Tag Archive: Margaret Thatcher


A simple little phrase is ultimately bringing down one of the longest standing and most influential global leaders in the first two decades of the 21st Century.

The final demise of German Chancellor Angela Merkel after 13 years in office, most likely next year, comes three years after she grabbed and clutched the new highest voltage Third Rail of Politics: Asylum Immigration.

In 2015, Merkel unilaterally decided to allow approximately 1.2 million asylum seekers (about the size of metropolitan Portland, Oregon) from the Middle East into a country of 82 million.

From a public relations standpoint, there was very little explanation and preparation by Merkel and her government to garner public support for such a drastic upsurge of immigrants into the 4th largest economy in the world.

„Wir schaffen das,” proclaimed Angela Merkel. Simply translated: “We can do it.”

Die Kanzerlin, who is affectionately known as “Mutti’ or Mother, was widely seen for so many years as being a steady source of deliberate and reasoned decisions. Merkel deserves praise for her vital role in the completion of Germany’s public relations miracle (Öffentlichkeitsarbeitswunder), rising from the globe’s #1 pariah at Zero Hour 1945 to the most admired country in the world.

She has been acknowledged as the most powerful woman on earth, and yet the Ph.D in quantum chemistry was a steady hand for Germany’s now enduring and successful democracy.

At one time, Merkel was universally viewed as one of modern Germany’s greatest chancellors, comparable to her Christian Democratic Union (CDU) predecessors Konrad Adenauer and Helmut Kohl.

Is the bloom off the rose?

Almost DailyBrett acknowledges that once she makes a major decision that Merkel is an influential leader.

When the ground shook Japan’s (e.g., 8.9 earthquake) Fukushima nuclear reactor in 2011, Merkel immediately announced that Germany would prudently exit nuclear power by 2022.

When the southern nations of the European Union were attempting to break the 2 percent budget deficit limitation rule (e.g., particularly Greece), Merkel imposed fiscal austerity, and by extension Germany’s will.

When a particular bully arrived on the scene and tried to push her around and intimidate with a large canine (e.g., Russia’s Vladimir Putin), she demonstrated her resolve.

No leader in the European leader has done more to get into the face of the former KGB chief, and yet her leadership always represented Germany as a reluctant hegemon.

Most of all because of Germany’s solid incorporation into the European Union and the passage of time, Germans now joyously wave their flag and are proud of their normal nation.

“Half-Dead Wreck”?

“I don’t want to be a half-dead wreck when I leave politics.” – Angela Merkel

In nations without term limits (e.g., Germany), leaders can overstay their welcome. More than a few in history failed to recognize the flashing lights about when it’s time to step down … usually at the 12-year-mark … from the bully pulpit (i.e., FDR, Margaret Thatcher, Helmut Kohl).

After inviting 1.2 million asylum seekers into Germany without any preamble, and worse women celebrating New Year’s Eve in Cologne being sexually assaulted and raped by asylum seekers, the tide was turning against Angela Merkel.

The optics — worse yet the reality — of the New Year’s Eve attacks became a metaphor for a decision that was too much, too fast with little societal preparation. Merkel’s chancellorship was coming to an end.

Even though her party was returned to power in 2017, the Christian Democrats (CDU) and her coalition partner, Social Democrats (SPD), repeatedly lost strength to the Greens on the left and the anti-immigrant/anti-EU Alternative for Germany on the right. This electoral trend intensified with breathtaking losses (i.e., Bavaria and Hesse) for the CDU and SPD during the course of this year.

Almost DailyBrett knows her legacy is somewhat tarnished. The question remains: Will history be good to her?

The Caravan Is Coming

Even though comparisons between two nations with two distinct cultures, located nine time zones apart, are difficult at best … one contentious issue ties both of them together: immigration.

In both countries, there are those who espouse completely open borders … come one, come all.

These souls advocate for the right of non-citizens to hold driver’s licenses, serve on public boards and commissions … and even vote.

Wasn’t the privilege of voting reserved for actual citizens?

And just as asylum seekers from Syria and other bad places became the catalyst for the political downfall of Angela Merkel, could an approaching caravan(s) of asylum seekers from Central America become the source of political peril here in America?

Before one touches the new third rail of politics … political asylum … America’s political class would be well advised to weigh what happened to Angela Merkel’s tenure as Germany’s chancellor, and most likely her legacy as well.

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/29/opinion/in-merkel-europe-loses-a-leader.html

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/29/world/europe/angela-merkel-germany.html

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-46020745

https://www.politico.eu/article/angela-merkel-drops-the-we-can-do-it-slogan-catchphrase-migration-refugees/

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

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2017/09/24/the-right-leader-for-the-fatherlandeurope-just-happens-to-be-a-woman/

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

 

Can Amazon’s HQ2 become … HQ1?

Did the Seattle Politburo go too far?

Talk about biting the hand that feeds you … Do they really want to Bern down Seattle’s competitive advantage?

Amazon employs 40,000 in Seattle (headquarters, roasteries and stores).

Let’s see an ANNUAL $275 Seattle employee head tax x 40,000 local workers = $11 million per year … just from Amazonites. Add in Starbucks, Nordstrom, Vulcan etc. and the per-employee tax reaches $48 million

The money  joins the $68 million already ostensibly allocated to fight intractable homelessness in Seattle.

But what inevitably happens when that amount of money is not enough?

As Mrs. Thatcher said: “The Trouble with Socialism is Sooner or Later You Run Out of Other People’s Money.”

Amazon already announced a short list of 19 American cities and one Canadian venue for its planned $5 billion, 50,000 new-employee HQ2 or Headquarters 2.

Are any of these venues threatening to impose a punitive tax on Amazon, just for the privilege of maintaining and hiring the best and the brightest?

What is the incentive to invest in Seattle, if entrepreneurial spirit driving, product producing, employee hiring multi-national, publicly traded companies are hit by its home town city council with the collective backs of their hands?

Let’s see, the State of Washington has no income tax. Seattle has a well-trained workforce.

The Great State of Texas has no income tax. The capital city of Texas has a well-trained workforce too. Austin is also the home of Whole Foods. Jeff Bezos and Amazon bought Austin-based Whole Foods for $13.4 billion last year.

Austin, Texas is on the short-list for Amazon HQ2.

Why can’t Amazon put Seattle in its rear-view mirror? The number one digital retailer/cloud evangelist could simply announce HQ2 (e.g., Austin) and the relocation of HQ1 (Seattle) in the same news release.

As mumsy always said: “If you are in a bad situation, get out of it.”

98 Percent Effective Tax Rate

Seven years ago, Almost DailyBrett wrote about how the UK was Taxing the Fab Four/Exiling the Stones.

Approximately 750,000 Brits qualified for an effective tax rate of 98 percent (no typo) including four from Liverpool and five more from London.

The Beatles responded by writing Tax Man as the first cut, first side of Revolver. The Stones left the UK for the South of France, and produced Exile on Main Street.

At a 98 percent effective tax rate, when does taxation stop and confiscation begin?

Surely, the Stones will never be mistaken for anti-tax warriors. Nonetheless, they demonstrated circa 1971/1972 that achievers can and will move in the face of excessive, unreasonable taxation.

Repealing The Tax … For Now

In the face of a potential referendum, which had already gathered 45,000 signatures, the Seattle City Council reversed course this week, repealing the punitive employee head tax on a 7-2 vote.

How often are tax increases, even so-called “temporary” taxes, rescinded?

The tolls for the Bay Area bridges were originally ticketed to be repealed once the construction bonds were retired. Try driving toward San Francisco on any bridge without first paying $5 or more?

Regardless of the employee head tax repeal, what message has the Seattle City Council sent to the entrepreneurial dreamers, innovators, and job producers who are located (or plan to locate) within the boundaries of the city?

The mere fact that the city council was willing and able to impose an annualized employee head tax $275 on each-and every corporate hire speaks volumes about how publicly traded corporations are viewed by Seattle local government.

Instead of welcoming and embracing entrepreneurs, they are essentially driving them away, their employees and their tax dollars.

Maybe Amazon will take a hint and announce the $5 billion, 50,000 new job HQ2 venue as not only the winning city, but also the new HQ1.

Will the last Amazon employee leaving Seattle, please turn out the lights.

http://komonews.com/news/local/seattle-council-repeals-homeless-head-tax-on-big-businesses

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

https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/seattle-city-council-to-vote-at-noon-on-repeal-of-big-business-head-tax/

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/seattle-head-tax-amazon-starbucks-repeal-today-2018-06-12/

https://www.king5.com/video/news/local/councilmember-talks-on-repealing-seattles-head-tax/281-8158550

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/12/technology/seattle-tax-amazon.html

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/16/business/dealbook/amazon-whole-foods.html

https://www.batolls.info/

http://komonews.com/news/local/amazon-starbucks-pledge-money-to-repeal-seattle-head-tax

 

 

 

 

Where I think we’ve got a little sideways as a culture is that people take it personally, if you have a different perspective, a different point of view. I would say, we just need to lighten up.” – Portland Mayor Ken Wheeler on “60 Minutes.”

Can we all learn to eventually let go? Yes, let it go.

And what about the “lighten up” suggestion made by Portland Mayor Ken Wheeler?

In this tumultuous Age of Trump, have we crossed the threshold that anyone who does not agree with our pre-ordained philosophy and Weltanschauung is our mortal enemy, never to emerge from the Pit of Misery?

As the author of Almost DailyBrett prepares to exit the professional world stage in four blessed months, one reflects back to the battles of life, and asks:

How many of these conflicts were truly worth fighting? Were their Pyrrhic victories in which battles were won, and wars were lost? If so, what was the point?

More to today’s discussion: How many issues in life are really worth going to the mat?

Very few in reality, when you for example look back over the course of a four-decade career.

Allegedly Margaret Thatcher as played by Meryl Streep in “The Iron Lady” upon receiving a marriage proposal from Denis, romantically replied that “Life must have purpose.”

Agreed. That does not mean that each-and-every topic of life must have purpose. Reading Howard Kurtz’ Media Madness, Donald Trump , The Press And The War Over The Truth leaves the reader absolutely exhausted after only 200 pages.

Is there a remote control for life? Can we change the channel (bad metaphor, the networks are part of the problem)? Can we simply turn down the sound, if not mute the noise?

Now before you insinuate that Almost DailyBrett is changing the tune about being up to date on what is happening in the world, please understand that the Polish proverb, Not My Circus, Not My Monkeys, simply applies to the notion of carefully picking our battles.

Going To The Mat

Gary Oldman playing the role of Winston Churchill in Darkest Hour spars valiantly against those in England’s War Cabinet, who advocate negotiating mit dem Führer upon the Fall of France and the Low Countries in 1940. He resists the pressure, goes to the mat, fights and wins the battle of his life.

On the worst modern era day of our lives – September 11 – my company was contemplating proceeding with the layoff of 600 workers, shuttering two factories, about 8 percent of our total workforce … the following day.

Yours truly was shocked that a serious discussion to proceed was occurring in the board room as the smoke was rising from the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. There is no way that Almost DailyBrett wanted to be associated with this exercise.

Even though my salary (not including benefits, options and the Employee Stock Purchase Program – ESPP) reached northward toward $200,000 per annum, there was no question about severing and refusing to allow my personal brand and reputation to be tied to this wrong action.

The Nürnberg defense about “just following orders,” did not and would not apply.

Fortunately even though the rocket scientists in HR were upset for weeks, we collectively made the decision to postpone the restructuring until America returned to some semblance of normalcy: The planes were flying, the markets were open, the ball games were being played.

Yes, this postponement was a cause worth fighting and winning.

The Rear View Mirror

“The reason that university politics is so vicious is because stakes are so small” – Former Harvard Professor Henry Kissinger

The graying temples and follicly challenged appearance may be signals about growing wisdom, if not moving toward the sunset of one’s life.

Looking around, one can see battles to fight and dragons to slay. Maybe someone else can engage in these wars and get en fuego with fiery reptiles?

When one contemplates Kissinger’s quote one sees the linkage between the words, “vicious” and “small.”  If one concludes a matter is small and does even come close to warranting going to the mat, then why risk rising one’s blood pressure if only viciousness is the result?

There is a sense of liberation that comes from letting go and lightening up. One can assert that the need to NOT be so “tightly wound,” is a legitimate criticism.

Being Type A has resulted in many victories and achievements, but at what price in terms of health and happiness?

Sometimes we need to learn to allow others to have the “opportunity” to pay the price.

Let the latest fight/cause be their circus and their monkeys.

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/karen-ann-kennedy/not-my-circus-not-my-monk_b_5390455.html

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/depression-management-techniques/201412/not-my-circus-not-my-monkeys

https://www.cbsnews.com/video/portland/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2011/02/16/going-to-the-mat/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2010/09/01/your-company-and-religious-intolerance/

https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/609695-the-reason-that-university-politics-is-so-vicious-is-because

 

 

 

 

“You read Playboy for the articles, right?

“No, I look at the pictures too … ”

He was repeatedly labeled then-and-now as a “sexist pig.”

He was seen as a dangerous cultural rebel.

He was an illusionist. He pedaled fantasies at a desultory time.

He advocated an exciting, edgy new lifestyle for men.

He was regarded by some as a new-age-for-males philosopher.

Hugh Hefner was an editor and publisher, who will go down in the history books.

Some will miss him, many will not … regardless he made a difference.

“Shaken, Not Stirred”

Author Ian Fleming passed away far too early at 56-years young in 1964.

The accounts of his fictional hero James Bond found favor with dashing debonair U.S. President John F. Kennedy, a priceless endorsement for any novelist.

Fleming’s writing/personal interview also found its way onto the pages of Hefner’s Playboy, “Entertainment for Men.”

In reality, Fleming’s secret agent with a license to kill, James Bond (played superbly by Sean Connery) was everything the America male was not, entering the 1960s. Alas, Fleming lived only long enough to see his prose transformed into two movies, Dr. No and From Russia With Love. The first raised many eyebrows with Connery as Bond teamed with bikini clad Ursula Andress, playing Honey Rider.

Honey Rider swam nude in Fleming’s novel, but not for the 1962 movie adaptation.

Seventeen years earlier, Life Magazine captured the iconic Rockwellesque image of the American sailor passionately kissing a nurse in Times Square on VJ Day characterizing the advent of the Baby Boom (1946-1964).

And with the babies came piss, poop, vomit, crying, wailing and screaming. The preoccupation during years of rationing and the G.I Bill was raising children in suburban communities. We liked Ike, but life other than the Korean War/McCarthy-era Red Scare was more than a tad boring with cookie-cutter cars, crew cuts, skinny ties and white shirts.

Enter Hugh Hefner in 1953 with his scandalous Playboy with a scantily clad Marilyn Monroe on the cover. On the inside was a totally unattired horizontally posed Mizz Monroe on red velvet. Asked what was on during her famous pose, Monroe reportedly replied, “the radio.” The collector’s item inaugural issue of Playboy was an immediate sell out.

There was far more than the girl next door in subsequent issues. There were fast cars, exotic global destinations, tasty liquors, perfect suits, gambling, executive jets and a walk on the wild side. Men were shown how their lives could be, and how to rebel against mediocrity instead of merely running out the clock on their boring/mostly forgettable miserable lives.

Ian Fleming’s M16 James Bond epitomized the Playboy lifestyle with his ejector seat equipped Aston Martin, his vodka martinis, sun glasses at the windswept beach, goggles at the Alpine ski resorts, how he defeated the bad dudes and won over the Bond girl.

Sure beats working all day at the office orfactory and returning to the burbs for meat loaf.

“Life Must Have Purpose”

Meryl Streep playing the role of Mrs. Thatcher, and replied to Dennis’ marriage proposal stating that her life must be more than simply raising children. In reality, Margaret Thatcher was more than the first woman PM of the United Kingdom; she made a difference.

Life indeed had a noble purpose for the Iron Lady.

Almost DailyBrett subscribed to both National Geographic and Playboy during the years as they both took you to places you will most likely never visit in your lifetime.

Your author rejects sedentary lifestyles (no binge watching) that emphasize doing and achieving. Hugh Hefner and Ian Fleming through their editing and writing respectively changed the world. Their lives had purpose then and now.

Hefner and to less extent, Fleming, were both accurately accused as being sexists who objectified the fairer gender. Both are guilty as charged.

The real question in the eyes of the author of Almost DailyBrett is whether we are better as a society in that  men were encouraged to do more in their lives than go to work, raise children and watch television at night.

There is a big exciting world out there and we are fortunate to be here for a relatively short period of time. This proposition applies to both genders. Life does not need to be restricted and boring. It can be upwards to the right, and not just on Wall Street.

There needs to be respect and understanding, but that does not mean we can’t go out and have our vodka martini in an exciting foreign locale… shaken of course, but not stirred.

https://www.economist.com/news/obituary/21729969-founder-playboy-empire-was-91-hugh-hefner-died-september-27th

http://www.ianfleming.com/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2012/01/10/the-decision-to-pose-for-playboy/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2015/10/19/farewell-to-the-girl-next-door/

“The art of taxation consists in so plucking the goose as to obtain the largest amount of feathers with the least possible amount of hissing,” — Jean Baptist-Colbert, French Minister of Finances under Louis XIV.

“If you drive a car, I’ll tax the street. If you drive to city, I’ll tax your seat. If you get too cold, I’ll tax the heat. If you take a walk, I’ll tax your feet,” – George Harrison, Beatles’ “Taxman,” 1966.

The Beatles certainly were not the only hugely successful British rock-and-roll band to ever feel the heat of punitive taxation. Nonetheless, they were paying far more than their “fair share” for their musical achievements and the opening song of the band’s “Revolver” album was a form of open protest against excessive taxation and class warfare.

“‘Taxman’ was when I first realized that even though we had started earning money, we were actually giving most of it away in taxes,” said the late George Harrison, the Beatles guitarist. “It was and still is typical.”

For their chief competitors, the Rolling Stones, the crushing taxation in the UK in the 1970s forced the band to leave their homeland, England, to seek refuge in France and record the aptly titled “Exile on Main Street.” Like Napoleon Bonaparte on Elba, the Stones were forced into Mediterranean exile.

exile

The history of the Beatles and the Stones relative to taxation has direct bearing on the modern-day open debate on just how government is too much government and exactly how much taxation is too much taxation. The leader of the free world has called upon the rich to pay their “fair share,” but what exactly is the definition of fair share? And what constitutes “rich” in Obama’s America? The devil is in the details.

Is 98 percent fair? “Preposterous” you say? Not if you review the history of the United Kingdom prior to the rise of Margaret Thatcher.

The “progressive” tax regime of former UK Prime Minister Harold Wilson was simply staggering, a top rate for income tax of 83 percent + a 15 percent surcharge on “un-earned income” (investments and dividends), bringing the marginal rate of 98 percent (no typo). Reportedly, 750,000 British taxpayers were liable for a 98 percent tax rate in 1974. Is there a fine line between taxation and almost total confiscation, and when is that line crossed?

In the case of the Stones, they were not only hissing like plucked geese, but fleeing the country…an option that is always available to the wealthy to escape oppressive taxation. The wealthy (at least for the time being) do have the means, and many times they vote with their feet or by means of air travel.

haroldwilson

Reflecting on the time, former Rolling Stones bassist Bill Wyman said in the band’s DVD “Stones in Exile” that if a band member made a “million quid,” he would be taking home only 70,000 pounds. “It was impossible to make enough to pay Inland Revenue.”

“I had to get out of the country to pay the tax that was incurred on me,” guitarist/song writer Keith Richards remembered.

Singer/song writer Mick Jagger was worried about fan reaction of the Stones leaving the UK for tax reasons, thinking that followers wouldn’t like the Stones anymore. “When you leave for tax reasons, it is not cool.”

But is a 98 percent tax rate cool? Is that paying your “fair share?” Let’s see the achiever gets keep two cents on every dollar, the government takes through a variety of taxing mechanisms the remaining 98 cents on that same dollar.

Extreme? You bet, but it happened. And it occurred in Mother England and it really wasn’t that long ago. As you know, there are some who want America to be just like Western Europe, but do they really support 98 percent taxation?

No one will ever accuse the members of the Beatles and the Stones of being conservative warriors for limited government and Lafferite low taxation to jump-start economic growth. The Stones in particular proved that the real wealthy or the so-called wealthy have options. They can move to lower tax states (e.g. Texas and Florida come immediately to mind) or even to other nations. They may not want to do it, but again they may not have any other choice.

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

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

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

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

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

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

%d bloggers like this: