Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The GOPhers think this is a good thing

The New York Times reports that at least 25 CEOs earned more than their companies paid in federal income taxes last year.  These are not small or obscure companies.  The list includes Boeing, eBay, Verizon, and GE (whose CEO, Jeffrey Imelt, is the chair of President Obama's council on competitiveness).  

Yeah, we know, "Corporations are people, too."  No, they're not.  Verizon may be run by human beings (I know a bit about how that company is managed and one might question that), but to say that it is people is like saying that a huge earthmover or crane is simply the person at the controls.  No.  At some point, size takes over and the organization loses all but the most tenuous connection to the people it employs, its officers, directors and its stockholders; the connection is even more muted because of the differences among those groups.  As one of my professors said, a long time ago, at some point a difference in degree becomes a difference in kind.  

And don't bleat about how high our corporate taxes are and how they discourage American competitiveness.  That's Eco 101, but in the real world things are a lot more complex.  The fact is that the US is still by far the largest economy--and market--in the world.  International corporations need to be here.  Let them pay for the privilege.  Make them pay more for the privilege.  One of the first things we should do is to tighten rules that let companies use slick accounting to keep profits offshore.  

One idea that I have had is to tax companies according to their size.  Small, efficient companies would be taxed at a lower rate than large, inefficient ones.  (And at the same rate as large, efficient ones, although efficiency tends to go down as size goes up.)  The concept--I haven't got beyond concept--would be to give companies a choice:  their tax rates would be set by their return on investment or their gross income, although the tax would be levied only on net income.  Companies could change their election, but only after a period of years.  

I'm not an economist, and can't calculate exactly how all this would all work out.  If there ARE any economists out there, let TONE know and perhaps we can explore the idea.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

More S&P looneyness

Not content with downgrading the United States, S&P has downgraded a number of cities and counties.  

Why?  Because these governmental entities have too much of their money in US Treasury securities.  

Now let me get this straight:  These cities and counties are being penalized for investing in the safest securities in the nation.  So if they had invested in riskier bonds, debentures, stocks, etc., that would have been better?

Does that make sense to anyone?  Except S&P, of course.

(Remember that after S&P downgraded the US, nervous investors fled the markets for...U.S. Treasuries.  And we trust these people to provide guidance to investors?)

Gold bubble

The price of gold is now more than $1800 per ounce.  (That's a troy ounce, which is a little heavier than a conventional ounce.)  

An ounce of gold is a cube about 2/3 of an inch on each side.  More than $1800.

Gold is going to prove to be a bubble.

You heard it here first.

What's different this time

William Black, litigation director of the Federal Home Loan Bank Board during the S&L crisis and now a law professor, tells NPR why no one is going to jail as a result of the financial melt-down, and what the regulators' strategy should be.  Listen.

Another boondoggle

Yet another obvious waste of the taxpayers' money.  The New York Times reports that the Justice Department is investigating whether Standard & Poor's improperly rated dozens of mortgage-backed securities in the run-up to the financial crisis.

Well, of course they did.  Isn't it obvious?  Indeed, it's been clear for years that S&P and the other big rating firms, Moody's and Fitch, were either totally incompetent, willfully blind in the service of the bottom line or corrupt in certifying as AAA investments that were junk.

So why do we need an investigation?

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The greatest line

Wolf Blitzer interviewed President Obama and reminded him that he got his daughters a dog as a present after winning the 2008 election.  What, Blitzer wanted to know, would he get them if he wins reelection next year? 
When I'm reelected, what I'll be getting them is a continuation of Secret Service so that when boys want to start dating them they are going to be surrounded by men with guns.  That's their gift. 
Thanks to TalingPointsMemo for the report.

Why Mitt Romney cannot be elected President

Mitt Romney might well be the strongest Rebuplican nominee against President Obama, at least on paper, but he cannot be elected.  Why? I hear you asking.  In one word--or one name--Seamus.  

You don't remember Seamus (pronounced like the private eye in a Black Mask mystery, shamus)?  He was the Irish Setter that the Mittster tied to the top of the family car before the Romney's drove 600 miles to a vacation in Ontario.  

No one can be elected President who is cruel to dogs.  There are too many dog lovers who vote.  

If Mitt locks the GOP nomination, I, for one, am going to order a whole bunch of bumper stickers that say:


I'll let you know where to order yours when--and if--the time comes.

Monday, August 15, 2011

A useful yardstick

Michele ("The Madwoman of Minnesota") Bachmann is touting her success as a small-businesswoman to show that she would be effective at restoring the economy if she should be elected President.

Seems to me that's like saying your experience coaching a pewee football team fits you to replace Bill Belichick.  

Sunday, August 14, 2011

If he debated a post it would be hard to say who won

Rick Perry has joined the contest for the Rebuplican presidential nomination.  Down in Texas, where he's from, they have a saying about people who try to appear bigger than they have any right to be:  "All hat and no cattle."

In Perry's case, it's all hat and no brains.  Listen to him.  The man is dumb as a post.  He makes Michele Bachmann sound like a brain trust.

In his announcement, the governor pledged that if elected he'll spend every day trying to make Washington as inconsequential in our lives as possible.  

How would he do that?

Maybe he'll eliminate FEMA, so that the federal government won't get involved in natural disasters.

Maybe he'll eliminate the FDA, so that the federal government won't certify the safety of drugs before they go on the market.

Maybe he'll eliminate the Department of Agriculture, so that federal inspectors won't check the safety of meat before it reaches our tables.

Maybe he'll cancel the FAA, so that airline schedules won't be regulated and pilots won't have to take orders from federal bureaucrats.

Maybe he'll wipe out the Federal Highway Administration so that we don't have to look at those boring signs, all the same, on interstate highways.  Maybe he'll stop spending our tax dollars on interstate highways.

Surely, he'll cut back on the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and assure that each of us can own the assault rifle, shoulder-fired missile and IED of our choice.

We know he'd gut the EPA, because private industry has done such good job at assuring clean water to drink and air to breathe.

He'd certainly try to nail the new Consumer Finance Protection Bureau, because ordinary citizens don't need protection from predatory lenders or credit-card issuers.

Yes, there are limitless opportunities to pare the federal government, as long as you don't care about the health, welfare and safety of the American people

Back by popular demand

I thought we had pretty well seen the end of TONE, but here we are, back through the demands of our regular readers (both of them) who clamored (very quietly) for its return.

No promises on how long we'll stay, but for now at least, we're back!