Pre-Holiday Observations

With a nod to  Martin Niemoller (see our previous post), when they came for the Duke La Crosse team Senator Franken said nothing. Then they came for Roy Moore,  Franken cheered. Then they came for Franken and no one was there to speak in his defense. This is the same Senator that tweeted  “@BetsyDeVosED‘s decision to reverse guidelines on campus sexual assault threatens students’ civil rights. We must protect our students.”  Yes, those were the same rules severely limiting the rights of the accused on campuses.  Poetic justice? He certainly won’t be the last they come for.

While on the subject of sexual harassment or worse and those accused of these transgressions, so much of what is discussed never made it to any court.  There has never been or  ever will be any legal determination on the claims of Leigh Corfman, Beverly Nelson, Juanita Broderick or Kathleen Willey.  These cases and so many others just come down to the very subjective “who do you believe?.”  Not so in the case Paula Jones pressed against Bill Clinton  The very existence and ensuing testimony of Monica Lewinsky and Pres. Clinton in this case allowed Linda Trip to convince Lewinsky to preserve evidence proving the then President was a liar under oath. This led him to concede throwing in the towel by paying the maximum amount Jones asked.  Further his lies under oath in this case caused him to lose his law license. No question here on who to believe.  The case entailed the claim the then Governor of Arkansas exposed himself to  state employee Jones while soliciting sexual favors.  Sounds similar to so many of today’s accusations.  What seems to be forgotten, the case was initially thrown out of court to the cheers of all the major woman’s organizations and of course Democrats. It was tossed not on the facts of the case, but for lack of standing. The court just couldn’t see how Ms.Jones was damaged.  In a civil case you have to show harm and the court couldn’t see any.    A lowly state employee subjected to extreme sexual harassment by her ultimate boss but only pain in the pocket-book was recognized. How would this play today? Jones persevered without any help from the “feminists” of the day and their allies through the appeals process to an ultimate victory that netted her little monetarily but much ugly commentary.  To this day her detractors have never embraced her.  If they couldn’t support a lowly public employee, who?  Just Hollywood stars and other elites? Have you ever heard anyone call Paula Jones a heroine? Yet she stood up and fought it out at the time in the courts unlike so so many of today’s “heroes.”

We talk about the mandatory the savings embodied in “Dave’s Plan” and eyes glaze over.  “That will never fly” they say. Yet we just ran across this little snippet in the Week, Dec. 8,

Oregon Retirement005

This trend towards mandatory savings accounts is gaining strength here and abroad simply because it’s a necessity to achieve the future we all desire.  Marry this to the major trend towards Health Savings Accounts (HSA) and we’re on our way to Dave’s Plan’s Personal Benefit Account (PBA). (See the entire series under Dave’s Plan) Add a credit card feature and you’re basically there. We just got there sooner.  After all, in a Capitalist Society it really good to have capital. As a wise man we knew once said, “rich or poor, it’s good to have money.”

Some of the program Republicans pined for ages has been accomplished.  A number of regulations have been rolled back and their growth has slowed. Tax relief for business is a reality.  For a country that had the highest corporate tax rate and fallen out of the top thirty countries for doing business, this has given a much-needed boost to our nation’s competitiveness.  A great number of conservative judges have been appointed.  However, one has to wonder if this just might be the high point and now for the ride downhill. President Trump and the Republican Congress could generally agree on these things, but not so much on the other problems that stubbornly remain. The tax cut looks like it will add to the deficit. (4% average annual growth for the next ten years may produce a bonanza of tax revenue but would you bet the nation on it?)  This brings entitlement reform to the fore.  Lots of luck there with a the president on record as a against any reductions.  The bi-partisan Simpson-Bowles plan could be a starting point but does anyone expect Trump to go where Obama wouldn’t (even though he appointed the commission). A bad Health Care plan died once, can they come up with something that would actually work?  Trade policy under Trump could possibly start trade wars offsetting gains on taxes and regulations. Immigration reform has a constituency on both sides of the aisle but Trump and his followers will never go for the increase we despairingly need.  With a record high stock market and a record low unemployment, the President and Republicans have horrible poll numbers.  What if the market and/or the economy take a dip? What would that portend for the 2018 and 2020? Like Obama, much of what has been accomplished can be reversed by a change in the political winds. Eau de Trump still threatens the Republican’s very existence.  Under these circumstances would you  put more money in the stock market now?  We aren’t.  Would you consider taking money out?  We are? Could this kind of thinking by itself u cause the dip?  Yes!  Are you now sleeping better?  We aren’t.

We’ll save our comments on the Middle east and wedding cakes for later and wish everyone Happy Holidays.






Hang Him High

Wow! A senate candidate with a history of  sex with a slew of underage girls, can’t help but think this guy is toast.  The fact that he held some far out positions we heartily disliked only made the picture in our minds worse.  Drum this guy out of the race! The praise of the Washington Post’s reporting in exposing this “pedophile” to use a term prevalent on all the cable shows, only works to seal the deal. That this goes back 35-40 years ago doesn’t matter, these gals are telling the truth.  But a press conference held by the candidate Roy Moore’s team planted some small seeds of doubt.  We fully expected to see each of Moore’s supporters  and other supporters such as Breitbart contentions smacked down by the Post and others.  We’re still waiting.

The slew of underage girls turns out to be just one.  The others range from 16 to 28.  True for the most part Moore was considerably older and this is frowned on in certain circles, but it isn’t illegal in Alabama. College faculties might be decimated if we carted off faculty members dating their young students to the hoosegow. Remember college freshman range from 16-20 with 18 as the median.  May-December may not be our cup of tea but hardly shocking.  A teacher or professor having a relationship with his or her student on its face implies unequal power and should be discouraged, but its hard to see this in the Moore case. None of these people worked for or were dependent in any way on the then Assistant DA., Moore.

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Trying Everything Else

Our readers are well aware none of our proposed solutions to our various ills have come close to being adopted.  No new and shiny third major party to break the hold of our existing duopoly.  Obama care rolls merrily down the road with no coherent alternative even considered.  More states have increased the minimum wage further proving commonsense continues to lose out to political flim-flam. We have withdrawn from the one proposed multinational trade agreement the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and threaten to withdraw from others (NAFTA).  Not only do we not have a base in Kurdistan, apparently we have tossed our best allies in the fight against ISIS to the wolves. Israel will face nuclear destruction in the not too distant future. The Middle East Cauldron threatens to boil over in the face of our much diminished influence.  China advances its control of a major trade route. Bad actors in Cuba and Venezuela in our hemisphere to North Korea are still in place to continue their evil ways.  By all rights we should be in deep depression, but being cock-eyed optimists we would rather believe the across board policy failures will ultimately open people to real innovative solutions.

Take our domestic politics.  While no new party has yet taken the field, more and more  people have become estranged from the two majors. Senators Corker and Flake have chosen to go home rather than try to continue in a party no longer representing their values.  Most centrist Democrats have been pushed out of their party.  The few left such as Joe Manchin are curiosities.  Maybe they and their followers just going to hide under their beds, but most people active in politics all their lives don’t go quietly into the night. If their political futures are blocked in the two established parties many will want a path forward.  The present leaders inability to solve problems leaves the door wide open for a new approach.  Ambitious talented people will find a way.  Possibly we will see Flake and Corker and others expounding their views on government in a new venue.  We expressed our view that Flake and others needed an alternative to ward off the Trump/Bannon wing of the party in our post THE SHAPE OF THINGS TO COME Remember the inability to solve problems such as slavery brought forth the Republicans causing the demise of the Whigs and changed the Democrats for decades.

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But Hardly Anyone Pays it

Since World War II the standard reply to anyone proposing to cut a particularly high tax has been “but hardly anybody pays it.” John F. Kennedy looking at the then top rate of 91% was told not to worry about such a high rate because nobody paid it. The people pointing this out were absolutely correct. As Arthur Laffer showed with his “Curve” A graph running from 0 to 100% tax rate will raise no revenue at either extreme. Clearly 0 tax raises 0 revenue but people will do virtually anything rather than just giving all their hard-earned income to the government at 100%.  It made sense then at hide it, legally or not, or maybe only work to the level of a reasonable tax rate and no more. At 91% then it made perfect sense to write off all “expenses”  you could. Business people found ways to have their companies pay for everything from autos to country club memberships. After all the $1,000 of marginal income at the top rate meant you kept only $90. The investment industry found investments with 90-100% write-offs in the first two years.  These were structured so the investment would have a 0 cost basis and when eventually sold would pay only the capital gains tax then at 25%. Limited partnerships for high write-off endeavors such as Oil Drilling, Angus  Bull breeding and planting Pecan trees flourished.  After all, even if the investment was a loser and returned only $2 out every three invested you still came out. Out of your $1000 invested you only got back $675 on which you paid 25% capital gains tax netting $506.25.  A crummy investment to be sure but remember if you paid the tax rather than investing  you would’ve retained only $90.  Looked at from this prospective the investment returned more than 5 times as much. Even at lesser but still high brackets these kind of numbers led to capital moved diverted into mediocre or worse investments. Is this what any reasonable person want for this $1000? The high tax raised little or no revenue but caused vast sums to be into poured into poor or unproductive investments.  JFk and Reagan realized the waste entailed in avoiding confiscatory taxes caused a loss to the economy and worked to lower rates.

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The Target

If the President is to appear anywhere in public we see massive security.  Inside everyone attending is checked.  Outdoors, rooftops are secured and surroundings are constantly scanned.  Helicopters overhead survey the entire area. Sharpshooters are there to respond. These efforts are totally understandable as our presidents have far too often been attacked, some with fatal results. They’re always a target. What has changed is the attending crowds and indeed crowds anywhere are now targets. We have developed elaborate actions to protect our president but crowds as the world is now realizing haven’t been given needed protection. The horror in Las Vegas underlines this simple fact.

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