A darn-near weekly round-up of news items, columns, articles and blog posts that caught our eye this past week.
We unplugged Friday afternoon and just shut things down as far as participation in social media (Twitter and Facebook) because that was not the place to be in light of what happened in Connecticut. Instead we were rescued to two scheduled events, one on Saturday and one on Sunday that afforded us the opportunity to hang out with family, friends and loved ones.
Our favorite patriotic billionaire, Warren Buffett, whose crusade to raise taxes on the rich was in the news this past week but for a reason we don’t think he wants too publicized.
Warren Buffett's $1.2 billion share buyback from a single unnamed investor likely helped that person's estate save substantially on taxes, just one day after the Berkshire Hathaway CEO said the rich should actually be paying more, not less, when they die.
With the "fiscal cliff" looming and estate taxes set to rise dramatically in less than three weeks, the timing was seen as advantageous - and, according to Berkshire watchers, also out of place in the context of Buffett's recent tax activism.
"I would say 'Warren, would you please just keep your nose out of this.' He's not in a position to criticize what's good for America and for everyone else's estate," said Anthony Sabino, a professor of business at St. John's University. "He's no doubt utilized the present tax code to maximum effect."
Berkshire said it bought 9,200 Class A shares from "the estate of a long-time shareholder," whom it did not name, at $131,000 per share, a price in line with where Berkshire has traded in recent weeks.
Buffett's assistant didn't respond to a request for comment on the shareholder's identity. The shares represent 1 percent of Berkshire's Class A stock.
Being the gentlemen that we are, we will refrain from calling him what we really think he is rather we'll just say this action appears rather inconsistent with his call for higher taxes.
And in totally related news, it looks like another of Obama’s BFF’s, Eric Schmidt of Google, is operating his business in a totally legal matter and totally in keeping with rational behavior, i.e, he wants to minimize as much as possible Google’s tax burden.
Google chairman Eric Schmidt has insisted that he is "very proud" of the company's tax structure, and said that measures to lower its payments were just "capitalism".
Mr Schmidt's comments risk inflaming the row over the amount of tax multinationals pay, after it emerged that Google funnelled $9.8bn (£6.07bn) of revenues from international subsidiaries into Bermuda last year in order to halve its tax bill.
However, Mr Schmidt defended the company's legitimate tax arrangements. “We pay lots of taxes; we pay them in the legally prescribed ways,” he told Bloomberg. “I am very proud of the structure that we set up. We did it based on the incentives that the governments offered us to operate.”
“It’s called capitalism,” he said. “We are proudly capitalistic. I’m not confused about this.”
In Britain Vince Cable was unimpressed by Mr Schmidt’s views. The Business Secretary told The Daily Telegraph: “It may well be [capitalism] but it’s certainly not the job of governments to accommodate it.”
If Google is operating within the law, we would like to know from Mssr. Cable in what manner and device should not the government accommodate Google’s business model?
It’s obvious he believes Google should be giving more of their money to the government, so, champ, out with it: how would you like to do it?
And in both cases regarding Buffett and Schmidt, there is obviously a disconnect between their public rhetoric and what they practice. It doesn’t take a psychologist to figure out what it is these men believe with respect to capitalism and tax avoidance.
Every day, seemingly, we find out yet another way that ObamaCare is doing or going to do exactly the opposite of what it was designed to do with respect to bending downward the healthcare cost curve. And lo and behold, even some people who voted for the disgrace are catching on and not liking what they see as the tax on medical devices contained within ObamaCare will hit their constituents.
Minnesota's two senators sought Monday to delay a tax on medical devices that was expected to add $28 billion over the next decade to help pay for health care reform.
Democratic Senators Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken pointed to thousands of high-paying jobs that device companies support in Minnesota, headquarters to such giant devicemakers as Medtronic and St. Jude Medical. The industry has painted the tax as a job killer that would hurt innovation.
"The delay would give us the opportunity to repeal or reduce that tax," said Klobuchar, co-author of a letter sent to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid seeking the delay.
Repeal is the ultimate goal of the letter's 18 signers, including Klobuchar, Franken and all the heavy hitters in the Senate Democratic leadership. But politically that would be virtually impossible before Jan. 1, said Norman Ornstein, a congressional expert with the American Enterprise Institute.
"Because of the fiscal cliff, everybody has to sacrifice," Ornstein said. "To say repeal the tax at this point is a nonstarter."
Franken agreed. "I don't think we're going to be able to kill the tax by the end of the year," he said.
But delaying the tax would give opponents more time to find a different source of federal income or new budget cuts to offset lost device tax revenues. The industry has been skeptical of the argument behind the tax -- that devicemakers will benefit from the health care law through increased demand for their products.
Awww… Isn’t that sweet? Nearing 3 years after the bill was signed into law, some of our nation’s lawmakers are figuring out what’s in legislation they so vigorously supported and are not liking what they are finding.
And we remain skeptical of the contention that the device-makers will benefit because of increased demand. The majority of those new people who will be forced to sign up for health care are younger, healthier people who will not be utilizing these devices.
Again, another day and another way where were finding how expensive ObamaCare will be and how many jobs stand to be lost because of it.
Some thoughts on the massacre in Connecticut that went down this past Friday:
Columbine/Aurora in 1999, Santana/San Diego in 2001 and now Newtown in 2012. All of them predominantly white, middle/upper middleclass suburban neighborhoods.
Over the past decade plus, is what we have witnessed and are currently dealing with the manifestation of the white progressive participation-trophy culture?
We coddle our children and feminize our boys to a degree that there develops a sense of entitlement and detachment from a reality where actions do indeed have consequences.
We have dumbed-down our culture with moral relativism to where our nation’s youth do not have a sense of right and wrong only that their self-esteem gets stroked to the highest possible degree. You didn’t win league, kid – no worries here’s a trophy and a pat on the head. As long as no one runs afoul of the mercy rule, everybody’s a winner.
And dumbed-down our culture with moral relativism to a degree we call the shooting a tragedy. It wasn't a tragedy. It was a evil, barbaric massacre, yet our sense of correctness and right-thinking prevents us from calling it that.
A generation of young white suburban males that were not taught by their parents, teachers or coaches to achieve, rather to feel and experience.
And when one of those white suburban males figures out the harsh realities of life doesn’t click with his own inward self-directed take on things and you throw in mental instability on top of it, you find yourself sitting on a potential powder keg.
Does the above explain the 3 aforementioned school shootings. Certainly not in totality but the similarity of circumstances and demographics cannot be ignored: we have done the white middle class millennials a disservice by indoctrinating them in a progressive, feminized culture that values feelings over accomplishment.