Tag Archive: The Economist


“Official statistics no longer countered this (Ossies) group — who were disproportionately young, clever, female and ambitious — as East Germans.” — The Economist’s “Thirty years after the Wall fell, ” November 2, 2019

“From adversity comes opportunity.” — Former Notre Dame Head Coach Lou Holtz

When the Berlin Wall came tumbling down in 1989, more than 1 million Ossies took advantage of their newfound freedom from Communism, immediately heading to West Germany and for the most part … thriving. More than one-quarter of East Germans aged 18-30 moved to the west, two-thirds of them … women.

They recognized there were two paths to go by, but in the long run, there was still time to change the road they were on … especially young, clever, ambitious females.

For those 16 million-plus souls adversely trapped for 28 years behind the borders of stultifying-oppressive-surveillance state East Germany, there finally was an opportunity to leave, begin a new life and build a lucrative career. Many took this new road to affluent Bavaria, Baden Württemberg, Hamburg … and never looked back.

Is moving to a more promising venue, the catalyst for success and building wealth?

Only one way to find out.

“I’m in Favor of Progress; It’s Change I Don’t Like” — Mark Twain

Ever meet Negative Nancy, Debbie Downer or Gloomy Gus?

Their cups are always half empty. They impress upon you what they can’t do rather then what they can do. Their little rain clouds follow them wherever they go … and in the most cases … they don’t go anywhere.

They settle for status quo mediocrity or worse. And soon it will be late … too late in their lives to make a change for the better.

They will choose neither path, and the road will soon be closed for good.

Almost DailyBrett was born in Johnstown, Pennsylvania. The former steel town is a great place to be … from.

Fortunately your author’s family was afforded the opportunity to move to Southern California. For Almost DailyBrett, Sacramento, CA, Portland, OR, Pleasanton, CA Ellensburg, WA and now Eugene, OR followed.

With each move came a change of scenery, variables, superiors, colleagues, subordinates, issues to confront and problems to solve. There were always vexing adversities and intriguing opportunities, and most of all challenges to overcome.

In their coverage of the 30th anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall earlier this month, most of the newsies focused on the disparity of those who reside and succeed in former West Germany, and those who remain mired in chronic poverty in former East Germany. For many, they could have moved to seek a better life, but for one reason or another … they didn’t.

Yes, there is income disparity even in a model European nation.

The story also needs to reflect the shift away from an agrarian economy, which is largely cosigned to the Stone Age. The following industrial revolution of Johnstown, PA is kaput. The world is now consumer dominated (e.g., 70 percent of the United States economy), digitized and service oriented.

Advantage women … particularly young, clever and ambitious women.

The service oriented consumer economy is right in their sweet spot. Public relations, marketing, advertising, event planning, local government, law, real estate, health care, hospitality … heck, even hardware stores … are dominated by the fairer gender or at a minimum … heading in that direction.

Can men, who once dominated the agrarian and industrial economies with their brute strength, ignorance and testosterone, succeed in this new service economy? Yes for some, but will they en masse? The evidence is not promising.

Not only have women passed men in terms of labor force participation, the same X-curve apply to women vs. men college graduates with a bachelor’s degree or above. And in the vast majority of cases, one must or want to move away from home to go to college. Universities and colleges should be a one-way ticket to independence, not back to mom and/or dad.

Graduates react after being recognized for their degree during the University of Wisconsin-Madison spring commencement ceremony ceremony at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison, Wis., Saturday, May 16, 2015. (Amber Arnold/Wisconsin State Journal via AP)

If professional women were a publicly traded stock compared to an equity for professional men, Almost DailyBrett would not hesitate to invest in the growth potential of the fairer gender. As your author has always noted, stocks are a forward rather than a lagging indicator … women are leading, men are behind and the gap is growing.

The wind is clearly in the sails of professional women, particularly those who are brave and smart enough to recognize there’s still time to change the road they are on.

And when their ship comes in they will be ready to board and set sail.

Alas way too many men will be killing time, playing video games at the airport.

https://www.economist.com/europe/2019/10/31/germans-still-dont-agree-on-what-reunification-meant

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2019/11/08/the-night-the-wall-came-tumbling-down/

“Billionaires should not exist.” — Millionaire U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (D-Vermont)

“Every billionaire is a policy failure.” — Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York)

“Personal wealth is at best an unreliable signal of bad behavior or failing policies. Often the reverse is true.” — The Economist

Super talented and accomplished media superstar Oprah Winfrey is worth $3 billion.

Basketball Hall of Famer Michael Jordan’s net worth is $1.9 billion.

Hip-hop star/investor Jay-Z just made into the three-comma club at $1,000,000,000.

Did government fail when Oprah, Michael and Jay-Z all succeeded and thrived, each because of their hard work, fortitude, perseverance and incredible talent?

Did anyone of them trade on their … privilege?

Almost DailyBrett doesn’t remember Oprah engaging in insider-trading.

Do you, Secretary Reich?

Ditto for Michael Jordan profiting from a monopoly unless Mr. Reich is pointing to Michael’s near-monopoly of talent against the competition he faced night-after-night in the NBA?

Is Jay-Z guilty of fraud, a political payoff or did he inherit his wealth?

Wonder if any of these “basically 5 ways” to accumulate a billion dollars in America apply to Nike founder/Philanthropist Phil Knight?

Have you read “Shoe Dog,” Professor Reich? Nike almost went under about nine times.

The former Labor Secretary’s “5 ways” Twitter screed is intellectually dishonest, and remarkably easy to discredit.

Alas, it is beneath the respect normally afforded to Robert Reich. Next time go high Mr. Reich instead of racing to the bottom. Talented and hard working people can earn their wealth on their own without resorting to nefarious deeds.

From a policy standpoint, we need to ask:

Should we punish Oprah, Michael, Jay-Z, Uncle Phil and so many others who worked their tushes off to legitimately make their fortunes with a punitive Elizabeth Warren 6 percent wealth tax (up from the original 3 percent proposal), and income tax rates reaching 90 percent or beyond?

Whattyathink Senators Sanders and Warren?

Class warfare — born out of jealousy — is not new.

The effective tax rate for achievers in the United Kingdom in the 1970s once reached 98 percent. If you don’t believe Almost DailyBrett, ask The Beatles … ask The Rolling Stones, who fled to France and recorded “Exile On Main Street.”

Can a near 100 percent confiscatory tax rate, which was thankfully eliminated in the UK by former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, happen in the United States of America? Let’s hope not.

Celebrate Instead of Hate?

Almost DailyBrett remembers boys and girls practicing basketball, so they could be “Just Like Mike.”

Your author can imagine girls admiring and wanting to be the next Oprah.

You should check Ellen’s interview with Bill Gates. They discussed the works and deeds of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, donating a cumulative $50.1 billion to fight global childhood poverty and to improve public schools in our country.

According to Forbes, Gates is worth approximately $96.5 billion — give or take a shekel or two — making him the second wealthiest homo sapien on the planet. Virtually everyone in the first world is using Microsoft’s Windows Operating System, inspired and written by Gates. And his charitable foundation has contributed more than any other non-profit ever to make our world a better place (more than most governments).

His former company Microsoft is valued at $1.14 trillion, generates $96.5 billion in annual revenues, and employs 144,000 in well paying positions with full benefits and stock options. Taken together, the performance of Microsoft as a company and the generosity of the Gates Foundation, puts Bill’s wealth into perspective.

Can we have more “policy failures” just like Bill Gates, Phil Knight, Oprah Winfrey, Michael Jordan, Jay-Z and so many more?

Instead of hating people who are wealthy, let’s celebrate and cheer for the achievers (e.g., Michael Jordan).

If we are concerned about billionaires, our policies should focus on stimulating competition (i.e., über-tough content streaming, video game, smart phone markets…), not limitless redistribution or punitive taxation.

If our political intent is to further divide, demonizing billionaires (as others have been publicly denigrated for ages) is a good way to engender one of the seven Deadly Sins: Envy.

If our goal is growth and prosperity, then let’s encourage Millennials and the generations, who will follow, to shoot for the stars. Let them become tomorrow’s Oprah, Michael, Jay-Z, Bill Gates and Uncle Phil.

And if they succeed financially, let’s celebrate them and at the same time root for competitors to keep them on their toes.

https://www.economist.com/leaders/2019/11/09/billionaires-are-only-rarely-policy-failures

https://www.economist.com/finance-and-economics/2019/11/07/have-billionaires-accumulated-their-wealth-illegitimately

https://www.gatesfoundation.org/who-we-are/general-information/foundation-factsheet

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2019/02/06/the-lonely-guy-standing-in-line-for-a-burger/

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

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

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

“The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people’s money.” — UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher (1925-2013)

If a private sector position with full benefits isn’t the greatest anti-poverty program ever devised … what on earth is?

In order to avoid saying she will raise taxes on the middle class for “Medicare For All,” Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) is proposing federal confiscation of all pretax employer paid Medicare health care benefits for literally millions of working achievers.

Her plan will eliminate private health insurance for 150 million Americans or more, and nationalize the $530 billion private health insurance industry.

Isn’t the termination of $8.8 trillion in cherished pretax employer-paid health care benefits for millions of employees, the equivalent of a middle class tax increase on steroids? Keep in mind, the annual federal budget is only … $4.45 trillion.

Instead of Starbucks paying $20,000 for this benefit to each of its 291,000 employees for private insurance (e.g., Blue Cross, Kaiser …), the legendary coffee roaster would be compelled to turn-over a similar amount to the federal government. In turn, these employees would lose their Starbucks offered pretax Medicare benefits and choice of private health insurer, only to forced into government paid … and only government paid … DMV-style insurance.

The Bernie Sanders “Medicare for All” bill (which Warren supports) calls for a 4 percent federal income tax increase for middle class workers. In order to avoid saying she is raising middle class taxes, Warren proposes instead federal confiscation of pretax employer paid health care benefits.

“In practice this (redirection of employer-paid health benefits to the government) would be a tax on employment, which seems likely to hurt middle-class Americans.” — The Economist, November 9, 2019

Deciding which plan (Sanders or Warren) is worse is just as difficult as deducing which is better.

How about keeping and retaining private health insurance, and our ability to choose our own doctors, dentists and optometrists?

Almost DailyBrett has always exhibited a libertarian streak. If we empower our $4 trillion behemoth federal government to confiscate pretax employer-paid health insurance, and eliminate private health insurance for 150-million-plus souls, the obvious question is:

What’s next?

Tax On Billionaires

” … if she gets elected president, then I would bet that we will have a legal challenge, and I would bet that we will win the legal challenge. And does that still suck for us?” — Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg commenting on the spectre of a Warren presidency to the company’s 35,000 employees.

The public relations spin by Bernie and Elizabeth has focused squarely on the likes of Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, Jamie Dimon and Leon Cooperman, including Warren mocking the latter for his tearful concern about the future of our country.

Consider the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has given $36 billion to fight third-world poverty. Does no good deed go unpunished?

The centerpiece of the billionaire vilification campaign is a 2 percent wealth tax on those with assets exceeding $50 million (how many folks in blue states California, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts … are included in this tax?), and 6 percent for those with $1 billion or more. We are not just talking about giving “two cents” (on each dollar) more.

How would the federal government determine the amount of wealth to be taxed and confiscated? When would it be paid? How much stock will needed (needlessly?) be sold (maybe even at loss) and how much will be immediately bought back? What’s the algorithmic multi-billion dollar impact on the 52 percent of the country investing in stocks and stock-based mutual funds for their retirement or children’s education?

Is this tax, constitutional? Are we talking about double taxation? More to the point, do we want as a nation to empower … there’s that verb again … our massive government to punitively confiscate wealth and with it, achievement? How about a tax on lower upper class wealth? Ditto for a levy on upper middle class wealth? And how about … ? The possibilities are limitless.

Three European nations still impose wealth taxes: Norway, Spain and Switzerland. How’s Spain doing?

Eleven European nations have rescinded their wealth taxes: Austria, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands and Sweden.

That’s right, wealth taxes didn’t work in Denmark and Sweden, why should it fly in Iowa, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin?

According to the stately The Economist, Warren’s all-government all-the-time programs include requiring Amazon, Facebook and Google to be regulated as platform utilities (before or after their breakups?), 40 percent of all board seats held by “public reps” (read, unions), bans on nuclear power and fracking, 75 percent lobbying taxes, 37 percent taxes on capital gains, and the imposition of taxes on unsold stocks (employing Enron-style mark-to-market accounting or MTM) … and the list goes on and on and on.

Warren supporters caution America’s Investor Class (52 percent of the entire nation) not to worry; her plan will eventually be watered down or not approved. If so … what’s the point?

Are Warrenites and Sandernistas supporting Republican control of at least one house to serve as a check and a balance to radicalism? Didn’t think so.

Some see Warren as a Socialist champion against Capitalism or buy low sell high.

Instead, Almost DailyBrett sees Bernie and Elizabeth as two peas in the same pod.

They are threatening our economic freedom. They will dip into our wallets, and deny us benefits and physician choices we already enjoy. The only winner? Big government.

Instead of wisely controlling the size and scope of government, some will be cool with a greatly empowered … there’s that verb again … carnivorous federal bureaucracy with even more power over our individual abilities to chart our own financial futures.

Be afraid … be very, very afraid.

https://www.nationalreview.com/2019/03/elizabeth-warren-wealth-tax-european-nations/

https://slate.com/business/2019/11/elizabeth-warrens-health-care-medicare-for-all-single-payer-unfair.html

https://www.economist.com/briefing/2019/10/24/elizabeth-warrens-many-plans-would-reshape-american-capitalism

https://www.economist.com/united-states/2019/11/07/how-would-elizabeth-warren-pay-for-her-health-policy

https://slate.com/technology/2019/10/mark-zuckerberg-said-elizabeth-warrens-presidency-would-suck-for-us.html

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

A lot of truth is often spoken in jest.

According to the old joke, Richard Nixon dressed in his presidential windbreaker gathered the Washington Press Corps at his presidential retreat on the beach in San Clemente, California.

After chastising the ladies and gentlemen of the Fourth Estate for not covering him fairly and accurately during his political career including his presidency, he gave them one more chance.

Nixon miraculously walked out onto the Pacific Ocean and back without getting his wing tips wet.

“Now, you can finally cover me fairly and accurately!”

The New York Times front page headline the following morning: “Nixon Can’t Swim.”

The liberal elite media could not and would not cover Nixon fairly back in the 1970s. The negative coverage trend toward Republican office holders has only intensified with time. There is zero benefit of the doubt when it comes to Republicans, only to Democrats.

Almost DailyBrett knows this undeniable fact based upon eight years of hard-earned experience as a campaign media director and press secretary for California Republican Governor George Deukmejian.

“Rebuilding Trust Requires Embracing Bias”

“A more partisan media is the last thing America needs. Those who doubt that should consider that it would be squarely in Mr. Trump’s interest. The president’s attempt to gin up his supporters by depicting the media as biased is one of his most powerful lines. Why vindicate it for him?” — Lexington, USA columnist for The Economist

“We don’t want to change all of our structures and rules so much that we can’t put them back together. We don’t want to be oppositional to Donald Trump.” — Dean Baquet, executive editor of The New York Times

Almost DailyBrett is begging for mercy.

The New York Times along with CNN (Clinton News Network) and MSNBC lead the oppositional journalism pack against Donald Trump. They detest the man (understatement), wanting unlimited license to label him as a “racist” regardless of context. After four-plus years, we know for a fact the liberal media will take everything and anything he does or says and add a negative spin to employ a PR word.

Hiring foreign affairs hawk John Bolton with his goofy mustache (Liberal media: ‘Trump added a dangerous war monger to his team’) and later firing him (Liberal media: ‘Trump can’t retain anyone on his staff’) is vivid proof that any Trump action triggers an automatic negative take. The media always wants it both ways.

Liberal columnist Nathan Robinson (see quote above) suggested out loud that elite media should openly express a bias and affinity to left-wing causes in order to rebuild public trust. Why shouldn’t the liberal media come out of the closet? Let the world know, what it already knows: Liberal media outlets are just another special interest group, similar to Planned Parenthood, ACLU and NPR.

Bias leads to trust?

There are hundreds of always excitable journalism professors, who will be more than happy to intensify their “guidance” of impressionable students toward socialist justice, encouraging them to express their bias digitally, in print and across the airwaves. These academics will declare … wrongly … that objectivity never existed and never will in America’s newsrooms.

Robinson is essentially arguing the media should simply come clean and openly side with Bernie Sanders/Elizabeth Warren Democratic Socialism, lauding those who drink the Kool Aid and chastising any and all who dare to dissent. Lexington counters that a gallant admission of oppositional journalism by the major mastheads and networks will aid and abet Trump’s talking points about the media losing its way, abandoning any pretext of being fair and accurate.

Didn’t St. Louis Post-Dispatch executive editor Joseph Pulitzer once say the three most important words in journalism are: “accuracy, accuracy and accuracy”? He made this famous assertion even though he was a staunch Democrat, actually serving in Congress, and crusading against business and corruption.

If a reporter. correspondent, anchor or media outlet sacrifices personal and/or institutional integrity on the low-altar of abandoning fairness and objectivity, any and all of these lost souls should not even sniff the prestigious journalism award that bears Joseph Pulitzer’s name.

https://www.economist.com/united-states/2019/09/12/a-full-court-press

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/sep/10/media-bias-is-ok-if-its-honest

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

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

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2019/02/19/profs-should-not-force-political-opinions-on-students/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2019/07/24/is-the-word-racist-becoming-cliche/

 

 

 

 

 

“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

 

 

 

“A hippie is someone who looks like Tarzan, walks like Jane and smells like Cheetah.” – Ronald Reagan

There are no trigger warnings at the front door.

Arguably there are more aging hippies per square inch in Eugene, Oregon than any other town in America. Berkeley may have a free-range beef against this claim. So be it.

And yet, there is a framed “Reagan Country” 1980 campaign poster in the living room of Almost DailyBrett’s Eugene residence.

Sometimes an aging hippie or wanna-be hippie will be enjoying one of Oregon’s craft beers or a glass of one of the Willamette Valley’s now legendary – and expensive – Pinot Noirs right under the smiling portrait of The Gipper.

Maybe out of politeness, guests neither mention the image of America’s 40th president nor ask to be moved to another venue in the house. Are they just being polite or have they somehow, someway reached the acceptance stage of Reagan’s legacy?

Either stance is just fine with your author.

As Nancy once said about her husband: “Ronnie appealed to your best hopes, not your worst fears.”

Making no aspersions either for or against the present leader of the free world, Almost DailyBrett would bring back Ronnie from the grave in a nanosecond. Alas, only one reportedly has risen from the dead.

“The man who beat communism”

Some historical revisionists have debated with your author about the roles that Harry Truman, Mikhail Gorbachev, Pope John Paul II and maybe others played in ushering in the downfall of the Soviet Union and the end of Communism.

Indeed, they all contributed and deserve their respective shares of the credit.

The Reagan deniers are entitled to their opinions, but deep down we all know the truth: Reagan played the pivotal and primary role in ending the Communist menace and bringing down the ghastly Berlin Wall … therefore Reagan hangs proudly on your author’s living room wall.

“By defeating communism, Ronald Reagan ended one of history’s most violent centuries and opened the door … (that) democracy might become available to more of the people who wanted it.” – The Economist, June 12, 2004

“Others hoped, at best, for an uneasy cohabitation with the Soviet Union; he won the Cold War – not only without firing a shot, but also by inviting enemies out of their fortress and turning them into friends.” – Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s eulogy for Ronald Reagan, June 11, 2004

An entire wing of the Checkpoint Charlie Museum on the Friedrichstrasse in Berlin is dedicated to Ronald Reagan with his infamous, “Mr. Gorbachev tear down this wall” speech on continuous loop. The ich bin ein Berliners know the truth.

Walking freely and without fear underneath the Brandenburg Gate, your author appreciates the impact of these monumental words delivered a few feet away when the gate was closed, seemingly forever by the so-called Deutsche Demokratische Republik (DDR).

The Tax Cuts Worked

“There were two great triumphs, two things that I’m proudest of. One is the economic recovery, in which the people of America created – and filled – 19 million new jobs. The other is the recovery of our morale: America is respected again in the world, and looked to for leadership.” – Ronald Reagan, Farewell Address, Jan. 12, 1989

Some have tried to convince Almost DailyBrett that tax cuts and tax reform (Reagan did both) simply did not, will not, and never will work. Sorry but your author must respectfully disagree.

The 19 million new jobs created  during Reagan’s presidency is a peacetime record in the history of the United States. Inflation plunged from 13.5 percent in 1980 to 5.1 percent two years later. Interest rates dropped from 21.5 percent in 1980 to 10 percent five years later.

As a campaign press director/gubernatorial press secretary for then-California Attorney General/later Governor George Deukmejian, we prevailed in the closest gubernatorial election in the history of the Golden State during a deep recession in 1982. Four years later during the Reagan economic boom, we won by the largest landslide in California’s history.

Yes, Governor George Deukmejian did a great job as the Golden State’s chief executive. We were also helped immensely by the success of Ronald Reagan’s economic policies.

Reagan was not perfect; perfection as always is in short supply.

The Gipper summed up best in his farewell address to the nation:

“All in all, not bad. Not bad at all.”

Not bad, not bad at all, Mr. Poster Man on the living room wall.

http://www.historyplace.com/speeches/reagan-tear-down.htm

https://www.reaganfoundation.org/ronald-reagan/reagan-quotes-speeches/farewell-address-to-the-nation-2/

https://www.nytimes.com/1989/01/12/news/transcript-of-reagan-s-farewell-address-to-american-people.html

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2018/06/27/when-reagan-walked-into-the-room/

“Liberals believe America is not good enough for the world; conservatives believe the world is not good enough for America.” – Washington Post Columnist Charles Krauthammer

“I do think that America was born with a birth defect; it was slavery.” – Stanford Provost Condoleezza Rice

After losing two world wars and killing 6 million Jews during the Holocaust, Germany has been struggling from Zero Hour 1945 to the present with its horrendous history. The Germans have a special word for it – die Vergangenheitsbewältigung — or dealing with this past.

Does this 25-letter-jaw-breaking-compound-noun also apply to the nearly 250-year history of the United States of America?

After listening to so many Baby Boomer colleagues and friends complain about “this country” for years-and-years, who could blame Almost DailyBrett or any other American with a sense of patriotism for thinking that we have to deal with our past? The question is, how?

The sun never set on the British Empire and Britannia indeed ruled the waves. Look at the mess they left to dozens of these former colonies, and yet English is the world’s Lingua Franca. The scoresheet for the United Kingdom over the years is … mixed with a positive lean.

Have Americans ever been perfect? Are we perfect? Will we ever be perfect?

The responses to all three of these questions are the same, and obvious. The answers are, “no.”

Perfection is an impossible standard for any nation to achieve, including the USA.

Is the answer to these fallibilities – slavery, expulsion of Native Americans, Japanese internment camps – to truncate the teaching of American History? Is revisionist history to the downside inevitable?

There is an ongoing – and maybe never ending fight over whether and how Advanced Placement (AP U.S. History) should be taught, and more to the point: The level and extent of negative reinterpretation of American history.

For example, McGraw Hill stepped in deep doo doo when its history books described a migratory path of millions of “workers” from Africa. Err … they were slaves.

A related question has been raised among the 21+ would-be Democratic presidential nominees (i.e., Harris, Booker, Warren, Castro): Should we pay reparations (particularly slavery) to those who were wronged by America?

If so, where do we start? What precedent are we setting? More importantly where do we end? Can we end? Which descendants of those wronged should we pay? How much should we pay?

Should we apologize for being … Americans? Should we stop embracing any and all red, white and blue patriotism?

The Vietnam War Is Over; Get Over It

The helicopters took off from the roof of the U.S. Embassy in South Vietnam on April 30, 1975 or more than 44 years ago, if you are keeping score at home.

There are those who cannot or will not get this unfortunate period of American history out of their systems.

Almost DailyBrett has noted that way too many of these tortured Baby Boomer souls do not like their country, and take issue with America being labeled as an exceptional country.

They point to socialism in Denmark, Norway, Sweden – all monarchies – as “happy little countries,” suggesting America should do the same.

Some of these people actually teach at American universities and schools and harbor reservations (putting it mildly) about the positive side of American history. But wasn’t the first act in U.S. history a rebellion against authority, telling what England’s King George III what he could do with his royal scepter?

Didn’t America fight a bloody Civil War from 1861-1865 to eliminate slavery? Didn’t Abraham Lincoln’s 13th Amendment end slavery once and for all?

And wasn’t it America that played a monumental roll in terms of blood and treasure to end Nazi and Fascist tyranny in Europe and the Pacific?

The United States was the first and to this date the only country to put a man on the moon. It was America, which gave the world Silicon Valley and with its pioneering entrepreneurs with break-through innovations that made the conveniences of our digital world possible.

And let’s not forget that America defeated Communism and made our imperfect world, safer.

Almost DailyBrett championed a bi-partisan action – one can dream – to add Democrat Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s (won World War II) and Republican Ronald Wilson Reagan’s (beat Communism) busts on Mt. Rushmore.

With all due respect, what has Denmark given to the world? Hans Christian Andersen and The Little Mermaid.

If the royalists in Norway, Sweden and Denmark wish to examine their collective navels in the sauna, who are we to stop them? It’s their humble collection of socialist monarchies (not an oxymoron).

Those who don’t like America and never will, have the freedom of movement. Almost DailyBrett will happily visit them in Scandinavia … in the summer.

America can learn from its past. When it comes to America’s over/under, your author will take the “over” in a nanosecond.

The United States of America remains an exceptional nation. No amount of revisionist history can change that fact.

https://nypost.com/2017/01/22/why-schools-have-stopped-teaching-american-history/

https://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2015/10/the-history-class-dilemma/411601/

https://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2015/02/who-should-decide-how-students-learn-about-americas-past/385928/

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2019/04/12/support-reparations-grow-so-does-pushback-some-black-americans/?utm_term=.427e54c28480

https://www.washingtonpost.com/people/charles-krauthammer/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.4d651db9a0c6

https://thehill.com/homenews/news/332307-condoleezza-rice-says-america-was-born-with-a-birth-defect-slavery

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2014/11/05/roosevelt-and-reagan-for-rushmore/

“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

“Republicans and Democrats have come to view the other as threatening their way of life. They are increasingly unlikely to marry, work or socialize with each other.” — James Astill of The Economist

“Evidence abounds that Democrats and Republicans really do not like each other. Researchers have found that they avoid dating one another, desire not to live near one another and disapprove of the idea that their offspring would marry someone outside their party.” – Eitan Hersch, FiveThirtyEight

Could a Democrat with a clear sound mind, actually marry a Republican with a framed Ronald Reagan campaign poster on the living room wall?

And ditto for a Republican tying the knot with an admitted Hillary voting Democrat, particularly in these divisive times?

What would the in-laws think?

What about property values?

And think of the children being raised in split-registration homes?

Talk about a house divided.

Almost DailyBrett has noted that seemingly anything and everything of import around the world eventually is transformed into a heated discussion about one, Donald Joseph Trump.

Hold a funeral service for former President George H.W. Bush, and the resulting media commentary is less about the deceased #41, but instead more about the mere presence of a living, breathing #45 … even as he patiently sat in the first row of the funeral service in a House of God, and never uttered a word.

As America arguably faces the greatest division since immediately prior to the Civil War, the Red-State vs. Blue-State split has impacted the way we view each other.

Happily, the author of Almost DailyBrett has engaged in more than five years of marital bliss to my dear Democratic wife, Jeanne. We co-existed through two presidential elections and two mid-terms since we patriotically met each other on our one and only Match.com date on July 4, 2012.

There were no political fireworks at our first-ever Starbucks meeting.

Our respective politics did not stop us from falling love, living in sin and eventually marrying. Now, if one of us did not love felines (i.e., Kevin came with Percy; Jeanne came with Isaac) that would have been a deal breaker.

Believe it or not, there is more to life than politics.

Canceling Out Each Other’s Vote

I knew Mary was nuts a long time ago. But I loved her in spite of it, and probably because of it.” – Longtime Democratic Strategist James Carville

“I would not deny we were, and remain, off beat creatures.” – Longtime Republican Strategist Mary Matalin

Even though they may have political debates over dinner, James and Mary have demonstrated to the nation that mixed political marriages can actually survive, thrive and produce two daughters for a generation and counting,

Democrat-Liberal James Carville and Republican-Libertarian Mary Matalin have been married for 25 years … tying the proverbial knot on Thanksgiving Day, 1993.

Not bad, not bad at all when it comes to years in the Institution … The Institution of Marriage.

“I’d rather stay happily married than pick a fight with my wife over politics,” said Carville.

There is wisdom in this sentiment, even though it originated from an über Democrat.

Even though we can almost reach a crescendo of political passion, Jeanne and yours instinctively know when it’s time to take … a time out. Sometimes you need to appreciate that if a topic is not your circus, and likewise the results are not your monkeys.

Let’s get back to the pivotal question:

Should a staunch Democrat marry a committed Republican or vice versa?

And let’s have Almost DailyBrett offer an insight into this interrogative.

If party affiliation is a real breaking point about whether a couple pursues the blessed sacrament of Matrimony, then you obviously don’t love each other.

If politics do indeed Trump marriage, then it’s a good thing (as Martha would say) that a given couple is not tying the knot.

Single women have a high propensity for being Democrats, married women less so. Single and married men are more likely to be Republicans. Mixed political marriages are a distinct possibility, and they can indeed survive, thrive and endure.

Politics are increasingly contentious in this divided country, but they shouldn’t be that important.

Love should trump politics, and Donald Trump too.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2016/07/01/the-interesting-thing-that-happens-when-a-republican-marries-a-democrat/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.29fc54e20fc4

https://www.politico.com/story/2013/12/james-carville-mary-matalin-recall-finding-love-101333

https://www.dallasobserver.com/arts/james-carville-and-mary-matalin-will-show-us-how-right-and-left-can-get-along-9115438

https://www.pbs.org/video/one-one-mary-matalin-and-james-carville/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2018/02/04/not-my-circus-not-my-monkeys/

https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/how-many-republicans-marry-democrats/

 

 

 

 

 

 “San Francisco has many charms, but it is not particularly salubrious. People regularly encountering used drug needles, human excrement and sidewalks full of homeless people when they arrive home late at night at their $4,000-a-month one-bedroom flat in San Francisco sometimes think they might just prefer it elsewhere.” The Economist cover story, “Peak Valley, Why startups are going elsewhere.”  

A median-priced home in the SF Bay Area, including the Silicon Valley, costs $940,000. Where can one find this mid-range beauty?

Scenic Milpitas? Bucolic Sunnyvale? Hip Hayward? Utopia in Union City?

HUD considers a family income of $120,000 in San Francisco to be “low income.” Six figures is “low income”?

The traffic in the Bay Area, let alone Los Angeles, is beyond mind-numbing.

If you like taxes, California is your redistribution nirvana: Income, sales, corporate, property, gas, tobacco, liquor, special assessments, fees, surtaxes, bridge tolls … If it tastes good, it’s taxed.

The Bay Area Council quantitatively revealed that 46 percent of regional respondents want to move elsewhere compared to one-in-three just two years ago.

And where do many consider moving? Portland, Eugene, Bend, Lake Oswego, Ashland … all in Oregon.

The desire of Californians to adopt and embrace Oregon’s superior quality of life at saner prices (e.g., zero sales tax) is not new. What is notable is the disappearance of the term, “Californicators” from the vocabulary of Oregonians.

Are Californicators going extinct?

What happened to this threatened species, which at one time was feared and loathed by Oregonians?

Driving Housing Prices; Compounding Traffic; Polluting Campgrounds

“I urge them to come and come many, many times to enjoy the beauty of Oregon. But I also ask them, for heaven’s sake, don’t move here to live.” – Former Oregon Governor Tom McCall

When the author of Almost DailyBrett first moved to Portland, Oregon in 1990, it was a good idea to remove the California plates from a vehicle as quickly (e.g., two nanoseconds) as possible.

As a former “Californicator,” your author was immediately responsible for all the sins that ailed Oregon. The state’s timber industry was heading in the wrong direction and the national recession hit Oregon hard.

Let’s face it, Oregonians exhibited a pronounced inferiority complex vis-à-vis California with its glorious weather, Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, Hollywood entertainers and yummy wineries in Napa and Sonoma Counties.

What Oregonians didn’t seem to appreciate was that times were-a-changing. California was becoming more image than reality. The estimated 9 million more souls (about the size of Michigan), who were projected to move to the Golden State by 2010, actually established residence … and then some.

Californians started commuting longer distances as traffic intensified and as taxes and tempers rose. California is more than Los Gatos, Los Altos, San Francisco, Tiburon, Malibu and La Jolla. The state is also home to hopelessness in Central Valley foreclosure communities including Stockton, Modesto, Fresno, and Bakersfield.

California used to be divided by north (e.g., San Francisco) vs. south (LaLaLand). Today, it is west (e.g., Palo Alto) vs. east (e.g., Visalia).

Doesn’t It Rain in Oregon?

Sure does and Oregonian loved exploiting the rain, dampness and gloom for their own purposes.

And then all the inferiority stopped cold, replaced by a smugness, even a sense that Oregon is superior to California.

Portland as evidenced by Portlandia became the place in which the Dream of the 90s survived.

JASON: “Remember when people were content to be unambitious? Sleep to eleven? Just hangout with their friends? You’d have no occupations whatsoever. Maybe you work a couple of hours a week at a coffee shop?”

MELANIE: “Right. I thought that died out a long time ago.”

JASON: “Not in Portland. Portland is a city where young people go to retire.”

Oregon became synonymous with the Nike Swoosh. The Ducks played twice for the national title, and won their last two Rose Bowls with Marcus Mariota accepting the Heisman Trophy.

Oregon’s Willamette Valley quickly became recognized as the home of some of the best Pinot Gris’ and Pinot Noirs in the world.

The state’s microbrews are literally second to none including: Widmer Hefeweizen (Portland), Deschutes Mirror Bond Pale Ale (Bend), Ninkasi Total Domination IPA (Eugene), Full Sail Amber Ale (Hood River).

The state diversified away from timber to become a leader in high technology, cancer research, and a whole host of service oriented businesses.

The departure of the figurative Californicators from the local nomenclature is both a reflection of the decline of California, but more importantly the growing coolness of Oregon.

https://www.opb.org/artsandlife/article/former-governor-tom-mccall-message-visitors/

https://www.economist.com/briefing/2018/09/01/silicon-valley-is-changing-and-its-lead-over-other-tech-hubs-narrowing

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2014/07/29/the-death-of-californication/

https://genius.com/Carrie-brownstein-and-fred-armisen-dream-of-the-90s-lyrics

https://simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_U.S._states_by_population

 

 

 

 

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