Category: Wall Street


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

“Trump is right. It (elite liberal media) is the opposition party. Indeed, furiously so, often indulging in appalling overkill. It’s sometimes embarrassing to read the front pages of major newspapers, festooned as they are with anti-Trump editorializing, masquerading as news.” — Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer (1950-2018)

Will the New York Times send editor-columnist-reporter super delegates to the 49th quadrennial Democratic National Convention, July 13-16 in Milwaukee?

How many Washington Post editorial writers will be casting delegate votes for their party-proclaimed, next president of the United States?

We are not talking about covering the every four years convention held in the red state (e.g., Wisconsin), the Democrats overlooked to their own electoral peril four years ago. Instead, CNN and MSNBC talking heads will be actively cheering/campaigning for their party’s nominee on public airwaves.

Forget about dispassionate analysis. Does that practice exist any longer, let alone straight reporting?

How many readers and viewers have become wise to NBC’s Chuck Todd, MSNBC’s Brian Williams, CNN’s Anderson Cooper, literally reading between the lines for the not-so-hidden political agenda? As your author has mentioned previously, they don’t even pretend to be fair any longer.

Some readers of this blog may immediately chastise Almost DailyBrett for not mentioning right-of-center, Fox News.

Isn’t Fox News partisan as well?

Doesn’t the obvious fact of 24-7-365 partisan media, support the premise of this blog that terrified news rooms made economic decisions to jettison objectivity and fairness to survive a digital onslaught, they were way too slow to recognize?

Eastman Kodak used to dominate the film photography market, and then digital imaging came along and the stodgy upstate New York company was too late to respond … way too late. The stock is mired in single digits, serving as a desultory money repository for brain-dead investors.

Billionaire Blockbuster founder Wayne Huizenga (1937-2018) was the talk of Wall Street in the late 1980s/early 1990s until … you guessed it … streaming video content (i.e., Netflix, Apple, Amazon, Disney … ) doomed his company. Today, there is precisely one Blockbuster with three employees in … Bend, Oregon.

The model of professional non-partisan objective media, which worked well for so-long, was personified by Walter Cronkite at CBS, Chet Huntley and David Brinkley at NBC, and Howard K. Smith at ABC.

Those days are gone, long gone.

Trump Derangement Syndrome (TDS)

Donald Trump is the newsroom gift from heaven that just keeps on giving.

He is without any conceivable doubt the president elite liberal media loves to hate. Richard Nixon and George W. Bush used to be tied for that distinction … no longer.

Donald Trump trailed Hillary Rodham Clinton big time in both paid media (e.g., political advertising) and Get Out The Vote (GOTV) in 2016 because he didn’t need it … massive earned media attention was more than enough to make up the difference.

Every outrage produced another coming unglued story, which in turn generated ever more attentive eyeballs and ears.

As a candidate and now as president every account, whether it contains a Trump hook or not, becomes a story about that man … Donald John Trump.

Iran shoots down a Boeing 737-800. You would think by the coverage that Trump actually pulled the trigger … Didn’t his actions and policies prompt the wreckage and loss of life?

Sure.

Syria’s brutal dictator Bashar al-Assad’s crossed Barack Obama’s “red line” in the sand with poison gas against his own innocent citizens in 2016, and the media shrugged its collective shoulders.

Trump orders the 2020 drone assassination of Iran’s military leader, Qasem Soleimani, and the partisan media goes, Defcon 1.

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) arrives for a Democratic Caucus meeting to discuss transmitting the articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump to the Senate at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S. January 14, 2020. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst – RC2QFE9EVPID

Some may contend the shift to media partisanship (we are going way beyond editorial pages and commentary) and the death of objectivity and fairness is not a new story. Almost DailyBrett contends the intensity of media partisanship is off the rails and intensifying.

The media wants to pontificate, rant, rage and bloviate about the eventual downfall of Donald Trump. And when he is finally gone, what will they talk about?

Don’t worry. There will always be a Trumpian legacy to condemn for months, years, if not decades.

Schools of Partisan Journalism and Communication (SOPJC)

“And what are spies and politicians and journalists if not themselves selectors and manipulators of the truth for their own ends?” — British spy author John le Carre

In order to accommodate the shift to unbridled journalistic partisanship, university liberal journalism and mass communication schools (are there any other?) must amend their respective progressive curriculas to ensure that future “journalists” are equipped to lead the fight for socialist justice.

Can they psycho-analyze (without any psychology degree) those with offending political philosophies?

Can they filter information and factoids commensurate with partisan orthodoxy, and ignore anything and everything to the contrary?

Can they be absolute arbiters of the truth, however that term is previously defined?

Can they become warriors with note pads, cameras, recorders, boom mikes and smart phones?

Most of all can they advance the cause … the justice cause … without crossing the line into the dark side of advocacy public relations?

Have they have already meshed partisan journalism and political public relations into one and the same?

 

“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/

 

Anyone mature enough to remember the 1964 presidential debates between Lyndon Johnson and Barry Goldwater?

How about the debates four years later between Richard Nixon and Hubert Humphrey? Nixon vs. McGovern in 1972?

President Jimmy Carter, left, and Republican Presidential candidate Ronald Reagan, shake hands Tuesday night, October 28, 1980, in Cleveland, Ohio, before debating before a nationwide television audience. (AP Photo/stf)

There was precisely one presidential debate in 1980. Jimmy Carter was throwing the political equivalent of a Hail Mary pass, only to have Ronald Reagan remind the nation they were not better off after four years of Carter’s troubled presidency.

Almost DailyBrett is asking here-and-now: Are 2020 presidential debates a forgone conclusion?

Yes, there is the hallowed Commission on Presidential Debates. How many grande lattes at Starbucks does that fact, buy?

The first 2020 presidential debate is set for Tuesday, September 29 at University of Notre Dame followed by a vice presidential debate and two more presidential debates on college campuses in October.

One of the real questions that must be asked: Are there any objective impartial  journalists, at least pretending to be fair, who can moderate the 2020 debates?

If not, does that provide President Donald Trump the Twitter excuse for not participating in any of the presidential debates, ditto for Vice President Mike Pence?

In a world dominated by partisan polemics on television (i.e., Anderson Cooper, Don Lemon, Rachel Maddow, Sean Hannity, Chuck Todd, Brian Williams … ), are there any real journalists left that can moderate a debate between Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders?

Do you think that crying Martha Raddatz will ever referee another debate after showing her true colors on election night 2016?

Only 41 Percent Trust The Media, 36 Percent on Independents, 15 Percent of Republicans

Ever wonder why 69 percent of Democrats — according to Gallup — trust the media?

Could it be the media doesn’t even attempt to be fair anymore? Modern era journalism professor-types claim there was never a time of true objectivity and impartiality; these virtues are just so … yesterday.

As Almost DailyBrett opined more than once: Oppositional Journalism rules the day. That contention cannot be questioned any longer. Interpreting media elites should be required to register as special interest lobbyists.

LAS VEGAS, NV – OCTOBER 19: Fox News anchor and moderator Chris Wallace speaks to the guests and attendees during the third U.S. presidential debate at the Thomas & Mack Center on October 19, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Tonight is the final debate ahead of Election Day on November 8. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Besides the likes of Chris Wallace and Bret Bair, are there any truly objective journalists who would be fair to The Donald and Bernie without “Feeling The Bern?”

Does the dwindling supply of truly fair (let’s drop the term, “objective”) journalists provide justification to President Trump to not debate in 2020. Would the celebrity truly bypass an open microphone on a national stage? Probably not, but he has the option to debate or not debate (he turned down a GOP primary debate in the last presidential election cycle).

As a former press secretary for California Governor George Deukmejian, we made the decision to skip 1986 gubernatorial debates with Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley.

As a result of our decision to not debate the second time around, the editorial pages of California’s elite media blasted our stand and wondered aloud about the fate of Democracy in the Golden State.

The California electorate knew these two candidates as they were contesting each for a second time in just four years. We were also cruising to re-election, winning 61 percent to 37 percent in the blue state’s greatest-ever landslide.

If Trump opts out of one, two or all of the debates, will he suffer on the editorial pages of the New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times and the talking heads on NBC, CBS, CNN, MSNBC and other liberal networks scold the president?

What else is new?

Do the anointed in the Fourth Estate accept any blame that public esteem in the media is once again heading for an all-time low? Your author is betting the media next year will pierce the 32 percent nadir achieved in 2016, and go even lower.

If Trump decides not to debate (his standing in battleground state polls, the robust state of the economy, no new wars, radical socialist opponent … ), do the elite media — who no longer even attempt any more to be fair — bear any responsibility?

The answer is an obvious, ‘yes,’ but collectively they are too sanctimonious to admit the obvious.

https://news.gallup.com/poll/267047/americans-trust-mass-media-edges-down.aspx

https://www.debates.org/2019/10/11/commission-on-presidential-debates-announces-sites-and-dates-for-2020-general-election-debates-and-2020-nonpartisan-candidate-selection-criteria/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2018/02/15/oppositional-journalism/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2019/03/26/oppositional-journalisms-victory/

Donald Trump Attacks Debate Commission, But Suggests He’ll Still Face Off With Democratic Nominee

 

“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

“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/

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