Category Archives: In the News

A legislator’s guide to tax reform

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The Iowa state legislature is back at the table trying to tackle tax reform for the umpteenth time. Prior business tax preferences have not had their anticipated effect of raising total revenues. Indeed, the total cash available for crucial government spending has fallen well short of the estimates of the Republican-dominated revenue prediction team for the last several years. So,… Read more »

The “double taxation” myth

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The debate over the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 resurrected a lot of conflicted thinking about what a corporation is and is not. It has become a common talking point that corporate profits are “double taxed,” first at the corporate level and then as part of the owner’s income. This particular code revision has expanded this theme in… Read more »

The power of “magic spells”

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I don’t believe in magic. But I have become convinced that some very real psychological state exists that can only be a “magic spell” without the magic. I have watched friends and relatives become so enraptured with Donald Trump that they have cast aside many of their most treasured religious and cultural norms in order to attest to the man’s… Read more »

North Korea and Game Theory

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A recent post on this blog noted that the current North Korea nuclear showdown is not far afield from what I call “the first ethical dilemma.” This dilemma dates from the time in our distant hunter-gatherer past when our emerging extended-family “mini-civilization” was threatened by the encroachment of another extended family group into “our space.” I presented a 2×2 decision matrix… Read more »

Health insurance at Fox News

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There has long been a wide gap between the conservative view of “the insurance I want” versus “the insurance I want you to have.” You would think that some of the “free market” bastions in American media would institute “message-appropriate” forms of health insurance for their own employees, but you would be wrong. I have made several inquiries regarding the… Read more »

Privatization is not capitalism

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The slow-roll collapse of the ill-advised Iowa Medicaid privatization, which was put in place by former Governor Terry Branstad, continues under his successor, Kim Reynolds, to harm the lives of real Iowa citizens with disabilities and chronic medical conditions. Because of that fiasco, I thought it would be useful to dispel some widely-held myths about government privatization efforts in general…. Read more »

Bank deregulation: Wash, rinse, repeat

With “bipartisan” bank deregulation rushing its way through Congress again (Why do bad bills progress so quickly?) I thought it time for a little history lesson. As if the 2008 housing debacle wasn’t enough to keep Congress understanding that the banks are rarely to be trusted, let’s go back a couple bank crises before that one, the forgotten one from… Read more »

Government budgets are moral documents

“The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States.” – U. S. Constitution, Article I Section 8 With the release of President Trump’s first proposed budget, I thought… Read more »

Uber wages and the Amway model

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A recent controversial study from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology [1] has asserted that Uber and Lyft drivers’ median wage is really just $3.37 per hour. I don’t want to wade here into the final number calculated by MIT, but I thought it might be useful to demonstrate that the techniques used by Uber and Lyft to keep the “real… Read more »

Taxpayer-financed business failure insurance

Two recent posts looked at private equity (PE) as an aberrant form of business model dependent first on very artificial tax preferences and second on the ability to empty the cash from “cash cow” businesses. In this final part of my critique of PE, I will look at the liberal use of bankruptcy protection as a “feature, not a bug”… Read more »