Stock buybacks and income inequality

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In an earlier post I began a discussion on the recent upsurge in corporate stock buybacks, looking at this financial strategy from a basic probabilistic perspective of “good move/bad move.” In this follow-up, I want to explore the impact of stock buybacks as an exacerbation of the continuing problem of income equality in the United States. In that earlier post… Read more »

Rolling the dice on stock buybacks

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A recent opinion piece in the New York Times suggested that we need restrict stock buybacks in order to “save the economy.” [1] While the authors make some good points about long-term effects, I want to lay out a more basic position here. The fundamental problem with stock buybacks is that they are wise financial moves at most 50% of… Read more »

Why taxing churches is harder than you think – part 2

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In Part One of this series of posts, I described how, except for a few notorious churches, enforcing a corporate income tax levy on these organizations would not likely have much impact, nor raise substantial money. In this second part, I will look at the issue of property taxes and tax-free housing allowances granted to many ministers, as well as… Read more »

Why taxing churches is harder than you think – part 1

On Monday, August 27, President Trump met with Christian Evangelical leaders and openly urged them to get more political in this fall’s mid-term election, basically encouraging them to break the law. Indeed, he bragged (inaccurately) that he had “gotten rid of” the Johnson Amendment, a 1954 tax law provision of tax law allows the stripping of a church’s or not-for-profit… Read more »

The “values voter” – Whose values?

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In a post a while back I wrote about the concept of “Big Picture” ethics, or meta-ethics, where making moral decisions determined by either by “the rules” or “the goals” become secondary behind a larger, generalized conception of principles or virtues that attempt to reconcile conflicting ideas and filter out the worst choices. One of the primary vectors of meta-ethics… Read more »

Why “pension plan socialism” never happened

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In 1976, management guru Peter Drucker (1909 – 2005) published a thought-provoking “vision for the future” entitled The Unseen Revolution: How Pension Fund Socialism Came to America. [1] In that book he looked at the implications of the then-growing trend for “defined benefit” pension plans owning a greater and greater share of corporate capital, and the social implications for that shift…. Read more »

“Free will” versus “free won’t”

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“I can resist anything but temptation.” – Oscar Wilde One of the best-known series of studies on human volition, or “free will,” was the “marshmallow test,” conducted by Walter Mischel in the 1960s. In one variant of this study, children would be placed alone in a room with one marshmallow and told that if they waited and chose not to eat… Read more »

Corporate governance reform – By what right?

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This past week Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, clearly the most persistent and articulate advocate in this generation for the reform of corporate governance and social responsibility, has outlined in a recent Wall Street Journal opinion (behind a paywall) a series of proposals that both need to be taken seriously and will undoubtedly raise fierce opposition from the business community. Matthew Yglesias… Read more »

Rain events, the sand pile effect and climate change

I spent a lot of grandmother-visiting time in my youth, and went to university for a time, in the far-northern Michigan town of Houghton, located on the Keweenaw Peninsula protruding like a thumb into Lake Superior. This place regularly gets over 200 inches of “lake effect” snowfall each winter, but it has rarely been hit with up to seven inches… Read more »

Humpty Dumpty words: socialism and capitalism – part 2

In Part One of this series, I dissected the “socialism” versus “capitalism” labels to demonstrate that four major governmental programs with long-standing conservative support are “community” endeavors, and lean more toward a classically-socialist approach than a classically-capitalist one, even though conservatives detest the “S” word. In this second part of the series, I will do a deeper dive into a… Read more »