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“Bigger, tougher, stronger, faster and meaner than Barney.” — Vladimir Putin bragging about his female black lab, “Koni,” compared to George W. Bush’s Scottish terrier

“You’re lucky he (Putin) only showed you his dog.” — Former Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper

Barney at the White House.

What happens when you cross unrestrained pulsating testosterone with canine comparison, when it comes to global superpower leaders?

Are those fighting words? Can a thermonuclear exchange be far behind?

According to the old adage: ‘You can take Vladimir Putin out of the KGB, but you can’t take the KGB out of Putin.’

The same seems to be true when it comes to employing big powerful dogs as a metaphor for a present day Russia, once again flexing its muscles.

When it was time for a summit between Putin and German Kanzerlin Angela Merkel, Koni made an unscripted cameo appearance. It’s well known that she suffers from cynophobia or a serious fear of dogs. Putin pretended not to know and offered his “dearest” apologies, but Merkel wasn’t accepting his contrition or buying his explanation.

“I understand why he has to do this — to prove he’s a man. He’s afraid of his own weakness. Russia has nothing, no successful politics or economy. All they have is this.” — Merkel responding to Koni’s entrance at their 2007 summit in Sochi, Russia.

Both Barney (2001-2013) and Koni (Кони) (1999-2014) achieved doggie immortality, serving as first pets to the heads of states of the United States of America and Russia respectively.

Almost DailyBrett must pause here and rhetorically ask: ‘Does size really matter?

One Nation Under Dogs

“If you need a friend in Washington, D.C.,  get a dog.” — Former President Harry S. Truman.

Every president gets pilloried every nanosecond by political enemies, questioned by the punditocracy, psycho-analyzed by the media, and made the butt of jokes by late-night TV comedians. Regardless of the thickness of skin there has to come a time for any chief executive, when too much is too much. That’s where Truman’s friend comes into play.

There was a particular time when former President Bill Clinton really needed a “Buddy,”an unquestioning through thick-and-thin chocolate lab. The thin came with an intern named … Monica … in 1998.

Sadly, Buddy was only a short-part of presidential or canine history, born in 1997 and buying the kennel in 2002.

Many are fixated on the prospect of Yuletide impeachment. Your author is more concerned with the fact that Donald Trump is the first president in more than a century without the companionship of … man’s best friend.

“How does the president not have a dog? He’s the first president in 120 years that does not have a dog in the White House.” — Presidential scholar Barbra Streisand

“I wouldn’t mind having one honestly, but I don’t have any time. How would I look walking a dog on the White House lawn?” — President Donald Trump

Your author contends that Putin would not give a shekel about Trump walking a dog on the White House lawn. Instead, he would zero-in with a laser-like focus on what canine breed was parading beside the leader of the free world. If the First Canine didn’t measure up, there would be predictable Putin judgment and scorn.

Presidential Poop Scooping?

For the record Putin has four dogs — Pasha, Verni, Yume, Buffy — presumably each a large canine strutting and projecting power and strength. Seems that a Scottie dog would not make the cut with the leader of the Rodina.

Maybe Trump does not want to engage in a doggy-dog fight with Putin?

And for all superpower leaders, there comes a time when the vestiges of power inevitably expire. What comes next?

Just ask former President George W. Bush.

“Shortly after we moved to Dallas, I took Barney for an early-morning walk around the neighborhood. I hadn’t done anything like that in more than a decade. … Barney spotted our neighbor’s lawn, where he promptly took care of his business. There I was, the former president of the United States, with a plastic bag on my hand, picking up that which I had been dodging for the past eight years.”

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/canine-corner/201302/the-passing-barney-bush-first-dog

https://www.economist.com/united-states/2019/11/23/americas-extreme-obsession-with-dogs-and-what-it-means

https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2019/02/12/trump-first-president-century-with-no-dog-explains-why-i-dont-have-any-time/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pets_of_Vladimir_Putin

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2017/02/20/putins-pooch-und-merkels-dog-o-phobia/

 

 

 

 

 

“Maybe Tribalism is just in her DNA.” — Lloyd Blankfein, Goldman Sachs senior chairman, on Senator Elizabeth Warren

Who gets hurt if the federal government requires Warren Buffett to sell 6 percent (approximately $5 billion) of his $86 billion in wealth each year, every year?

A.) The “Sage of Omaha?”

B.) Middle-class investors attempting to grow their portfolios for retirement, their children’s education or that special vacation?

How about … both?

If Warren’s punitive wealth tax takes effect, Buffett will be selling his shares … lots of stock … not as a result of market conditions but because Washington D.C. redistributors mandate these stock trades in the name of the greater public good.

And who decides what is “the greater public good?

Warren’s punitive 6 percent wealth tax (unconstitutional?) exercise applies to all billionaires. There would also be a 1 percent levy for all Americans with wealth exceeding $50 million each.

Wonder how many in coastal blue states (i.e., Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, California, Washington … ) exceed that $50 million wealth figure? The vast majority of these households worked hard, invested wisely … and this is the thanks they receive?

How much money, which could be used for individual investment, would come out of our economy? How many shares will be forced sales in our public exchanges?

What are the unintended consequences of these arbitrary sales for those saving for retirement or their children’s education?

According to The Economist the cumulative impact of wealth taxes and many other planned hikes would constitute a cumulative 2 percent hit on our nation’s $21.4 trillion GDP.

Could a Warren Recession follow? Almost DailyBrett will take the “over.”

Selling Political Masochism In A Robust Economy

The debate that you have in America or Britain about taxing the super-rich just doesn’t exist here.” Janerik Larsson of Sweden’s Timbro

“Vilification of people as a member of a group may be good for her campaign, not the country.” — Blankfein on Warren

Almost DailyBrett has always contended that group masochism is a political loser.

Asking people to sacrifice their economic freedom, and to vote against their own personal and family best interests is a prescription for defeat.

The Economist reported this week that American retirees owned only 4 percent of all publicly traded shares in 1960.

Fast forward to 2015 and we find that retiree investments (i.e., IRAs, 401Ks, pensions) constituted 50 percent of all shares. Without doubt that figure sprinted even higher in the last four years considering the stunning continuation of the bull market.

Since November 8, 2016 (hmmm … what happened that day?), the Dow Jones has risen 52.8 percent from 18,332 to 28,015, the NASDAQ 66.6 percent from 5,193 to 8,656, and the benchmark S&P 500 47.0 percent from 2,139 to 3,145.

Should public policy compel American today’s and tomorrow’s retirees to sacrifice a significant slice of their financial future every year?

Shouldn’t we have the freedom to decide when to buy and when to sell? Does the government really understand the maxim: Buy Low Sell High?

Why should an ever-expanding  government go to war against achievers, and by doing so take direct aim at America’s Investor Class? Some see it as a socialistic assault on capitalism.

Let’s simplify the equation: Why should our government usurp our economic freedom?

Some will contend that we should all, chill out. Warren is floundering in the polls. She won’t win the Democratic nomination. Right?

Didn’t the experts say the same thing about Jimmy Carter? They were wrong, and years of economic malaise (i.e., double-digit inflation, unemployment, interest rates) and a crippling recession were the consequences.

Many in the political class point to Sweden as an socialist model for the U.S. to follow. And yet, Sweden has higher percentage of billionaires (e.g., founders of IKEA, H&M, Volvo and Spotify), and greater income disparity than the USA.

And yet Sweden abolished its inheritance tax in 2005 and its wealth tax two years later.

Hmmm … maybe we should look to Sweden for guidance.

https://www.forbes.com/billionaires/#b93a39d251c7

https://www.economist.com/leaders/2019/11/28/inequality-could-be-lower-than-you-think

https://www.economist.com/briefing/2019/11/28/in-sweden-billionaires-are-surprisingly-popular

https://www.cnbc.com/2019/11/14/lloyd-blankfein-mocks-elizabeth-warren-maybe-tribalism-is-just-in-her-dna.html

“Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?” — Matthew 7:3

There are self-anointed coastal elites, who are just better … much better … than the unwashed masses in the fly-over states.

If you don’t believe Almost DailyBrett, just ask them. They will gladly tell you … and everyone else.

They implore that we all choose and practice kindness, but by their attitudes and actions they don’t seem to understand what the word really means.

They are perfectionists, who sit in Ivory Tower judgment of those, “who strive valiantly, who err, who come up short again and again.”

They are morally superior. Their world views are flawless. They are not “deplorable.” They will always place themselves in the upper “basket.”

If they have successfully climbed to the summit of higher moral ground, how come so many of them are so darn angry?

Almost DailyBrett must pause now and ask: ‘Have you ever seen a happy activist?’


Making “Elitism” A Dirty Word

“Being proved wrong has failed to get greens to rethink their doomsday assumptions. Instead, every decade sees predictions that planet has five or ten years left if extreme measures are not taken immediately.” — Joel Kotkin, Chapman University Presidential Fellow and Former Washington Post Bureau Chief

It must be nice to know that even if you’ve been proven wrong, you’re always right … err … always correct.

It gives you the right to go slow in the fast lane because you are driving … you guessed it … a Prius.

Even if their elitist candidate loses, they are somehow still above it all.

“Stupid”people made “stupid” choices. ‘Shouldn’t our votes count more than their votes? It’s only fair.’

Soon we will impeach their president. We will the elect our own president.

Cultural elitism and rightfully attaining the higher moral ground (as the term is defined) pertains to more than mere politics.

How about approved lifestyles?

Cows are solely responsible for the destruction of the Amazon Rain Forest. The only appropriate answer? Enforced Veganism.

Proud to be gluten free and want everyone to know about it? TMI? The world must accommodate and openly sympathize with your glorified maladies.

Even though more than 1 billion people globally lack reliable electricity today in the 21st Century, there are actually leaders of nation states are actually daring to exhibit genuine and justified concern for the economic well being of their own citizens.

“How dare you!”

Only authoritarian states rejecting Capitalism (e.g., economic freedom) can truly wisely embrace Climate Stalinism. Giving the people the choice of protecting the planet and putting food on the table … ? Must suck to be you and hungry.

The chosen few are dedicating their Fridays For Future, and will take control of the other six days per week too … particularly a football Saturday. Elitist spoiled children (redundant?) scolded their respective august Ivy League universities for being “complicit in climate injustice?” Does that mean socialist justice/environmental justice … whatever justice … are the only answers?

What happens to your virtually guaranteed six-figure jobs upon graduation? If you are really opposed to capitalism, wouldn’t you become a 24-7-365 agitator? Didn’t think so.

Almost DailyBrett is totally on-board when it comes to Choosing Kindness. This blog has been a consistent platform for the practice of civility, objectivity and embracing other points of view.

Yes, there are actually people on our one-and-only planet, who do not buy your activist prescriptions let alone ingest your pharmaceuticals. There are times when the cure is worse than the disease.

Can you humor us and actually gaze your eyes downward from your higher moral ground, and realize and appreciate that others may have a different take on the world. And that’s okay.

You are all for celebrating diversity. Right?

Let’s go for it, and add a little kindness too.

Climate Stalinism

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2019/10/10/born-with-a-silver-foot-in-his-mouth/

 

“You control the debt; you control everything. You find this upsetting, yes? But this is the very essence of the banking industry, to make us all, whether we be nations or individuals, slaves to debt.” – Actor Luca Giorgio Barbareschi as arms producer, Umberto Calvini, The International.

In the days of ole, one could buy a treadmill or an exercise bike and work out or employ it as a glorified laundry rack.

Now we have the recent Peloton IPO — (NASDAQ: PTON) — selling its bikes for $1,995 and treadmills for $4,000.

The key differentiator is streaming content (bike or aerobic instructor videos) for a recurring monthly charge of $39 or more. Peloton didn’t just sell a pricey bike and/or treadmill, they more importantly marketed a monthly obligation to a growing subscriber base … and that very well could include you.

The consumer bought high, and is paying even higher.

The stately The Economist reported the news and entertainment industry (i.e., Disney, Fox, ESPN, HBO …) along with major tech players (i.e., Apple, Amazon, Netflix) collectively spent $650 billion in the last five years on acquisitions and content, a sum greater than America’s oil industry.

For example the Mickey Mouse gang just unveiled Disney+ for only $6.99 per month (how long will that price last?), allowing binge watching of the Star Wars catalog to one heart’s content. The downside is another sliver of your financial independence given away for yet another monthly fee.

Sooner or later, the price of each kernel of streaming popcorn is going to add up.

They Have The Gravy, And You’re On The Train

During his Silicon Valley days, Almost DailyBrett was consumed by a litany of recurring payments (i.e., mortgage, utilities, taxes, insurance, car payments, credit card usage, mobile phones, cable, house cleaner, gym membership, pool maintenance, gardener …). In toto, all of these outstretched hands each month represented a seemingly out-of-control first-world dilemma on steroids.

Money was coming in, and going out just as quick each month. Similar to the IRS, each of the growing list of providers never forgot to remind your author of his annual/monthly obligations.

Even more than ever, our consumer-oriented economy (70 percent of the total) is predicated on enticing even more Americans to shell out an escalating amount of capital on a monthly basis, ensuring a consistent flow of money in one direction.

Hint: Someone is getting rich and it’s not the average Jane or Joe.

Some can avoid being “slaves to debt” to the bank (e.g., pay off your credit cards each month), but it’s way more difficult to avoid recurring annual (e.g., Amazon Prime or Costco memberships) and worse, monthly payments.

Let’s face it, some monthly outlays are unavoidable (e.g., utility payments). Most have mortgages or rent to pay every 30 days. Many have car payments. Even if you pay your total credit card bill religiously (which you should), it’s still a monthly obligation.

Almost DailyBrett doesn’t want to sound like a parent, but still must pose this question: How many of these recurring payments are absolutely necessary?

Shelter, food, power and water are essential to life. Most likely all or at least some of the above are financed/amortized through monthly payments.

Your author must ask, do we need a Netflix subscription on top of the cable bundle? We are already paying up the Wazzoo for up to and beyond 300 channels, the vast of majority we do not watch … and then we add on Disney+, ESPN+, Netflix and God knows what else.

And we are wondering what is happening to our money?

No Longer Driving The Top Line, How About The Bottom Line?

Follicly challenged Baby Boomers (born 1946-1964) and others of the species are retiring … and Gen Xers (hatched 1965-1979) are not far behind.

Let’s face it, for most Boomers their peak earnings days are behind them.

If you can’t grow the top line, then reducing the bottom line is a great idea. Can one seriously reduce costs and still live a comfortable happy life?

Do you still require a mortgage? Can you downsize? Can you rent instead? Can you move to a lower-cost state or community?

Is good weather (e.g., California) worth the mounting hassles, congestion, rising costs and always higher taxes?

Can you avoid car payments? How about fixing up your ride?

And most of all, can you build a stone wall preventing new monthly payments from wrecking your budget?

If you must binge watch, is there a free way to enjoy the same content without the monthly ball and chain?

Retirement experts preach avoiding second (or more) homes, subsidizing adult children and overspending.

At some point, that one more monthly expense may prove to be A Bridge Too Far.

https://www.economist.com/leaders/2019/11/14/who-will-win-the-media-wars

This week begins the most dreaded time of the year … the holidays.

And to spice up the “excitement,” Donald Trump is widely expected to be impeached by Democrats right before … Xmas.

And what will most families sooner or later discuss over spiked eggnog, hot toddies and all the fixings?

The Donald.

And you thought tolerating difficult-at-best relatives and in-laws in short doses was tough enough.

Almost DailyBrett has repeatedly opined that families are overrated, and that obviously includes relatives and in-laws (outlaws are wanted).

Even though Chevy Chase in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation attempted to portray the magic of joyous families gathering for the holidays, we all know better.

Maybe being Home Alone is a better deal?

During the holidays, we can detect the collective raising of blood pressures, the need to count to 10, and the anxious double checking of smart phones or watches.

When is the pace car going off the track, so we can blow this taco stand?’

It has always been wisely counseled to avoid conversations with family members about politics and religion, and that prod particularly applies to the holidays.

Aren’t the recounting of embarrassing stories at your expense, perpetrated by vindictive family members, bad enough?

And then there is Trump, Nancy and impeachment.

The polling firm FiveThirtyEight this past week reported that 46.3 percent of Americans support impeachment, 45.6 percent oppose impeachment. Four-out-of-five Democrats favor impeachment (80.3 percent), four out 10 independents (41 percent), and slightly more than one out of 10 Republicans (12.2 percent).

How’s that for a polarized country, and a perfect conversation to further divide even the most tribalistic of families?

Before Trump, we could always discuss Uncle Charlie’s drinking problem, our own bed wetting at four, atheism vs. Christianity, pro life vs. pro choice, NRA and gun rights, open borders vs, border walls and maybe come away from the family table detesting each other just a smidge more than even before … if that is still possible.

Ahhh … the holidays!

Is It Best To Make Trump Conversations Out Of Bounds For The Holidays?

There are those who want Donald Trump to simply go away, somehow without Mike Pence sitting behind the Oval Office desk and running for his own terms as president.

There are those who support Trump’s re-election and envision of four more years of buy low sell high.

And there are those who are duly frightened of a carnivorous government digging even deeper into their wallets … advocated by the present field of Democrats. The list of sensitive political topics goes on and on and on.

Are any or all of these subjects conducive to Happy Yuletide memories among families, including the in-laws?

‘Would you like a little nitro to go with your glycerin?’

Instead of que sera, sera and turning of the other cheek, how about actively managing the family and in-laws?

How about setting and adopting rules of engagement?

Give everyone something to do. Similar to a functional family, everyone has a chore.

Think about group activities to blow off negative energy, such as multi-player video games with customary gratuitous violence.

Close your eyes and imagine a family member(s) disappearing magically into thin air.

Feel better already, don’t you?

Most of all, declare certain topics including all political subjects verboten for the holidays.

Trump and impeachment sounds like a swell place to start.

Why engage that annoying (insert “liberal” or “conservative” in this space)? If you can’t change anyone’s mind via social media, why would you think you can sway face-to-face an irksome relative or in-law, particularly when booze is involved?

Almost DailyBrett remembers vividly a passionate friend railing against the NRA in the presence of a gun nut. After your author attempted to mercifully calm down the discussion, the same individual quickly revisited the subject, raising the pissed-off barometer to critical. There was almost a fusion meltdown in the form of a fist fight in a bucolic public setting.

Your author decided then and there it was a good time to go out for a breath of fresh air.

Sure wish that was an option when it comes to family gatherings in which gifts are judged (and returned), faults accumulate, embarrassments are revisited, and the precious nanoseconds until family events are over count down to zero.

Here is a novel idea your author has suggested in earlier iteration of this humble blog:

Can we simply hit the fast forward button on the remote and make it New Year’s morning at Brookside Golf Course in Pasadena? We will all be happily tailgating with friends under sunshine and warm temps.

And what will we discuss? Politics? Family?

Hell no, the Rose Bowl baby.

What time is kickoff?

https://projects.fivethirtyeight.com/impeachment-polls/

 

“Official statistics no longer countered this (Ossies) group — who were disproportionately young, clever, female and ambitious — as East Germans.” — The Economist’s “Thirty years after the Wall fell, ” November 2, 2019

“From adversity comes opportunity.” — Former Notre Dame Head Coach Lou Holtz

When the Berlin Wall came tumbling down in 1989, more than 1 million Ossies took advantage of their newfound freedom from Communism, immediately heading to West Germany and for the most part … thriving. More than one-quarter of East Germans aged 18-30 moved to the west, two-thirds of them … women.

They recognized there were two paths to go by, but in the long run, there was still time to change the road they were on … especially young, clever, ambitious females.

For those 16 million-plus souls adversely trapped for 28 years behind the borders of stultifying-oppressive-surveillance state East Germany, there finally was an opportunity to leave, begin a new life and build a lucrative career. Many took this new road to affluent Bavaria, Baden Württemberg, Hamburg … and never looked back.

Is moving to a more promising venue, the catalyst for success and building wealth?

Only one way to find out.

“I’m in Favor of Progress; It’s Change I Don’t Like” — Mark Twain

Ever meet Negative Nancy, Debbie Downer or Gloomy Gus?

Their cups are always half empty. They impress upon you what they can’t do rather then what they can do. Their little rain clouds follow them wherever they go … and in the most cases … they don’t go anywhere.

They settle for status quo mediocrity or worse. And soon it will be late … too late in their lives to make a change for the better.

They will choose neither path, and the road will soon be closed for good.

Almost DailyBrett was born in Johnstown, Pennsylvania. The former steel town is a great place to be … from.

Fortunately your author’s family was afforded the opportunity to move to Southern California. For Almost DailyBrett, Sacramento, CA, Portland, OR, Pleasanton, CA Ellensburg, WA and now Eugene, OR followed.

With each move came a change of scenery, variables, superiors, colleagues, subordinates, issues to confront and problems to solve. There were always vexing adversities and intriguing opportunities, and most of all challenges to overcome.

In their coverage of the 30th anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall earlier this month, most of the newsies focused on the disparity of those who reside and succeed in former West Germany, and those who remain mired in chronic poverty in former East Germany. For many, they could have moved to seek a better life, but for one reason or another … they didn’t.

Yes, there is income disparity even in a model European nation.

The story also needs to reflect the shift away from an agrarian economy, which is largely cosigned to the Stone Age. The following industrial revolution of Johnstown, PA is kaput. The world is now consumer dominated (e.g., 70 percent of the United States economy), digitized and service oriented.

Advantage women … particularly young, clever and ambitious women.

The service oriented consumer economy is right in their sweet spot. Public relations, marketing, advertising, event planning, local government, law, real estate, health care, hospitality … heck, even hardware stores … are dominated by the fairer gender or at a minimum … heading in that direction.

Can men, who once dominated the agrarian and industrial economies with their brute strength, ignorance and testosterone, succeed in this new service economy? Yes for some, but will they en masse? The evidence is not promising.

Not only have women passed men in terms of labor force participation, the same X-curve apply to women vs. men college graduates with a bachelor’s degree or above. And in the vast majority of cases, one must or want to move away from home to go to college. Universities and colleges should be a one-way ticket to independence, not back to mom and/or dad.

Graduates react after being recognized for their degree during the University of Wisconsin-Madison spring commencement ceremony ceremony at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison, Wis., Saturday, May 16, 2015. (Amber Arnold/Wisconsin State Journal via AP)

If professional women were a publicly traded stock compared to an equity for professional men, Almost DailyBrett would not hesitate to invest in the growth potential of the fairer gender. As your author has always noted, stocks are a forward rather than a lagging indicator … women are leading, men are behind and the gap is growing.

The wind is clearly in the sails of professional women, particularly those who are brave and smart enough to recognize there’s still time to change the road they are on.

And when their ship comes in they will be ready to board and set sail.

Alas way too many men will be killing time, playing video games at the airport.

https://www.economist.com/europe/2019/10/31/germans-still-dont-agree-on-what-reunification-meant

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2019/11/08/the-night-the-wall-came-tumbling-down/

“Billionaires should not exist.” — Millionaire U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (D-Vermont)

“Every billionaire is a policy failure.” — Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York)

“Personal wealth is at best an unreliable signal of bad behavior or failing policies. Often the reverse is true.” — The Economist

Super talented and accomplished media superstar Oprah Winfrey is worth $3 billion.

Basketball Hall of Famer Michael Jordan’s net worth is $1.9 billion.

Hip-hop star/investor Jay-Z just made into the three-comma club at $1,000,000,000.

Did government fail when Oprah, Michael and Jay-Z all succeeded and thrived, each because of their hard work, fortitude, perseverance and incredible talent?

Did anyone of them trade on their … privilege?

Almost DailyBrett doesn’t remember Oprah engaging in insider-trading.

Do you, Secretary Reich?

Ditto for Michael Jordan profiting from a monopoly unless Mr. Reich is pointing to Michael’s near-monopoly of talent against the competition he faced night-after-night in the NBA?

Is Jay-Z guilty of fraud, a political payoff or did he inherit his wealth?

Wonder if any of these “basically 5 ways” to accumulate a billion dollars in America apply to Nike founder/Philanthropist Phil Knight?

Have you read “Shoe Dog,” Professor Reich? Nike almost went under about nine times.

The former Labor Secretary’s “5 ways” Twitter screed is intellectually dishonest, and remarkably easy to discredit.

Alas, it is beneath the respect normally afforded to Robert Reich. Next time go high Mr. Reich instead of racing to the bottom. Talented and hard working people can earn their wealth on their own without resorting to nefarious deeds.

From a policy standpoint, we need to ask:

Should we punish Oprah, Michael, Jay-Z, Uncle Phil and so many others who worked their tushes off to legitimately make their fortunes with a punitive Elizabeth Warren 6 percent wealth tax (up from the original 3 percent proposal), and income tax rates reaching 90 percent or beyond?

Whattyathink Senators Sanders and Warren?

Class warfare — born out of jealousy — is not new.

The effective tax rate for achievers in the United Kingdom in the 1970s once reached 98 percent. If you don’t believe Almost DailyBrett, ask The Beatles … ask The Rolling Stones, who fled to France and recorded “Exile On Main Street.”

Can a near 100 percent confiscatory tax rate, which was thankfully eliminated in the UK by former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, happen in the United States of America? Let’s hope not.

Celebrate Instead of Hate?

Almost DailyBrett remembers boys and girls practicing basketball, so they could be “Just Like Mike.”

Your author can imagine girls admiring and wanting to be the next Oprah.

You should check Ellen’s interview with Bill Gates. They discussed the works and deeds of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, donating a cumulative $50.1 billion to fight global childhood poverty and to improve public schools in our country.

According to Forbes, Gates is worth approximately $96.5 billion — give or take a shekel or two — making him the second wealthiest homo sapien on the planet. Virtually everyone in the first world is using Microsoft’s Windows Operating System, inspired and written by Gates. And his charitable foundation has contributed more than any other non-profit ever to make our world a better place (more than most governments).

His former company Microsoft is valued at $1.14 trillion, generates $96.5 billion in annual revenues, and employs 144,000 in well paying positions with full benefits and stock options. Taken together, the performance of Microsoft as a company and the generosity of the Gates Foundation, puts Bill’s wealth into perspective.

Can we have more “policy failures” just like Bill Gates, Phil Knight, Oprah Winfrey, Michael Jordan, Jay-Z and so many more?

Instead of hating people who are wealthy, let’s celebrate and cheer for the achievers (e.g., Michael Jordan).

If we are concerned about billionaires, our policies should focus on stimulating competition (i.e., über-tough content streaming, video game, smart phone markets…), not limitless redistribution or punitive taxation.

If our political intent is to further divide, demonizing billionaires (as others have been publicly denigrated for ages) is a good way to engender one of the seven Deadly Sins: Envy.

If our goal is growth and prosperity, then let’s encourage Millennials and the generations, who will follow, to shoot for the stars. Let them become tomorrow’s Oprah, Michael, Jay-Z, Bill Gates and Uncle Phil.

And if they succeed financially, let’s celebrate them and at the same time root for competitors to keep them on their toes.

https://www.economist.com/leaders/2019/11/09/billionaires-are-only-rarely-policy-failures

https://www.economist.com/finance-and-economics/2019/11/07/have-billionaires-accumulated-their-wealth-illegitimately

https://www.gatesfoundation.org/who-we-are/general-information/foundation-factsheet

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2019/02/06/the-lonely-guy-standing-in-line-for-a-burger/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2012/09/25/taxing-uncle-phil-to-death/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2015/08/23/three-comma-club/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2011/10/04/taxing-the-fab-four-exiling-the-stones/

“The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people’s money.” — UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher (1925-2013)

If a private sector position with full benefits isn’t the greatest anti-poverty program ever devised … what on earth is?

In order to avoid saying she will raise taxes on the middle class for “Medicare For All,” Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) is proposing federal confiscation of all pretax employer paid Medicare health care benefits for literally millions of working achievers.

Her plan will eliminate private health insurance for 150 million Americans or more, and nationalize the $530 billion private health insurance industry.

Isn’t the termination of $8.8 trillion in cherished pretax employer-paid health care benefits for millions of employees, the equivalent of a middle class tax increase on steroids? Keep in mind, the annual federal budget is only … $4.45 trillion.

Instead of Starbucks paying $20,000 for this benefit to each of its 291,000 employees for private insurance (e.g., Blue Cross, Kaiser …), the legendary coffee roaster would be compelled to turn-over a similar amount to the federal government. In turn, these employees would lose their Starbucks offered pretax Medicare benefits and choice of private health insurer, only to forced into government paid … and only government paid … DMV-style insurance.

The Bernie Sanders “Medicare for All” bill (which Warren supports) calls for a 4 percent federal income tax increase for middle class workers. In order to avoid saying she is raising middle class taxes, Warren proposes instead federal confiscation of pretax employer paid health care benefits.

“In practice this (redirection of employer-paid health benefits to the government) would be a tax on employment, which seems likely to hurt middle-class Americans.” — The Economist, November 9, 2019

Deciding which plan (Sanders or Warren) is worse is just as difficult as deducing which is better.

How about keeping and retaining private health insurance, and our ability to choose our own doctors, dentists and optometrists?

Almost DailyBrett has always exhibited a libertarian streak. If we empower our $4 trillion behemoth federal government to confiscate pretax employer-paid health insurance, and eliminate private health insurance for 150-million-plus souls, the obvious question is:

What’s next?

Tax On Billionaires

” … if she gets elected president, then I would bet that we will have a legal challenge, and I would bet that we will win the legal challenge. And does that still suck for us?” — Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg commenting on the spectre of a Warren presidency to the company’s 35,000 employees.

The public relations spin by Bernie and Elizabeth has focused squarely on the likes of Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, Jamie Dimon and Leon Cooperman, including Warren mocking the latter for his tearful concern about the future of our country.

Consider the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has given $36 billion to fight third-world poverty. Does no good deed go unpunished?

The centerpiece of the billionaire vilification campaign is a 2 percent wealth tax on those with assets exceeding $50 million (how many folks in blue states California, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts … are included in this tax?), and 6 percent for those with $1 billion or more. We are not just talking about giving “two cents” (on each dollar) more.

How would the federal government determine the amount of wealth to be taxed and confiscated? When would it be paid? How much stock will needed (needlessly?) be sold (maybe even at loss) and how much will be immediately bought back? What’s the algorithmic multi-billion dollar impact on the 52 percent of the country investing in stocks and stock-based mutual funds for their retirement or children’s education?

Is this tax, constitutional? Are we talking about double taxation? More to the point, do we want as a nation to empower … there’s that verb again … our massive government to punitively confiscate wealth and with it, achievement? How about a tax on lower upper class wealth? Ditto for a levy on upper middle class wealth? And how about … ? The possibilities are limitless.

Three European nations still impose wealth taxes: Norway, Spain and Switzerland. How’s Spain doing?

Eleven European nations have rescinded their wealth taxes: Austria, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands and Sweden.

That’s right, wealth taxes didn’t work in Denmark and Sweden, why should it fly in Iowa, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin?

According to the stately The Economist, Warren’s all-government all-the-time programs include requiring Amazon, Facebook and Google to be regulated as platform utilities (before or after their breakups?), 40 percent of all board seats held by “public reps” (read, unions), bans on nuclear power and fracking, 75 percent lobbying taxes, 37 percent taxes on capital gains, and the imposition of taxes on unsold stocks (employing Enron-style mark-to-market accounting or MTM) … and the list goes on and on and on.

Warren supporters caution America’s Investor Class (52 percent of the entire nation) not to worry; her plan will eventually be watered down or not approved. If so … what’s the point?

Are Warrenites and Sandernistas supporting Republican control of at least one house to serve as a check and a balance to radicalism? Didn’t think so.

Some see Warren as a Socialist champion against Capitalism or buy low sell high.

Instead, Almost DailyBrett sees Bernie and Elizabeth as two peas in the same pod.

They are threatening our economic freedom. They will dip into our wallets, and deny us benefits and physician choices we already enjoy. The only winner? Big government.

Instead of wisely controlling the size and scope of government, some will be cool with a greatly empowered … there’s that verb again … carnivorous federal bureaucracy with even more power over our individual abilities to chart our own financial futures.

Be afraid … be very, very afraid.

https://www.nationalreview.com/2019/03/elizabeth-warren-wealth-tax-european-nations/

https://slate.com/business/2019/11/elizabeth-warrens-health-care-medicare-for-all-single-payer-unfair.html

https://www.economist.com/briefing/2019/10/24/elizabeth-warrens-many-plans-would-reshape-american-capitalism

https://www.economist.com/united-states/2019/11/07/how-would-elizabeth-warren-pay-for-her-health-policy

https://slate.com/technology/2019/10/mark-zuckerberg-said-elizabeth-warrens-presidency-would-suck-for-us.html

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2019/09/15/how-blue-cross-saved-my-bacon/

During the course of your author’s life there have been four seminal events, each prompting the question: ‘Where were you when you heard … ?’

For Baby Boomer Almost DailyBrett, these were the four history changing news stories of a lifetime: JFK’s assassination (1963), Neil Armstrong walking on the Moon (1969), the fall of the Berlin Wall (1989) and the September 11 attacks (2001).

Ironically, it was a fatal PR mistake 30 years ago that triggered the final inevitable fall of the Wall, and with it the ultimate demise of Soviet Union-style Communism.

East Germany’s Günter Schabowski was tasked with announcing the planned travel policy easing of the so-called German Democratic Republic’s (Deutsche Demokratische Republik or DDR). When he was asked if the changes applied immediately … his assumed “as far as I know” response without reading the policy paper …  was affirmative.

Unintentionally he ignited the storming of the DDR’s borders, and most of all the toppling of the Berlin Wall.

Today ein Stück der Mauer prominently sits beside the elbow of your author, accompanying the futile search for the appropriate English words to recapture the global significance of this epochal event.

Tomorrow will mark the 30th anniversary of the fall of the monstrous Berlin Wall (1961-1989), leading directly to the reunification of Germany and the end of the Communist menace in Russia and Eastern Europe. The world is a safer place as result of overjoyed Ossies walking and driving with their sputtering Trabants  across East Germany’s borders to freedom, one of them being a woman by the name of … Angela Merkel.

She started the evening consuming a beer in a sauna east of the wall, and ended the evening drinking a celebratory brew from a bottle with a label she had never seen before on the west side of the wall. Today, she is the Chancellor of the reunified (Wiedervereinigung) Federal Republic of Germany.

Giving Proper Credit For The End Of Communism

“Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.” — President Ronald Reagan speaking before the Brandenburg Gate and the Berlin Wall

If you ever travel to Berlin to touch the remaining stretches of the Berlin Wall, be sure to take the time to check out The Checkpoint Charlie Museum. The visitor can stand without fear on the very spot on the Friedrichstrasse in which American and Soviet tanks went eyeball to eyeball with each other. A critical miscalculation could have triggered a nuclear World War III.

Former Wall Street Journal Berlin bureau chief Frederick Kempe’s “Berlin 1961, Kennedy, Khrushchev And The Most Dangerous Place On Earth” vividly recounts the tension of the superpower standoff. The museum also recounts these days, and the ingenious plots to escape East Germany and its hideous wall.

A separate wing of the museum is devoted to Reagan, his Tear Down This Wall speech on continuous loop, and his pivotal role in ending the Cold War.

And yet there is a debate to this day about who should take the lion’s share of the credit for putting together the plan, which led to the demise of the wall and the end of Communism.

The names in alphabetical order of Mikhail Gorbachev, Helmut Kohl, Pope Paul II and Margaret Thatcher all played a role in this transformation, and each should take a bow.

For Almost DailyBrett and those who despise historical revisionism for purely political purposes, Ronald Reagan will always take center stage in the eyes of history. He rejected detente or merely accepting Communist domination from Berlin to Vladivostok. Instead his policy was simple: “We win, they lose.”

The USSR lost.

Another winner was Chancellor Helmut Kohl (1930-2017), who skillfully linked and achieved feared German reunification with the success of the European Union.  “German and European Unification are two sides of the same coin.” („Deutsche und europäische Einigung sind zwei Seiten einer Medaille.“)

Today, Germany along with France are the de-facto leaders of Europe … regardless of when Britain leaves the EU. Germany has acknowledged, addressed and atoned its dark past (Vergangenheitsbewältigung), particularly the 12 horrid years of Hitler, the Nazis and the Holocaust.

“The thought that a great nation (Germany) that had run amok should repent its crimes to the world. What other country has ever done such as thing?” — The character “Ed” quoting himself in John le Carré’s Agent Running in the Field

And “Ed” speaking about yesterday leading to today:

“Germany was the cat’s whiskers. It’s citizens were simply the best Europeans ever. No other nation holds a candle to Germans, not when it comes to understanding what the European union is all about.”

Naturally, the point of emphasis is made by literary master John le Carré.

And it all started The Night The Wall Came Tumbling Down.

https://www.economist.com/europe/2019/10/31/germans-still-dont-agree-on-what-reunification-meant

https://www.forbes.com/profile/angela-merkel/#71bd54c022dd

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2017/08/22/morning-in-germany/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2019/06/06/cool-calm-and-collected-germany/

Hell knows no fury like a Hillary scorned.

Bitter Hillary was rejected by her own party in 2008, and eight years later she lost to (gasp) … Donald Trump.

And to top it off, her husband was less than semper pi. His name is … Bill.

What’s a Hillary to do? How about getting into a public spat with Tulsi?

Tulsi Who? “Favorite of the Russians”?

Are we talking about Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) an after thought in the Democratic presidential nominating contest … until now? Her RealClear Politics average stands at 2.0 percent. That’s it.

Almost DailyBrett must pause here to ask:

Why is Hillary providing Tulsi (“holy basil” in Hindu) with manna from publicity heaven, an amazing public relations gift of a nationally covered food fight with a notorious and reviled party stalwart?

Considering that Hillary has a long-track record as the nation’s first lady, a U.S. Senator from New York, the nation’s secretary of state and the first woman presidential nominee in the country’s history, why isn’t she using her record to project herself as a senior stateswoman? She could be a modern-day Richard Nixon.

With all due respect, Tulsi should not be on Hillary’s personal radar. Baring a political miracle, Tulsi is not going to win the party’s nomination for president.

Somehow, someway Tulsi got under Hillary’s thin skin and triggered an inappropriate response. Why is Hillary providing Tulsi with a new platform? When you are seen as an enemy of Hillary that designation instantly attracts attention and new friends.

Worse yet Hillary believes the Russians are behind Tulsi’s campaign, maybe even as a third-party stalking horse. Another vodka, Madam Secretary?

It’s obvious that Hillary isn’t going away … quietly. Is this screed, Hillary’s definition of ethos? 

Tulsi’s 15 Minutes of Fame, And Then Some?

Almost DailyBrett counsels employing social media strategically, but not the above tweet, which goes far … way too far.

“Great! Thank you @Hillary Clinton” was probably all that was needed. Tulsi’s joyful and grateful response is more than appropriate.

As Michelle Obama once famously said: “When they go low, we go high.” There’s no reason for Tulsi to race Hillary to the bottom, just bask off the glow of windfall media attention, and fully exploit a fantabulous public relations opportunity.

Your author suspects there is more that inexplicably prompted Madam Secretary without any forewarning to go after a mere member of Congress of her own party.

Telegenic and fearless, the 38-years-young Tulsi is a fourth-term member of Congress (e.g., Hawaii’s 2nd District) and the nation’s first Samoan-American representative. She is an accomplished major in the Hawaii National Guard having served two tours in the Middle East: Iraq in 2004-2005 and Kuwait in 2008-2009.

As such she projects reasonable gravitas, her views on foreign policy should be respected.

Tulsi exhibits a strong anti-interventionist streak. opposing “regime-change wars” and wanting the U.S. out of Syria and Afghanistan. She is a moderate, putting her at political and maybe personal odds with Hillary.

Why Hillary chose to elevate Tulsi at this time, when the nomination is crystalizing around bumbling former Vice President Joe Biden and confiscatory Senator Elizabeth Warren, is inexplicably beyond the pay grade of Almost DailyBrett. 

Guess it must be time: Tulsi Time.

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/elections/2019/10/24/what-feud-between-tulsi-gabbard-and-hillary-clinton-about/4082268002/

https://www.businessinsider.com/who-is-tulsi-gabbard-bio-age-family-key-positions-2019-4

https://www.foxnews.com/opinion/tucker-carlson-hillary-clinton-tulsi-gabbard

https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-1101/holy-basil

https://www.realclearpolitics.com/epolls/2020/president/us/2020_democratic_presidential_nomination-6730.html

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2018/11/13/the-new-nixon-and-the-newest-hillary/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2017/09/12/what-happened/

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