Sunday, August 26, 2012

Snidely Whiplash

oh forgive me . . .  I was thinking about Mittens.

This is an incomplete post, but I am tired of thinking about it.

Minor Ayn Rand-ness

I drove my son to school at GW on Friday.  On the way we discussed how the villians of the Atlas Shrugged rig the rules to take intellectual property and bounty of others work to profit themselves.  The heroes are not interested in great wealth, but they are interest in reward equal to their efforts.  All of them are innovators (Galt) or have vision that lead them outside the norm.  Most of them start at the bottom and work.  If firms like Bain and individuals like Romney profit by hollowing out failing companies rather than innovating on their own, protect themselves by special tax loop holes, and otherwise utilize rules specifically designed to profit them, they are not Rand's heros, they are exactly her villians. 

Anyway, Atlas Shrugged is a great read.  It is an interesting personal response to communism. 

I am an entrepeneur and a tax cut on my upper rate won't help my business or you

At least, I sometimes count myself as one, though obviously not the best one.  I started a company that has survived for more than 15 years.  Started with zero employees and bootstrapped to over 20 employees, I have paid millions of dollars in salaries over the years, provided excellent health insurance, and matched my employee retirement contributions.  My company survived the recession, but we're finding it very hard to get back to our peak.  It is very slow and remains very scary at times.

Along the way I've provided some innovative programming code and ideas that we implemented in our company.  This code has turned up used verbatim in India (with copyright info removed) and carried away by ex-employees to my competitors.   If I was big enough I might be able to sue some people, but that is a lot easier said than done.   As a small business, I have pretty little leverage to go after companies abroad and it would be laughable for me to go after some of the big names in my business, they are nearly billion dollar companies.

It has been a lot of hard work for a long time.  In that time I've helped numerous companies with products that have become market leaders in their area.  Sometimes the companies have sold for 100s of millions of dollars.  Not that I gave them their inventions, but I provided them expertise in my area, sometimes rescuing them from their own mistakes, all at a reasonable price.

Anyway, in this particular area, I have walked the walk. 

So, I can confirm for you that if my upper tax rate goes from 35% to 29%, it won't make an iota of difference to me and I won't employ a single extra employee as a result.  I will simply keep the difference.  So, Republicans, do it if you want, but realize that the Romney tax plan will do nothing for the middle class.  Even worse, even David Stockman called it, the Romney plan will only make the deficit worse. 

Faith-based Objectivism is an Oxymoron

There was a reason Ayn Rand was an athiest, for this she was not a hypocrit.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Thank you Mr. Romney

[made a few spelling and grammar fixes 8/12]

Finally, with the vultures starting to circle, Romney does something beyond riding his virtually German engineered campaign machine.  It was a wonderful machine, like a high-end Mercedes, that we were all jealous of, but it was in the process of getting beat by a dirty American muscle car.  So Romney needed to juice it up and Romney did to the benefit of all by picking Paul Ryan.

Romney's nonsense tax plan gets a synposis in the highly-biased non-Fox-factual NY Times.  Ryan's original plan includes a frontal assault on government social programs and specifically Medicare, which it proposes to voucherize and throw back to the states.  I suspect this won't be too popular or an easy sell with the majority of Americans.  However, Ryan, unlike Romney, isn't afraid to answer questions directly, won't have to bury his landmark achievements, and will probably be willing to share his personal taxes.  The GOP will benefit if the Ryan choice helps Romney move out of his give-no-details and blame-everything-under-the-sun-on-Obama campaign and start creating a presence for himself. 

Clearly, I think the Tea Party slash-and-burn vision of government will be a disasterous path to follow.  The last 30 years of deregulation of the banking industry, supply-side economics, unfunded wars, and tax cuts favoring the rich have created massive deficits, degraded the US ability to generate college graduates, ravaged the middle-class, and concentrated wealth and power into the hands a small and disconnected group.  When a hand-picked set of reactionary supreme court judges then gives them unlimited ability to influence elections, democracy in our country is on the way out.

Yet, Mr. Romney's all-in choice for VP gives us an opportunity to debate the big argument that has been bubbling up for the last 50 years in some gory detail.  Are we going to:

Dismantle the social safety net, public education, public infrastructure, legal protections, environmental protections, and anything short of military spending, in order to chase after lower taxes.


Attempt to fix the system with cuts, cost control measures, and increasing revenues.

We need a long-term approach that implements changes in a gradual way to move towards a balanced budget five to ten years from now.  We need it to be based on compromises on both sides.   It will need both more revenue and cuts.  (Perhaps we could loan Grover Norquist to some other country for a decade or so until it was safe to bring him back).

Perhaps it is a wistful hope that if the enough people clearly reject Paul Ryan and the Tea Party's vision of governing, we'll spend the next 4 years trying to find some compromises rather having the GOP spend 4 more years holding the US hostage to its mythical Rand-ian dream world. 

Rumor has it we will see action after the election to move towards a Simpson-Bowles type discussion.  It might happen if Obama wins.   It would be a welcome turn of events.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Mid-Summer Update

Whoa - been busy. . . and lazy when it comes to blogging. My sister's must t'sking at me somewhere. But this won't push the envelope either.

Congratulations to:
  • The US Women's soccer team for winning the gold medal. They got lucky in the final against Japan, but soccer is often a game of controversy. All of the final 4 were playing at a very high level.  Yes, Canada lost a heartbreaker, but the head stomp, the coach's pre-game comments, and post-game whining dissipated most of my sympathies. Unlike Japan who was clearly robbed of a PK, Canada got penalized for their behavior (and not for some highly-illegal head stomping behavior). You lost a tough game to a tough competitor.
  • To the many other athletes from all countries who have made it an entertaining Olympics (but not the Argentinian who popped Carmelo Anthony in the nuts with a low blow).
  • My daughter for getting an offer to play lacrosse at Elon University and verbally committing.
  • NASA for successfully landing Curiosity within a small region within a crater on another planet using heat shields, parachutes, and rockets. I hope I live long enough to see a real person walk on Mars.
  • Global warming denialists for ushering in another record breaking summer of heat and drought, the rest of us look forward to more high minded discussions and brilliant scientific discoveries from you.  Meanwhile we'll do what humans do so well, adapt to a changing environment.
I am still stunned by the gaffe-apaloosa that is The Romney's campaign. I am pretty sure that most of those that will be voting for Romney will do it because the hate Obama.

My recent favorites are:
  • The Romney praising the Israelis because their medical system only uses 8% of their GDP, ignoring the fact that Isreal has a centralized healthcare system.
  • The Romney expressing doubt about the Olympics being a success, thus forcing British politicians to attack him.
  • The Romney pretending he doesn't even know when his wife's horse is showing in the Olympics, thus demonstrating that he will choose his image over even his family.
  • The Romney choosing as his farmer the multi-millionaire real estate guy, rather than like a simple farmer who is struggling to save his farm from taxes, etc.
  • The Romney's commercial showing a small businessman who was incensed by Obama's misstep on who builds small businesses, but turns out his business has gotten multiple government loans.
 Message to Romney: having a butt load of money only matters if you actually use the money (smartly).

I am guessing Romney is a reasonable nice guy so long as you don't have something he wants.

If things continue to go bad (and they are), we can expect real weirdness to start coming out of the Romney campaign.

The Obama campaign is an ugly campaign for an ugly time and you might be prone to criticize him until you remember Romney can't even come out and say Obama is a Christian American - born in the US.  That's right, even though Obama has shown his official birth certificate, a sizeable number of Republicans still think the birther stuff is legit and that Obama is a Muslim.  Really?  Romney wants the Democrats to ignore his business career and his hallmark legislative achievement as Governor, yet Romney can't stand up to the birthers?   Did someone forget that Senator McConnell made it priority one to obstruct anything Obama champions?   Compromise doesn't mean that you just do what the Tea Party wants. 
After years of the nasty hardball from Republicans and the right-wing media machine, it turns out they can't take it from the Democrats. 
If the MSM were trying to make a reasonable commentary about the roughness and vapidity of the campaign, they would have to start with what constitutes much of the base of the GOP. Civility ended there a long time ago. It has just surprised me that the Dems took off the gloves and decided to fight dirty too.  Funny how fewer and fewer people are buying the hogwash that tax cuts to the rich is the solution to our problems.

In case you are wondering, nothing has changed from my Right Down a Hole post.