Saturday, August 30, 2014

Corporate Tax Inversions and Consumer Behavior

Jonathan asked me if I support "Corporate Tax Inversions" over at this MinnPost article.  The following discussion ensued.

"Post Idea: 
I will need to think more about it. My initial questions are:
  • Are people who buy Hyundai's unpatriotic and selfish since they spend their money outside the country?
  • Are people who shop online to escape MN sales tax unpatriotic and selfish?
  • Are people who open enroll or move to a "better" school district not community minded and selfish because they desert their old community that could really use their help?
  • Can companies be sued by stockholders for spending more money than they have to?
  • Why aren't America's business taxes competitive with Canada, Ireland, Scotland, etc? They aren't moving to Somalia..." G2A
 "Here is my opinion:
  • my Honda was made in the US and my Suburban in Canada -it's a bit more complicated than it seems
  • I shop on line not to escape taxes but because there is a larger selection of what I am looking for and I hate shopping. Although I do have to say many of my ABE book purchases were published in England originally
  • no they aren't because they are just choosing how to invest in human capital
  • boy I wish they could
  • I have no clue but I will look" Jody
"More than Assembly:
  • Cars have many aspects to "American Content" and some Honda models are very high in domestic content.
  • You are like me, however many folks go to Best Buy to test drive the product. And then they go on line to get a better deal and avoid state taxes. What do you think of that behavior? I figure if I am in a MN store using their inventory and personnel, I will happily pay a bit more.
  • My daughters attend Robbinsdale schools which are good but a bit rough at times. Many people move to or open enroll in Wayzara, Orono, Osseo(Maple Grove side), Privates, etc. The fact is that every "active academically focused well to do family" that leaves the community means fewer volunteers, fewer role good role model students, fewer funds, less money, etc. They are doing what they doing what they think is best for their child, but they are deserting a community where their presence was beneficial. When one family runs it isn't a problem, when thousands of families run it is a big problem.
  • I hope not, every company would need to move as necessary to maximize profits. Or face law suits. Us investors like it when companies make profits and increase our retirement funds.
  • I think you will find that these countries understand that attracting growing companies creates jobs.. And lower business taxes attract companies. And those employed citizens then pay more in taxes than what was lost." G2A
 "I presume the answer is a 'yes' then? None of the questions you asked were about Corporate Tax Inversion strategies, but they seemed to be attempting to be leading towards a "well, if liberals who buy hyundais can send their money oversees, so can corporations" argument." Jonathan
"My answer is Maybe:
What are your thoughts?  Do you think poor and middle class citizens can act in their personal self interest and it is okay, however when companies or well to do people do it is betraying their community and country?" G2A
Now if you are unsure what a corporate inversion is, here are some links.
Forbes Medtronic Inversion
NYT Dealbook Taxes Due
CA Corp Inversions
Bloomberg: US Tax Holiday
CBPP Tax Holiday
WP Burger King
Heritage Repatriating Funds (Tax Holiday)
Telegraph Taxes too high
Forbes Are Taxes too High
Bloomberg Canadian Taxes

I think I'll need your help to push me off center on this one.  If the US business taxes are not competitive, my stockholder /"competition is good" side says get moving.  Yet the side of me that makes me fight for my school district and buy high content American products when possible finds the behavior disturbing.


Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Police Get Cool Toys

I think I found another topic where the far Left and far Right meet.  Unfortunately my comments wasn't acceptable, so here we go again.  MinnPost Homeland Militarization

The commenters there seem to be nearly unanimously against letting our police department arm themselves with the cool toys and practice using them.  They seem to fear that the Police are going to declare martial law at any minute.

I actually know a guy who puts plastic over his windows in fear of someone listening in.  And that is what their comments remind me of.  The irony of course is that these are the same folks who want all of our citizens to register their more powerful weapons or sell them off.  Of course, those most likely to have the most exciting weapons are people who fear a government take over. Just like these Liberals seem to.

The Hill: Obama Orders Review
NYT War Gear

While we are at it, what do you think of the Ferguson situation?  Personally, I am curious to hear what Michael's toxicology report shows.

CNN Ferguson: What is Next
AT: Beatification of Michael Brown
NBC: Brown Robbery Video
TP: Brown Video

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Christian Values Maligned ?

 I am not sure this was a good title...
MinnPost Fall from Grace, How Christian Values Became Non-issue in MN Elections

Here were my first comments...
"Of course, religious values will continue to be important in all elections. Just one issue is quiet this time.

Here is an interesting take on this.

I also found this comment humorous.

"it doesn't make a lot of sense to vote for candidates who are promising to use the power of government to enforce Christian or any other religious values"

What exactly are the "Liberal Rob from the Rich to Give to the Poor" values? The passion with which it is pursued seems nearly religious in its fervor."  G2A

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Freedom as Defined by Liberals

 I have run into moderation issues over there again, so I'll expand over here.
"Reagan Tax Cuts: We've seen a lot of comments about the Reagan tax cuts but one thing that's been overlooked is the over-all tax increases that resulted. The Fed rate bounced around but much of that revenue demand just got pushed out to state and local governments. We saw the same thing with the Pawlenty cuts where property taxes and local fees increased in response to ALG cuts. In the 80s the same thing happened on a national level when the Fed cut tax rates. This is why the cost of government never really goes down with these magic tax cuts, in fact it actually went up in many cases. Republicans like to pretend that they get more efficiency with tax cuts but all they really do is cut services, then someone else picks up the tab, they don't really reduce over-all cost.

It's really just math. If you have 50,000 people in your city, and your getting $1 million in state aid, that money is costing you 25 cents (1 million divided by 4 million people in the state). If you eliminate that state aid and have to raise a million in your city it will cost you $40. The state can brag that they've cut $1 million from the budget but that budget cut cost you $39.75. This is the problem with magic tax cuts. Depending on what level of government services get cut, they can end up increasing the cost of government for individuals." Paul

"Local is Better: Thank heavens for National and State spending cuts, when and if they actually occur. The closer the collect and spend decisions are to the citizen / tax payer, the better it is for all of us.

Now I agree that national defense, inter state rules/commerce, post office, etc belong at the national level. And I can even agree that SS/Medicare belong there since the benefits are delayed and a citizens often cross state lines.

However the idea that the Feds are involved in welfare, medicaid, etc is just wasteful. It seems to indicate that states are not capable of deciding how to best help their friends, neighbors, fellow citizens, etc." G2A

"Your third paragraph is absolutely correct: A number of states have decided NOT to help their fellow citizens (I assume they don't regard all citizens as their friends).

And of course Federal agencies such as the VA and Medicaid are far more efficient than most state agencies, so I don't see where the waste is in having the Federal government provide for "the general welfare". That's what the Constitution says it should do." Paul

"Wasteful?: Hardly. As it's been pointed out to you numerous times here, the Feds involvement in welfare, medicaid and other safety nets is crucial in maintaining continuity for those seeking help. Republican majority houses at the state level have already proven that they have virtually no capacity for empathy and no interest in helping anyone they deem unfit or unworthy. It would be tragic to those seeking help if people like you were making those types of decisions." Jason
"Jason and Paul, Per your comments, apparently you believe Minnesotans know "how to help" people that are thousands of miles away better than those citizens that live in that community?" G2A
Now Liberals continually say that they support freedom of choice.  Freedom to marry who one wants.  Freedom to abort a fetus. Freedom to form an employee union and blockade an employer until they meet terms. Freedom to work where your beliefs are not appreciated. And all other kinds of social freedoms.  And I am fine with most of these.

Yet Liberals apparently believe in denying the citizens of a state the simple freedom to choose how they care for their friends, neighbors and country persons.  Apparently the Liberals know how to help the poor folks in other states better than the residents do.  Or at least according to Paul and Jason.


Saturday, August 16, 2014

Problem with Keynesian Theory in Practice

Laurie knows me so well after these years of discussion, she knew I could not pass on 
MinnPost 3 Economic Stats.

Eric Posted a comment that I found interesting:
"The deficit was not the problem. The problem with focusing on the deficit it implies the deficit was a problem. It wasn't and isn't. The deficit is a symptom. Our problem was a recession, a financial crisis, a stimulus that was too small and too much directed to tax cuts, and then years of austerity when we needed the opposite. There's no reason at all the recovery needed to take this long. We learned hard lessons during the Great Depression, and then when it happened again, we ignored everything we learned. I guess the overwhelming evidence of history just didn't feel right."
So I replied with:
"Turn off the tap. I always liked this explanation. And "austerity", you must be kidding. Read the link.
Factcheck Obamas Spending Inferno or Not

And I can even understand turning up government spending temporarily while in the recession. The problem is that Democrats seem to always see that higher level as the new baseline, so they call any efforts to get back to a normal rate of expenditure a draconian heartless cut by the GOP. When those increases were to be temporary in the first place.

Remember all the gnashing of teeth when the GOP held firm on not increasing spending after the worst of the recession was over.

And if Obama was a real deficit hawk he would have pushed for un doing all of those "terrible Bush tax cuts". Instead he just stuck it to the well to do. That is one way in which I disagree with Conservatives. If higher taxes were good for them, we probably all should have gone back to those Clinton rates and eliminated the deficit."
As I said, I can imagine a situation where the government increases it's spending during times where the Private economy is slow. Preferably the Government would be carrying very little debt before the event, therefore it could borrow instead of raising taxes to increase Public spending through the recession. Then when the Private sector was booming again the Public sector would reduce it's spending and use the extra revenues to pay back the debt in preparation for the next recession.

The problem with this ideal situation is that Liberals always see the highest level of Public spending as the new bench mark. And any attempt to go back to the normal spending levels is called a cut. I mean Bush and Obama increased spending by a huge amount in response to the recession as they should, however now that it is time to go to back to normal spending, people are resistant.

And then in MN when the GOP did borrow when revenues were low, the Liberals thought it was absolutely terrible to make the departments and districts do this, even though they legally could.  They called it short term budget solutions, like that was a bad thing.

The recession was a short term situation to be survived.

So what did the DFL do when they got control, they jacked up taxes even though the state was pretty much out of the recession.  Thereby generating way more tax revenue than was required.  Which they promptly used to set a new all time high bench mark for MN government spending.

I may actually become a Keynesian if citizens actually came to understand that government budgets can go down as well as up without the world coming to an end.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Options in Iraq

Here is a pragmatic view from some ladies who were CIA Analysts.
CNN Options in Iraq

It reminds me of the old saying... "You can lead a horse to water, but you can not make it drink."  Or another similar concept... "You can give trillions of dollars and a free education to unambitious Americans, but you can not make them learn, strive or succeed."


Tuesday, August 12, 2014

MN DFL Over Reach?

Another dialog track from the Minnpost article was regarding how the DFL's last 19 months of changes may have made the Conservatives feel.
"If the pendulum swings back, I am sure the GOP will not oppress the DFL in the same way.
DFL ignoring Conservative Minnesotans:
  • legalized gay marriage
  • setup ACA insurance exchange
  • raised taxes on wealthy and businesses/consumers
  • increased spending significantly
  • passed HUGE bonding bill to be paid back by our kids
  • try to unionize daycare providers
  • passed Vikings stadium
  • anti-bullying law
  • minimum wage increase
  • tax cuts to those who pay little in taxes
I am think they are feeling a bit ignored and oppressed."
 I mean the DFL pretty much disregarded the concerns of the Conservative citizens of MN and did as they wished.  It will be interesting to see if there are repercussions in November.


Good For MN

I am having a lively discussion with quite a few Liberals at this post.
MinnPost GOP Candidates Say MN Should be more like WI and KS

Their story goes something like this.
  • Minnesota is doing much better than WI and KS in many different areas
  • The DFL is in charge of MN at this time
  • Therefore it is foolish for GOP candidates to recommend  Conservative policies
To which I of course do not understand, so I raised the following points.
"If things were bad here, then change would have made sense. Yet as the writer says, everything was great. Yet the DFL and Dayton chose to change the winning formula. Only time will tell what the consequences of their actions are." G2A

"So if Ventura, Pawlenty and the GOP were doing such a good job over the past ~15 years, why again did Dayton and the DFL start "taxing and spending" more just last year. Are they trying to ruin a good thing? " G2A

Do you truly believe that the changes Dayton and the DFL made  less than 15 mths ago account for all this good news? What is your rationale for giving credit to the DFL when the GOP was in control for more than a decade before this recent change? G2A
Eric had a better response than the others, though it raised interesting questions and dialog.
"We need a more intelligent political discussion than is being offered by the GOP.

Our public political discourse has been degraded in a number of ways, but especially, in my view anyway, by the mantra of ‘limited government’ and ‘deregulation’—language that is routinely substituted for more considered and substantive thinking.

I’m certainly not alone in viewing regulation and tax policy as instruments, not ends in themselves, but I strongly suspect that this equation has been reversed by many on the right or is at least muddled. Tax cuts are often offered, for example, with little to no discussion of or acknowledgement of wider systemic effects, or what other values might be negatively affected. Thus, I’m motivated to refer discussions back to questions of ends.

Second, whenever you look at state comparisons of well-being, MN usually comes out on top of WI and KS. Here’s another one: America Health Rankings : MN ranks 1, WI comes in at 10, and KS at 17.

What explains MN’s superior performance? Whatever our analysis, since MN hasn’t been a state in which we’ve had much interest in hard-right experiments, the GOP candidates have an added burden of proof." Eric

"Since Carlson, Ventura and Pawlenty have led the State to most of our success, I do not think we have been a State of Hard Left Experiments either.

Yet here we are actively conducting them. What burden of proof should Dayton and the DFL provide to justify these Expensive Hard Left Experiments that they have single handedly started?

As you say, the burden of proof should rest on those who are proposing or making the drastic change from what has been succeeding. I hope these Hard Left Keynsian experiments turn out okay and hopefully we return to consensus decision making in January." G2A

"In standard American political discourse, 'hard left' is a phrase reserved for pretty much socialism and anarchism. There's nothing remotely approaching that with Dayton or the DFL. (And no, Obama isn't a socialist, Marxist, fascist, or communist.)" Eric

"I am sorry I find it hard to see the difference between the views of many of the commenters here and the DSA. Thoughts? ABOUT DSA

And I don't see Carlson, Ventura and Pawlenty as pure Capitalists either. Yet it did not stop you from referring to their beliefs / actions and those of the GOP candidates as as "hard-right experiments".

The reality is that the 2 candidates for governor will likely be a bit Left or Right of center. And the Liberals will call the GOP candidate "Hard Right" and the Conservatives will call Dayton "Hard Left".

That is just the way the game is played. Remember that when you are sitting in the far Left of the theater, it looks like everyone is to the far Right of you and vice versa." G2A

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Israel, Palestine and Collusion

As Laurie posted:
"The Israel-Gaza conflict, since it began, has killed 1,170 people. Of those, a shocking 815 are thought to be Palestinian civilians, and 232 of those children. That means that about 7 out of 10 total deaths are innocent Palestinian civilians, and 2 out of 10 innocent Palestinian children"
1500 join Minnesota march in solidarity with Gaza

Here is likely a more accurate and less biased assessment.  Especially since it says there is a lot of uncertainty in the numbers.
NYT Civilian or Not
Remember that many Palestinians have been indoctrinated to want to fight the Israelis whenever possible, this unfortunately includes women and children.

And for more info, they have been discussing the topic here.
MinnPost What Netanyahu should do to Bring Peace

I liked Paul's summary best:
Both sides of extremists agree that the lines are the Jordan and the Mediterranean.
They disagree on who gets the land between the lines.
There's an interesting proposal at  Jewish News: Parallel Lives
suggesting (and improbably) way that BOTH sides could own all of the land.

And some past thoughts regarding one of my favorite books that uses the Israel / Palestinian conflict as a teaching resource.
G2A Conflict and Collusion
G2A Break the Cycle
G2A Conflict with Heart

Thoughts on this incredibly difficult situation.

Minimum Wage Surcharge

Since I have noticed that my lunch costs seem to have recently taken a jump, I thought this Still Water Business Owner had an excellent idea.  Let's explain how politics are increasing our cost of living.

HP Minimum Wage Surcharge
Yahoo Minimum Wage Surcharge

By the way, if you are against the higher minimum wage you may want to go eat there or write some positive recommendations.  It sounds like those open minded Liberals are trying to crucify them for making the cost of this policy known.

And a quick search showed that they are not alone.
KOMO News Surcharge


Thursday, August 7, 2014

Iraq and the Arm Chair Quarterbacks

We had an interesting discussion regarding spending and waste on G2A Immigration: Spend Here, Not Their.  In summary, Laurie was against the 2003 invasion and believes the money could have been used more effectively to help people.
"When It comes to helping others around the globe, perhaps the $1 trillion could have been spent more wisely. That works out to an average of $100 billion a yr, which would be a sizable boost to the $4 billion we currently spend. Maybe we could have ended extreme global poverty by now. " Laurie

And Sean thinks other better options existed and we were unprepared:
"The false assumption here is that the choice was either a.) invade Iraq exactly the way Bush did it or b.) continue doing what we were doing before. There were multiple other paths we could have taken that were not a.) or b.).

For instance, we could have expanded the no-fly zone and continued to ratchet up the economic sanctions (yes, they were losing some of their effectiveness, but still...). If we invaded, we could have had a coherent plan built in advance for the occupation and rebuilding of the Iraqi government.

Instead, going down path a.) accomplished very little of what our goals were presumed to be. Iraq had no operational WMD capability. We didn't build a society that treats women and minorities better. Thousands of innocent Iraqi civilians have died and hundreds of thousands have been forced from their homes. We didn't build a stable government that serves as a counterweight to terrorists or Iran. And we wasted lots of money and lost many brave soldiers." Sean

 "the point is that when you take the lid off of simmering ethnic and cultural tensions, you had best be prepared for the aftereffects. We weren't remotely prepared for it, our top policymakers were delusional. " Sean
Now to set a fact based timeline, please reference BBC Iraq.  Some key dates for our discussion:
  • 1990     Iraq invades Kuwait, an American ally
  • 1991/2  No fly zones set up and enforced
  • 10+ years of enforcement, inspections, politics
  • 2003 March US gives Saddam and Sons 48 hours to leave Iraq
  • 2003 US led invasion topples Hussein's government
  • ~8 years of enforcement, training, elections, insurgency, sectarian violence
  • 2011  US Troops are pulled out of Iraq
  • 2+ years of insurgency, sectarian violence, corruption, etc
  • 2014  ISIS begins taking cities and executing non-believers
By the way, I don't disagree that it could have gone better.  I am just not sure what I would have changed.  We had Saddam and his army contained. Other countries, especially the Islamic, were getting tired of being prison guards and/or letting the US have a base full of infidels on their property.  I suppose:
  • we could have pulled out and let Saddam go free to kill the Shiites and Kurds that had been trying to help us.
  • we could have tried maintaining the No Fly Zones from further away, but for how long?  We are going on 60 years in Korea. Did we have the stomach for that?
  • other?
So Bush tried to have faith in the people of Iraq, he wanted to believe that they weren't animals.  He wanted to believe they would seize the opportunity to live a peaceful democratic existence once they were freed of a ruthless dictator. Unfortunately he was wrong, as soon as the zoo's cages were opened the predators began doing what they do. (ie hunting, killing, maiming, striving for power, striving for revenge, etc)  And the prey just didn't have the desire, numbers or capability to control the predators.

Now Bush's hopeful view may have been na├»ve given the warring history of the people in that region, however I think he was right to give them the benefit of the doubt.  It would have been incredible if Iraq could have become a stable democracy of enlightened people in the midst of those non-democratic countries.

So what do you think should have been done, was it really feasible and why do you think it would have ended better?

And what do you think we should do now?  It looks like Obama is warming up the engines of the war planes?  Is this good or bad?  Rationale?

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Immigration: Spend Here, Not There

 My thoughts in response to the call for more funding to help the children amassed on our border.
"I find it interesting that Liberals want to spend money to care for children lined up on the border. Which of course will encourage more children to line up.

Yet they say no to spending money on protecting children in other countries and working to improve their lives there. (ie Afganistan, Iraq, etc)

Maybe they support the "out of sight out of mind" philosophy." G2A
MinnPost Congress and Immigration Pkg

Thoughts regarding the whole situation?

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Zygotes and Sprouts

Another comment that can't make it through the MinnPost moderation for some reason.
MinnPost Contraceptive Coverage Controversy

I was getting frustrated with Jason's views:
 "I couldn't care less about this fertilized egg nonsense nor the religious rights scientific ignorance. If they want to place a valid objection based on when a fertilized egg becomes a human or if soul exists, then they should prove both of those theories, otherwise, it holds no more validity than believing a giant bunny visits my house every April and leaves plastic eggs filled with candy for my kids." Jason

and then Todd added in:
"Joking aside, some religious people think that human life begins at conception. This is totally arbitrary on their part though and is not support by scientific literature. That's why we have names for the different stages of development, from embryo to zygote, fetus, and so on. A baby isn't actually a bay until it's born. An embryo has the *potential* to become a human, but that doesn't happen till later in the process.

If we're tackling humans from the potential point of view, then an unfertilized egg has the same potential as a fertilized egg. Not only eggs, but sperm too." Todd

So then this occurred to me.
"Just back from Guardians of the Galaxy, it was very good if you like comic book movies. One of the characters was a plant based life form named Groot.

That got me thinking... Is a plant alive once it starts to sprout?
If one chooses not to water it, is one choosing to kill it"?
If one chooses to dig it up and set it on the hot asphalt is one choosing to kill it? 

By the way, I just sprayed a bunch of weeds with Round Up to kill them and it didn't bother me at all.

And some I pulled and left on the hot rocks in order to kill them.

Thoughts?" G2A
And yes I acknowledge that Roe V Wade compromised between the 2 extremes and created the concept of viability, which makes some sense.  What I find fascinating is that some pro-choice folks want to treat those growing cells with the same importance as a wart that someone has growing on their finger.  I always have to wonder if they do this to protect themselves from the reality that what they are choosing to kill could develop into a beautiful laughing and vibrant child.

I mean when I choose to kill a small seedling that sprouted in the wrong place at the wrong time.  I do envision the beautiful maple tree it could grow into, just like the others I have in my yard.  I don't need to rationalize that it is just a wart in my yard before killing it.  And yes I am choosing to kill that tree.  After I am done spraying it or pulling it, it stops growing and ceases to live.  It will never develop into the majestic tree that it could have been.

By the way, usually it is the male commenters that work to marginalize the death that is occurring when a zygote, etc is starved or dehydrated and its growth/ life ceases.  The women usually stick to defending their right to choose, so maybe they understand better the magnitude of the decision.


Tree Life Cycle
Human Life Cycle