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Today’s Inspiration (part 2): Taking Risks April 7, 2011

Posted by shwaldman in Politics, Society.
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Next up is Morgan Spurlock. I just love this guy. His projects are always thought provoking and fun. He has a honest view of the world and does, as he says, “examine the societal issues in a way that makes them entertaining.” His latest project takes a similar look as a movie that starred David Duchovny and Demi Moore called “The Joneses.” If you are interested in marketing and branding, I suggest you see it. And the premise of this talk, transparency, makes me curious to see how Spurlock tells the sorry of “The Greatest Movie Ever Sold.”

But the thing that struck me about this talk was more about his thoughts on taking risks. I love his quote of “When you train your employees to be risk adverse, then you’re preparing your whole company to be reward challenged” and now it is time to find my brand…

And then finally, one of the most curious, and possibly overlooked points of this talk was at exactly minute 16. One of the biggest applause Spurlock got was when he mentioned visiting a place that bans outdoor advertising. And then there was udder silence at the next sentence mentioning businesses putting advertising in our schools. I really wish we could get to the point where business would be willing to give up a little in terms of their taxes and let it go to schools. Instead, our governments are turning our schools into advertising billboards. The money is going to come from somewhere, why not invest our tax dollars into our future, instead of advertising dollars. It will be much more efficient and fair for all!

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Healthcare Plan: A new idea September 15, 2009

Posted by shwaldman in Politics, Society.
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While on my lunch time jog to/thru/from a nearby park, I came up with a “new” idea for the healthcare debate. I was thinking about how our society has become a bit of “us vs them.” The political environment is Republican vs Democrat, our economic world is rich vs poor…. how can we come up with a solution that meets everyone’s needs.

So, here it is. We need to change our tax approach. Clearly this would be harder and more expensive to implement than what we already have, but it would reduce the strain on those people who think we don’t need higher taxes while still supporting the services that other people do need. I will call it Vested Taxes. The new system would allow people to opt out of certain taxes. However, by doing so, they would be opting out of the services that those taxes support. At the local level, people could opt out of supporting the library, however if they went to use the library, they would pay a premium (more than $0) to utilize those resources… obviously, this would require more system integration to allow instant information to the services on every individual, but the Patriot Act already opened the door to this possibility.

At the national level is where we find health care, and social security high level examples. I really do not like the idea of having to do this. But I certainly like it better than where we are headed… talk of states succeeding and individuals saying, “if you don’t like it, why don’t you move?” We don’t want to divide our nation into classes, but look at us now.

The vesting comes in if individuals suddenly need help and change their minds. The government response can then justifiably be, “sorry, you haven’t been contributing, so we have to deny you.” Everyone gets what they want!

Debt and Deficit Revisited January 15, 2009

Posted by shwaldman in Politics, Society.
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Watching that the documentary the other night has made me want to revisit the national debt discussion. I had a previous post on our debt and our government’s deficit has been in the news again lately. Just like your own budget, it is a fairly simply equation really, how much your bring in has to be more than how much your spend. But in the case of our government, the amout of taxes our citizens pay is not enough to cover the amount money we are spending for war, education, healthcare, roads, government officials…etc, etc, etc. And now we are bailing out the banks, the auto industries, and we will probably get another economic stimulus package… where is all this money coming from?

Our government is taking on more and more debt and in case you haven’t heard, the rest of world is having financial troubles too. Most of our debt is owned by China. At this point, they don’t want to buy more debt. What are we going to do when they say, “Sure, we will bail you out by lending to you, but in return, send your taxes directly to us.” The world would turn absolutely upside-down. It honestly isn’t far from possibilities. I know there are books out there about the rise of China – I suspect their projections are likely close to this.

Right now, we have over 11 Trillian dollars in loans outstanding. And we are adding that at a rate of over 1 Trillan dollars per year. The only way to reverse this is to pay down the debt. And to do that, we have stop spending so much AND AND AND take in more taxes. The fact of the matter is for years, the balance of financial power has swifted way too far to the rich and the only way to shift the balance back is to increase taxes against the wealthy. If they are making a lot of money, they can afford to help the entire country get back on top.

As I said before, true free-market capitalism does not work. I don’t think we have ever looked at this way, but would you accept Darwinism as a reason for letting people just die? But that is what capitalism is. The rich get richer until the poor have nothing. Then the rich get richer until the middle class has nothing. Are you ready for that?

Tax Proposals Comparison October 8, 2008

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When the debate happens, it is really not clear at all what they are proposing. This is why I love the web. I saw this graphic a while ago and am finally taking the time to post it. It came from the Washington Post site and references the Tax Policy Center, so don’t know the exact origins, but it certainly illustrates some important philosophical differences.

Do you get the sense from the debate their tax plans looked like this?

Do you get the sense from the debate their tax plans looked like this?

Bailout or Rescue Plan? October 8, 2008

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The banks are going down, the stock market is crashing and Congress is caught off guard. Their attempts to bailout (not rescue) the banks is not helping ease the selling on all the world stock markets. So, now they are working on have all the world markets cut interest rates to help businesses (and individuals) get credit. Isn’t that what got us into this mess in the first place? I would like to see a list of the expertise of Congress – how many of them truly understand economics? They seem to be just throwing out ideas until they see the stock markets stabilize….”Let’s see if this works….”

Now, back to the BAILOUT plan. It is a bailout because the plan in intending to save the industry based on their excesses and lack of regulation, no one seems to be disputing that. This plan is bailing out companies and executives, not rescuing people from uncontrolled circumstances…. And it only got passed because of all the “sweetners.” I think most people who watched the congressional members reacting to the passing of this bill – negatively… Not to sound too cynical, but I am guessing because they didn’t feel good about the plan because they didn’t get sweetners that they can take back to their constituents that will help them get re-elected and knew it wasn’t truly resolving the bigger problem. Here are some examples totaling $23.5 Billion (apparently there is over $100 Billion in provisions like these) (taken from Taxpayers for Common Sense bailout summary) :

Not all the provisions are per se outrageous, but collectively are intended to help Congressional leadership get final passage of the 2008 Emergency Economic Stabilization Act and have nothing to do with rescuing the banks.

Here’s the list:

1. Sec. 503. Exemption from excise tax for certain wooden arrows designed for use by children. (Page 263) The estimated cost of the proposal is $2 million over ten years, according to the Joint Committee on Taxation.

2. Sec. 317. Seven-year cost recovery period for motorsports racing track facility. Page 262) The provision would be extend 2 years till the end of 2009 and would cost 100 million.

3. Sec. 308. Increase in limit on cover over of rum excise tax to Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. (Page 262) The most recent extension of the $13.50 rebate expired January 1, 2008. Cost is $192 million.

4. Sec. 301. Extension and modification of research credit.(Page 262) The two-year extension is estimate to cost $19 billion.

5. Sec. 504. Income averaging for amounts received in connection with the Exxon Valdez litigation.(Page 263) Cost is estimated at $49 million dollars.

6. Sec. 601. Secure rural schools and community self-determination program. … bringing the total cost to $3.3 billion.

7. Sec. 201. Deduction for state and local sales taxes (Page 261) The bailout bill extends this provision for 2 years at a cost of $3.3 billion.

8. Sec 502. Provisions related to film and television productions (Page 263) The cost is estimated at $478 million over 10 years.

9. Sec. 325. Extension and modification of duty suspension on wool products; wool research fund; wool duty refunds. The 2010 to 2015 cost is estimated to be $148 million.

10. Sec. 309. Extension of economic development credit for American Samoa. Page 262) The cost is $33 million, according to the Joint Committee on Taxation.

Sec. 201. Inclusion of cellulosic biofuel in bonus depreciation for biomass ethanol plant property.(Page 114) Current law allows taxpayers to write off 50% of the cost of any facility placed in service before January 1, 2013 that produces cellulosic ethanol.

Sec. 211. Transportation fringe benefit to bicycle commuters. (Page 114) This provision is estimated to cost $10 million.

Sec. 323. Enhanced charitable deductions for contributions of food inventory. Page 262) The cost is $149 million, according to Joint Committee on Taxation.

Sec. 324. Extension of enhanced charitable deduction for contributions of book inventory. (Page 262) The provision is worth $49 million.

Sec. 602. Transfer to abandoned mine reclamation fund. This provision extends existing law to include a $9 million transfer for 2010.