Thursday, 22 September 2011

The $16 Muffin

Word came out this week....via an audit of the Justice Department and it's "meetings"....that they had been accused of spending lots of government cash for fantastic food and drinks.  Namely: $16 muffins, $8 cups of coffee, and $5.50 cups of Coke.

So I finally stood up today and pondered.  I asked four folks that I know....that have lived in the Arlington, Maryland, or DC area for years and years....where do you find a $16 muffin.  Most folks knew where there were some great $4 muffins.  I did a Goggle search in the DC area....where I found one special type muffin for $7.  Then I found this great deal $15.99 for a six-pack of muffins.

Then I started to ponder how competent a audit guy might be.  There simply aren't any $16 muffins in DC, or Maryland, Arlington, Baltimore, or even Atlanta.  Let's be honest here....unless you found some topless muffin dancehall.....there just aren't any $16 muffins.  Bogus.

So the $8 cup of coffee.  Again.....no one knows where you can buy coffee like this.  I know a place out on the main drag of Paris....where a cup of coffee....in Euro....would end up around $16 but in DC?  No.  Again, it's totally bogus.  Course, you could rig up a deal with a fancy coffee shop where you buy four cups in a four-pack for $8.

The $5.50 for a cup of Coke?  No....you can't find a place in DC that offers such a deal.  I know a place in Tucson where they sell a XXL cup of Coke for $1.99, but I can't think of a single place in DC where you'd spend $5.50.  Course, you could buy a 12-cup container for around $5.50 from some discount center.  Or you could buy a six-pack of Coke for $5.50 at the local Harris-Teeter shop in Arlington.  Bogus again.

So, for Senator Grassley from Iowa....who is all upset and just plain going nuts over $5.50 for a Coke, and $16 for a muffin.....you need to simmer down....sip some tea, and get real.  There just ain't any $16 muffins in DC.

But since we are listening to Senators and Congressmen all day talk about $16 muffins.....perhaps you folks would like to explain how $1 million is spent per year for free water (bottled water)....for you and your staffs on capital hill.  The breakfast trays that are commonly laid out in your office with pastries?  Did you use the $25k a year in your 'snack-fund' for that daily tray?  Maybe you'd like to tell another chapter to this outrageous story?  I kinda doubt it.

So as you sit there in Nashville, or Red Bay, or Eugene tonight....wondering where you can get a $16 muffin.....settle back and just accept the fact that things haven't gotten that bad yet.  Course, you were looking to bribe a Senator....you still need $50k for his re-election fund to get anything really done or have lunch with the guy.  That fact hasn't changed.

And if you were looking for the best muffins?  Try Wal-Mart Blueberry Muffins...for around $2.  These are the jumbo size.....so you could eat two or three for a good sweet breakfast.  But don't tell your Senator about that deal.

Only in America.

UPDATE: The Hilton Corporation, which was at the heart of this audit of the Justice Department and the $16 muffin finally wrapped up their review of the episode and released a report late yesterday.  What they were asked to provide to participants....was a open breakfast bar....which included coffee, juices, various different pastries, fruits, cereal, sodas, etc.  So they wrote this up in corporation "shorthand" on the bill...."muffin".  The audit guy?  My guess is that he never called Hilton, and he probably has no real background with hotel operations, hotel bills, or such.  He simply found this "muffin" listed for $16 and got all peppy.  So, in the end, I stand by my words.....there simply isn't a $16 muffin.  Never was...never will be.  And the audit guy?  He probably got a promotion....had an office party send-off, and got some great $4 muffins from Krispy Kreme.

The Way Things Work

Over the past two weeks, there's been this continual chatter about the President's concept of increased taxes on the wealthy....to cover the cost requirements of the government.  Here's the prospective you ought to think about.

You line up one hundred guys who each make precisely $10 million a year from their company.....all precisely at the same level....all facing an imaginary level of say 35% taxation (the President can use any number he desires).  So you would sit there and imagine that roughly $3.5 million of their income will come to the IRS.  The plain truth is that you might have three guys who hand over the $3.5 million, but the other 97 guys will hand over anywhere from $3 million, all the way down to zero dollars for taxation.

Each guy hires some taxation expert.  One guy will create a foundation where he tosses half of the ten million toward the charity foundation.  He'll pay almost no taxes.  On the hidden side....his trips to the foundation headquarters in San Diego are always covered by the foundation's tangled empire.....same for the hotel stay...the food....etc.

Another guy will move quietly the majority of his ten million to an off-shore bank....paying the one-time tax on it, and then letting the money disappear into various banks in Thailand, the Bahamas, or Africa.

A dozen guys will buy up fake farm land in Ohio, and pretend they actually farm land....when they don't.  Some guy will plant two thousand Oak trees on his 500 acres and take various tax credits via both the state and the federal government.

So when the President chats about fairness or how taxes need to be increased against the evil rich people.....he really has no idea how much they currently pay, how they are structured to beat his tax efforts, or what he might get out of the deal in the end.  It's sad in a way.....a massive media device is working to convince you how this will all work.  But they haven't the slightest idea of how one hundred millionaires think.   And don't even bother asking these guys how they got rich or how they intend to stay rich....they'll just grin.