Category: Silicon Valley


Almost DailyBrett’s super-smart tax accountant moved from California to … Nevada.

Wonder why?

How many other wise people did the math, followed in her footsteps, and made a move in their best lifestyle and financial interests?

Let’s see, the state income tax in California is the nation’s highest, maxing at 13.3 percent … for now. Yikes.

The state income tax in Nevada is … nada.

Hmmm … given a choice … what action will a clever tax accountant with disposable income make? Ditto for anyone else with a brain and a pulse.

Growing up, your author read countless accounts about people for decades pulling up stakes in the rust belt and setting sights for the sun belt.

That trend continues unabated today except when it comes to one sun belt state in particular, California.

After the upcoming 2020 decennial Census, the Golden State is projected to lose a seat in Congress (and a corresponding electoral vote) for the first time in its 171-year history.

California Governor Gavin Newsom and other Sacramento rocket scientists are desperately trying to ensure an accurate count to avoid the indignity under their watch associated with losing an electoral vote.

Let’s see, California with 12 percent of the nation’s population is the “home” to 22 percent of the nation’s homeless. Can California count those who don’t have a home — even newly arrived homeless — as residents? What about those who came across a Southern border … ? Count the names on the tombstones?

Oh heck, let’s just slap on a few more social engineering regulations (e.g., rent control, solar panel installation requirements) and raise taxes again and again … and pretend what’s happening is not happening.

Which State Gains From California’s Diaspora?

We know from CNBC’s Robert Frank that population outflows are costing New York $10 billion in revenues (largest hit in the nation), and Florida is gaining $16 billion in increased revenues as a result of in-migration.

The same report indicated that California is losing $8 billion in state revenues. Those lost souls are no longer in the gravitational pull of the Franchise Tax Board (FTB) and Golden State regulatory social engineers.

California and Alabama (two peas in a pod?) appear to be the only sun belt states slated to lose congressional seats after the next Census.

Conversely, there are nine states in the union with zero state income taxes, and none of them will lose a congressional seat. In fact, Texas is set to gain three congressional seats from 36 to 39, and Florida is expected to add two more from 27 to 29. These two red states are getting politically stronger.

Should we assume that no state income tax Texas or Florida will benefit from California’s lost congressional seat?

Considering that California lost 700,000 residents in 2018 alone, and 86,000 of this number moved to Tejas … the red Lone Star State could be the beneficiary of the blue Golden State’s electoral college loss.

Late last year, retail investment pioneer Charles Schwab announced it will move its corporate headquarters from San Francisco to Dallas. Can you blame them?

Let’s see, the corporate tax in San Francisco is 8.84 percent, Dallas, 0.75 percent. San Francisco also imposes a 0.38 percent payroll tax, and a 0.6 percent gross receipts tax. Typical monthly rents in The City are $3,870 and only $1,200 in Big D.

Looking North, Looking East …

Keep in mind that no sales tax Oregon is expected to gain one congressional seat, raising its number of electoral votes from seven to eight for the 2024 general election. The Grand Canyon State anticipates adding another seat to its congressional delegation, increasing Arizona’s electoral votes from 11 to 12.

To be fair, this Almost DailyBrett analysis needs to acknowledge that California with its gorgeous weather and picturesque coastline, not to mention Silicon Valley, will still have the largest electoral count just with 54 votes, instead of 55.

As a former press secretary for former California Governor George Deukmejian (two terms, 1983-1991), your author noted the Golden State’s Electoral College count was 45 in 1980, 47 in 1984 and 1988, and 54 in 1992. California’s electoral college number jumped nine congressional seats in those heady days, when the state was not raising taxes and not burdening it’s citizens and businesses with onerous regulations and social engineering schemes.

Taxes and rising expenses/burdens are not the only reasons for the flight of California’s Growing Diaspora. Congestion is becoming unbearable with 2 million more joining the commuting ranks since … 2010.

Housing costs are prohibitive, not to mention the property taxes that go alone with these rising market values. The sweet two-bed, one-bath 960-square foot Oakland fixer-upper (see photo above) is on the market right now for … $988,000.

Nice curb appeal.

Some may want to sweep the lost congressional seat under the proverbial rug and recite tired stats about California being one of the largest economies in the world. Almost DailyBrett sees the loss of an electoral vote as the canary in the mine.

People are voting with their feet, and California is the loser … Texas, Arizona, Nevada and Oregon are the winners.

https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2019-12-31/la-me-ln-california-apportionment-2020-census

California likely to lose congressional seat for first time in history after 2020 Census

https://www.dallasnews.com/business/real-estate/2019/12/10/almost-700000-californians-moved-out-of-state-last-year/

https://www.wsj.com/articles/schwab-leaves-san-francisco-for-texas-11574900348

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2019/06/20/californias-growing-diaspora/

California’s inept central planners

So if you win an award tonight, don’t use it as a platform to make a political speech. You’re in no position to lecture the public about anything. You know nothing about the real world. Most of you spent less time in school than Greta Thunberg. So if you win, come up, accept your little award, thank your agent, and your God and fuck off. OK?” — Comedian Ricky Gervais Golden Globes opening monologue

“You (Hollywood) know nothing about the real world.” There were cheers across the fruited plain for that one.

We are just so divided.

There are boujees, and there are bolshies.

There are demographic divisions (e.g., knuckle draggers vs. fairer sex).

There are psychographic splits (i.e., income, education, creed, politics …).

And then, there is the seemingly eternal class struggle between the Boujees and the Bolshies.

Almost DailyBrett always embraces the motto, “Buy Low Sell High,” definitely comes down squarely on one side of this divide.

But what happens when a group of Boujees gather together, and they are Bolshies as well?

Are they Boujee Bolshies? Are they Bolshie Boujees? Are they boozy Boujee Bolshies … ?

Take the reaction of Tom Hanks to Gervais’ “You know nothing …” lecture. You could have fried an egg on Forrest Gump’s face.

Did Anybody In Hollywood Vet Gervais’ Monologue?

Gervais was right. Sunday night was the last time he will ever host the Golden Globes or any other celebrity award show.

He took dead aim at the Hollywood Industrial Complex, and scored a direct hit to the collective gasping in the room and to the delight of those who have to make a real living in the fly-over states.

The great unwashed were laughing at Hollywood’s Gathering Storm of suppressed anger, and enjoying a sense of Schadenfreude at their expense.

From a public relations standpoint, Almost DailyBrett must ask: Were Gervais’ remarks reviewed and approved?

Maybe? Maybe not?

How many times has the nation endured their acceptance speeches, complete with personal commentaries about the rotten-and-evil United States of America?

Many have been thinking for eons exactly what Gervais had the temerity to say out loud … ‘You recited your lines beautifully. You went to a great acting school. So what? What do you know?”

The Hollywood majority embrace the concept of government dictated social equality and likewise they relish in a Bourgeoisie lifestyle, but please don’t take aerial photos of Bolshie Barbra’s Boujee mansion by the sea.

Dictatorship of the Proletariat is for other people. You do know who originally promulgated that phase, Hollywood?

Or do you really know … nothing?

Limousine Liberals

How many bolshie Hollwooders showed up for the Golden Globes in boujee limousines.

Were they sipping lattes in their vehicles or something stronger?

Are they the most equal of the equals, using their celebrity platforms to spank the leader of the Free World and this country as well.

Bless his Limey heart: Gervais spoke in jest and told the bold truth. We really don’t care about Tom Hanks’ bolshie political opinions or any other of his boujee comrades.

Will the industry follow the Gervais’ advice for the upcoming Oscars, Emmys, Grammys, Tonys, Espys and all of the other awards shows the nation will collectively endure later this year, considering that 2020 is indeed an election year?

Don’t count on it. A boujee bolshie/bolshie boujee must be heard.

If you don’t believe Almost DailyBrett, just ask them.

https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/transcript-ricky-gervais-golden-globes-2020-opening-monologue-1266516

https://www.usatoday.com/story/college/2017/06/30/what-youre-really-saying-when-you-call-something-bougie/37433439/

https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Boujee

https://www.thefreedictionary.com/Bolshies

https://www.foxnews.com/entertainment/tom-hanks-ricky-gervais-golden-globes-face-viral

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7857415/PIERS-MORGAN-Ricky-Gervais-delivered-glorious-kick-Hollywoods-virtue-signalling-hypocrites.html

https://www.rickygervais.com/

Meteorology is above the pay grade of Almost DailyBrett.

The study of weather also seems to be beyond of the collective wits of the NFL and its partners in climatic crime, the national networks.

Let’s state the obvious: January is a cold winter month across the vast majority of the fruited plain.

Indoors are always heated and dry. Outdoors can be cold, wet, icy and even, snowy.

Southern climes tend to be warmer than northern climes.

The days start three hours later on the west coast than on the east coast. Generally, the west coast is warmer.

With the above preamble, one has to ask: Why did yesterday’s “Wild Card” game held in a climate controlled rectractable roof dome in Houston serve as the day game, and why was the outdoor “Wild Card” (40 degrees and foggy) played at night (kickoff at 8:15 pm local Foxborough, MA time?

Today’s early game … you guessed it is being played in a climate controlled dome in New Orleans, and the nightcap starts at 4:40 pm local time (e.g., dark) in Philadelphia.

Next week’s “Divisional” round is no better, in fact the times and venues may be worse.

The schedule was next Saturday calls for the early game … you guessed it … to be played at 1:35 pm PST in Santa Clara, CA.  The evening game is set for an 8:15 pm EST in Baltimore.

Wouldn’t it make more sense for the NFL to reverse the order?

The Sunday, January 12 schedule makes no sense whatsoever. The early game is kicking off in Kansas City at 2:05 pm CST, and the night game (better have more than one for proper insulation) is set for the Frozen Tundra of Green Bay, Wisconsin at 5:40 pm CST.

Isn’t Green Bay way north of Kansas City? Why not reverse the order of these games?

Does The NFL Care About The Health And Safety Of The Fans?

Similar to major universities with football programs, NFL teams have lost control of their franchises to the major networks (i.e., ABC/ESPN, CBS, Fox, NBC).

What is only important is eyeballs, lots of eyeballs. And what is better is to have all these eyeball pupils focused on never-ending ads during prime time.

And what prime time is the most equal of the equals, the time zone of the Eastern seaboard (e.g., New England playing at night)?

Almost DailyBrett must ask here and now: What about the fans enduring super cold temps? Drinking all day waiting for the game? Driving home at ridiculous hours through fog, rain, ice and/or snow?

And what about the players, who must attempt to play one-and-done playoff games in frigid conditions, such as the “Frozen Tundra” of Green Bay?

Ever wonder why the attendance of NFL games (derrieres in overpriced seats) is down?

Certainly, fans will show up for playoff games … at least for now … but HDTV is HDTV. Our national pastime, which baseball long ago lost to football, may become suitable for TV studios with all of us watching on television or our mobile devices from comfortable venues with beer in the fridge and bathrooms down the hall.

Do you think the collective brain trust of the NFL and the networks could take into account weather and geography (e.g., warm places vs. cold places or indoor vs. outdoor games).

Assigning early kickoffs to outdoor games in colder climes and later games to domed stadiums and warmer climates makes perfect sense to your humble author.

For the NFL to make this simple change, does not affect the seeding for playoff games. In addition, the league would be making a positive statement about how its views loyal fans (e.g., season ticket holders), and its players (e.g., relations with the NFL Players Association).

Even though Almost DailyBrett is not and never will be an attorney, wouldn’t removing the specter of drunken or not fans being seriously hurt on a foggy, wet, snowy or icy roads reduce potential liability for the NFL?

And most all, the NFL would proclaim to the world that it really does understand the true meaning of the word, January.

https://www.espn.com/nfl/story/_/id/28390167/2019-nfl-playoff-schedule-bracket-super-bowl-liv-coverage

https://www.forbes.com/sites/maurybrown/2019/01/07/how-the-nfl-gained-back-viewers-but-lost-attendance/#2d3b9cfc5bb7

 

 

 

“The mayor (Pete Buttigieg) just recently had a fundraiser that was held in a wine cave, full of crystals and served $900-a-bottle wine. Think about who comes to that? … Billionaires in wine caves should not pick the next president of the United States.” — $12 million net worth Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren

“According to Forbes Magazine, I’m literally the only person on this stage who is not a millionaire or a billionaire … This is the problem with issuing purity tests you cannot yourself pass.” — South Bend Mayor Peter Buttigieg

Guess Almost DailyBrett has been drinking cerveza way too long.

The term beer cave projects the image of a bunch of guys downing bottles, tapping a keg, and binge watching football.

Some may simply envision and label the grunting, belching and scratching venue as a … ‘man cave.’

The very notion of a Napa Valley wine cave connotes a more upper-crust distinction.

A $900 bottle of Hall Winery fine cab (actually $185) on the house? S’il vous plait!

Always excitable Warren took issue with the image of people enjoying expensive vino in a plush wine cave in California’s Napa Valley. More to the point, she particularly doesn’t condone wealthy individuals attending a fundraiser on behalf of a pesky political rival, Mayor Pete.

Isn’t this the same Democrat senator who owns a $3 million home in Cambridge, MA. and a $800,000 DC condo?

Her political soul mate, $2.5 million net worth Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, even purchased the web domain name: peteswinecave. Sanders may presently lead Warren in the polls (Real Clear Politics average), but he trails her nearly five-to-one in net income.

Should latte sipping senators living in glass condos throw rocks?

Where was the invitation for Almost DailyBrett?

Guess one has to be a limousine liberal to be invited to a trendy wine cave to sip super-expensive cabernet sauvignon in crystal goblets on onyx tables.

Reminds your author of the infamous joke of USSR party leader Leonid Brezhnev inviting his mommy to drink Moskovskaya vodka in the Kremlin, cruise around in his Zil limo, and consume caviar in his private dacha.

Mother Russia proudly looked at her most equal of the equals son and said: ‘What happens when the Reds come back?”

A quote more apropos for this discussion is the infamous one by former California Speaker of the Assembly Jess Unruh’s (1922-1987): “Money is the Mother’s Milk of Politics.”

Your author’s boss first Attorney General/later California Governor George Deukmejian (1928-2018) raised $8.3 million in 1982 to be elected to the corner office in Sacramento. The Duke was outspent in the primary and the general election, and still won the governorship.

That amount is almost quaint by today’s standards, and downright puny in comparison to the $125 million Donald Trump’s re-election campaign raised in the last three months.

In some respects, Trump’s fundraising prowess is just the tip of his earned (media interviews/coverage), paid (advertising) and owned media (Twitter) communications juggernaut.

Revisiting An Ancient Argument 

Warren suggesting out loud that Mayor Pete is somehow being bought by billionaires sipping pricey cab in a wine cave is the latest twist on an age-old assertion.

Are the billionaires buying your fidelity? Did you sell out? Did they buy in?

Here are more germane questions: Are you going to award an ambassadorship to the Court of St. James or the Vatican for the federal campaign contribution maximum, $2,800?

How do you propose funding your campaign at 2019-2020 advertising rates, if you don’t raise dough from wealthy people … unless you are already a billionaire (i.e., Michael Bloomberg, Tom Steyer)?

Billionaire celebrity Trump was outspent and out-organized three-plus years ago, and overcame this deficiency by absolutely dominating earned media, thus sucking the air away from every other candidacy including Hillary Clinton’s.

Even though the knives are out for #45, he still rules every utensil and appliance in the mass communications kitchen.

He is not invulnerable. The time between now and November 3 is a political lifetime. No one, including Almost DailyBrett, predicted his election.

Do presidential incumbents have an advantage? Not always (i.e., Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush in rotten economies).

Presidential elections are not referendums, they are choices.

Both the incumbent and his inevitable challenger are going to need green manna from heaven to ensure their respective messages get to the electorate, particularly in swing fly-over states. Campaigns are expensive.

There will be even-more fundraisers in the coming months, hosted in a wine cave near you.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2019/12/21/about-that-wine-cave-dinner-i-was-there/

https://www.forbes.com/sites/michelatindera/2019/08/20/how-elizabeth-warren-built-a-12-million-fortune/#2b85f493ab57

https://www.forbes.com/sites/chasewithorn/2019/04/12/how-bernie-sanders-the-socialist-senator-amassed-a-25-million-fortune/#1d4107fb36bf

https://nypost.com/2019/12/22/elizabeth-warrens-wine-cave-comments-spark-questions-about-her-donors/

 

“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

“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

“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/

“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/

“When are we going to realize in this country that our wealth is work. We are workers. And by selling this idea, ‘Hey man, I’ll teach you how to be rich.’ How is that different than an infomerical?” — Jon Stewart to CNBC’s Mad Money host and former Goldman Sachs hedge fund manager, Jim Cramer

No truer words were ever spoken.

During the course of his 2009  infamous viral dressing down of CNBC’s “Mad Money” Jim Cramer, Comedy Central’s Jon Stewart took direct aim at the notion of get-rich-quick, particularly in times of an economic meltdown.

Some acquaintances of Almost DailyBrett have inquired and even critiqued your author’s daily devotion to CNBC, the repeated clicks on Charles Schwab’s retirement IRA platform, and the checking of the value of the Eugene, Oregon residence on far-less-than-perfect, Zillow.

Yours truly is a dedicated capitalist, devoted to maintaining and growing wealth under the banner of Buy Low Sell High.

Buying low and selling high generates … profits. Yes, profits. Sorry Bernie and Elizabeth.

Some vehemently argue that nothing-is-guaranteed Wall Street is more or less, gambling.

Almost DailyBrett disagrees with this conclusion, but clearly recognizes that gamblers are energized and engaged. No one plays poker and puts their chips on the roulette table and cavalierly accepts the verdict. They play to win the game.

As Herm Edwards said: “You play to win the game. Hello? You play to win the game.”

And more times than naught, gamblers lose. The staggering accumulated wealth and gaudy palaces along the Las Vegas Strip are monuments to the … losers.

Don’t investors want to win too? There are no guarantees on Wall Street. Invested money is placed at risk. Doesn’t that make Wall Street the greatest casino of them all?

Achieving the spread between buying at a lower price and eventually selling at a higher price is more … much more … than simply investing in a 401k or IRA and forgetting about it. ‘Ahh … just let the pension fund chiefs or the mutual fund managers worry about it.’ Don’t worry.

Ladies and gentlemen, we are talking about your nest egg. Growing, caring and nurturing your tomorrow is a business. In effect, it is the ultimate business.

You want to ensure that you live a long and happy life, and that you expire before your money runs out.

The Wall Street crash of 2007-2010 is still fresh for most of us. Ten years later, we are enjoying the fruits of the longest bull market in American history with a record low, full-employment Department of Labor unemployment rate of 3.5 percent.

Time to put up our feet? Hell, no.

Manage Rather Than Be Managed

“Stewart had no special Wall Street knowledge, as he was the first to admit. What he had was a nose for a scam, and an uncanny ability to articulate what the rest of us were feeling.” — New York Times columnist, Joe Nocera

Recognizing that Jon Stewart is a comedian, not a stock market analyst or technician, he is nonetheless still right: “Our wealth is work.”

Part of the task before us is to understand completely a very simple question: How does a company makes money?

Please allow Almost DailyBrett to speak ex-cathedra: If you do not understand how a publicly traded company makes mula (e.g., McDonald’s makes hamburgers and feeds 1 percent of the planet each day), then you are gambling on a stock, not investing.

Remember posing this question to my classes about Bitcoin.

Some students volunteered that Bitcoin is a crypto-currency … whatever that means. “It’s been going up” (and down). Currencies are associated with countries (i.e., greenback, USA; Euro, EU; Pound Sterling, UK). What country backs Bitcoin?

Nada.

Therefore in your author’s portfolio, there is no place for Bitcoin or any other Ponzi Scheme.

Stewart publicly undressed Cramer because the former believed the latter’s network (e.g., CNBC) was not doing enough to protect retail investors, particularly those who were experiencing the daily assault on their portfolios between 2007-2010.

Most of us wish to forget that time, and yet we took the steps to manage our accounts and protect our nest eggs. We chose to manage instead of being managed.

Maintaining and building wealth requires us all to work, to stay alert, and have a healthy batting average when it comes to making our financial decisions.

Stay alert. Stay engaged. Stay the course.

http://www.cc.com/video-clips/iinzrx/the-daily-show-with-jon-stewart-jim-cramer-pt–2

http://money.com/money/3982267/jon-stewart-5-best-money-moments/

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

“Ours was the first revolution in the history of mankind that truly reversed the course of government, and with three little words: ‘We the People.’”

“We did it. We weren’t just marking time, we made a difference. We made the (shining) city (on the hill) stronger – we made the city freer – and we left her in good hands.  All in all, not bad. Not bad at all.” — President Ronald Reagan Farewell Address, January 11, 1989

President Ronald Reagan was not a first-person singular leader: I, Me, Myself.

Even though he was completing one of the most successful presidencies in American history and was justifiably entitled to take a bow, he still for the most part gravitated toward first-person plural even in his farewell address: We, Us, Our.

These vital pronouns salute the team that makes it happen, the linemen who protect the quarterback, the pit crew changing the tires in less than three-seconds, the people who write the emails, send the letters and form the coalition that makes a politician and a movement successful.

Donald Trump is an über first person singular type of guy, and that is his greatest weakness. He could learn from Heisman Trophy Winner Marcus Mariota, Five-Time Formula 1 World Champion Lewis Hamilton, and most of all from Ronald Reagan.

Almost DailyBrett was privileged to devote two decades of his career, directly serving two first-person plural leaders: Former California Governor George Deukmejian and LSI Logic founder, chairman and chief executive officer Wilf Corrigan.

Did both of these overachievers have healthy opinions of themselves? Of course.

Did they have big egos based upon their proven records of self-made success? Naturally.

One was the most popular governor of California in the modern era; the other was a successful entrepreneur immigrant worth, $432 million.

But when push came to shove, it was about the people around them, the citizens and customers they served, the investors and their shares … we, us and our.

“I Have Returned”

Did you note MacArthur’s first-person singular is his most remembered quote, and his follow-up in first-person plural is forgotten?

Didn’t the collective strength of the U.S. Army and Navy facilitate MacArthur’s return to the Philippines?

MacArthur was later fired by President Harry S. Truman. Surprised?

Will Donald Trump be fired by the American people in 13 months time, despite a robust economy, no new military involvements in the Middle East (or elsewhere) and way too-far-to-the-socialist-left potential opponents? It can happen, but will it?

Under similar circumstances Reagan crushed Walter Mondale in 1984. Reagan won 49 states worth 525 electoral votes, capturing 58.8 percent of the vote. Mondale recorded his home state of Minnesota and DC for a total of 13 electoral votes, 40.6 percent of the vote.

Almost DailyBrett can state with impunity that incumbent presidents have decided advantages heading into re-election years (i.e., Obama, George W., Clinton, Reagan), but not certainty (i.e., Carter, H.W. Bush). Recent presidents with the tailwind of economic prosperity … “It’s the economy, stupid” … all were re-elected.

Your Enemies Will Always Be Your Enemies; Your Friends … ?

Having said that, Trump is his own worst enemy, and that is magnified by his first-person singular devotion on steroids.

Why couldn’t his own campaign quietly conduct opposition research when it comes to Hunter Biden being selected for the board of directors for Ukraine’s natural gas supplier – Burisma Holdings — while his father, Joe Biden, was vice president of the United States? This question is particularly magnified considering Hunter’s well-chronicled repeated problems with cocaine, and zero experience in energy.

For some reason, Trump decides that he … and only he … can conduct this oppo research directly with the leader of Ukraine … and as a result an impeachment proceeding was born. Will he join the ranks of Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton as impeached presidents, but not convicted in the Senate (if it goes that far)?

The larger question is whether he pulls defeat out of the jaws of victory when his friends (e.g., high propensity Republican fidelity) are still his friends? Will his personal embrace of first-person singular (I, Me, Myself) trigger mistake-after-mistake, and his friends stop being his … friends?

Maybe a little more Reaganesque first-person plural … we, us, our … and some good old fashioned humility would do the trick.

Don’t count on it with this president.

https://www.azquotes.com/quote/551270

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2018/05/08/the-governor-who-changed-my-life/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2014/01/02/farewell-lsi-logic/

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