Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Dying for the Sake of Taxes

Around ten days ago in New York City.....some cops came upon this one guy....Eric Garner....and made him aware of an impending arrest.  Eric declined the arrest, made the episode difficult.....causing the cops to use a headlock.  The physical actions involved was sufficient to cause Eric to hyperventilate. Being an asthmatic.....things didn't go well.  Eric passed away that day.

Naturally, being black plays into this story.  Unnecessary force was immediately part of the story from that point on.

I've noticed now that this story has become page one news in New York City.....staying on page one since day one.  Everyone is involved in the chatter....from the mayor on down to Eric's widow.

Daily updates come and go.....with few news organizations going back to the original event and asking questions.

To put it in the right perspective....Eric had dealings with cheap cigarette sales (No New York City taxation). Eric was part of an effort to sell cheap smokes on the street.  His associates brought in smokes from Indian reservation sales or cheap cigarette taxation states (West Virginia at 55 cents a pack and North Carolina at 45 cents a pack)...it’s a simple act to take $10,000...cross the border...buy bulk...drive back and sell smokes on the streets of New York City at $1 to $2 off the normal street cost (note, for this argument, NYC smokes tax is $4.35).

While arrested before...Eric has yet to ever be convicted. You can figure various reasons....lack of prosecution capability....weak judge...limited evidence...etc. No one from the various news departments from NY City has discussed this part of the story.  It would be curious why justice didn't ever work as conceived.

So, the cops came around Eric on this occasion....wanted him to cooperate for another arrest, and Eric declined. He just wasn't going to cooperate with the cops. No one wanted to use the Taser on the guy...so they went to the old method of the chock-hold....note: illegal by city standards via cops since 1993.

Eric was a 350-lb guy....an asthmatic....probably not in good shape....and died because of events that he triggered and the cops simply wandered into. The city will fire the cop involved....pay off the wife with something like $1 million, and some city hall guy will gift Eric Garner with a statue in the middle of town....probably with a pack of smokes in his pocket as a symbol of nature and it’s unpleasant epic endings.

 Yeah....a guy just surviving off the street....selling cheapo smokes and cheating the city out of taxes.  Dying. Then getting to be noticed as a "hero" of sorts.

The news media?  Stalled and in a way operating like a third-world operation existing out of Bolivia.

Monday, 28 July 2014

The "Gift" of Government

The President did his weekly speech this weekend, and covered what he considers a very unpatriotic act....companies that pack up and move their headquarters out of the US....to somewhere in the world with a lesser taxation mentality.

The President would like this "loophole" to be closed off and denied to US companies.  If you are US....you should base your headquarters in the US....by the logic of the White House.

How did companies come to this new strategy of basing the headquarters beyond the US border?  Because the House, Senate, and previous Administrations wrote all of the rules in such a way....allowing the companies to do so.

Besides taxation....are there other benefits?  Well....yeah.  If your IRS or Attorney General gimmicks are told to turn up the heat on a US corporation based out of Ireland or Switzerland.....you can't just walk in with some stupid judge's order and seize all kinds of paperwork.  This makes any type of corruption or illegal activity difficult to prove.

This makes a person sit and ponder.  Aren't we building other various gimmicks that allow a company in California to pack up and leave the state.....because of state taxation and property taxes there?  Don't we make various gun laws in Connecticut.....which encourage companies to escape their borders?  Haven't we screwed up on regulation enough in Ohio and Michigan....to such a degree....that companies look for better places in Alabama or Mississippi to place their plants?

Companies....no matter what size.....from one employee to fifty thousand employees.....hate regulation, and hate having some government audit guy stick his nose into their business.  It doesn't matter if it's a Slushy-drink-type company, or some cattle operation.

The President's intention is that Congress ought to fix this.....in order to make everyone pay their "fair-share" of taxation into the pot.  Who comes to decide what's fair? This question is never answered in a rational way.  Fair-share gets thrown around, and you come to realize that it's almost non-existent on a true definition.

Once your pot of money gets regulated and half of it is going into some government pot of money.....there's dozens of people trying to manage the function of that pot of money.  None of them want to talk about distribution or how they arrived at the fairest way of gifting the money to society.

All of this....leads onto companies artificially increasing their product cost, and pretending to be a capitalist company....but the truth is simply this....because of taxation gimmicks....they all work as some "gift-organization".....helping some gift-giver from the government....gift a hundred people here and gift a thousand people there.....with a gift that you tend to feel appreciation on the gift mechanism.

Fixing this mess?  No.....no one has any interest.....and with the current agenda of the White House....they've basically got no time left for working out deals for 2015 or 2016.  It's that simple.

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Lost in Ethics

Somewhere around 1.5 million American teenagers run away each year.  The majority return in some fashion....either hours later....days later....and sometimes they never return home.

So you ask yourself.....100,000 foreign teenagers....non-Americans....lost in essence in America right now....maybe another 200,000 by spring of 2015.  If we aren't mounting some national campaign for our own teenagers or taking care of them.....why would we waste time or resources for these other "punks"?

Not that I'm heartless.....but after you sit there and ponder over the current mess....where exactly is this fine line where one group is really important and the other group isn't?

If we discovered 400 "lost" teenagers sitting in Portland....would we put them on buses and send them to Chicago or some Air Force base in Mississippi?  Would we hire folks for Homeland Security to manage these American lost teenagers?  What would we give them for pocket money?  How about their education?  If half of the 400 American "lost" teens from Portland admitted they were from Nevada....and you forced them to move to Georgia....are you doing something unethical?

Some rumors abound this weekend from the White House that the President will just 'executive-order' something.  If it involves money....he's screwed without Congress agreeing.  If he gives away free residency....he'll be taken into court within seven days and probably be told to find some legal standing for his order or cease it.  If he fights it....then this impeachment talk just gets louder....which makes a guy question just how bad we'd really want VP Joe Biden to be President (our worst fantasy possible).

The solution?  There isn't any.

You might want to take notes here.  If this initial group gets through.....there's another 200,000 likely to come by spring of 2015.  Somewhere in Africa....there's various groups studying the mess and planning the acquisition of old freighters and just make a one-way trip over with 5,000 people sitting on a rusted boat for two weeks....to beach it in Florida and get that "free-deal".  If they make it.....another two or three million in Africa will study the same idea.

It's a can of worms, and we basically have no method of controlling this, or inventing a solution that leads to a permanent deal.

Friday, 25 July 2014

The Graduate Senator

It is one of those odd stories.

Someone kinda suggested to the Army War College to go back and look at X-research paper from a Army officer that attended the university about a decade ago.  No one from the university crew will say who suggested this...but the results are this....this simple fourteen page report has around 98 citations attached to it (all done correctly apparently)....but basically copied word-for-word....from an existing paper of the period.

The guy involved?  Well....he's the stand-in guy for North Dakota's senate seat....a Democrat.  Yeah.....he's running in the fall.  Yeah....it really shook up things a bit.

The Army War College?  They simply asked him to present himself and answer a few questions.  The worst of scenarios?  They revoke his master's degree.  For a Army officer....it's pretty much kick-in-the-butt.  You can't really fix this, and if all is proven true.....it's a done deal....just a couple of weeks of chat, and they make their decision.

What Senator Walsh says?  Well....he kinda admits he may have just lifted an entire paper to fill this void, but it's OK because he was having PTSD episodes at the time.  The Army?  Normally, the Army guys would all fall over each other and say "sure"....but this is the Army Staff College, and these geeky Army folks are a bit different.

My observation?  Well....if you say you had PTSD back in 2007....who is to say that right now....you don't have PTSD?  Can we allow some Senator to remedy himself and just he's pure and clean now.....no issues?  I just don't see how.

I can see future military leaders always caught in a lie....just say you got PTSD, and you get off the hook.

My belief?  By late August....the Army War College will have met and discussed the fourteen-page paper and it's affect.  PTSD won't be discussed.  They will simply say a sixty-day review will take place within the university....and shortly after election day in November....they revoke the degree.  Maybe it has no effect on the election.....maybe it does.  But it's not a player until after the election.

As for purity in master degree programs?  It's best to say that if you really went into every report and thesis written over the past twenty years....at least twenty percent would fail the purity test.  Incompetent individuals?  No....just people under stress....and the program is more than they expected.  So they cut corners.....fill in the voids, and pay the idiots their $40,000 for a certificate that you can hang on the wall, and gets you a $30,000 pay-raise.  That's life.

Russia and Capital Flight

There's a phrase that got tossed around a good bit in the last week....."capital flight".  It's used on rare occasions.....and some reporters have used it recently to talk up Russia and it's long list of issues that worry the billionaire guys who hang out and run the business side of Russia.

To put capital flight into a localized perspective.....imagine this guy in Bama....who has done well financially.  Small community, you made $250,000 this year off your franchise operation down on highway 4.

Normally, after you pay your taxes....you'd turn around and invest the remainder into real estate, or expand your business.  You might fix up your house.  You might buy a new big-screen TV from the local guy selling them.  You might buy a new Chevy from the dealer twenty miles away.  You might buy a pontoon-boat for your weekend pleasure from the local dealer.  You might do a number of things, but you are mostly parking that money left into localized things and spending it on the local level.

Other locals are in some way....sharing in your success.

In capital flight.....you take the funds left after taxes, and quietly shift it completely out of the state.  Other than house renovations or airline tickets for you to continually enjoy luxury in distant regions.....you don't spend a dime on local items.  No real estate investments.....no car from a local dealer.....no pontoon-boat from a local guy.

No one in the local region.....shares in your success.  What you are admitting....is that you are fearful of someone screwing you over, tricking you out of your capital, and don't want the risks associated with any local banking, investing, or purchases.

What Russian oligarchs kinda figured out since 1990 when the Soviet Union fell...is that there is no safe place in Russia to park billions.  Every time some idiot gets forced or pushed into banking with Russian banks or investing into Russian real estate or industry.....it goes into a black hole, and the success rate is marginal.

So, the money moves out of Russia.  The most popular places to park the money?  You can go into Paris, London, or Rome.....to find various upscale homes and condos which have been bought and are currently empty....just sitting there with cash holding it's value.  Go into New York City and you will find the same business going on, with the Russian billionaire folks parking money.

About a decade ago....the Russian billionaire found ways to get residency into Cyprus.  They brought bundles of cash.  The Cypriot banks were falling all over themselves in the beginning. They had people wanting to build new resorts and hotels on the island, and this new fresh money helped to start a trend.  But the billionaires kept coming up with more bundles, expecting the same generous rate to continue.

At some point, the Cypriot banks got to a point of saturation.....too much cash....no lucrative way to get a fair return. But they couldn't decline this great funnel of money.

 So, the bankers started to take in risky loans....hoping they'd pay off and making their new Russians friends happy.  Well....perhaps in the first year of this strategy....it worked to some minor degree, and then risk lead onto more risk, and eventually....the Cypriot banking system fell into a mighty big pit.  They had massive debt owed to regular Cypriot people.....small-business Cypriots....rich Cypriot business people....and to their rich Russian friends.  That was the issue of 2013 that had to be dealt with.

The Russian billionaires?  Well....they've had a bit of a fallout with Cyprus, but frankly where else are they accepted so easily....with a reasonable amount of transparency?

All of this leads back to capital flight....Russian profits which aren't staying in Russia.  You'd sit there and think about this, and start to ask....well....aren't the locals peeved and kinda upset?  Yeah.

In 1990....Russia hit the top of the population chart.....150-odd million in residents.  Even with the birth-rate drifting downward along general terms....Russia sits at around 143-million residents today.  Based on varying numbers....what the economic experts say is that three million Russians have packed up and left over the last decade.

Who made up the three million that left?  The National Post article cited engineers, scientists, doctors, and entrepreneurs.  The best and brightest....packed and left.  Whatever money that Russian is making off oil and natural gas....these people aren't saying too much in terms of results.  They were disenchanted, and felt betrayed in some ways by capital flight.  If the system of banking and investing in Russia is that screwed up for the billionaires....what does it say for the regular smart guy in the middle of the mess?

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Meet the Press?

For a brief period over five years....I got attracted to "Meet the Press"....the Sunday morning political chat show.  That came to an end in 2008....as Tim Russert passed on.  I can basically say....that Russert's version of political chat kinda carved up on both Republicans and Democrats.  It was one of the few shows that put both groups into a serious discussion of topics.

After Russert came Tom Brokaw.....and it only took one episode to get me disconnected from the series.  I didn't see Tom as some real journalist.....he was more of a pretender, whose job was to make Democrats look better than Republicans.

Tom's period lasted only as long as the battle took place and a real replacement came  on the air.....David Gregory.  I've watched bits and pieces of Gregory's version of the show.  Once in a while, he stages a fine piece of political commentary....then you run into one entire show that is developed as a one-sided argument on a topic.

The numbers of Meet the Press over the past five years?  Dismal.  The network isn't making any real revenue off the show.  The bosses have decided to let David Gregory go.

The replacement battle?  Chuck Todd (the NBC White House guy) and CNBC's dynamic duo of Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough (Morning Joe Show).

It's more of a race of who brings the show further down.....rather than revives the show.

I can't say much for Chuck Todd.....except I think you'd just get David Gregory version 2.0.   Whatever weaknesses were developed into the show.....Chuck would simply carry them on, and ensure nothing much changes (my humble opinion).

Brzezinksi and Scarborough?  If they used their normal morning format....it'd be more of a news of the morning and rapid laying of facts on the table....then move on.  Intense political discussion?  No.  That's not their standard.

Brzezinksi leans more to the left, but is active on discussions and asks some tough questions at times.  Joe Scarborough?  He's a pretend-to-be-Republican, who runs through news at a rapid pace.
I'm not sure the show would improve much with either choice here.  To be honest....over the past decade....folks have become inundated with political chat.....and tiring of it.  It's like NFL football chatter.....we've all gotten tired of five guys sitting there and talking over the Giant's quarterback situation, the rebuilding of the Dolphins for the sixth time in ten years, and the what-if scenario of Green Bay versus so-and-so on a minus-4 temperature day, and snow falling in the Green Bay stadium.

Personally, I'd like to see NBC hire up three unknown barbers from Iowa.....just let them chat for thirty minutes on national topics, and let the show develop from that point on.  Maybe bring on a guest barber from Alabama occasionally to shake things up......perhaps even hire up some Mexican barber to show up and talk over economics.

On the positive side.....at least there's plenty of stuff on the Cartoon Network to watch....if Meet the Press really screws up.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

A New Immigration Idea?

This 'flood'  of illegal immigrants continues, as I watch the episode continue on various news fronts.

I sat down last night and added up the population of El Salvador (7.9 million) , Guatemala (15 million), and Honduras (6.3 million).  It comes out to roughly 29 million residents.  They add up size-wise....to Alabama and Mississippi combined.

Maybe the real answer here is to simply enquire if the three countries want to just join up with the US, and become one or two new states.  We might as well admit of the twenty-odd million illegals in the US.....probably around fifty percent of them come from these three countries.

Yeah, there would be a fuss from various political groups (both Republican and Democrat).....but let's face it.  The border is unsecure, and will never be really fenced up to clear out the issue.  Toss in immigration reform which pops up every ten years as a major player in US politics.  We could simply end immigration from ever coming up ever again.

The transparency angle?  Well.....a bunch of corrupt thugs in all three countries would start to get noticed and arrested more often.  Probably in a decade....we'd start to clear out the bad guys in their politics.....open up some industry operations....throw in some US banks....spend a bunch of money roads and bridges....and bring in a major league baseball team or two to the region.

Reactions by the Canadians?  Yeah, they might want to get in on the deal, and we'd have to just all Canada later to be five or six states.  Mexico?  Yeah, they'd eventually want in on the action.  Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Belize, and Panama?  Yeah.....we could probably combine them into one single state.

If you don't really have a border that is secure....then why bother pretending otherwise?

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Bama: Happy versus Unhappy

There's this financial analysis organization....Advisor Perspectives....that did up this fancy piece of work on how much money....in a relative state.....makes you happy.

For Bama....the magic number that they came to....was $69,300 (for the entire household).  For some oddball reason.....folks considered this number to be the point where you emerged from being unhappy, and went to being happy.  In Tennessee, it was $67,265 (roughly $2k less).  In Mississippi, it was $65,850.  (roughly $4k less).

Naturally a Bama guy would look at this and start to ask stupid questions.

Where does happiness and unhappiness merge up and become this dollar amount?  Could you be unhappy in Bama making $100,000?  Could you be happy in Bama making $21,000 while working at Piggly Wiggly?  Could you have two brand new Fords in your carport....completely paid-off, with a pontoon boat on the lake, and be unhappy?  Could you go from from one stage of happiness with $75,000 one day, to a big stage of unhappiness the next day....if the hay barn burnt down or your $4,000 spring lawn job just dried up and died off?

Most folks from Bama just don't see happiness in the same fashion as Advisor Perspectives.  You could have some gal who got repented at the Baptist Revival last week....sweating up a storm with the AC off in the church....newly divorced and almost bankrupt....working for minimum wage at Burger King, and just feeling like a million bucks in terms of happiness.

You could have some guy....graduate of Auburn and a 1988-89 member of the Auburn NCAA football team (reserve team)....in perfect health....pulling in $65,000 a year selling bogus upscale lawn furniture imported in from China....and just totally unhappy because his wife ran off with the county clerk's wife (lesbian thing), his dog got run over by the county garbage truck the same day, and his barber of twenty years is retiring.

It's odd things that makes a Bama resident happy or unhappy.

There's the problem of a dry-county versus a wet-county.

There's the issue of the maintenance status of your daily vehicle, and just how often it's going into the garage.

There's the content of the minister's Sunday sermon, whether it's awful harsh on some associates of yours.

There's the NCAA football issue....if Bama can actually go undefeated for the whole season or really screw up things by losing to Auburn in the Iron Bowl.

There's the summer heat issue....if the temperature average could just stay around 88-degrees for the bulk of the summer, and just go over 95-degrees for five days in August.

There's the issue of your five brief days of summer vacation....and if you will spend it in Aruba just drinking hard whiskey and rum for hours on end, or spend it on the streets of New Orleans mostly drunk on mystery beverages (remembering little of the trip), or spend it at Branson, Missouri just in quiet luxury and buffet breakfast/lunch/dinner spots.

There's the issue of your mower, and if it'll last one more season.

There's the issue of relatives coming to visit....not for hours, but days or maybe even three weeks.

There's the issue of some meth-head having moved into the abandoned property across from your woods....and you keep hoping the cops find out about this without you having to identify yourself and get your name into some report on your neighbor.

There's the issue of some neighbor coming over daily to chat over 500-odd topics to waste forty-five minutes of your afternoon....that you don't have time to waste.

There's the issue of your leaking basement wall after a storm.

There's the issue of five tornado 'warnings' over the past month in your area of the county, and you think about the thirty seconds of time you've got to get into the basement.

There's the issue of your husband buying imaginary weapons for some game at $50 a whack, and you can't convince him that there's no true value for the $50 pretend-sword.

To say $69,000 is enough.....well.....it might as well be $690,000....or $6,900.  Things just aren't that simple in life to say a magic number is happy.