Monday, September 25, 2017

Enough is Enough

CBS Pittsburgh

Monday, August 21, 2017

1972 Eclipse of the sun

Since the 2017 eclipse is such a big deal, let’s look back shall we?

There is no science in this world like physics. Nothing comes close to the precision with which physics enables you to understand the world around you. It's the laws of physics that allow us to say exactly what time the sun is going to rise. What time the eclipse is going to begin. What time the eclipse is going to end.

Neil deGrasse Tyson

Monday, July 31, 2017

Trump Bingo

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Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Counsels of an old and affectionate friend

“All obstructions to the execution of the laws, all combinations and associations, under whatever plausible character, with the real design to direct, control, counteract, or awe the regular deliberation and action of the constituted authorities, are destructive of this fundamental principle, and of fatal tendency. They serve to organize faction, to give it an artificial and extraordinary force; to put, in the place of the delegated will of the nation the will of a party, often a small but artful and enterprising minority of the community; and, according to the alternate triumphs of different parties, to make the public administration the mirror of the ill-concerted and incongruous projects of faction, rather than the organ of consistent and wholesome plans digested by common counsels and modified by mutual interests.

However combinations or associations of the above description may now and then answer popular ends, they are likely, in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government, destroying afterwards the very engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion…

In offering to you, my countrymen, these counsels of an old and affectionate friend, I dare not hope they will make the strong and lasting impression I could wish; that they will control the usual current of the passions, or prevent our nation from running the course which has hitherto marked the destiny of nations. But, if I may even flatter myself that they may be productive of some partial benefit, some occasional good; that they may now and then recur to moderate the fury of party spirit, to warn against the mischiefs of foreign intrigue, to guard against the impostures of pretended patriotism; this hope will be a full recompense for the solicitude for your welfare, by which they have been dictated.”

George Washington

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Politicians who know nothing of how hard it is to be an entrepreneur

From SovereignMan.com

May 23, 2017

Santiago, Chile
This morning I read a stinging open letter written by a small business owner in the Land of the Free named Don Chernoff.
Chernoff imports and sells luggage, and he pulled no punches in voicing his disgust for the phony support and failed policies that constantly make his life more difficult.
I’ve edited his letter for length below; the full version is available here.
----
You all love to talk about how much you support small business; the reality is the opposite. The economy is changing rapidly and is vastly different than just a few years ago. Many of the factory jobs in this country have gone and will not return.
Computer technology and automation will soon eliminate thousands more jobs (think truck drivers, taxi drivers, office workers, etc…).
Because there will be fewer middle-class jobs, many people who never considered working for themselves will be forced to become sole proprietors or open a small business. It is therefore critically important that you make it easier for these people to do so.
Right now instead of creating incentives for people to start their own small business, you create nothing but hurdles, allow me to give some examples.
Excessive health care costs

I work for myself and have to pay my own medical expenses. Before the “affordable care act” I was paying about $200 per month for a high deductible policy. It was far from perfect but it got so much worse under the “Affordable” care act.
I now pay over $400 a month, my deductible went from $5,000 to over $6,000 and my out of pocket costs for care have skyrocketed.
At this rate, I will go broke soon, and I am healthier than average. I don’t know how any normal working family or small businessman can possibly afford these rates without going bankrupt.
Income Tax Filing

I have to spend dozens of hours and thousands of dollars for a tax accountant each spring to prepare my taxes because I cannot possibly understand how to do it myself, and I have a master’s degree in engineering.
I also have to remember to pay quarterly estimates, even if my income in not predictable or fluctuates (which it does for most small businesses) or else I get dinged with penalties.
This is a time and cost burden that makes it very hard to run a small business. . . The current tax code is an abomination and should be scrapped.
Excessive import duties
There is a lot of talk lately about a “border adjustment tax” (BAT), a fancy name for an import duty on imported products. I design luggage and I need to contract out the manufacturing to companies that specialize in making luggage. All of these factories just happen to be in Asian countries.
Because of this I am charged almost 18% on my cost of goods for all my imported luggage. Last year these fees came to over $100,000.
The only reason I can see for these fees is government greed.
There is no luggage manufacturing industry in the USA that is being protected. This is another huge burden that makes it difficult to survive in the ultra-competitive luggage business.
Congress and President Obama had a chance remove this burden last summer, and they did what they do best: nothing.
If you do impose a border adjustment tax, will it be on top of the 18% I’m already paying? If so you will put me out of business.
Excessive customs inspection fees for imported products
My company designs luggage that is made in Asia and imported by ship to the USA. It is sold at all Men’s Wearhouse stores and Jos A Bank stores.
A recent shipment was delayed for almost 2 weeks at the port of Los Angeles for extra customs inspections.
The container was first x-rayed, and since that apparently wasn’t good enough, it was then opened and inspected by hand.
There was nothing in the container but the same luggage I’ve been importing for 15 years. I was then charged over $2,000 for this “privilege,” in addition to the 18% import duty I already pay.
This is not the first time I’ve had to pay for extra inspections that were unnecessary.
I understand the need for security but I’m a known importer of the same products for almost 15 years, and this is a terrible cost burden for my small company.
Excessive Social Security burden
Many years ago when I quit a perfectly good job to start my own small business, I was shocked to learn that I had to pay both my share and what had been my employer’s share of Social Security.
If you wanted to create the perfect disincentive to discourage people from taking the leap to start a small business or become self-employed, it would have been difficult to invent a better one.
Capital Gains taxes
So you’ve busted your butt for 20 or 30 years running a small business or sole proprietorship, now you’d like to retire and enjoy life.
Between state, federal and local taxes you’ve probably paid 50% or more of your income in taxes, but that’s not enough for politicians.
If you’ve been lucky enough to have created a business you can sell, now you’ll get to enjoy paying another tax on the capital gain from the sale.
It’s just another penalty imposed on hard-working folks by politicians who don’t think we are paying “our fair share.”
The word “entrepreneur” is endlessly tossed around by politicians who know nothing of how hard it is to be an entrepreneur. You all love to say you encourage entrepreneurship, but the reality is you stand in the way.
Most small businesses either fail or stay small because it is really hard to grow a business, and because of all the burdens you put on us.
Quit your job and try it yourself if you don’t believe me.

Until tomorrow,

Simon Black

Founder, SovereignMan.com

Monday, April 24, 2017

Road Map on How to Think

Ritholtz’s post on the Sherlock Holmes approach to thinking was applied to business but, it applies to almost everything. See the web link for the graphic.


1. Know Human Nature
2. Learning Never Stops
3. Reason Backward
4. Cultivate Multidisciplinary Thinking
5. Don’t Make the World Fit Your Tools

http://ritholtz.com/2017/04/five-big-ideas-sherlock-holmes/

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Perfect! Simpsons & SJW

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Well, why are you talking to them? They’re nuts…

From an interview with Kim Iskyan, Publisher, Stansberry Churchouse Research

Me: The thing is, a lot of what you read in the media goes through a sort of prism. How do you learn how to sort through it?

Jim Rogers: I'm trying to teach my children – they're still very young – to get information from five or six different sources, preferably contrasting sources, left-wing, right-wing, call them what you will, from different countries and then you figure out what's really happening. If you read the Communists and the Fascists and the Nazis and the Capitalists or the religious, if you read them all, you get all sorts of different views but it'll help you figure out what really happened.

Sometimes, I get interviewed by different kinds of people. A few will say, "Well, why are you talking to them? They're nuts, they're crooks, they're blah, blah," whatever they have to be. And I try to say, "No, no, first of all, the one problem in the world right now is we don't talk to each other. We should be talking to everybody, no matter what you think of them. And second, that's how you get your message out. If you talk to them, they have to listen to you no matter how nuts they are. And also, you can help possibly change the world."
So talk to everybody, read everybody. The weirder the better.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Times in the course of events when a society cannot tell what the f@#$ is going on

Which brings us to the curious case of Bashar Assad’s recent supposed poison gas bombing of civilians in Khan Sheikhoun. The media triumvirate was avid to play along with the story. I don’t know about you, but I have to ask myself: what would Assad’s strategic goal be in gas bombing women and children? To gin up worldwide positive PR? To get the Syrian people on his side against Isis and other jihadis? What advantage could Assad possibly gain? In warfare generally, the tacticians strike against military targets. There’s a hypothesis that Assad’s air force sought to strike a rebel arms depot in Idlib province — a military target. The hypothesis goes further, saying that the depot contained phosgene and chlorine gas, but not Sarin. The wind carried these released gases among civilian homes and streets in Khan Sheikhoun. People suffered and died. Evidence for the absence of Sarin gas is that the gassing victims were handled manually by doctors and aid workers in street clothes. Sarin can kill on skin contact and doctors have to treat it in protective gear. So, maybe the gas wasn’t Sarin and maybe it wasn’t dropped in bombs from Assad’s planes. But, like the pipeline angle of the story, this hypothesis is missing in the media triumvirate’s pages.

James Howard Kunsler

http://kunstler.com/clusterfuck-nation/wonderland/