Monthly Archives: January 2014

Two Scandals: The Bridge And The IRS

Media Coverage.Bridge.IRS

Listen, I mentioned that government is coercion:

We allow ourselves to be governed in exchange for a certain degree of order.  We allow ourselves to be subject to the confiscatory practice of taxation in order to pay for that order, that law and order.

And we give power to men that we wouldn’t otherwise give.

Power corrupts – absolute power corrupts absolutely.

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Mentally Strong People – Feeling Sorry

Brain Power

Mental Toughness

At times I’ve gone on and on about IQ – the measure of cognitive ability possessed by an individual.  I still am convinced that, as a general statement, groups of people with higher IQ’s will out perform groups of people with lower IQ’s.

That said, there is more to the story in how successful people achieve the things that they do.  Part of that additional story?

Mental Toughness

I found this article in Forbes some time ago ad found nearly all of the 13 characteristics of “mentally tough” people to be very spot on.

Let’s start with #1.

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Chris Christie – Lane Closure Crisis

Chris Christie

All government is coercion.

We allow ourselves to be governed in exchange for a certain degree of order.  We allow ourselves to be subject to the confiscatory practice of taxation in order to pay for that order, that law and order.

And we give power to men that we wouldn’t otherwise give.

Power corrupts – absolute power corrupts absolutely.

The Christie administration retaliated against a political slight.  But they didn’t retaliate against the political operative, in this case a democrat mayor who didn’t endorse Christie for governor – no, they retaliated against the people that live in the mayor’s town.  The Christie administration order lane closures to ensure a traffic nightmare would take place on a bridge serving the mayor’s town.

This isn’t denying an appointment, this isn’t leaking sensitive information to the press and this isn’t shelving legislation favored by an opponent.  This is wanted abuse of political authority it retribution of a perceived slight.

This was planned, this was deliberate and this was malicious.

I’m not sure that Christie himself ever knew or gave the order – that may or may not come out.  But in the same way that Obama sets the tone in the White House and is responsible for the various scandals under his watch, Mr. Christie is responsible for the actions of his deputy chief of staff.

Will this signal the end of his career?  Who knows – I doubt it.  Traffic is traffic after all.  And, to be sure, the only career he has remaining is to be a serious contender for the GOP nomination in 2016; something he wasn’t guaranteed to win before this happened.  But if I had to guess, this alone doesn’t sink his chances, in fact, how he handles it may serve to help him.

Neighborhood Farms – I’m a Hippie After All

neighborhood farms

I remember once saying that I like “being a conservative in a liberal world.”

Not so sure I still think that, but whatever.  What I DO enjoy, however, is being a hippie in a libertarian’s world:

When you picture a housing development in the suburbs, you might imagine golf courses, swimming pools, rows of identical houses.

But now, there’s a new model springing up across the country that taps into the local food movement: Farms — complete with livestock, vegetables and fruit trees — are serving as the latest suburban amenity.

It’s called development-supported agriculture, a more intimate version of community-supported agriculture — a farm-share program commonly known as CSA. In planning a new neighborhood, a developer includes some form of food production — a farm, community garden, orchard, livestock operation, edible park — that is meant to draw in new buyers, increase values and stitch neighbors together.

“These projects are becoming more and more mainstream,” says , a fellow with the Urban Land Institute. He estimates that more than 200 developments with an agricultural twist already exist nationwide.

“Golf courses cost millions to build and maintain, and we’re kind of overbuilt on golf courses already,” he says. “If you put in a farm where we can grow things and make money from the farm, it becomes an even better deal.”

Very cool.

At the minimum, I would like to see an easing of the regulations surrounding agriculture and neighborhoods.  I get that you can’t have roosters crowing at the break of dawn, but small hen houses, bees and ever growing gardens would be a welcome idea.

Thoughts On Hall of Fame

Hall of Fame

Three new Hall of Famers – Glavine and Maddox, perhaps two of the best pitchers of all time.  And then Thomas.  Meh – I have no argument.

However, I couldn’t help but notice that McGuire and Clemens each failed to make it and, to make it worse, received fewer votes this year than last.  Which got me to thinking.

What’s the difference – as far as the integrity of the game is concerned – between some medicines that help the body train and technology that allows doctors to replace entire ligaments?

Is it not true that Tommy John surgery artificially enhances careers?

Democrat Mike McIntyre Retires

Mike McIntyre Retires

A nine time congressman is calling it quits.  In a statement released this afternoon, Mike McIntyre is going to retire at the end of his current term.

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Obamacare Woes

Red Tape

This is a common story and is most likely mitigated:

David Miller, of Franklinton, says he has applied, canceled and reapplied for health insurance for his family 14 times. After weeks of technical glitches, he was finally able to select a Blue Cross Blue Shield plan that would cover him, his wife and twin sons. However, he still encountered problems.

“We got to the very last step. We had it all set up, and when we hit the confirm button, then another technical glitch prevented us from being able to complete the process,” Miller said, adding that he has no idea if he and his family are covered. “Every time we think we’re getting close, then there’s another technical glitch, as they call it.”

No one denies that the roll-out of the service was a massive failure.  And, to their credit, the administration seems to have the front end fixed.

But this is the problem left unresolved:

Miller says he called Blue Cross Blue Shield and was told that his application has not been forwarded to them. He says he calls the helpline about every other day and regularly spends two to three hours on the phone waiting for and then talking with service representatives and their supervisors who are unable to tell him his status or how to proceed.

The insurance company doesn’t think that he has coverage.  That’s because the back end website structure isn’t communicating between all organizations.  The billing organizations are collecting money, the insurance companies aren’t receiving data and the consumer isn’t sure if they are getting the right information regarding subsidies or not.

This isn’t close to being over.


Change In North Carolina Tax Code


North Carolina is undergoing some changes in the way we tax ourselves.  For more than 100 years the state has been dominated by democrats in the senate, house and governor’s mansion.  That changed in 2010 when both the house and senate flipped red but a democrat, Bev Purdue, was still the  governor.

In 2012 Pat McCrory won the governor race and the trifecta is complete; republicans control all three major law making bodies.

It should not be a surprise that this change in leadership is going to bring about changes in laws – tax collection being one of them.  And starting January 1, NC is seeing some changes:

Republicans insist the new tax law will help the state to attract new businesses and create jobs by lowering income tax rates that have been the highest among Southeastern states. They’ve emphasized the new lower flat rate of 5.8 percent for personal income tax — compared to the outgoing three-tiered system of 6, 7 and almost 7.8 percent — and noted more than 40 credits, exemptions and deductions ultimately will expire or be repealed.

The income tax has been reduced; we’ve been one of the highest taxed states in the south for years.  There is some who argue that jobs aren’t impacted by higher or lower income taxes – people go where the work is.  However, there is some calculus for people who are able to control where they live.

Also gone?  Certain exemptions:

Owners of many types of businesses lose a deduction on their first $50,000 of income, while home-related deductions on mortgage interest and property taxes are capped at $20,000 combined. A credit for child care expenses and deductions on certain kinds of pension income are gone.

Also gone – and most likely the most contentious of the list – is the earned-income tax credit:

Also set to expire on Jan. 1 is the earned-income tax credit, which gives payments to some of the working poor even if they owe no taxes. The credit’s elimination means some low-income families might have to pay a small tax bill again.

And my favorite change is the corporate rates:

The corporate tax rate, meanwhile, will decline from 6.9 percent to 6 percent in 2014. Both personal and corporate income tax rates fall further in 2015.

Unlike the income tax, the corporate rate does influence the decisions of businesses to move to North Carolina.  And, for those that are already here, it frees that money for growth and investment.

Generally, an easier and cleaner tax code is better.  Lower taxes, not higher, are better for growth and prosperity.  In general, I like the changes.  And yes, I know that some folks, likely those of lower incomes, are going to pay more than they previously did, however, I think it’s important that we don’t use the tax system as a redistribution machine – I don’t like negative tax rates.


Obamacare Score Card

A very nice list of potential problems for Obamacare from Coyote:

  1. Millions complain about their doctor no longer being in-network
  2. Thousands of companies are finding it cheaper to drop coverage and pay Obamacare penalties than continuing to provide health care coverage under new rules
  3. Despite fewer exchange enrollments than expected, total Federal subsidy payments higher than expected
  4. Emergency rooms overflow with new Medicaid patients that no private doctor will take on
  5. Exchange-sold health policies, particularly the unsubsidized ones, were mainly bought by the old and sick
  6. Obama Administration works to bail out health insurers via a number of different avenues
  7. Small to mid-size companies are shocked as Obama Administration finally reveals new record-keeping requirements
  8. After 5 years of 3-4% growth, health care spending skyrockets in 2014
  9. ________ health insurance company dropping coverage in  ____(state)_______
  10. Hackers steal tens of thousands of names and social security numbers from health care exchange computers.

I’m guessing we see 1, 3, 4, 5, 9 and 10 for sure.

The Coming Financial Crisis – Retirement


Retirement Is Our Next Financial Crisis

The last financial crisis we faced threatened the nature of  how we do business.  Some say that capitalism nearly failed.  And yes, it was bad – and continues to be bad.  However, are we facing a larger crisis in the coming years?

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