All Rich Guys Think They are Infallible….

via Jack Welch: I was right about jobs report РOct. 9, 2012.

Welch, the former CEO of General Electric, had previously contributed content to Fortune, but following critical coverage of his comments on the jobs report and tenure at GE, Welch said in an e-mail Tuesday that he was terminating his contract with Fortune.

In his WSJ op-ed, Welch suggests that the reaction to his criticism of “the ruling authorities” was something he would expect in Soviet Russia or Communist China. “Nope,” he wrote, “that would be the United States right now, when a person (like me, for instance) suggests that a certain government datum (like the September unemployment rate of 7.8%) doesn’t make sense.”

I am using the source above to give you an example of the fact that all rich guys think they are infallible. It seems that once a person has managed to collect a few million bucks they come to the conclusion that they know everything. While Jack Welch definitely had some successes at running General Electric in the 1980s he really didn’t do anything more than listen to what his people told him and then choose a profitable path.

I am going to give you a technical term for the reason people who have success in one area then think they know everything in all areas. It is call having a “big-head” ūüôā ¬†Of course Jack Welch is not the only person to show symptoms of having a big-head. There are many others. The most obvious one right now is Mitt Romney. He thinks he know everything since he was successful at buying companies and stripping them down and selling their parts for a profit. He thinks that since he made a few bucks doing that he is somehow infallible.

Another symptom of having a big-head is that you think that everyone will believe whatever comes out of your mouth. ¬†Mr. Welch says he doesn’t need any proof that somehow the unemployment numbers were fixed; he just knows its true and we are supposed to believe him. Mr. Romney is also much like that even when he says exactly opposite things. He thinks everyone believes whatever he says. ¬†The trouble with this is that there are some people who actually do believe everything he says. ¬†How else can you explain why so many say they will vote for him even after flip-flop after flip-flop ūüėČ

Whenever I think I might be getting a big head I go to visit my hero Will Rogers to see what he says about the subject I think I know all about. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that I made a bunch of money like the yahoos I am talking about here. It is just that sometimes I come to the grandiose conclusion that I got it right about this or that and others just can’t for some reason understand. Whenever my head starts swelling I read Will’s words:

Everybody is ignorant, only on different subjects – Will Rogers

There is nothing so stupid as an educated man, if you get him off the thing he was educated in. – Will Rogers

Thanks Will for keeping me level-headed. Now if only Mr. Romney, Mr. Welch and so many others would just heed your words of wisdom and realize they too are not perfect.

How About Some Changes….

I guess I am still fixated on the post from yesterday about how so many very sparsely populated States in the U.S. now have so much power. It seems that our country is quite out of balance right now as a result of past decisions. ¬†Maybe it is time to revisit some of that stuff. ¬†Being that I am the fool who rushes in where angels fear to tread I will take a stab at this. If you want to call this the Walters’ Doctrine go ahead. I will take the blame for all of it. Here is my list of things that need to change:

  • Corporations are not people — I know the Supreme Court recently decided otherwise but it just doesn’t make any more sense than deciding that trees are now people.
  • My Vote should count for who becomes President¬†— Since I am a progressive living in a solidly red state my vote seldom counts when it comes to electing our president. ¬†The President should be elected by the people not by geographical areas. ¬†I know the electoral college was necessary in the horse and buggy days but in the age of the Internet it is totally senseless.
  • Everyone should be allowed to vote — My mother, God rest her soul, was not able to vote in 2008. The reason for that is that she no longer had a driver’s license and the State of Indiana as a result pulled her name from the polling list. Since most of the people who don’t have driver’s licenses are elderly or low on the economic scale it excludes them to the advantage of the Republican candidates. Yes, my mother could have stood in an hour-long line to get her “license” and poor people who can’t afford a car could take a day off without pay to do the same but there needs to be a better way to do this.
  • We should not be able to get into another war until we have paid for the last one ¬†— ¬†I have to admit that I am “borrowing” this one from my hero Will Rogers. If Mr. Bush had paid for his two wars we would not be in nearly as much trouble as we are now. Since most issues that get attention now days are “pocketbook” issues let’s make war one of them.
  • Eliminate the Filibuster — allowing less than half the people to stop basically all legislation is just not right. ¬†If, like in the past, it were used on a very rare basis that would be one thing. But to allow it to be used more in three years than in the last one hundred means that it is being severely abused. ¬†That needs to end.
  • Stop all the foolishness about “death taxes” — One of the bedrocks of our country has been to prevent¬†a U.S. aristocracy. We did that by imposing a significant inheritance tax on those who are absurdly wealthy. ¬†Up until recently the inheritance tax has been a major source of income for the country. As a matter of fact before income taxes it , along with import/export taxes, was the main source of income. ¬†People like Mr. Romney don’t need to give each of his five kids a $50 million tax free head start. $25 million should ruin them just as easily. If nothing else restrict the inheritance taxes collected to pay off the deficit. We would probably be amazed at how quickly our debt would disappear.

I’m way over my self-imposed five hundred word limit for posts so I will just stop here. Besides with all this brainy stuff spewing off the top of my head I need to stop and let it cool off……

Mighty Rich But….

We can get mighty rich, but if we haven’t got any friends, we will find we are poorer than anybody. РJune 1, 1930  Will Rogers

I am totally embarrassed that it has been so long since I used any of my hero Will Roger’s quotes on this blog. He is my inspiration for sitting down and doing this on a daily basis. When I lose track of Will my writing tends to drift over more to the dark side of life. Our lives are just too short to live over there for long. So here I am back to talking about a quote from Will.

Old time movies are filled with this sort of thing about rich people being lonely. But is this really true today? It seems like there are a lot of very very rich people around today that I image don’t have a lot friends but they seem to be ok with ¬†that. The bible tells us that the love of money is the root of all evil.¬†It seems the richer you become the more you cling to your riches instead of people.

The rich guys will spend millions of dollars to get in the politicians in office who will give them a few more tax breaks. They just want to keep as much of their money as possible. I have been accused of painting with too broad a brush with these types of posts so I will say here that, yes there are many examples that go against this hypothesis. Two of the most glaring examples are at the top of the heap, Bill Gates and Warren Buffet. Both of these guys are giving the bulk of their riches to philanthropic foundations. But it seems that there are also many others who just won’t let go of their riches.

I personally don’t know any of these rich guys as they run in a different circle than I do but I do see them often enough on TV shows where they are paying big bucks for antique cars. After becoming bored with home remodeling stuff and then the food channels I am in to the automobile stuff and I see the rich guys putting down a million bucks for a rebuilt car from the 1960s and 70s. All these guys seem to be happy enough with collecting whatever is their favorite thing. ¬†Are they really poorer than me because I have more friends?

I want to warn some of your younger folks here that as you grow older your friends tend to just fall away naturally. ¬†When we leave the work place our friends even with the best of intentions almost always disappear and it seems as we get further and further into our retirement years they either die off or end up moving south ūüôā ¬†It is work to keep a cherished few around.¬†I imagine that the rich folks have it worse than we do but I just don’t know. Maybe with the big bucks their friends stick around hoping to be put in their wills. ¬†Maybe I should win a big lottery pot and find out. But that would be kind of hard considering I never buy lottery tickets.

But one clich√© I do know is true and that is that a dog is man’s best friend and a few million bucks will buy a lot of dogs ūüôā

Dressing For Dinner…

There is a great tendency all over the country now to be high brow. More people should work for their dinner instead of dressing for it ¬†— Will Rogers

This quote caught my attention because for the last few months I have been watching the PBS series “Downton Abby”. Here is how Wikipedia describes the series:

The series is set in the fictional Downton Abbey, the Yorkshire country house of the Earl and Countess of Grantham, and follows the lives of the aristocratic Crawley family and their servants during the reign of King George V. The first series spans the two years before the Great War beginning with news of the sinking of the Titanic in 1912, which sets the story in motion.

One of the notable things is how the Earl and all the residents of the Abby dress up in very formal clothes for every evening meal. Another is that each of them has at least one servant who helps them dress and handles most of their daily matters and of course scores of others who cook and clean. I am drawn to the show because much of it centers around the service people at the abbey. The Earl, of course, was one of a long line of noblemen who obtained his wealth and the corresponding responsibilities from those who came before him. The store doesn’t tell us when the wealth was collected but I suspect it was hundreds of years before the current Earl.

Getting back to Will’s quote here I think he is basically saying that he thinks earned income is much preferred to inherited wealth. ¬†I couldn’t agree more. If it were up to me I would re-establish the 90% inheritance tax! Our whole country would be better off if everyone had to work for a living instead of living off previous generations wealth. I’m sure that the Rockefellers, the Gettys and many others are still living off the money earned several generations before them. One of the key things the founders of our country railed against was the inherited wealth and now here we are protecting it at the expense of the middle class!

I guess given the season we are in, I need to re-state my plan for tax reform in this country. I always have one handy in case someone chooses me to be their running mate; it seems the field is wide open right now. ūüôā ¬†One of the cornerstones of RJ’s Tax Reform Plan is to define income as anything coming into your accounts. This includes the money for the work you do, interest on your saved income, dividends on invested stock, and especially money you receive from anyone else and of course that includes inheritances. ¬†Let’s tax it all at the same rate. Income is income no matter where it comes from. No exceptions.¬†If we did that we would close so many loopholes such as those that allow the “high brows” as Will calls them from calling the profits they take from their personal business as dividends instead of salary and therefore paying one-third of the actual taxes they owe. ¬†I don’t understand how we ended up taxing unearned income at a lower rate than when you have to go out and earn it? Unearned income should be taxed to the hilt.

In other words for it everyone should have to work for their dinner…

But what do I know….

Its Got To Come From Somewhere….

 

The difference between the rich and the poor grows greater every year. Our distribution of wealth is getting more uneven all the time. A man can make a million and he is on every page in the morning. But it never tells who gave up that million he got. You can’t get money without taking it from someone. ¬†– 1933 Will Rogers

This is one of the most provocative quotes I have in my collection from Will Rogers. Given the statistics that show in the last ten years that the wealth of the 1%ers has more than doubled while the rest of us have seen our wealth, if you comically want to call it that, go down.  It is pretty much a zero-sum game. For the wealthy to get wealthier the rest of us must get poorer. That is just plain old economics.  When will our government stand up for the common guy??

But what do I know….

More From James…

Listen, my dear brothers and sisters: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him? But you have dishonored the poor. Is it not the rich who are exploiting you? Are they not the ones who are dragging you into court? ¬†Are they not the ones who are blaspheming the noble name of him to whom you belong?¬†¬†If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself, you are doing right.

Another place in the Bible (the Beatitudes) it says¬†¬†Blessed are the poor, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.¬† James is re-enforcing ¬†those words here. The rich have exploited the poor before Jesus’ times and continue to do so today. ¬†Many places in the Bible tell us to focus on helping the poor rather than praising wealth. ¬†Will we as Christians ever really learn that lesson?

Poor Little Rich Kids…..

This excerpt from a Wall Street Journal article peaked my senses. It seems the rich, who we give massive tax breaks,  are aware that their kids will probably blow through their inherited wealth after they are gone.  What a bind to be in!  I bet they take all this planning and  trustees as tax deductions. It seems very ironic that while most of us are just trying to stay out of the poor house, and in any other house at all, there are those who worry about the other end of the spectrum.

Instead of “cleverly written trusts” and “carefully chosen trustees” how about just letting them make their own way in life like the other 98% of us do? Who knows, maybe Paris Hilton would even be a productive member of our society if she had not inherited so much of¬†granddaddy’s¬†wealth. ūüôā Up until recently (the 1980s that is) the government taxed wealthy estates so that a significant part of the accumulated¬†money could go back for the common good. ¬†Our country was even established around the ideas that¬†aristocracies are a drain on society. They¬†thoroughly¬†renounced the European version when we formed our country. In fact it was not long after our revolution that the French also rebelled against their aristocracy in a very bloody fashion. ¬†So how is it now that we do so much to retain our version of aristocracy that makes up the top 1% of our population but controls almost 50% of the country’s wealth?

OK, here I go again with the “Walters plan” for accumulated wealth. ¬†I know we can’t force the super rich to allow their children to make their own way in the world. But let’s treat the money they pass on to their children as “income” and therefore subject to the usual income taxes. ¬†To me income is income no matter where it comes from. If you get money that you didn’t work for and you haven’t paid any taxes on ¬†it is considered¬†income¬†to you. Another part of the “Walters Plan” ¬†is where we establish a more equitable income tax structure. Don’t tax the billionaires at a lower rate than the people who empty their trash. Let’s set a level of tax free income so that a person can get the basic necessities and then tax everything else at a certain rate and with no tax deductions. These big tax loop holes that congress seems to endlessly write for the rich, and for many others for that matter, ¬†are one of the reasons we are in the deficit hole we are in.

But what do I know.

And Then There Was Andy……

The last presidential home we visited on our April vacation was the Hermitage of Andrew Jackson. I must admit that I had read various things about “Stonewall” before I visited and there was not much of what I read that I liked. After visiting his home just outside of Nashville Tennessee and learning more about him I can say I like him even less today. Sorry to all you Jackson fans but he was just not the type of person I would ever admire.

The Hermitage was a huge mansion compared to the other four presidential places we visited the previous week. I forget exactly but I think it was over 10,000 square feet and all of was decorated in total¬†opulence. I guess Andy made a LOT of money as a lawyer and a plantation slave owner before he became president. Like other very wealthy people he loved showing off his wealth. ¬†Mr. Jackson was just one of several presidents who had a hyper-inflated ego. He was an “in-your-face” type guy and undoubtedly the most racist president we have every had. African-Americans along with Native-Americans were sub-human to him. He treated both with an almost total disdain. When he moved out of his temporary house to move into the mansion. He gutted it, took down the top story and then whitewashed it before turning it into slave quarters. He did not want his slaves to get¬†uppity¬†on him I guess.

The early part of Mr. Jackson’s life he became famous for his war skills and killing¬†Indians.¬†They say he had quite a love for his wife Rachel Donelson but the¬†scandal¬†of the day was that he jumped in and married her before she was even divorced from her first husband.

He was a president who enjoyed locking horns with other politicians of his day. His arrogance and bravado reminds me ¬†Rush¬†Limbaugh except that Andy actually accomplished some things instead of just talking/ranting about them. ūüôā ¬†He spent his political career saying that he was for the common man but didn’t seem to live his life practicing those words. The one thing I am¬†grateful¬†for with Andrew Jackson and some other presidents after him is that the U.S. did survive his presidency without too many setbacks. Although like the Republicans today he came very close to ignorantly closing down the country over¬†monetary¬†matters.

So, here is to you Mr. Jackson. It was interesting to visit your lavish home and get to know you a little better.

Next time I will be finishing up our April vacation with a visit to the Grand Ole Opry. No, not the new one but the one of Minee Pearl and her group.

And the journey goes on…