Category Archives: Cold War

Lions, Looters & Loonies – Oh My!

When I was growing up in our small farming community, participating in athletics was pretty darn simple.  We had football in the fall; we had basketball and wrestling in the winter.  There were baseball, track and field, and cross country running in the spring.  That was it!  Our school was not large enough to have a hockey team as well as the other winter sports.  There was absolutely no interest in soccer at that time. Instead, we played kickball and dodgeball during recess.

In most of our sports, we were always taught to ‘keep your eye on the ball.’    This was especially true if that ball was a baseball, basketball, football and, in our Midwestern community, a snowball!  Some of those snowballs really packed a wallop.  On occasion, a good snowball fight would get out of hand when someone would pack a piece of very hard ice into the snowball.  Those heated snowball fights would get out of hand frequently and body shots were replaced with intended head shots!  So…..I am not going to admit that I would ever pack a piece of ice in a snowball, but I will admit that one would learn quickly to ‘keep your eye on the ball.’

More people need to learn how to keep their eyes on the proverbial ball.  One such person would be Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake.  She is the infamous mayor of Baltimore that proclaimed shortly after the Freddie Gray shooting that the looters should be able to loot, “because it is only property.”   She instructed her police chief to back off from the looters.  This little dalliance in shelving law and order in favor of discord and rioting has had a profound after-effect that the foolish mayor never anticipated.  This past July, Baltimore, a city of less than 622,000 people (with a declining population), broke a 43-year record for the most homicides in a month.  There were 43 such homicides.   There was a spike in non-fatal shootings as well.  Practically all were black on black crime.  Why?

Crime experts and residents of Baltimore’s most dangerous neighborhoods cite a confluence of factors:  mistrust of the police; generalized anger and hopelessness over a lack of opportunities for young black men; and competition among dealers of illegal drugs, bolstered by the looting of prescription pills from pharmacies during the riot.  Federal drug enforcement agents said gangs targeted 32 pharmacies in the city, taking roughly 300,000 doses of opiates, as the riots caused $9 million in property damages in the city.  A member of the Drug Enforcement Administration said the high homicide rate probably related directly to the stolen prescription drugs. (No fooling?  Even the citizens are saying everyone was wild on opiates!)   Now that the supply is likely exhausted, the drug turf wars will likely promote more violence.

What has the honorable Mayor Rawlings-Blake done?  Why she has replaced her police chief twice since the riots?  The results have been the same with each chief.  The situation is out of hand because of the mayor’s decision to allow the rioters to continue to loot.  Who should really be replaced?

The pitcher checks the sign.  He winds up and delivers a blistering fastball directly over the plate!  S-T-R-I-K-E  T-H-R-E-E!  Yyyyyoooouuuuu’rrrrreeee out!  The dejected batter, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake walks to the dugout.  She had her eyes closed while at bat!

Another group that needs to learn how to keep their eyes on the ball is………..the American public!

There are so many things that the citizenry of this country should be concerned about, but aren’t.  Our attention spans are about as long as the time it takes to pop popcorn in a microwave!  Do you remember fiscal cliff?  That was a large buzz word about 18 months ago.  Has it gone away?

How about the debt crisis?  Has that gone away?  Our national debt is at $18 trillion and climbing.  It appears that no one in Washington has the fortitude or determination to turn this around.  Everyone has seen the country of Greece go through all sorts of fiscal gyrations.  Greece is responsible for less than 2% of the world’s GDP.  Through its socialistic programs, it has dug a hole that may not be refilled.  My advice is to acquaint yourself with the specifics as to why Greece is in such economic trouble.  My reason for bringing this up?  We are rapidly greasing our skids in the United States to be in the same place as Greece with one exception….when we go, so will the world’s economy!  That would make the Great Depression look like the So-So Depression.

Four marines and one sailor were gunned down in Chattanooga, Tennessee.  The public outrage lasted about 3 days.  After all, they were military personnel and they have volunteered to protect our country.  Isn’t death a part of the job description?  What outrageous event did manage to get the attention of most Americans?  Why, the death of Cecil the Lion!  Do you realize that people were picketing the office of the dentist that shot Cecil the Lion, calling for his execution!

I have come to the conclusion that most Americans now possess a reality show mentality.  Calling for the execution of the lion shooter is a little severe, don’t you think?  When I was young, my dad would go deer hunting.  He deer hunted because our family could really use the meat.  It was a sad day if he did not get a deer.  I hunted deer and was moderately successful.  We hunted in heavy coniferous forests not too far from the Canadian border.  It was not easy hunting.  It was extremely difficult hunting.   As I got older and my family became more financially successful, we really did not need the meat.  We continued to deer hunt, but more for the camaraderie, tradition and challenge of the hunt than for the need of the meat.  Don’t get me wrong, we ate every bit of everything we have ever hunted.

Then I was invited to hunt in Wyoming.  Hunting in Wyoming was on grassy plains with scrub brush close to rivers.  It was easy hunting because you could see game for miles and there was no shortage of game.  I am not exaggerating when I say I could have shot 15-20 deer each of the two years I hunted.  I lost the urge when the challenge wasn’t present.  I did not need the meat.  I gave up deer hunting before I was 35 years old.

Back to reality.  Our public is screaming for the execution, or at least the extradition of the lion killer to Zimbabwe.  We don’t have an extradition treaty with Zimbabwe.  Where is the furor over the killing of our military personnel in Chattanooga?  That’s something to roar about!  Why are we not calling for that shooter’s execution?  Oh, that’s right……….. he is a Muslim who was suffering from depression!  So we have had a slew of Muslims that have attacked and killed Americans right here in the good old U S of A!  Are they all suffering from depression?  Not a one of them has been executed.  Not a Muslim has been deported for abetting these killers as allowed by the Patriot Act.  Have Americans reached a point where the death of a lion is more serious than the killing of Americans in America by radical Muslims?

I mention reality show mindset.  I am convinced that more people follow the Kardashians than follow what is happening in this country politically.  I would give up bacon for a month if anyone can tell me what talents the Kardashians actually possess.  Can they act?  Can they sing?  Can they dance or perform in any appreciable way?  Why, oh why, are they getting more publicity than the killing of our military personnel in Chattanooga?  The Boston bomber?  The Fort Hood shooter?   Why are the Kardashians on television?   I don’t get it.  Didn’t we learn anything from Paris Hilton?

There is one event that I wish would die quickly and that is the transsexual reformation of Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner.  Bruce/Caitlyn is slightly younger than I am.  I am a self-professed Olympics junkie.  I have watched the Olympics every year since they were in Rome in 1960.  It was a tradition for my late uncle and me to watch the Olympics together.  Most of these Olympics were conducted during the height of the Cold War.  Ah yes……. those were the good old days.  Eagle versus Bear.  Blue versus Red.  Democracy versus Communism.  We damn well knew who our enemies were, and they were those damn Ruskies!  Without having a ‘shooting war,’ the Olympics became the unofficial battleground of good versus evil…at least in the American minds.  In 1972, the Olympics were in Munich.  In those Olympics, the Americans lost medals to the Russians in three sports that we usually dominated:  basketball, 100-meter and decathlon.  The winner of the decathlon was considered the ‘World’s Greatest Athlete.’  And now the title was held by a Russian!  OMG!  At the time, this was considered a national crisis that garnered more attention than Cecil the Lion!

In 1976, the Olympics were held in Montreal.  By the time of the games, Bruce Jenner had broken the world decathlon record twice.  He broke it a third time at the Olympics and won the gold medal!  An American was again the ‘World’s Greatest Athlete.’  I remember Bruce Jenner very well.  I watched his outstanding Olympic performance with admiration.  I saw him on my Wheaties box for seven years, only to be later replaced by Mary Lou Retton.  I could paint his Wheaties box picture from memory, if only I were an artist.

I think I am suffering trauma and mental anguish from his highly publicized transformation!  Is there a government funded support group for me?  Am I entitled to some kind of payment for my anguish?  My point is this.  No doubt, Bruce/Caitlyn had/has issues that I will never understand.  What I do understand is that rather than making this a private decision and living his new life quietly, he has attempted to promote and publicize his sexual transformation as if it were as important as the World Trade Center bombing.  TV interviews to announce his decision.  Magazine covers.  Now a reality TV series?  Why?  I have a theory.  Bruce was never able to be extremely successful marketing himself after his Olympic accomplishments.  He has married into a family that has made millions without any appreciable attributes. Their accomplishments would pale in comparison to his accomplishments.  Could money and a reality-show-minded audience be at least partially responsible for his sexual transformation decision?

Look at how much publicity Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner, the Kardashians and Cecil the Lion have received recently in relation to events that affect our lives.  With a presidential election coming up next year, America needs to quit buying the National Enquirer, Star and other gossip rags and begin paying attention to what our politicians and future candidates are doing and saying.  We need to be cognizant of world events.  In other words, we need to ‘keep our eye on the ball.’

PS.  Caitlyn has recently stated that she still prefers women.  That should make her the poster child of the LBGTQ group (lesbian, bisexual, gay, transsexual, queer group) as she now punches about every button.

Corporation Appreciation Week!

I have recently become intrigued by Senator Al Franken’s (D-MN) claim that, ‘Corporations are not people.’   Who knew?

After owning a small incorporated business for eighteen years, I was of the opinion that I was a ‘people.’  According to Senator Franken, I was not a people!

For the uninitiated, there were two reasons why I chose to incorporate my business.  The primary reason was to create a corporate umbrella that protected me from personal liability as the result of an event that could be construed as negligent in a court of law.  In a litigious society, this would be considered ‘good business practice.’  I am proud to say that in the eighteen years of being a general contractor, I was never involved in a lawsuit.  That record is a rarity in the general construction business!

Grandma P did not discourage me from starting my own business.  She just wanted assurance that we would not lose our house in a lawsuit as a result of the business.  Thus the corporate umbrella.

The second reason for forming a corporate structure was tax-related.  During my tenure as a business owner, the tax codes would change depending on who was POTUS and which party controlled Congress.  Some years it was advantageous to pay corporate taxes and other years, it was more advantageous for us to take the additional income and pay the personal taxes.   Because I was a small company, we are talking tax consequences (personal and corporate) of less than $5,000 per year.  I paid my very good accountant to keep both our personal and corporate taxes in line and to our advantage.  We did not mind paying our ‘fair share.’  We just did not want to pay the majority of someone else’s fair share.

My corporation was a small wholly-owned corporation.  As corporations get to mid-size and larger, they do not have the latitude that I enjoyed.

So why do corporations get such a bad rap?  We are all aware of corporate fraud and abuse.  These businesses are in the minority, yet the government demonizes all businesses.

I believe that corporations get a bad rap because they are in business to make a profit!  The word ‘profit’ has now become a bad word and a thing to be ashamed of.  As a result, some of the people involved with a corporation due to their education, diligence, experience, tenacity and ambition could actually become rich.  This is truly a nasty four letter word!  It is also the key word to create class envy between the ‘haves and have-nots’ as pandered by the liberals.  (The liberals keep chipping at the foundation of capitalism in an attempt to make this country socialistic!)

Keep in mind that if you do not own one share of stock and yet receive a pension, your pension fund most likely owns bonds and stocks in those darn, capitalistic corporations!  (If you are a pension- receiving liberal and hate corporations, you should show your disdain by forgoing your pension! Please forward your pension account numbers to this website for disposal!)

Here are three burdens that have been laid on corporations that have the audacity to be incorporated in the United States of America.

Obama Care (The Affordable Care Act)

If you have followed my blog, you know that I blame a large portion of our economic downturn on the passage of Obamacare.  Our Congress, because of the liberal dominance of both houses, forced through a bill that was unwieldy, unknown and expensive merely because the POTUS wanted it.  Do you remember when the POTUS stated that it would save the government money?  How many people really believed that?

US businesses were at a loss as to the costs of Obamacare.  I listened to the president of GE explain that after attending many fact-finding seminars.   Their best guess was that it would cost (not save!) 20%-25% of their payroll costs.  That is a boatload of money for any entity!

Remember Grandpa T’s Rule Number 2:  ‘Businesses are in business to make money.’

What businesses of all sizes did in response to the pending implementation of this law was to lay off  employees and implement hiring freezes.  Many of the ‘new hires’ were hired as part-time employees to circumvent the requirements of the Affordable Care Act.  The unemployment rate sky rocketed and, contrary to the latest employment figures, I do not believe we have ever fully recovered.  People lost their jobs, their homes, their cars and their dignity.  How was that for hope and change?

But alas, we have a scapegoat!  US businesses, not our government, caused all these problems.   As an aside, corporate America is doing well in that most major corporations have not yet fully implemented the Affordable Care Act.  Many businesses have been saving for its implementation since  passage in 2009.  Thus the record stock market indicators.  In the meantime, Government America cannot balance a budget and has placed our country trillions deeper in debt.

Raising the Minimum Wage

Estimates show that raising the minimum wage would affect less than a million working Americans.  But if the minimum wage were raised to over $10 per hour, who will pay?  You will.  Who will suffer?  Those people currently working for minimum wage.   High school students, college students, retirees looking for additional income, moms who have young kids in school and anyone needing to save or supplement their income.  Now you are wondering if I have lost my mind by saying that these people will suffer with a pay raise.  Yes they will.  That is because, much like the pending implementation of Obamacare, businesses will lay off employees and implement hiring freezes. I heard one McDonalds franchisee say it best, “If I have to pay that much more for an employee, I will be looking to hire better qualified employees.”   I predict there will be layoffs aplenty as a result of this law.

Not one young person has life ambitions of getting a ‘minimum wage’ job.  But getting work experience is a desirable quality when looking for your ‘perfect’ job.  Less young people will have that chance.

A person receiving minimum wage has three choices.  They can get another, higher paying job.  They can receive an education or training that would qualify them for a higher paying job.  Or, they can refer to the time tested method of asking their employer for a raise.  If you are worth the extra money, you may very well get the pay raise.

Corporate Taxes

How many times have we heard the statement about corporations paying their ‘fair share?’  The implication is that they do not pay their fair share.  How many people know that our US corporations pay more than their fair share?  As a matter of fact, our US corporations pay the highest corporate taxes in the world!

The average global corporate tax rate is 23.48%.  The average European Union corporate tax rate is 21.34%.  The average South American corporate tax rate is 26.83%  Canada has a corporate tax rate of 26.5%  The US corporate tax rate?  40%!  Can’t you hear the chant?  “We’re number one!  We’re number one! U-S-A! U-S-A!’

It’s getting harder and harder to ‘Buy American’ when the government feels so compelled to ‘Tax American Corporations’ so harshly.

If a US company wants to move to Ireland, they would pay a  corporate tax rate of 12.5%  Driving a Japanese car?  Their corporate tax rate is 35%.  Their earnings are given a 5% tax advantage over American car manufacturers.

So, now that you are informed, do you still wonder why US companies are placing new facilities in foreign countries, thus moving their companies ‘offshore?’  Oh!  One more thing……our corporate tax structure does not include state corporate taxes.  Each state is different and that is why some businesses are moving from high-tax states to low-or-no tax states.

So there you have it.  Our US businesses pay the most corporate taxes in the world at both the federal and state level.  Our businesses have to deal with the expense of  idiotic legislation like Obamacare.  Many companies are now facing the possibility of a higher minimum wage.  And yet, our businesses that build buildings, create jobs, hire employees, purchase raw materials and are the foundation of our capitalistic democracy face continual scrutiny from the media and our government!

Are corporations people?

It is because of the heartbeat of a corporation in building buildings, hiring employees, purchasing raw materials and sharing its profits with stockholders that I do believe that a corporation is ‘people.’  Corporations are the heartbeat of our economy which allows us to enjoy the freedoms of a capitalistic, democratic society.

So, because of all the bad raps that corporations suffer from the media and from our government interference, I, Grandpa T, declare the first week of June as the First Annual ‘Corporation  Appreciation Week!’

Here are a few suggestions for gifts for your favorite corporation:

1.  Elect a government that can balance a budget and reduce our debt in the hope of reducing the US corporate tax rate.  After all, we acknowledge we are part of a global economy and we are tying the hands of our American businesses, making competition with foreign corporations nearly impossible.

2.  Abort Obamacare.  If this means gaining conservative control of the US Senate, so be it.  A bad bill from start to finish.  Two thousand pages of unread, yet approved garbage.

3.  Leave the minimum wage at its current level.  Yes, some will benefit, but more will suffer.

4.  Lastly, buy American.  They need the income to keep up with their taxes.

Did you know that just short of 50% of all Americans are on some form of government assistance?  If we could enact the four above suggestions, I believe we would have lower unemployment/underemployment and a terrific, real economic turnaround.

P.S.  Almost on cue, Medronic, Inc. of Minneapolis has announced it will be relocating its corporate headquarters from Minnesota to Ireland.  They have indicated that this is not for tax purposes.  Yet, they will be subject to a 15% corporate tax rate rather than a 40% tax rate.  They will also shed the State of Minnesota corporate tax.  This was announced within a week after posting this blog.