Saturday, January 06, 2007

Liberal Giving

I missed the show when it was on in December but John Stossel did a piece on who gives. As I was doing my daily Hitler Youth news search, I ran across an article Stossel wrote in anticipation of the show.

Stossel does a test of giving between the liberal affluent hotbed of San Francisco and a middle class conservative enclave of Sioux Falls SD. You can read the article. Stossel backs up a lot of his article with data collected by Arthur Brooks in his book "Who Really Cares".

The common stereotype of conservatives is that they have theirs so why share. But I believe conservatives understand what it means to be about something bigger than your own consumption, that life is about what you give... not what you take.

As a recovering liberal, I can attest to being someone who was more about their own consumption than contributing. I even believed it was selfish for people to want to have children. I could never understand the whole concept of living into something bigger than yourself.

Looking back at my own liberal thought process and talking to other liberals, time after time, I notice classic projection. Why not? As a liberal, I obviously know more than you, so if I think something is selfish or self serving than it most be so.

A few years back, I had a liberal client who just started bashing Bush and how he was killing the environment. After he ended his diatribe, I asked him if he wanted to contribute money from his Ohio tax refund to the Ohio Wildlife Conservation fund or the Nature Preserves and scenic rivers (both elections on your state income tax form if you would like to do) since it was clear to me the enviroment was important to him. The answer was a definite no. He's also no longer a client, figure that.

So I guess for a liberal, generosity can only exist when the government takes one's wealth to do for another.

It reminds me of a great Reagan quote "Liberals know much more than the rest of us, but what they know just isn't so".

Friday, January 05, 2007

Lance Cpl. William Spencer RIP

The funeral procession for Marine Lance Cpl. William Spencer just drove by my office here in Loveland, OH.

It's been a while since I've been overcome with the sorrow I felt watching 100 plus people line up along Loveland Ave paying their respects for someone who has made the ultimate sacrifice.

In a Christmas post, I mentioned that God has plans for us bigger than we could ever personally accomplish. However, in order to accomplish these things, we have to be willing to sacrifice something of ourselves. Lance Cpl William Spencer did just that.

May God bless him, his family, friends and comrades.

Home Depot

I'm not a believer in regulating executive compensation packages. However, when legislation finally occurs, the executives have no one to blame but themselves.

Right now Bob Nardelli is in the news for his "excessive" severance package. While the terms of severance were negotiated up front in his initial contract, I would offer that the initial contract was not written in a fair market value sense.

Let me explain. Executive compensation is usually determined by a compensation committee of various board members and the compensation committee will usually hire a compensation "consultant" who submits a report on the appropriate compensation.

Let's assume old Gordon is the compensation consultant for ABC Corp. Gordon knows that the members of the compensation committees are also CEO's of their respective companies and he would like to continue in this consulting line of work. Do you think I a) submit a report showing an appropriate income of $250 thousand a year or b) $250 million a year for the CEO of ABC.

If you answer "a", you probably need to get your resume together because there won't be many compensation gigs coming your way in the near future.

If you would like to continue your career as a compensation consultant, the correct answer is "b".

What's even more rich about the whole scheme is now that I've determined that the CEO of ABC is $250 million I can now use that as a comparison when I establish the CEO's compensation for XYZ corp which I believe is a more "difficult" job for who knows what reason. So I'll now decide the appropriate compensation is $260 million and on and on......

Think of it this way. How much would you be making, if you got to hire an appraiser (paid by you) and simply submitted the report to your boss for your next raise? I'm guessing there's a celebration in the future.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Global warming II

Another question I have for the "earth is warming" crowd is how do we know what the temperatures were a few hundred years ago, let alone thousands or millions of years ago? I think I know what they'll say: "We can determine the temperatures by looking at fossils or by how thick the rings are on trees or reading books and manuscripts that are available." But let's be honest here.... we can speculate or have a general idea, but no one can really know for sure just how warm or cold it was thousands of years ago. Even official U.S. records go back less than 200 years and that's a blip in the life time of the earth. There's likely been many cooling periods (ice ages) and just as many warming periods (ice melting ages) over the life of the earth.

One more question... scientist are always talking about the "average surface temperature of earth". How is that determined? Even if it's possible to get an accurate average temperature with current technology, how can we know for sure what is was thousands of years ago before the thermometer was even invented.

Maybe I've missed the boat or haven't read the right books. But it seems to me that if politicians and leaders in government want to set up extensive new laws and bureaucracies and change the way humans go about living, these type of questions should be answered. Maybe I should just read Al Gore's book.

The Minimum Wage....again

"A federal minimum wage is an idea whose time came in 1938, when public confidence in markets was at a nadir and the federal government's confidence in itself was at an apogee. This, in spite of the fact that, with the 19 percent unemployment and the economy contracting by 6.2 percent in 1938, the New Deal's frenetic attempts had failed to end, and perhaps had prolonged, the Depression."

George Will: The Minimum Wage is a Bad Idea

Thought for the day

A fine is a tax for wrong doing....

A tax is a fine for doing right.

Famous Accountants

I've always told a self deprecating joke about how there are no famous CPA's in this country, for that matter, around the world. Where are the Milton Friedman's, F. Lee Bailey's or Jim Cramer's for our profession.

Well, I was wrong. An article in accounting today mentioned the Baruch College accounting program which has produced "some of the most illustrious figures in US accounting history: Abraham Briloff, Charles Dreyfus, Eli Mason, Stan Ross, Larry Zicklin and many more."

Where's the paparazzi? Where are the entourages? I wonder how many groupies lost their underwear around these guys?

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Global warming?

Whenever we have a mild winter, talk inevitable turns to global warming. Of course most people forget the extremely cold October the mid-west had, but this winter is no exception. What I don’t understand is why we don’t see record high temperatures being consistently broken. Wouldn’t you think that if the average daily highs are increasing every year, due to the earth warming, you would begin to consistently see new record highs being set? But just a couple days ago I noticed in the paper that the record high for that day in Cincinnati dated back to 1885? If global warming is really taking place, shouldn’t we see more recent records highs being broken every year?

Maybe it's Bush's fault or my logic is way off base or some meteorologist geek (like this one) can meet me for a drink and clear things up for me. I have a feeling people living in Colorado and the Plains are hoping for a little global warming themselves.

Enron, I mean, Social Security pension theft

A while back I read that the Social Security System has an unfunded pension liability between 18 and 25 five trillion, I say, trillion, dollars.

What that means to us is this... Pretend the Congress decided today to stop all future payments into Social Security and for the system to just pay out in benefits what it has collected to date, it would take 18 to 25 trillion (let me repeat) TRILLION dollars just to pay back what they have collected. All that money we, the taxpayers, have been paying into has been loaned to the federal government to pay for important projects like the bridge to no where or mohair subsidies to Sam Donaldson.

What I find even more interesting is that the numbers are so large, actuaries can only narrow the figures to +/- 4 trillion dollars.

Unfortunately for Ken Lay and Jeff Skilling, they don't work for the federal government, otherwise they never would have been charged for fraud and theft... instead they would have been promoted.

I just did a little math to check this out. Assume Jim Doe graduates from college and earns a starting salary of $20,000/ yr. and maintains that salary in real dollars for the next 40 years of his working life (age 62). If you took his 6.2% that he pays into the Social security fund as well as the 6.2% match his employer and put those funds into an IRA paying 5%, he would have an account balance of $314,000... Enough to pay him his current salary for the next 31 years (age 93).

What's even more interesting, let's assume Jim is gay and has no children and he dies at the age of 61. Under the social security system, how much would his partner be entitled to in benefits? If you answered a big fat zero, you get a gold star.

Under a privatized plan, he would be able to leave $300,000 to his partner.

Why doesn't the media tell this intriguing tale of fraud to the general public? My guess is that actuary science is not nearly as sexy as reporting another drug dealer getting capped. It might also be that Trixie, our friendly superhero/news reporter, is too dumb to understand all these "number kind of things". Besides, she doesn't have the time to learn it because she's got another botox and collagen appointment to get to.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

City leadership

I moved to the city of Cincinnati in the fall of 1981. At that time, here were the names of some of the prominent city politicians.

Cissell, Chabot, Bortz, Straus, Sterne, Yates, Mirlisena, Luken, Vehr, Blackwell, Mann, Springer etc.

Compare that to the names of ten years ago.

Tillery, Luken, Qualls, Sterne, Yates, Heimlich, Portune etc.

And now the names today.

Mallory, Cole, Smitherman, Thomas, Crowley, Berding, Reece, etc.

First, you'll notice that the number of Republicans are declining as the list progresses. Second, you'll also notice the Democrats that appear on the earlier list tended to be true statesmen (women), competent leaders, and problem solvers.

Given the murder record and the population flight out of the city, it begs the question I continue to ask.

Are the totally incompetent leaders in the city a product of the morons who remain in the city or are the totally incompetent leaders driving out everyone but the morons in the city?

What's that sound again? another five people just moved to the suburbs.

Murder record

Well, the city of Cincinnati beat it's previous murder record with a couple of more killings this past weekend.

What's even more remarkable, is that the previous records were at a time when the city population was about three times the size it is today.

Mayor Mallory has taken step two in the "How to be Detroit" lesson plan. Step One, claim that he and the other city leaders are changing every thing they can to "turn things around".

Step 2. Accept the murder rate as it is by saying "it's basically the same issue as all other urban areas".

Coming shortly, Step 3, we can now accept success in the lower murder rate since there is no one left in town alive.

What was that sound? 10 more people just moved out to the suburbs.

Sunday, December 31, 2006

Saddam RIP

Yesterday, I was listening to a talk show where the topic was why wasn't the media showing graphic details on the Hussein execution when they (especially CNN) where more than willing to show the graphic shooting and dragging American serviceman throughout the streets of Iraq.

Toria Tolley ( an ex CNN reporter ) got on the air and to listen to her non-sequitor logic was beyond belief.

After all the discussion, I was amazed that no one brought up the reason that came to me immediately; they are chicken.

It's the same reason no one would print the Danish comics mocking Allah, and yet had no problems showing a Piss Christ museum exhibit. Media executives know they are in no danger from a mob scene of Christians yet they fear for their lives for anything that may be insulting to Muslims, even the execution of a mad man.