Taxes and Business

High taxes are bad for business.

This belongs in the Book of Lies. What is closer to the truth is a simple equation:

If personal taxes are higher than business taxes, investment money flows into businesses.

If personal taxes are lower than business taxes, investment money flows out of businesses.

Why? Because no one likes to pay taxes. Everyone shelters their money from taxation by putting it wherever it is taxed the least.

A simple glance at the tax structure over the last thirty years shows why the economy is in the toilet and isn’t improving, while Wall Street (stock speculation) posts record profits.

If you want your job back, demand higher taxes on high personal income. So that those who have money will choose to shelter their income in their businesses.

Tax cuts for the wealthy are the economic problem.

Condition Orange

I’ve flown or picked up passengers at Denver International Airport dozens of times in the past eight years. In all that time, the “threat condition” has been at a perpetual Condition Orange, one notch below Condition Red, the highest threat level. It has never dropped. It has never gone any higher.

For years, paper notices hung on glass doors of DIA declaring the increase in threat level. Both the paper and the tape holding the paper in place had yellowed with age, and the ink had faded. They have taken the papers down in the last two years, and the loudspeakers no longer announce that the threat level has been “raised” to Condition Orange, only that the threat level “is” at Condition Orange.

At the George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston, a large metal sign advises entering traffic of the increased threat level. The bolts holding the sign in place have rusted.

Eight years of unvarying Condition Orange? Obviously not.

So what does this really mean? It was best-said by a TSA employee, who responded to an irate airline customer with the words, “You gave up a lot of rights when you bought your ticket.”

As we move into a post-oil, post-empire, post-democracy United States, this is the truth behind every call for national security: we gave up a lot of rights when we bought our ticket.

That’s the lie we’re supposed to believe, anyway.

Smarts and Riches

“If you’re so smart, why ain’t you rich?”

Neither intelligence nor general ability has anything to do with wealth.

Simply look at the wealthiest people in the world. These are not the best of humanity, nor the brightest. They are merely the wealthiest.

If anything, ability tends to relegate one to the upper edge of the lower classes, because it only makes sense that ability should be used. If you have dancing ability, you should dance. If you have musical ability, you should make music. With remarkably few exceptions, using real abilities does not make much money. In the end, it is always limited by time, and time is always too short for riches.

I once calculated that I was worth $2000/hour to one company. They didn’t pay me that, of course, or anywhere near it. But had they paid me that, and had I been able to sustain that work for a full year, I’d have earned four million dollars. A typical lawyer, working at $300/hour, would require nearly seven years to earn four million dollars. A mechanic, working at $50/hour, would work for 40 years to earn four million dollars.

You cannot earn a hundred million dollars in one lifetime with ability. You certainly cannot reach a billion dollars.

The only way to accumulate such a substantial fortune is through leverage, which means — one way or another — gaining a legal claim on the labor of others, and taking for yourself a disproportionate share of their earned reward. There simply is no other way to do it.

That doesn’t require ability. It requires understanding the truth that underlies the game: that it isn’t about your ability at all. It is about other people’s abilities, and their willingness to work for a lot less than they are worth.

Stocks as an Investment

“Stocks give you an ownership share in a business.”

Common stock is a virtually painless way for a company to obtain large amounts of money very quickly. What you get in return is a lottery ticket. As the company does well, the lottery pool grows larger. As the company does poorly, the lottery pool shrinks.

It’s the strangest lottery ticket in the world, however, because the lottery is never drawn. You never get your money back from the company. You can’t call your stock due, like a loan. You can’t use it to obtain an office chair or a water cooler. You can’t use it to get an interview with the CEO — or even his/her receptionist.

The only thing you can do with a share of stock is to sell it (on the stock market) to someone else. He’ll buy it from you for one reason and only one reason: he thinks that sometime later, he’ll find another sucker just like himself who will buy it at a higher price than he paid for it. A stock share is a collectible, like a Barbie doll or a Franklin Mint coin. Its value is a pure speculation, not in the company it represents, but in the mindset of the other people buying and selling shares of stock. Players in the market look at company earnings, quarterly statements, and statistics, but this is all merely an attempt to gauge the mood of the other buyers.

When you buy stock, you are “investing” in a financial mood. Nothing more.

Military Defense of Liberties

“Regardless of your political views regarding war, it is important to remember the sacrifices people in the armed forces have given for our liberties.”

No military conflict in my lifetime has had anything to do with American liberties. They have all been about American power and presence outside our country.

The most serious threats to American liberties have been from our own government: Senator Joseph McCarthy’s Communist witch-hunt in the 1950’s; gutting of the Fourth Amendment in the 1980’s under Reagan’s Drug War; George W. Bush’s Patriot Act, “free-speech” zones, and virtually any government agency or policy touching upon “terrorism” since 2001.

The US military works for the US government, not the American people. It serves to protect “American liberties” only to the extent that the US government uses it toward that end.

Rewrite this to speak truth: “…it is important to remember the sacrifices people in the armed forces have given for our leaders’ power and presence in the world.”

Christianity is Jesus' Religion

“Christianity is the religion of Jesus.”

Jesus was a Jew. The religion of Jesus is Judaism.

Christianity is the religion of fourth-century Rome. Prior to the Council of Nicea in 325, “Christianity” consisted of hundreds of sects, all radically different, all claiming to be the “true religion of Jesus.” The Council of Nicea was convened precisely because all these sects were at each others’ throats. The Bible was created during this century, based upon a limited selection of Jewish texts, seven letters from Paul dating from around the year 50, and a collection of other written works (including the four Gospels) written around the year 100 and later.

The resulting Orthodox Catholic Christianity was a rework of the then-popular Roman worship of the Persian God Mithras, combined with a heavily-pruned Jewish variant of the dying-reborn god mystery religions of the ancient Mediterranean Pagan world. It bore little resemblance to Judaism in any form.

What most modern Americans recognize as “authentic Christianity” originated in the Protestant movement of the 16th century, as re-invented in the early 1900’s as “Fundamentalism,” based on a six-volume set of books (“The Fundamentals”) published between 1910 and 1915, then re-branded in the 1950’s as “Evangelicalism.”

Credit Scores

“A good credit score is your most valuable financial asset.”

Debt is a liability, not an asset. A credit score indicates your ability and willingness to go into debt.

A good credit score is a bulls-eye painted on your back. It says, “Here is an idiot who is willing to carry debt.” It marks you as an addict to whom the credit industry can market its usury.

Your most valuable financial asset is your ability to earn money.

The Book of Lies

We live in a mendacious society, as members of a mendacious species.

The lies start with ourselves. When surveyed, something like 80% to 90% of people believe they are of above average intelligence, looks, and morals. Think that one through.

The little lies we tell ourselves to keep going in the face of adversity don’t bother me. The big lies do; especially those foisted upon us by corporate marketeers, government officials, and embedded in the “common knowledge” that we inherit while growing up, intended to shape our spending habits, our behavior, and our core beliefs.

Of course, the big lies have their roots in the little lies. Were we not a mendacious and credulous species, well-accustomed to lying to ourselves, the big lies would not thrive.

This blog topic is about those big lies.