Archive for November, 2019


“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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