Tag Archive: Capitalism


“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/

 

“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/

The Dow Jones closed for the first time ever more than 27,000.

The S&P 500 recorded a record close exceeding 3,000.

The NASDAQ passed 8,000 and has been in and out of record territory.

America’s economy has been growing for 121 months, and the bull market is advancing at a record pace.

The combination of rising markets, nearly 3 percent annualized GDP growth, record low unemployment of 3.7 percent, inflation under 2 percent and interest rates set to decline under 2.25 percent will not last forever … but these factors are here right now.

Three years ago, Gallup projected that 52 percent of Americans own stocks and stock-based mutual funds. That 2016 figure preceded the election of Donald Trump and the corresponding rises in the Dow, S&P 500 and the NASDAQ.

Gallup also recorded that 37 percent of younger Americans under 35 are invested, reflecting overall cautiousness by millennials.

Earth to critics of Capitalism/advocates of Socialism: America’s investor class is not 1 percent, but more than half of all Americans (e.g., 170 million).

Almost DailyBrett is convinced these investor class market participation figures are low, reflecting the residual impact of the 2008 recession. They do not take into account our robust economic expansion, record low unemployment and un pequeno inflation.

In 2007, 65 percent of Americans invested in stocks and stock-based mutual funds. Your author will take the “over” that market participation number has now reached 60 percent, and continues to climb.

Whether they are active or passive investors, these Americans constitute a high-propensity-to-vote investor class. They vote on America’s future (and their own) through their investments mainly of U.S. based large caps.

Will America’s investor class, those who own stocks and/or stock-based mutual funds decide a continued or new direction of the nation?

Some poor souls seem to correlate America’s investors with a Monaco-sized sliver of our population. Woe is to those who do not invest.

Socialism and its media allies assert that those with greater discretionary funds are more prone to invest in markets. Why do they believe this undeniable fact is a revelation?

While some prefer to make a racket protesting before the cameras in the streets, others … millions of others … are quietly investing in living longer, their health care, their children’s education and their happy retirement.

As they say on the airlines: “Put on your own mask, before assisting others.” These Americans with discretionary income have the ability to contribute to charities and donate resources to make America a better place.

With every key stroke on a retail trading site (e.g., Charles Schwab, TD Ameritrade, eTrade) or making another contribution to their personal IRA or their 401K at work, these hard-working Americans are quietly making a stand.

They proudly believe in buying low and selling high. They have the economic freedom to earn a profit.

They are economic freedom loving individuals taking direct control of their futures.

Almost DailyBrett wonders why these good decent hardworking overachievers are being vilified simply by putting their hard-earned, already taxed discretionary dollars to work.

America’s Investor Class is the Salt of the Earth and the Backbone of America, if you don’t mind a few metaphors.

Defending Economic Freedom

Why is “profit” such a dirty word to so many?

Doesn’t profit or bottom line mean a business … can stay in business?

Don’t jobs, opportunities, security and yes, tax revenues, alight from successful enterprises?

And yet Almost DailyBrett is becoming increasingly troubled by the onslaught against America’s investor class, and the war on economic freedom.

As we continue into the “silly season” of American politics, we hear proposals to raise tax rates to 70 percent or more, impose a 2 percent “surcharge” on assets, introduce a 0.1 percent tax on each and every stock, mutual fund and bond trade.

There are those who want to eliminate private health insurance for 180 million, provide taxpayer health care for illegal aliens, introduce an 18 percent Value Added Tax (VAT) to fund Universal Basic Income (UBI) for those who want to play video games all day.

Heaven forbid, but these silly season proposals could become the laws of the land. The more capital that is redistributed by a predatory government is less money for America’s Dreamers, the Investor Class.

Some complain about income inequality, when 73 percent of college graduates (B.A. or above) and 83 percent of advanced degree recipients (M.A., M.S., Ph.D) invest in markets. One can make a compelling argument that education leads to a separation between the haves and have nots of discretionary income and thus, the investor class.

Should we shut off access to education to achieve social justice? Or should we teach students to understand and intelligently invest in markets?

Almost DailyBrett believes we should adopt policies to expand America’s Investor Class and defend Economic Freedom.

The nearly 170 million members of America’s Investor Class are high propensity. They will vote in 2020.

Wonder which party and candidates will earn their votes?

https://news.gallup.com/topic/stocks.aspx

https://news.gallup.com/poll/233699/young-americans-wary-investing-stocks.aspx

https://www.financialsamurai.com/what-percent-of-americans-own-stocks/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2019/03/10/my-congressman-wants-to-double-tax-our-retirement/

https://www.foxnews.com/opinion/newt-gingrich-trump-democrats-pelosi-mcgovern

 

 

 

“For the American generation which has grown up since the downfall of the USSR, socialism is no longer the boo word it once was.” The Economist, Feb. 16, 2019

The youngest of all Millennials were gestating in 1980.

Reagan called upon Gorbachev to “Tear Down This Wall” in 1987.

The Berlin Wall came tumbling down in 1989.

The Soviet Union collapsed under its sheer weight in 1991.

The last of the Millennials arrived in the millennial year, 2000.

The largely overlooked question: How many Millennials personally remember the USSR?

Alas, the answer is very, very few.

Only the oldest Millennials may have any memory of the Wall coming down when they were nine or the Soviet Union imploding without a shot being fired when they were 11.

For the vast majority of Millennials including all of the younger members of the Y-Generation, none of them remember the USSR and most of all, its authoritarian brand (being charitable) of socialism/communism.

To top it off, they are thus easily impressionable for exploitation by politicians, entertainers and academics who absolutely adore all things Karl Marx including some wearing red star hats and sporting Che Guevara t-shirts and posters.

Instead of “We the people” and liberty, it’s “Dictatorship of the Proletariat.”

When someone says government can provide a whole cavalcade of goodies – government-paid health insurance, college, jobs — for free, including Universal Basic Income (UBI) for those “unwilling” to work … don’t you just know there will be Big Brother Orwellian strings attached?

Back From The USSR

“I’m back in the U.S.S.R.
You don’t know how lucky you are boy
Back in the U.S.S.R. (Yeah)”
– Lennon (Not Lenin) & McCartney

For Almost DailyBrett, a 1981 two-week trip to Leonid Brezhnev’s “Evil Empire” was an eye-opening, life-changing journey.

Kevin in Moscow – 1981

The flood-lit Wunder of Red Square (Красная площадь) in Moscow, the Swan Lake performance of the Bolshoi, the splendor of the Czar’s winter and summer palaces in St. Petersburg (Leningrad at the time) are all must see for any student of history and politics, let alone art.

Your author has placed a return-venture to modern-day Russia on his Bucket List, particularly what has changed and unfortunately what has remained the same (tyranny).

It’s safe to say that Russia has transformed itself after attempted Glasnost and Perestroika into an authoritarian oligarchical capitalist state with widespread corruption.

You can take the Vladimir Putin out of the KGB, but you can’t the KGB out of Vladimir Putin.

Looking back to your author’s trip to the Soviet Union, there were the wonders of Russia. There was also the socialist/communist police state reality of the USSR.

There were the jammed horrible motor coaches,

There were the lines for food and the basics of life.

There were well-stocked Beriozka or “little birch” stores, which accepted all currencies except for Russian rubles. It must suck to be you, Ivan and Tanya.

There were the tiny little cars with lawn-mower engines for the fortunate few (10 years wait), while Zil limousines carried Communist big shots to their exclusive dachas.

The Most Equal Of The Equals

“In an ideal socialist society, “the people” own the means of production. Everyone’s basic needs are met. Leaders are elected democratically. When implemented, however, human nature intervenes. Powerful elites take charge.” – Alex Berezow. USA Today Board of Contributors

Bummer.

There is so much discussion about the haves and the have-nots of American society.

There are cries for social justice: Translated some all-powerful state entity must level the playing field.

The question, which remains: Did socialist/communist USSR really even the score for everyone?

Whattya think AOC? How’s Venezuela working out? Is history repeating itself?

Even more to the point: Do Millennials in their lack of deep direct knowledge/remembrance of the USSR appreciate the stark dark truth of government provided socialism?

Karl Marx may be turning over in his grave but sorry to say, his idea did not work, and will not work regardless of the nation. Too many people want to achieve, and to do better for themselves and their families.

And yet there is hope for Millennials, and proof that many have not consumed the red cool aid.

It’s called Buy Low Sell High, and that beautifully simple concept applies to Millennials too.

https://www.economist.com/leaders/2019/02/14/millennial-socialism

https://www.economist.com/briefing/2019/02/14/millennial-socialists-want-to-shake-up-the-economy-and-save-the-climate

https://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2018/02/21/cnn-thinks-socialism-cool-my-grandparents-ussr-would-disagree/349830002/

https://www.marketwatch.com/story/millennials-communism-sounds-pretty-chill-2017-11-01

“Can’t decide whether you are a Democrat or a Republican …”

Bless these two students, who on separate occasions, refreshingly relayed their puzzlement to your author.

Almost DailyBrett does not believe that classrooms should ever be the venue for the indoctrination, let along the formation of young warriors in the fight between noble socialism and evil capitalism.

Gee … maybe … just maybe these students are smart enough to make up their own minds on these issues?

Even though long-time Almost DailyBrett readers and contemporaries know or at least suspect your author’s political predilection, it was rewarding to know at least some of my students weren’t so sure … and that is how it should be for all professors or instructors.

There seems to be a contagious disease among tenure-track or tenured academic types (e.g., professors and instructors) that university students are there to endure for hours on end their personal political pontifications and bloviations.

Is that why students are taking out loans averaging $30,000 each, waiting tables or asking mom and dad to dig deep … real deep … for their college education?

Don’t think so.

Buy Low, Sell High

As Almost DailyBrett fondly looks back to more than five years teaching public relations, integrated marketing, corporate communications and investor relations, one particular moment always brings back tears to the eyes.

More than 30 of my Central Washington University PR students chanted in unison … “Buy Low, Sell High!” … at my retirement party.

Upon receiving the Central Washington University Department of Communication Faculty Spotlight Award, they gathered around me for a group picture. Your author will always remember this moment.

Isn’t Buy Low and Sell High the essence of capitalism, particularly publicly traded corporate capitalism?

The answer is “yes.” Keep in mind that buying low and selling high is easier said than done. More importantly this phrase is the backbone to the practice of fiduciary responsibility on behalf of the 54 percent of Americans investing in stocks and stock-based mutual funds.

America’s investor class — planning for retirements, funding higher education for their children, opening up a new businesses — require accurate and complete communication about a company’s business plan, financials and simply … how does a corporation make money.

The highest expected communications professional compensation levels … usually in six figures … are directed to students adept at financial communications, who are studying at today’s schools of journalism and mass communication.

Almost DailyBrett believes wholeheartedly the purpose of universities/colleges is to prepare students to attain and sustain salaried professional positions with full benefits … and maybe even employee stock purchase plans (ESPP) and/or stock options.

Universities and colleges should be professional schools, providing students with lifelong learning skills and tools to succeed in our increasingly complex digital world … including beating artificial intelligence (AI).

If students wish to Occupy Wall Street that should be their choice, not their command.

By the way, how did that movement work out?

Students should always be fully aware of the imperfections of Capitalism. For example, watching The Smartest Men In The Room (Fortune’s Bethany McLean’s tome on the Enron bankruptcy) was required for each of your author’s Corporate Communications/Investor Relations classes.

In addition to the aforementioned Fiduciary Responsibility, a publicly traded company needs to complement this requirement with Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). Besides doing well, a company should be mindful of doing good … including giving back to communities, protecting the environment … that make success, possible.

Certainly, students can be taught to live in tents, recite cumbersome theory or rail at the world back in their own bedrooms at mom and dad’s house.

They also can learn how to decipher an income statement, a balance sheet, a cash-flow statement and to understand the significance and formulas associated with market capitalization, earnings per share (EPS), and price/earnings (P/E) ratios and related multiples.

Looking back at your author’s professorship, there is no doubt about political disposition. There was also a comprehension that students are to be prepared for the professional world, and many of these graduates have done well, real well.

And if a couple of students or more, can’t tell whether Almost DailyBrett or any other professor/instructor, drifts left or right that’s the way … it should be.

 

 

 

Ever wonder how Venezuela became … Venezuela?

Almost DailyBrett at one time expected that Amazon would announce Austin, Texas as the recipient of HQ2 with its estimated $50 billion total investment and upwards to 50,000 technology positions with full benefits.

As a major technology hub, Austin offers a well-trained workforce, the capital of a right-to-work state, no state income taxes, and politicians’ favorably predisposed to corporate capitalism. In addition, Amazon bought Whole Foods in 2017 for $13.7 billion, which is based in … Austin.

Instead, Amazon selected Northern Virginia with it well-educated workforce and proximity to the infinite wisdom emanating within the Beltway. The other choice, which raised more than a few eyebrows, was heavily unionized and über-taxed Long Island.

The original thinking was Amazon would be welcomed with the prospect of providing 40,000 real positions with annual salaries averaging $150,000 and full benefits – not strip mall jobs – and $27.5 billion in new tax revenues during the course of 10 years. Yes, there were $3 billion in tax incentives from the State of New and New York City and these are always controversial.

Let’s see $3 billion in exchange for $27.5 billion in new revenues and 40,000 direct high-paying positions, not counting all the indirect economic activity supporting Amazon HQ2 in terms of suppliers, vendors and utilities.

Buy Low, Sell High?

Alas the United States is a divided nation, not just Democrats vs Republicans … but more to the point: Socialism vs. Capitalism.

Some wish to punish Amazon and its wealthiest dude on the planet boss, Jeff Bezos, for pioneering digital retail, employing 613,300, generating $232 billion in annual revenues, and stimulating $798 billion in investor market capitalization.

Amazon was greeted to Gotham by a buzz-saw of those who disdain capitalism in favor of command-and-control socialism.

As a former gubernatorial press secretary, the author of Almost DailyBrett imagined what it would be like to be relaying really bad news to the boss – New York Governor Andrew Cuomo – and answering the flood of media calls.

The alternative of a root canal is looking real attractive right now.

Ever hear the one about banging your head against the wall?

It only feels good, when you … stop.

Is Amazon Serious?

Is Amazon just firing a shot across the bow?

“It (loss of Amazon investment) would certainly undermine confidence in governance. You can’t empower anti-capitalist ideologues and expect the capitalists to embrace them. I still think they will work this out, because the embarrassment would be severe.” – Joel Kotkin, Chapman University professor of Urban Studies

“You have to be tough to make it in New York City. We gave Amazon the opportunity to be a good neighbor and do business in the greatest city in the world. Instead of working with the community, Amazon threw away that opportunity.” – New York Mayor Bill de Blasio

“Threw away” constitutes fighting words.

These provocative words make it more difficult for the City of New York and Amazon to “work this out.” Why did da Mayor challenge Bezos’ manhood (we know it exists) in the first sentence of his prepared statement, and then charge the company with throwing away an opportunity in the concluding sentence.

Hey Mr. Mayor ever heard of the words … “disappointed”? … “concerned? … “let’s talk”?

If New York bids adieu to 25,000-to-40,000 Amazon positions and $27.5 billion in tax revenues in Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’ congressional district, will those who are cheering today be demanding social justice from New York state and city tomorrow?

Even China with its brand of authoritarian capitalism figured out that buying low and selling high is the best way to provide prosperity for its people.

New York had the prospect of becoming a lucrative technology hub … but it “threw away” that opportunity.

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/14/nyregion/amazon-hq2-queens.html

https://www.forbes.com/sites/alyyale/2019/02/13/leaving-long-island-city-what-losing-amazon-hq2-would-mean-for-nycs-future/#18d48f01127c

https://nypost.com/2019/02/14/de-blasio-amazon-threw-away-great-opportunity-in-nyc/

 

 

The University of Oregon’s student run newspaper, The Daily Emerald, reported that one registered Republican serves on the university’s Law School faculty, and another in its Political Science Department.

To these two poor souls Almost DailyBrett promises to keep your political affiliation, secret. Seriously.

For those of you scoring at home, these two departments sport 44 registered Democrats and two Republicans. Since 2015, more than 98 percent or more than $235,000 in donations from university faculty has been directed to liberal causes.

Only 98 percent?

Working on my 2012 master’s degree at UO, your author could imagine Adam Smith and his “Wealth of Nations” being embraced at the Lillis School of Business. According to the Emerald, only 50 percent of the business school faculty are registered Democrats.

About 100-yards to the east, the School of Journalism and Communication (SOJC) offers a totally different atmosphere.

Close your eyes. You can envision a lecture by Che Guevara being packed to the rafters. Don’t have to imagine the championing and teaching of Karl Marx, even though his philosophy continues to fail today (e.g., Maduro’s Venezuela).

Is the real philosophical gulf between the overwhelming number of faculty Democrats vs. the un pequito Republicans or more between those who embrace Social Justice and those who defend Capitalism?

For What It’s Worth

“The cultish professor who self-evidently reinforces a set of political beliefs is not something that just about anybody openly and consciously says is okay.” – Professor Craig Parsons, UO Department of Political Science chair

Amen.

The regular readers of Almost DailyBrett long ago determined your author is a registered Reaganite Republican and a staunch supporter of Buy Low, Sell High.

For my M.A. at the University of Oregon, your author created a college course in corporate communications and investor relations and taught it for more than five years.

Remember telling my students each quarter that whether they individually support or oppose capitalism, the main purpose of the class is to provide a realistic explanation of how global markets work. We also assessed the vital role public relations professionals play in presenting to investors an accurate picture of company financials and how a corporation makes money.

As Professor Parsons correctly states, it’s not appropriate for professors to indoctrinate their students. Instead, they should instill their profession-based knowledge – in this case, Wall Street and SEC disclosure rules – about how the real world works.

Is the goal of a university to develop activists or to prepare professionals to succeed in our free-market-driven, digital economy?

Does Political Stridency Enter The Classroom?

Alas, way too many times strident political discourse is being posted on the Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter or other social media pages by professors. They will piously claim they are exercising their cherished First Amendment right of free speech and therefore commenting as a private citizen.

But what happens when their online rhetoric becomes the subject matter for a course syllabus, and thus is transformed into the classroom for discussion, follow-up quizzes, midterms and/or finals?

Will the student toe the philosophical line in order to secure a good grade?

One overly eager activist associate professor was requiring her students to watch the anti-Vietnam War documentary, “Hearts and Minds.” What about the individual hearts and minds of her students?

Another dean prompted her college to sponsor a series of lectures on mass incarceration, which is all well and good … except there were no speakers from the correctional/law enforcement community.

When asked about the absence of balance in the lecture series, she retorted: “There are no other views.”

Okay?

Disgraced commentator Bill O’Reilly was once lamenting to the late great Charles Krauthammer about the preponderance of liberal faculty on America’s college campuses. Krauthammer told him to accept a reality, which will never change.

The real issue is whether a professor’s political philosophy permeates into the classroom. Almost DailyBrett for the most part was impressed with Millennial students. They are the most-educated generation in the planet’s history and the most moved by experiential learning.

Let’s provide them with the facts about how the real world works and life-long skills (e.g., how to read an income statement and a balance sheet), and then give them the opportunity to excel and grow.

Dominating a classroom to forcefully instill your chosen political philosophy to develop activists is wrong and inappropriate.

Starting later this month, this practice will undoubtedly raise its ugly head once again.

https://www.dailyemerald.com/2018/08/20/does-it-matter-if-your-professor-is-a-democrat/

Many in academia and elsewhere lament economic inequality.

In fact, these same individuals are known to call for “social justice.”

The redistribution devil is in the details. Tax the rich s’il vous plait?

Wish it was just that easy.

Maybe we should all look in the mirror instead?

mirror

 

Three of the Biggest Factors for Economic Inequality

There are at least three major determinants, one potentially leading to another, when it comes to monetary disparity

1. Graduating from a real college or university

2. Securing admission to the best anti-poverty program of all: A well-paying private sector job with customary benefits

3. Investing in high-growth stocks and/or mutual funds

Come to think of it, these three contribute mightily to the gap between the haves and the have-nots.

According to Pew Research and reported by Andrew Kelly in his “Let’s Clarify The ‘College is Worth It’ Conversation” for Forbes, the disparity between those with bonified college degrees (e.g., BA or BS) and those with only as associate’s degree or worse, just a high school degree, has never been greater.

The record spread between those with bachelor’s degrees and those with associate’s is $15,500 annually, and $17,500 between the college grads and high school grads. The gap becomes staggering when multiplied over an anticipated 40-year career (that makes the big assumption that the AA or HS grad is still working – and not involuntarily put out to pasture — four decades later).

Without any further appreciation of the gap between the college graduate and her or his associates or high school peers, the 40-year disparity is $620,000 and $700,000 respectively. That’s big-time dinero even in this somewhat inflationary economy.

Certainly there is no guarantee that a bachelor’s degree leads to a moderate-to-high five-figure job, let alone to a six-figure position. In fact, many employers are now requiring master’s degrees or another two years of schooling. One point is certain; a bachelor’s degree is a ticket to compete for white-collar positions, something that an associate’s degree or high school diploma in virtually all cases does not provide.gradsandduck

And with the tough-to-attain, even-with-a-bachelor’s degree white-collar job, comes in most cases a salary, medical-dental-vision benefits and maybe participation in a company ESPP (Employee Stock Purchase Plan) or stock option program. Contemplate that we are not just talking about a salary, but discretionary resources that most likely will vault way above the present rate of inflation.

Investing Discretionary Income

Someone living paycheck-to-paycheck or worse sinking further into debt cannot conceive of discretionary income. They are just trying to make ends meet. Way-too-many Americans have nothing saved for retirement, and are one catastrophic event away from personal bankruptcy.

For those with bachelor’s degrees or above from reputable colleges and universities (sorry University of Phoenix; buying a degree doesn’t count), they can compete for well-paying private sector positions with benefits. They have resources to invest, and invest they do.

According to the Gallup Organization, 87 percent of upper-income Americans — those making $75,000 or more annually — own stocks, as do 83 percent of postgraduates and 73 percent of college graduates.

And what is a common-characteristic of “upper-income Americans”? A bachelor’s, master’s or doctorate degree. And which group commands the lion’s share of those who purchase equities and participate in our bull markets? Graduates and postgraduates.gender6

Are students being taught the tenets of capitalism at our leading colleges and universities? Maybe or maybe not. Are they figuring out that buying low and selling high with discretionary income is a proven way to build wealth? That appears to be the case.

Should they be required to redistribute the fruits of their long-hours in the classroom and their accomplishments at the workplace, thus reducing the amount they can invest in entrepreneurs?

There may be a professor or two, who thinks that is a swell idea.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/akelly/2014/05/31/lets-clarify-the-college-is-worth-it-conversation/

http://www.icifactbook.org/fb_ch6.html

http://money.cnn.com/2013/05/09/investing/american-stock-ownership/

http://www.gallup.com/poll/147206/Stock-Market-Investments-Lowest-1999.aspx

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economic_inequality

“Public scrutiny of business is constant and intense, and in the past decade, disillusionment has grown over excesses in executive pay, questionable accounting practices, drug recalls, and moral laxity on the part of corporations.” — Paul A. Argenti, Professor of Management and Corporate Communication at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College

Should communication students be encouraged to work for publicly traded companies either from inside the corporation or providing external advice as a hired gun at public relations or advertising agency?

Or should these very same students be galvanized against the excesses of capitalism, demonstrating against Wall Street under the banner of social justice?

floodwallstreet

Are these questions mutually exclusive? Are you either for or against capitalism or for or against social justice?

These questions are magnified and intensified against the backdrop of underachieving employment, wage and real estate markets, while the NYSE and NASDAQ remain persistently bullish.

It appears this persistent economic scenario quite possibly will greet graduating students at least for the next academic year or two.

Examples of Corporate Excess

Finding examples of corporate excess is relatively easy.

Almost DailyBrett has joined the scads of other bloggers that take issue with seemingly brain-dead or just plain greedy antics by the leadership of large-cap publicly traded companies:

  • The author’s former company, LSI Logic, provided a seven-or-eight figure Golden Parachute to former CEO Abhi Talwalkar as he drove the 33-year-old specialty semiconductor designer into the abyss.
  • Spirit Airlines famously stiffed a decorated 76-year old, dying of cancer Marine veteran asking for a mere $197 refund, telling him literally to pound sand because he didn’t buy trip insurance. The carrier generously offered a partial credit, if he succumbed to the Grim Reaper before his flight.
  • October is right around the corner and that means (drum roll) even more corporate efforts to tie marketing bonanzas to Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Both 5-hour ENERGY and “Buckets for the Cure” KFC have become global leaders when it comes to “Pink Washing.”
  • Largest corporate bankruptcy-ever, Enron, is the poster-child when it comes to corporate greed and wrongdoing. And yet there were innocent people who were just trying to do their job, including telling the corporate story, until they realized they too were being misled.

Considering these examples and literally hundreds more, it is easy to give a broad-sweeping thumbs-down to multi-national corporations. At the same time, it should be remembered that these companies make the products and provide the services that we use on a daily basis (e.g., Apple = Macs, iPads, iPhones, iPods). They hire and provide benefits to literally tens of thousands (e.g., Boeing, 168,400; Starbucks, 160,000; Amazon, 88,400; Nordstrom, 58,140), Microsoft, 55,455). They provide wealth-accumulation prospects for the 54 percent of Americans who buy stocks, mutual funds and bonds (e.g., America’s investor class), including 73 percent of college graduates, and 83 percent of post-graduates.

Profit Motive

One of the major beefs espoused by the Occupy Wall Street movement three years ago, and the Flood Wall Street demonstrators earlier this month, is that publicly traded companies are focused on profits. These statements are accurate, but it should also be pointed out that companies have a legal (e.g., Employee Retirement Income Security Act or ERISA 1974) and moral (e.g., Fiduciary) obligation to produce the best bottom-line return possible for shareholders. Failure to do so invites almost certain civil and possible criminal litigation against the companies and potential dismissal of C-level executives.

floodwallstreet1

As a master’s degree candidate four years ago at the University of Oregon, the author of Almost DailyBrett noted the unrestrained celebration of competitive advantage and buy low/sell high mantra at the business school, and the unrestrained embrace of social justice including redistribution of income at the journalism school.

It seemed that one would build a statue of Adam Smith, while the other would throw flowers at the feet of Che Guevara. One would urge students to work and advise corporate America and the other would implore becoming an activist, marching, demonstrating and hopefully not being arrested.

Which is the better option for graduating students in making corporate America, particularly fallible publicly traded companies, more responsive to communities, the environment and let’s not forget, its own employees?

Corporate Social Responsibility

Corporate social responsibility or CSR should not be seen as an oxymoron. The concept of doing good (CSR) should not be viewed as contradictory to doing well (fiduciary responsibility). Graduates of communications, journalism and business schools can and should emphasize the value of doing BOTH to improve the bottom line for investors, including employees, while doing good deeds for communities, the planet and the rank-and-file employees.

Certainly the likes of Occupy Wall Street, which never found a unifying message, and Flood Wall Street, which tied capitalism to climate change, have their First Amendment Rights to (preferably) peacefully demonstrate. These NGOs need trained communicators and message developers.

Conversely, graduates could also choose to work internally to make companies better. They can stand for both fiduciary and corporate social responsibility. They can advocate against excessive C-level compensation. They can take stands against Pink Washing and Green Washing. They can ensure that the public is provided with good products at fair prices and everyone is treated with dignity and respect.

And heaven forbid, if another Enron is in the offing, they can courageouly tell the uncomfortable truth using their communication skills.

Is it better to be inside the corporation under the banner of capitalism or out in the streets (or in tents) calling for social justice?

There is more than one way to make corporate America better for everyone.

http://exec.tuck.dartmouth.edu/about-us/faculty/paul-argenti

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/09/22/flood-wall-street-arrests_n_5865468.html

http://nypost.com/2014/09/22/climate-change-protesters-flood-wall-street/

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

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2012/05/06/lessons-from-the-spirit-airlines-pr-debacle/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2012/05/02/evil-spirit-airlines/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2013/10/10/5-hour-pink-washing/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2014/05/22/shameless-5-hour-energy/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2012/10/11/buckets-for-the-cure/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2013/02/08/what-would-you-do-if-you-were-enrons-pr-chief/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2011/12/13/fiduciary-responsibility-vs-corporate-social-responsibility/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2011/06/03/adam-smith-vs-che%e2%80%99-guevera/

 

 

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