"Don't hurt people and don't take their stuff" - Matt Kibbe


He's Not My First Choice, But He's Not the Worst Choice

Image courtesy of Ragwater Cat 
A few days ago, I posted a short piece addressing whether presidential aspirant Herman Cain was as able as he is likable. I expressed that I liked the guy's style but held back on any commentary on the substance of his proposals, promising that I would do that in this piece.

His main policy initiative is what he calls his "9-9-9" plan. Essentially it proposes a substantive change in the tax code. Simply, it is a 9% flat tax across all income levels, a 9% corporate tax rate and a 9% national sales tax. On the surface, sans a lot of details, it sounds pretty good on several different levels. 

Putting aside the notion that it would be difficult, if not impossible, for a new President to make such a proposal become law in a country with so many special interests working around the clock to see to it that it never happens, let's talk about some of the things about it that sound good before I tell you why I think it's not so good.

The first good thing is he is on the right path if he thinks that the country needs a new tax system. The one we have now has so many problems, is so huge, so complicated, and so non-tax related that it has simply become a national nightmare to all but government power mongers and the beneficiaries of their favors.

The second good thing is that any plan that simplifies the code by removing deductions (sometimes called loopholes) and flattening the rate will bring clarity to people and businesses so we can begin to get back to the basics and remove some of the uncertainties that cause paralysis in the economy.

The third good thing is that it addresses the double (and sometimes more) taxation that we all end up paying one way or the other. And, in theory, there may be other good things about it as well.

So what could be wrong with it? Well, as it turns out the problem is as old as a bible story. The problem for Adam and Eve was that their son Abel was too trusting of his brother Cain. He ended up getting murdered because of it. And I'm afraid that we will end up getting murdered in a tax sense by politicians who the modern day Cain trusts too much to leave his tax plan alone if he ever ends up getting it enacted.

Herman Cain's plan which adds a national sales tax to an income tax is just too trusting that future politicians won't just hike one or the other (or both) of them the second they get the chance. I guarantee it will happen, it's as certain as the taxes themselves. Then all of us become like a modern day Abel, that is to say, dead. 

It all amounts to just tinkering with the system and like a lot of proposals, it sounds good on paper but it's not worth the paper it's written on. What we need is a new tax system, not more layers on top of the one we have now.

I like Herman Cain on several levels even though he supported the imbecilic TARP law which bailed out the banks and other crony capitalists. And according to a new Rasmussen poll just released it seems a lot of other folks do too since it shows him within 5 points of Obama if the election were held today. But there are no perfect candidates and Cain has his share of baggage from my perspective.

I'm not too big on polls in general and the above one is no exception. Nor is the one which came out today (9-28-11) showing Ron Paul actually leading Obama by 51% to 49%. There are too many variables. In my mind they are like snapping a picture without a flashbulb.

When it comes to tax systems, I like the flat tax best, and when it comes to early preferences for Presidential replacements, I like Ron Paul the best. But since there are no perfect candidates, when it comes to Herman Cain, he's not my first choice, but he's not the worst choice. (That would be Barack Obama.)

The video below explains very well why I prefer a Flat Tax to any other system currently being floated. 

To read a great analysis on Cain and his plan please visit International Liberty and see what Dan Mitchell thinks.


He is Likable, but Is Cain Able?

I don't think that we should pick a President because of his "Likability" factor. We already tried that with the executive failure that we have serving in that capacity right now.

I never liked him (Obama) personally very much because I thought he was a phony, and I still do. (Very similar to Billy Bob Lewinsky who is still the biggest phony out there.)  But plenty of people did like Obama personally even if they think they made a big mistake by voting for him. And many still do. I keep reading comments, even from his detractors, that he is a nice guy and so on. Fair enough, different strokes for different folks and all that stuff.

Having said that, on a purely social level, there is one Presidential candidate that I find very likable. Herman Cain is a long-shot to be the nominee of the Republican Party to say the least. But in my personal poll (where I only poll myself) even if he isn't my first or even second choice, he wins the likability vote one to nothing.

The guy comes off as entertaining, refreshingly candid, upbeat and as someone who has enough wisdom to take his task, but not himself, too seriously. He smiles a lot, which makes me smile. It's a much needed commodity in these tense times.

Cain is a straight talker for sure. Just yesterday he called Obama out for his "Bullshit" ideas and said in no uncertain terms that he is a liar when he says "It's not a matter of class warfare but math." He also dressed down a Hollywood actor for jumping on the "Tea Party people are racists" bandwagon by saying, "C'mon man, this is real life." And he did all of that with a smile on his face. Good stuff from my perspective.

He also has some good ideas even if they aren't my first choice of all the ideas out there. And he seems to have caught on with a great many people who could influence the outcome of the upcoming election when he won the Florida Straw Poll by a wide margin over the media's darling boys.

So I thought I'd put a few videos up for those of you smart enough to focus your weekend energy on football and golf instead of politics. The last part of the first video is worth waiting for. A great Saturday Night Live skit brings some good laughs and the great question: "Can the Pizza Man deliver?"

Editor's note: Later this week we will examine Cain's major policy proposal (his "9-9-9 plan") to see if it will make good policy or not.


The Candy Man Can

Another big raise going out to the staff! This time it's Marissa who found this gem. Okay, it's a tad corny but it's so well made and the guy has a great voice and dammit, it made me laugh.

It has the added advantage of being true.


Warren Buffett Can't Count

I know it's hard to believe that the "Sage of Omaha" is mathematically challenged, particularly when many people have an image of him sitting at his kitchen table late at night poring over the giant stack of financial records of some huge corporation so he can decide whether he should spend a few billion to buy its stock or just write a check to the government to pay his "guilt tax."

We'll get to his math problem in a moment, but for now let's give him some well deserved credit for one correct calculation he made.

He correctly figured out a few years ago that people could spend their money more intelligently than the government could spend it. He had no use for his excess dough personally. After all, after twenty million or so, what could he spend it on that he didn't already have? The fun is in acquiring the money anyway.

So he knew he wasn't going to give it to the government to waste or pass around to their friends and he was too lazy or disinterested to pore over the books of charities to see which ones were more worthy than the others, so he passed it all along to Bill Gates to give away. I guess he figured that Bill Gates could spend it more wisely than the government even if he himself couldn't. He was correct about that.

I'm still puzzled about a few things though. If Buffett really thinks, as he claims, that he doesn't pay enough in taxes, why did he hire all those CPAs to find all the loopholes that allowed him to pay at the lower rate? I mean, couldn't he just have bought a copy of Turbo Tax, loaded it onto his laptop, entered what he earned, skipped all the deductions and paid the figure that appeared on the "Amount you owe" line at the bottom of the page? I'm confident that he wouldn't get a letter from the IRS threatening him for not taking all his rightful deductions.

The other way he could have paid more taxes was to just pony up the money that Berkshire Hathaway admits they owe from tax years 2002-2004.  Instead his company has been fighting with the IRS ever since then to avoid doing that. Toss in the taxes they are quibbling over concerning "issues" with tax years 2005-2009 and he could make some headway towards his goal. Remind me again why so many people think he is so bright.

Which brings us to his "fuzzy math" problem.

According to one paper Buffett recently said that "he paid only $6.9 million in taxes last year -- just 17.4 percent of his earnings, compared to an income tax rate of about 36 percent paid by his employees." (Perhaps they used Turbo Tax software.) With that admission he went to the top of the Barack Obama admiration list and got a chance to get everlasting fame as the only dope ever to get a tax named after him as his life's legacy.

Regardless, it seems he can't do the math because he didn't take into account that he already paid taxes on the money he used to invest with. The corporate rate is 35% on that money and he paid 15% in capital gains taxes when he earned a profit on those already taxed funds. So his rate is north of 40% in total depending on the calculations of what money goes where.

I'm not an accountant or tax expert so I'm sure someone will challenge the numbers just cited with their own facts and figures but I do know a few things for certain. One is that the same money shouldn't be taxed twice and the second is that we shouldn't need accountants and tax experts to pay our taxes.

Buffett may not know how to count, but Barack Obama does. At least he knows what he can count on. Buffett is a willing recruit in Obama's class war and it's one of the few things the President can count on.

Be sure to watch the new video on the right by Michael Tanner on the Buffett Tax.


It's About This Debt Problem...

If you have a few questions about the world's debt problems, I think this guy can help simplify the situation for you. Maybe Obama will read this and it will all become clear.

My crack staff of internet researchers has done it again! Thanks to Leah for finding this. We are giving her a 100% raise.


St. Andrews, a Fitting Place for Heroes to Play Golf

It has been said that there are no heroes, just ordinary people who have been forced by circumstances to do extraordinary things.

Regular readers know that from time to time I write about heroes. People who do extraordinary things, even in everyday life, as they go about the business of living. In my mind heroes aren't to be idolized, but they should be held up as examples and be respected for the things they do. Heroism is a uniquely human thing. No other creatures on earth display heroism.

A close friend of mine, a hero in his own right for his sacrifices in Viet Nam, sent me the video found below. It's about an ordinary guy who was forced by circumstances to live an extraordinary life, find an extraordinary friend, and honor his memory by playing golf at St. Andrews in Scotland.

Mike Reeder is his name and you can decide for yourself if he is a hero because of his sacrifice in war or because of the way he lived afterwards. As professional golfer Johnny Miller has said, "It's not what you accomplish in life, but what you overcome."

Some people are heroes and some people are golfers. And some people are both
I hope you enjoy the story as much as I did.

Many thanks to "Captain" Miller for sharing this story.


Groundhog Day Arrives Twice in One Year

After last night's debacle on leftist TV station MSNBC where two supposedly neutral questioners actually debated against the participants on behalf of the DNC, it's time for President Puxatony Phil to speak for himself tonight in what I predict will be a ratings disaster telecast of his reading of the teleprompter's plan to do more of the same failed things that have already sunk us deeper into the great recession.

 I think the cartoon below sums it up nicely.


Racists and Sons of Bitches - Barack Obama's Change We Can Believe In

"I love you, you old son-of-a-bitch."
When I sat down to write this article on Labor Day it was ahead of the curve. The campaign event that the "hope and change" President appeared at had just concluded and the news that the union thug Jimmy Hoffa* had just declared war on so called Tea Partiers and called for "Taking the son-of-a-bitches out" had just been broken on the Internet.

I knew I had to write fast because everyone with a keypad would soon be turning out articles full of righteous indignation about what the moron said and I hate to be just another of those who jump on the same old news story bandwagon. I always want to be the first one on the bandwagon even though I have never seen an actual bandwagon or even know precisely what it is.

But after being sidetracked by a much more important activity yesterday, a golf game with the eldest of the two bash brothers, I lost that chance. Now the stories are everywhere, and I mean everywhere. However, having already written the catchy title above, I need to put something out in order to have a sense of completion.

So here is my main bitch about being called a son-of-a-bitch. It's not the name calling, I have no particular problem with that. In fact I do it myself all the time, like the above example when I accurately called the Teamsters President a moron. I call people like him even worse things in private conversations all the time.

My bitch is about the son-of-a-bitch who is the American President and the bastards he works with. (Gee, isn't this fun?) That particular son-of-a-bitch told us Tea Bagger son-of-a-bitches that he would be a President of Civility and stop all the name calling and charged rhetoric. He told us that it was a change we could believe in.

In the last few weeks I have been told to go to hell by one of his son-of-a-bitches in congress and told that I wanted to hang black people from trees by another of his son-of-a-bitches in congress because I am a son-of-a-bitch Tea Bagger. All of those things happened without a word from the "change" President. In fact, he has not only remained silent about these events but has so far specifically refused to condemn them.

I'm not shocked and I can't imagine you are either. In fact, our country has a long history of name calling and refusals by Presidents to condemn it when it is targeted against their political opponents. I love history even if I don't like all of the sons-of-bitches in it. The supporters of John Adams and Thomas Jefferson called each other's candidates a lot of horrible things without so much as a peep from those great leaders, so history is on Obama's side.

So I dare any of the lefties who (don't) read this blog to call me out for bad language and disrespectfulness of others with whom I disagree. They wouldn't dare, would they? They wouldn't have the audacity to do so.

They would? Well, I'll be a son-of-a-bitch.......

  * not to be confused with his father the union/mob thug of the same name who was murdered by his gangster co-workers.


Why We Need to be Wonks Once in a While

People who read this blog on a regular basis know who Dan Mitchell is. For those of you who do not, here is quick bio.

Dan is an economist who works at the Cato Institute - a think tank which promotes civil society from a free market, liberty minded perspective. His work is frequently featured on this page because I hold his ideas and his wonderful ability to communicate them in high esteem. He is also kind enough to allow me to re-post some of his commentaries in order to dress up this otherwise piggish blog in mink from time to time.

He doesn't do that because he likes me, (aside from some email exchanges, we have never met in person) but because he is utterly committed to the ideas of freedom and rational choices. He wants the message to be spread widely and I'm happy to help in any small way I can.

If you read his blog at International Liberty regularly you know he is also a very funny and engaging fellow who can easily hide the fact that he is as wonkish as any of the those boring guys who we agree with, but who we somehow manage to avoid at cocktail parties. Most of those guys are more boring than I am.

But now that we are only a few days away from hearing our hopefully lame-duck President make a speech extolling the Keynesian approach to keeping our country in this mess for the foreseeable future and possibly introducing some more useless "stimulus" measures, I thought Dan's timely video on the subject should be presented here in case any of you missed it. (I suspect most or all of you did)

This video is a tad longer than the average American attention span (7 min) but I really suggest you spend the time it takes to watch it. It makes the case very well and even if it might make us all a little more wonkish at the next BBQ conversation, it probably won't make us more boring than we already are.

Just watch the eyes of the people you are boring and if they start to glaze over too much just reach into the cooler and fish a new Sam Adams out of the icy water for them and they will forget that you weren't talking about football.

Speaking of football, even with the President retreating from his plan to go head to head in a TV ratings battle with the Packers/Saints season opening game on the 8th, (He will speak a bit before the game) I would wager a few beers that the pregame show will outdraw the President's snooze fest speech to congress about his newest Keynesian scheme to interfere with market forces.

I'm sure the short video below will be more interesting than the speech and it has the added advantage that you don't have to watch it during the game. I know I'll be watching the pregame show. Maybe I'll ask Willie Wonka to drop by and watch it with me.