If Rick Perry wants to have a Day of Prayer -- invite everyone -- and allow everyone's faith (or non-faith) to speak to God and to speak to the gathered. It is a reflection of the America that this man is thinking that he wants to lead.

We'll see if the Evangelical Christian-only crowd can show some tolerance towards other folks. We will know they are Christians by their love.

Or do we have to build barbed-wire moats around each of our groups to stay safe?