Tag Archive: Social Justice


“To liberals, the US is not good enough for the world. To conservatives, the world is not good enough for the US.” — Pulitzer Winning Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer (1950-2018)

My dear wife Jeanne and your author walked 125 miles, an average of 6.8 miles per day, during the course of 20 August vacation days, spanning three European nations: Austria, France and Germany.

We even dared visit  Paris in Verboten August, and were greeted by beautiful weather, easy access to restaurants and virtually no lines for Versailles and The Louvre. Wasn’t anything and everything supposed to be closed for vacation?

One never missed the living Renoir-style impressionism of the sidewalk cafes in France and the beer gardens in Austria and Germany, and could easily come away with the conclusion that all Europeans are happy, content and satisfied.

Touring the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, visitors are easily impressed with the union of 28 countries, speaking 24 separate languages, and serving as the home of 512 million people working together — sometimes in harmony — as members of the European Union (EU). Europe for the most part recorded almost 75 years of sustained peace since the establishment of the EU, rather than being at each other’s collective throats.

And yet there are storm clouds that won’t go away easily, namely Brexit.

A plethora of higher moral ground activists point to Denmark, Norway and Sweden as “happy little” royal countries. They rhetorically pose: ‘Why couldn’t the US be more like them?’ Almost DailyBrett must reply: We rebelled against monarchy (telling King George III where to put his royal scepter), so why wouldn’t we automatically reject monarchy, even constitutional monarchy?

If the expressed goal is true socialist justice, then how can one accept all the state-sponsored extravagance being bestowed upon the ultimate winners of a biological lottery, those born into a royal family? Versailles in France and Neuschwanstein in Germany are vivid examples of monarchial excesses, which ended with the King Louis XVI being guillotined and Mad King Ludwig II mysteriously drowning.

And yet dynastic monarchy is still being practiced in the three aforementioned Scandinavian countries, plus Belgium, Netherlands, Spain and of course, the United Kingdom. If the social justice types complain bitterly about the top 1 percent in America, how can they tolerate the birth-right exclusive … 0.000000000001 percent … in Europe?

Certainly, America has its own issues particularly when it comes to personal health, namely obesity, Diabetes, Opioids and more. Does that mean the vast majority of Europeans are better when it comes to waistlines and personal health? For the most part the answer is, yes.

However, the collective European commitment to the environment and public health abruptly ends with smoking. The deadly habit and its directly related second-hand smoke is right beside you in Europe, literally everywhere.

The warnings on packs of smokes are not mushy as is custom in the states. Even a non-German speaker can easily understand Rauchen kann ist tödlich sein (e.g., Smoking can be deadly), and still one can easily conclude the filthy practice is alive and dead on the European continent (some reportedly inhale to stay skinny). Most likely, they will have beautiful corpses.

Visiting Strasbourg in Alsace Lorraine in France and Baden-Baden in Germany’s Baden Württemberg, it’s easy to reflect on how many times these French-German towns have traded management teams at the point of the bayonet, particularly the former. The Germans took control in 1871, the French took it back in 1918, the Germans again in 1940 and then the French in 1944.

Is there any place in America that has been the subject of that many repeated wars in the 150 years? The answer is an obvious, no.

Let’s face it, a huge reason why Europe has remained peaceful for the past three generations has been the continued placement of U.S. troops and weapons systems in Western Europe during and after the Cold War. Europeans should write thank you notes to US taxpayers. Time for Europe to pay up in the form of their required 2 percent annual GDP equivalents to fund the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, otherwise known by the acronym, NATO

The French in particular were notorious (read: Charles DeGaulle) for not acknowledging our leadership in the liberation of France. Thankfully, French President Emmanuel Macron, gladly speaking English, has pointed to the countless U.S. GI graves in Normandy and recognized our role.

Sorry to say, Denmark did not liberate France and end Nazi and Communist tyranny in Europe. It was the United States in the forefront … of course.

Some complain about the presence of US corporate logos all over Europe, particularly Starbucks, McDonald’s, Apple, KFC, Amazon, Nike etc. The same concentration of European brands is not seen (exception: legendary German cars … BMW, Daimler, Audi, Porsche) other than French cosmetics and Spain’s Zara.

Let’s face it, there is no Silicon Valley in Europe and the entrepreneurial venture capital culture is not the same, maybe with the exception of Germany’s business software provider, SAP or Systemen, Anwedungen und Programmen (Systems, Applications and Programs).

According to The Economist, America’s top five companies in market capitalization (stock prices x number of shares) are technology firms with an abundant focus on services provided. Together, they average 30-years of age, generate $4.3 trillion investor capital and trade at 35 times last year’s earnings.

Conversely, Europe’s top firms are goods-oriented were founded a century ago (i.e., Royal Dutch Shell, Unilever). Collectively, they worth less than $1 trillion (Microsoft alone is larger) and trade at 23 times last year bottom lines. When it comes to “unicorns” or innovative privately held start-ups, think USA not Europe.

In terms of market performance you can’t beat America’s NYSE and the NASDAQ … sorry Britain’s “Footsie,”France’s CAC-40 and Germany’s DAX. And if you want to tie up your disposable investment income for 10 years in government bonds, which guarantee a certain loss … Europe (e.g., 10-year BUND) is at your beckon call.

Buy high and sell low?

Having traveled to Europe four times in the last five years for holiday, and many times before for business and pleasure (no one goes to Brussels for kicks), Almost DailyBrett qualifies as a spirited Europhile. Having said that, your author is a proud American.

Denmark may be happy. Good for the Danes and their lovely harbor mermaid.

When it comes to changing the world for the better, there is no contest. Europe en-masse cannot compete against the U.S. when it comes to being truly exceptional. This reality may drive certain elitists crazy, but your author has to call ’em as he sees ’em.

https://beta.washingtonpost.com/local/obituaries/charles-krauthammer-pulitzer-prize-winning-columnist-and-intellectual-provocateur-dies-at-68/2018/06/21/b71ee41a-759e-11e8-b4b7-308400242c2e_story.html

https://www.townandcountrymag.com/society/tradition/g12797004/current-monarchy-countries-in-the-world-list/

https://www.townandcountrymag.com/leisure/travel-guide/g19733989/happiest-countries-in-the-world-2018/

https://www.economist.com/briefing/2019/09/12/the-economic-policy-at-the-heart-of-europe-is-creaking

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

“The news blindsided many liberals — particularly those with an ambient knowledge of Rachel Maddow’s nightly monologues on MSNBC.” – Amy Chozick, New York Times

“The 3 biggest losers from the Mueller report in order: the media, the media, the media.” – Rich Lowry, National Review

Trump won. The liberal media elite declared … “victory.”

The two-year hunt by oppositional journalists for WMDs came to an end. It was a dead scud.

The long-awaited $25 million Müller Report didn’t quite read the way they wanted. It was a dud.

Ahh … Rachel Maddow can rewrite it for you.

Chris Matthews is tan, rested and ready.

As they say in politics … “When in doubt, declare victory!’

The Atlantic’s Franklin Foer declared the Müller report a great success, but no one seems to be clapping in the tony enclaves of Manhattan, Inside the Beltway or in Hollywood.

Let’s see how do Oppositional Journalists proclaim unmitigated victory? Has the comb-over dragon been slayed?

Our ratings are up (e.g., MSNBC … even CNN). Our print and digital subscriptions have soared (e.g., NYT, WAPO). They generated a combined 8,500 Russia probe stories to prove their point.

Almost DailyBrett remembers a time when objective journalists didn’t seem to care about their respective employers buying low and selling high.

Former FBI Director Robert S. Müller III was going to be the savior of the Republic. Let the impeachment proceedings begin!

Stephen Colbert still generated late-night “comedy,” but deep down inside … it’s painful. It has to hurt.

As Yoga Berra once said: “It’s like deja-vu all over again.” For the folks at CNN and MSNBC, it was a replay of November 8, 2016, even though some are now asserting a “cover-up” (e.g., MSNBC’s Joy Reid) and “obstruction of justice.”

Spin Control by the Media, For the Media

“They let all the normal rules of balanced reporting fly out the window as they competed with each other over who could land the biggest Pulitzer prize-winning Trump/Russia sucker punch that would KO the President they loathe.

“Only it turned out they were all punching thin air.” – Former CNN anchor Piers Morgan

“We are not investigators. We are journalists, and our role is to report the facts as we know them, which is exactly what we did.” – Jeff Zucker, CNN president

Walter Cronkite just turned over in his grave.

Almost DailyBrett has long advocated a return to the days in which political reporters were not serving as the Praetorian Guard for the progressive socialist left/Democratic Party.

Your author yearns for the days when most reporters/correspondents could claim the virtue of objectivity, and still pass the giggle test.

Yet as the ink dries on the Müller Report and President Trump basks in the glory of no collusion with Russia/no further indictments (not to mention media darling Michael Avenatti being led off in handcuffs for his $20 million blackmail attempt against Nike), the elite liberal media is resetting its bearings on electing a Democrat in 2020.

The question that must be asked: Have they learned anything from 2016?

Will they continue to arrogantly use the print and digital pages of the NYT and WAPO, let alone CNN and MSNBC, to denigrate the millions that work and live in the red states?

Remember the “Basket of Deplorables”?

The 12th Amendment (e.g., Electoral College) of the U.S. Constitution is NOT going to be amended/rescinded before the 2020 election, if ever.

Red states must be flipped for Bernie (or a reasonable facsimile) to become the 46th president of the United States. How many in Iowa, Ohio, North Carolina, Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania etc. follow liberal media talking heads and angry columnists?

In many ways it seems the elite liberal media types are talking to each other and preaching to the choir.

Democrats know they can only win California’s 55 electoral votes once regardless of the margin of victory. Hillary prevailed in the Golden State by 4 million votes. She only needed to win by one vote.

The liberal media elites will demand that red state voters change, and see the wisdom of social justice warriors commanding and controlling their lives through a greatly empowered government.

Almost DailyBrett suggests a little exercise of humility at CNN and others. If so, maybe the struggling network can return to the days of Bernard Shaw asking the tough question … even to the Democratic nominee at a presidential debate.

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/25/business/media/mueller-report-media.html

https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2019/03/mueller-report/585631/

https://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2019/03/22/chris_matthews_why_was_there_never_an_interrogation_of_trump_how_can_mueller_let_him_off_the_hook.html

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6847671/PIERS-MORGAN-Mueller-report-shows-collusion-disgraceful-hoax.html

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y_7wPf9geSM

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

“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

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/

 

 

“Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.” – President John F. Kennedy, Inaugural Address, 1961

“Economic security for all who are unable or unwilling to work.” – FAQ for the “Green New Deal,” 2019

“Lately it occurs to me what a long, strange trip it’s been.” – Grateful Dead, Truckin,’ 1970

Almost DailyBrett remembers those who said same-sex marriage would never happen.

There were those who said that recreational marijuana would never be legal, let alone pot shops on virtually every street corner.

And that states (i.e., Virginia, New York, Vermont) would never adopt up-to-the-nanosecond-of-birth (and beyond), abortion.

They are all now reality.

Will the next breakthrough come in the form of Universal Basic Income (UBI), or income redistribution from those who achieve to those … who voluntarily do … nothing?

Call it the ultimate in cradle-to-grave dependency: The government taxes entrepreneurs/job creators up the wazoo to pay living-breathing recipients for the privilege to sleep-in-to-noon, play video games, binge watch, smoke dope, drink beer and repeat the cycle the following day.

Seems a long way from the days of JFK, once a Democratic senator from Massachusetts, calling for nationwide patriotism to Ed Markey, a present-day Democratic senator from … you guessed it … Massachusetts, advocating taxpayer payments to those “unwilling” to work.

To be fair, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Markey and other Green New Dealers, claimed it was a “mistake” for the plan’s FAQ to be distributed to the media … who in turn reported the details of the proposed give-away to those who just don’t want to work.

How did the word “unwilling” end up on a draft FAQ, if Universal Basic Income isn’t a part of the thinking of the Green New Dealers?

Talk about a public relations disaster.

Announced Democratic presidential aspirant and entrepreneur Andrew Yang, has actually dug into his own pocket to pay one family in New Hampshire and another in Iowa $1,000 per month to demonstrate the benefits of UBI.

The vast majority will rightfully ask ‘Andrew Who?’ but give him credit for having the courage to introduce Universal Basic Income into the Democratic presidential primary season social justice debate.

Will UBI be part of the party platform at the 2020 Democratic National Convention. Your author will take the “under” … for now.

If there are millions of people voluntarily not working (e.g., approximately 32 percent of working age males, source American Enterprise Institute), maybe the government can give them a hand as the face the repetitive boredom associated with doing and accomplishing … nothing.

Paying People To Do Nothing?

Almost DailyBrett never thought he would be compelled to ask: Is it moral for the government to take money from hard-working taxpayers to give it to those … who decide on their own to do nothing, achieve nada, and give zero back to society?

The debate about whether or not to establish a “safety net” for those adversely impacted by deep economic cycle downswings has long been decided. The questions remain about the extent, costs and durations of these assistance programs.

UBI is the ultimate public assistance cocaine dressed up as a basic right. The recipients are forever hooked to the green drug. The government is now obligated to forever keep providing this largesse to those who unwilling to work.

The pressure will always be present to increase UBI payments to keep pace or even exceed inflation, regardless of the consequences to the annual deficit or the rapidly accumulating national debt. The insatiable demand for more redistribution tax dollars for the do-nothings will accelerate.

Any efforts to curtail or reduce Universal Basic Income will trigger a cold-turkey effect (see “Yellow Vests” or gilets jaunes on the streets of Paris). The “program,” once launched will be eternal and unreformable.

Eventually, who is going to say “no” to free money from the government? Isn’t it in the recipients’ “best interest” to stay on the government gravy train? Don’t they as Americans have a right to not work … and get paid for it too?

Despite the obvious moral questions, the public policy fight over Universal Basic Income is closer to the beginning rather than the end. Those who worry out loud about the impact of Artificial Intelligence (AI) – a good example is Elon Musk – have already pointed UBI as another tool in the safety net.

Universal Basic Income is not a safety net, but that doesn’t mean it won’t.

UBI is a shameful governmental give-away pure and simple.

Strong Almost DailyBrett opinion to follow.

https://www.cnbc.com/2019/02/07/ocasio-cortezs-green-new-deal-offers-economic-security-for-those-unwilling-to-work.html

https://www.businessinsider.com/right-wing-media-attacking-alexandria-ocasio-cortezs-green-new-deal-2019-2

https://www.nationalreview.com/corner/the-green-new-deal-and-a-universal-basic-income/

https://www.cnbc.com/2018/09/10/andrew-yang-universal-basic-income-to-protect-jobs-from-automation.html

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2016/07/06/universal-right-to-a-paycheck/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2018/04/15/deadbeat-boyfriends/

 

 

 

“I can understand wanting to have millions of dollars, there’s a certain freedom, meaningful freedom that comes with that. But once you get much beyond that, I have to tell you, it’s the same hamburger.” – Bill Gates speaking to university students

There are 25.7 million Google results of an image of a middle-aged dude standing all alone with his hands in his pockets.

He is patiently waiting in line for his cheeseburger, fries and a coke.

The maroon pullover guy is patronizing the original Dick’s (1954), which unofficially serves as a gateway to the upper class Wallingford neighborhood in Seattle.

Is the pale dude (gasp) … privileged?

What gave him the right to buy a “Deluxe,” fries and a coke in Wallingford?

Did his parents dote on him? Where did he go to school? Where did he go to college?

Did he ever invent anything of value to society? Did ever provide a living to people?

Did he ever give back to make our world a better place?

And if the answers to these questions do not meet communal approval – Privilege? Family? College? Inventions? Philanthropy? – should we as a collective society even the score in the name of social justice?

It may seem silly to some to have this public good discussion, and yet 25.7 million Google results are triggered in 0.28 of one second, when one inquires about the guy in the sweater standing all alone in line at Dick’s.

Our Obsession With Wealth?

How many billionaires — members of the three comma club — would stand-in line all alone for a burger and fries?

And yet there was Microsoft founder Bill Gates, 63, waiting in line at Dick’s on Sunday evening, January 13.

In our always-on digital imaging world, it did not take long for the celebrity dude doing normal things to go viral, generating stories and impressions about Gates and his love of hamburgers.

The latest estimates place his net worth at $96.5 billion. Couldn’t Gates simply buy Dick’s as opposed to standing in line for a burger? Where was his entourage? Couldn’t he feed the homeless with Dick’s burgers?

And how did he make that money? Did he take full advantage of his privilege? Did he inherit the money?

As many Almost DailyBrett readers know, Gates and the recently departed Paul Allen founded Microsoft in 1975. Their entrepreneurial spirit and those that followed (i.e., Steve Ballmer and Satya Nadella)  resulted in the ubiquitous Windows operating system, X-Box gaming console, Microsoft Surface PC, Microsoft Cloud and so much more.

Microsoft is one of the three largest competing companies in market capitalization (share price x number of shares) at $814.5 billion, generating $96.5 billion in total revenues and employing 134,944 around the world.

After departing the daily operations of Microsoft, the guy in the maroon sweater with his spouse established The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The charitable organization bearing their names has given a reported $36 billion to date to alleviate third world poverty and suffering. They are without any doubt the most generous philanthropists in America.

And yet …

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

“The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people’s money.” – Former UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher

In her quest to become the 46th President of the United States, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren has proposed a 2 percent surcharge on net assets – not annual income – exceeding $50 million, and another 1 percent on billionaires.  Is Warren’s  “wealth tax” really confiscation in disguise?

There are questions about whether a confiscatory surcharge of assets – not an income tax – is permissible under the U.S. Constitution. This legal question is above the pay grade of Almost DailyBrett.

Having said that, your author must ask: Why do so many Washington elites want to punish achievement, service and philanthropy?

Some rationalize this obsession with wealth as a quest to reach some far-reaching social justice nirvana when the solution is the same-old tired remedy: wealth redistribution targeting those who provide great products, create jobs and give back to the less fortunate.

The answer always comes down to new and more burdensome taxes, but in Senator Warren’s case she calls for outright confiscation of assets. One thing is certain is the redistribution does not stop there. There will also be increases in tax rates, most of all the top rate from 39.6 percent, hiking it to 70 percent, 80 percent, 90 percent or beyond.

Once you have raised taxes and confiscated assets is that the end … or worse … is that just the beginning?

What’s next? Fees on stock and mutual fund transactions? Surcharges on bank accounts? Is the sky the limit?

How about a wealth tax/surcharge on Bill Gates’ hamburger?

https://www.geekwire.com/2019/billions-served-bill-gates-photographed-standing-line-burger-dicks-drive-seattle/

https://www.ddir.com/

https://www.seattlepi.com/seattlenews/article/Billions-served-Bill-Gates-photographed-standing-13539669.php

https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/2019/01/24/senator-warrens-plan-tax-ultrawealthy-is-smart-idea-whose-time-has-come/?utm_term=.251e17e49629

https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/Investor/earnings/FY-2018-Q4/press-release-webcast

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2015/08/23/three-comma-club/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2012/09/25/taxing-uncle-phil-to-death/

https://www.businessinsider.com/biggest-projects-of-generous-philanthropists-bill-and-melinda-gates-2018-8

https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/138248-the-problem-with-socialism-is-that-you-eventually-run-out

 

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/

“My country tried to kill me” – An Anonymous Baby Boomer Source

The Vietnam War has been over for 43 years … It’s time, actually it’s past time, to get over it.

Almost DailyBrett has run into more than a few fellow Baby Boomers, who are always stubbornly angry, refusing to even acknowledge anything positive about the United States of America.

In almost each and every one of these cases, the culprit was the seemingly never-ending war slowly starting in the early 1960s and ending with the visions of overloaded helicopters departing the roof of the U.S. Embassy in Saigon in 1975.

The Vietnam misadventure was truly the nation’s first television war. Just like other scenes of mortal combat it was not a pretty sight. For the record, the conflict reigned during the administrations of two Democratic and two Republican presidents: Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon and Ford.

There are those who lost loved ones in the rice paddies and jungles of Southeast Asia. Their eternal bitterness is understandable.

And there are those who could have gone, but for one reason or another missed the plane to Saigon.

In way too many cases, these folks (e.g., Baby Boomers) were not posting the red, white and blue on July 4 … or any other day of the year.

Some are nostalgic or still engaged in the communal poverty of the hippy movement. Everything from bras, draft cards and college administration buildings were publicly burned.

When in doubt, take to the streets. There are those who protest. There are those who invest.

The Vietnam Aggrieved has next-to-zero to say positive about living in an exceptional country.

How about Denmark? How about Sweden? How about Norway?

There were zero Vietnam Wars for this Nordic trio.

“This Country … “

Whenever a sentence begins with or/includes the phrase, “This country …,” don’t you instinctively know the dependent clause depicts a better life somewhere else/anywhere else.

Can’t tell you how many times, the author of Almost DailyBrett has mentally suggested a one-way ticket for the Vietnam Aggrieved to that somewhere else.

A man walks next to empty shelves in a supermarket in Caracas on January 22, 2012. According to the Central Bank (BCV) shortage of goods reached 16.3% in December 2012, the highest number in the last four years. AFP PHOTO / Leo RAMIREZ (Photo credit should read LEO RAMIREZ/AFP/Getty Images)

“Venezuela has social justice … “ ‘Ticket to Caracas?’

“Denmark is a happy little country … “ ‘Did the Danes put a man on the moon?’

“Vietnam is so much better off …” ‘You didn’t want to go there in the late 1960s/early 1970s … do you want to go there now?’

Almost DailyBrett has zero issues with the Nordic countries, but still must ask what major role each played in defeating Nazism (there were resistance efforts for sure in Norway and Denmark) and Communism?

The United States is the global beacon for both opportunity capitalism and individual freedom … not bad, not bad at all.

The quality of life may be just swell among these Scandinavian countries, but collectively they are not even close to the productivity and influence of the world leading $20.19 trillion GDP generated by the United States of America.

Denmark has a beckoning mermaid in Copenhagen harbor. The United States has Lady Liberty in New York Harbor, who serves as an icon of freedom and a better life for literally millions and millions.

Is the United States perfect? Absolutely not. Stanford provost and former National Security Advisor/Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice labeled slavery as America’s “birth defect.” Guilty as charged.

And yet, she took full advantage of her awesome skills and opportunities provided  to her. Condoleezza is  to be wonderful example about what each of us can potentially achieve.

Instead of Baby Boomers bitching, moaning, bemoaning and watching Ken Burns’ documentary about a war that ended almost five decades ago, they would be better off using these last years on the planet to embrace America and make it better for their presence on the fruited plain.

Sure beats bitching, moaning and bemoaning.

https://www.jacobinmag.com/2017/09/vietnam-war-ken-burns-us-imperialism

 

Well, I’ve got news for the bullies of Wall Street. The presidency is not a crown to be passed back and forth by you between two royal families.” – Former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley

Let us wage a moral and political war against the billionaires and corporate leaders, on Wall Street and elsewhere, whose policies and greed are destroying the middle class of America.”Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders

“The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings; the inherent virtue of socialism is the equal sharing of miseries.” – Former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill

Are the phrases “economic populism” and “social justice” not-so-clever disguises for a full-fledged War on Wall Street?occupy1

Is this another round of the disorganized/nearly forgotten desultory Occupy Wall Street movement now showered, deodorized and all dressed up to make it seem more palatable to the American public?

As we head into the 2016 presidential cycle, one needs to ask:

Is it sound politics, particularly for a general election, to directly take aim on a system in which 52 percent of Americans build their hard-earned wealth through the investment in stocks, bonds and mutual funds for an active retirement, their children’s college education, a second career or something grand on the “bucket list?”

Granted this slightly more than half figure is down significantly from the 65 percent of Americans owning stocks, bonds and mutual funds in the beginning of 2007, but that year was the beginning of the recession, downturn and economic malaise.

Some are questioning what happened to the middle class, but many are forgetting America’s burgeoning “investor class.” And with 52 percent of the public participating, it obviously applies to far more than just 1 percent of the American population. The more than half of all Americans owning stocks, bonds and mutual funds in 2013 could be even higher now because of the bull market.gender6

These are the people who invest in IRAs mainly with retail brokers in person or online (i.e., Schwab, Scottrade, TD Ameritrade, eTrade, Edward Jones) or designate a percentage of their pre-tax income in 401Ks with a percentage matching from their employer with taxes being deferred until retirement.

According to Gallup, they are for the most part college graduates as 73 percent of those with undergraduate degrees and 83 percent with graduate degrees invest in markets … that would be publicly traded companies on Wall Street.

Money Under the Mattress?

And why would they do that? Consider the alternatives:

How about under the mattress. How about no rate of return?

How about banks? How about 0.02 percent interest rates?

How about real estate? How about the prospect of underwater mortgages?

And you wonder why smart upper, upper-middle and middle class Americans with some disposable income invest in publicly traded American companies listed on the NYSE and NASDAQ, even though people can lose a portion or all of their investment? The answer is that Wall Street is the best game in town, and with knowledge, diversification, perseverance and a cast-iron stomach, literally millions of people build wealth by investing in our markets and our country.

“Unequal sharing of blessings” 

And what is the raison d’etre of these Wall Street companies? According to ERISA or the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, passed by a Democratic Congress, publicly traded corporations are legally and morally mandated to drive the bottom line (doing well) for the benefit of their shareholders.

Guess that means they hire hundreds of thousands of Americans and make the products that people around the world want and need. That even includes the upscale coffee, tablets, earphones, cameras, laptops, mobile phones, social media software and operating systems used by Occupy Wall Street and made by (gasp) companies publicly traded on Wall Street.occupy2

Almost DailyBrett senses a disconnect, but does it matter in a party primary when the empty vessels making the most noise have near zero chance of winning the nomination?

Looking down the road to the fall of 2016 would a presidential nominee really want to be saddled with a platform that takes “issue” with major employers of tens of thousands, providing wonderful products and the prospects of solid rates of return for investors? That doesn’t sound like a winning prescription.

It may make the union bosses happy. It may re-energize those with the need to demonstrate just like they did in 1968, but does it make any political sense to attack, demonize and vilify the proverbial goose that lays the golden egg?

Does Wall Street in the wake of Enron, Arthur Andersen, Bear Stearns, Global Crossing, Martha Stewart, $6,000 shower curtains, “Race Together,” Bernie Madoff, GM and Chrysler bailouts, BP Deepwater Horizon, excessive executive compensation have major real and perceived public relations problems? Does Wall Street need better reputation management? Absolutely.

At the same time, let’s not lose sight of Corporate Social Responsibility (doing good) and the literally thousands of companies that work to protect the environment (e.g., Starbucks and Conservation International), address climate change (e.g., Tesla), help rebuild communities (e.g., Home Depot and Habitat for Humanity), combat cancer (e.g., Nike founder Phil Knight and Oregon Health and Sciences University) assist low-income children with difficult medical conditions (e.g., Southwest Airlines and Ronald McDonald House) … ehh … wouldn’t that be McDonald’s as well?

For those attacking Wall Street indiscriminately under the banner of “economic populism” aren’t they guilty of throwing out the baby with the bath water.

Maybe they should be drinking their own bath water instead.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/hillary-clintons-guilt-by-association/2015/06/04/bd836dc4-0b13-11e5-a7ad-b430fc1d3f5c_story.html?wpisrc=nl_opinions&wpmm=1

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/poll-who-can-get-ahead-in-the-u-s/

http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/b/bernie_sanders.html

http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/w/winstonchu101776.html

http://www.gallup.com/poll/147206/stock-market-investments-lowest-1999.aspx

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

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