I followed a Facebook thread today begun by a former student who was reacting to the unfolding college admittance scandal. She was relating how hard she worked to get into college and to pay her own way without help from others, including her mother. There is nothing unique about this woman, she did it the way most of us did it, on our own merits and our own labors. She wasn’t whining or bitching but instead, just expressing the disappointment she felt that American higher education is so difficult for the most while others can evade the hurdles with little more than monetary bribes from their parents.
While I’m not much for speculation when it comes to guessing who will win elections, I still enjoy listening to some people’s opinions and insight. Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich is one such person. Here’s a brief video in which he diagrams what factors are most needed to right the turned over apple cart that is America under Trump.
We’ve had forty-five presidents in our nation’s history and there’s a prevailing myth that anyone, regardless of wealth, can grow up and join the club. While it is possible, and we do have examples, to be born poor and make it to the White House, is not the normal way things happen, especially in the modern era.
Everyone knows about Lincoln being born in a log cabin and splitting fence rails for a living. But besides Abe, there are a number of others who had similar humble beginnings. On the list of those who weren’t born with a wooden spoon in their mouths would be George Washington, the Roosevelts, John F. Kennedy, and the Bushes.
When I was teaching about the causes of World War Two I had to discuss the rampant inflation rate in Germany following World War One. In 1914 the exchange rate between the German mark and the American dollar was roughly 4.2 to 1. According to Wikipedia, nine years later it was 4.2 trillion to 1. I remember telling my students that the mark was weakening so fast that people would pay for a restaurant meal when ordering because if they waited until the meal was finished, the price would have gone up.
Yesterday I did a little Googling about using drones to get up and over border walls and I didn’t have to dig too far to learn that the technology exists to inexpensively smuggle large amounts of drugs into America via an air force of drones.
Drones vary widely in both price and payload. A few thousand dollars on Amazon will buy one a drone capable of carrying a payload of 12 kg. At an average street price of $200 a gram in the US a 12 kg cargo could be valued at as much as $2.4 million. For several thousand more one could buy a drone with a cargo capacity of 660 pounds. You do the math and don’t forget such a drone may be able to smuggle a couple of people over a wall.
Seriously, I am just kidding, there’s nothing good about Trump and the GOP’s huge unfunded tax unless you’re a member of the super-duper jet club or America’s most exclusive country club crowd. If you’re just another working stiff in America, living from check to check and wondering how the hell your kids will be able to go to college without enslaving themselves in the life long debtors prison called student loans.
Whatever small gains you may experience from the tax cut will last for ten years or less. That’s because your cuts are temporary with a ten-year shelf life, after which, they expire. For that small percentage of America’s richest, the cuts are permanent and will just keep on giving. The new laws may make it easier for you to file but will do nothing to make it easier for you to meet your long-term obligations.
Continue reading The Good & Bad of Trump’s Tax Cut
Old white men wearing dark suits and sporting locks of bright grey hair don’t like change. That’s why whippersnappers who are young, female, beautiful, intelligent, and can bust a move in the hallways of Congress, scare the shit out of them. Most specifically I’m talking about Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a major rising star in today’s progressivism. Besides her joy of dancing the old folks don’t care much for her suggested reforms to the nation’s income tax system. What’s got their sphincters in a twist is the 70% income tax she wants to impose on the nation’s wealthiest. If one doesn’t go beyond the 70% figure it is easy for the wealth and power block to lure the average American into thinking the government is coming after their money. Quite the contrary is the case.
Donald Trump never tires of telling us how intelligent he is, how good a businessman he is, and how much better he is than anyone else. Of course, his favorite targets are Clinton and Obama. All year he has tooted his own horn over the record levels attained by the stock market and in fact, the Dow Jones Industrial Average did reach a record high. But in December the bottom fell out, canceling all of the year’s gains and leaving the Dow around 4,000 points lower. Where he took full credit for the gains he has several people to blame the losses on.
So what’s the truth? How has the Dow performed under his leadership compared to other presidents? During Trump’s first two years in office, the Dow has grown by 19.2%. Now let’s compare that against some other presidents.
Recently I pulled into the drive-thru at McDonald’s and in front of me was a car with two teenage boys. They weren’t paying attention and keeping up with the line. So, expecting a flock of angry birds I honked my horn. It woke them and from then on they mostly paid attention.
What I noticed, when their heads weren’t bobbing to something I wouldn’t recognize as music, was that both were either smoking cigarettes or vaping. I could fault them for that but at their age, I was on my way to becoming totally nicotine addicted and working my way towards two or more packs a day. The brief experience made me reflect back on my own experiences.
I guess that I began smoking around age twelve, if not younger. That would have been 1954 and I continued smoking until 1982 at age forty when I attended a smoking cessation class and six weeks later snuffed out my devil weed. So, I smoked 28 years and have been smoke-free for 36 years.
In 1954 a pack of cigarettes in New York was .23 cents and I was smoking one or two a day. By 1960, the year I graduated from high school the price was .26 cents and I was consuming a pack a day. In 1982 cigarettes were .82 cents a pack and I was smoking three packs a day and if I went bar hopping on Friday night it would be another two packs for a total of five.
I normally don’t like reposting memes. There are several reasons but mostly I want to write my own words and my own thoughts plus, frequently memes aren’t accurate. However, in the following case it’s right on accurate and why should I waste my energy typing when this meme is so succinct.
According to CNBC Trump’s tariff on steel and aluminum will add $1,800 to the cost of a Toyota Camry sedan, assembled in Kentucky. A similar cost would occur for a Tundra pickup truck and around $2,900 on a Sienna minivan. To some degree the same will happen to all automobile costs because so many materials and parts are imported.
Trump loves to brag about the economy and takes major credit for it. He mostly points to the rising stock market and falling unemployment rates. What he doesn’t mention is the stagnation of wages for the working class, the shortage and rising cost of housing, the skyrocketing cost of education, the in-affordability of medical care, and the enormous tax breaks he’s given to the super wealthy.
Recently my wife and I were re-watching the 2009 blockbuster movie, Avatar. First time we saw it was with our entire family at an IMAX theater. Avatar on the huge screen is certainly candy for the eyes. But in reality it is just another retelling of the age-old tale about man finds paradise, paradise inhabited by nice but different beings, nice beings have something man wants, man rationalizes killing nice beings and taking their stuff, man destroys paradise, end of story.
The part of man is played by the owners of profit justifies anything big corporations and their army of highly paid, massively armed, and highly capable mercenaries. The part of nice beings is played by beautiful creations who live idyllic lives and are in perfect harmony with their world.
I continue to be amazed that so many Trump voters remain supportive of him. If you as an American wanted someone in office that would undermine America’s basic and important institutions, someone who thinks the Constitution doesn’t apply to him, someone who wants to continue widening the gap between the rich and what little remains of the middle-class, someone who insist on rewarding our enemies while pissing off our age-old allies, someone whose ignorance of foreign affairs that America is no longer seen as a leader, someone who lies to you an average of nine times each day, someone who has emboldened racial, ethnic, and religious bigotry in America, someone who seems dead set on tearing down so many of the social and environment gains this nation has made, or somebody who reigns over a nation whose children will likely never earn more than their parents, then Trump is your guy.
I recently read a scathing article on Trump written by the noted economist, Jeffery Sachs. Sachs pretty much said what I just said but he did it much better than me and with a great deal more knowledge and experience. You need to read Sachs’ words and you’ll find them at this link.
It’s been 48 minutes since I began listening to and reading the morning news. Here’s what’s made an impression:
- Former CIA director, John Brennan, summed up Trump’s policy making style as, “fire, aim, ready.”
- The Democratic Congressman from the Youngstown, Ohio area says his district has lost 2,700 auto related jobs since Trump took office.
- Sixty-six percent of Americans have annual earnings of $40,000 or less. In other words, Trump economics has done nothing to improve the living standard of two-thirds of the nation.
- China is losing too many jobs, they need our help.
I haven’t a clue how long this list would be if I’d waited till bedtime to write it.
When I started college in the mid 1960s I decided I’d give accounting a try. After a couple of courses I discovered I had no propensity for the subject. I test drove a couple of other business courses before deciding I might be better suited for art and politics.
With this in mind you can imagine how stupefied I was in learning last evening that the US Department of Defense can’t account for $21 trillion dollars. Yeah, that’s trillion with a “T”.
Putting some perspective on this number just let me say that the entire federal government budget for 2017 was just a little over $4 trillion. The entire national debt is $19 trillion. It is estimated that the gross national product for the United States in 2018 will amount to $20 trillion. So, the DOD is missing more than the value of all goods and services produced in America during the current year.