When Tax Reform Isn’t-What Congress Giveth It Taketh Away-Podcast 676

They call it Tax Reform. A Jobs Bill. That’s what it must be, right? Journalists and commentators are playing the same old game. Argue a proposed piece of legislation on its merits. Time to reset the boundaries in When Tax Reform Isn’t-What Congress Giveth It Taketh Away-Podcast 676.

Freedom Of Choice

While listeners to The Bob Davis Podcasts always have the freedom to choose what they think is right, I want to introduce the concept of marginal improvement. Legislators on both sides of the political spectrum talk big about ‘reform’. Usually though they make what really are marginal changes. This is especially relevant when we’re talking about the tax code.

The Real Football Game Is Congress

Team Red moves the ball back to the Blue thirty yard line. It’s hailed as a great victory. Team Blue moves the ball back to the Red twenty yard line a few years later. These are what both sides call marginal improvements. Meanwhile, as economist Milton Friedman famously suggested, they keep getting elected by making the tax code more complicated.

Budget Neutrality Isn’t A Thing

Enter a legislative concept called Budget Neutrality. The idea every expenditure must be ‘paid for’ with tax increases, or budget cuts. You think Tax Reform means lower taxes. What they’re really doing is taking away tax deductions and loop holes, and increasing our overall tax. The sad part is, it’s not their money, it’s our money. In When Tax Reform Isn’t-What Congress Giveth It Taketh Away-Podcast 676.

What Is Real Reform?

If you want real reform. The end to this kind of corruption? Then the power of the federal government to tax our incomes and our property must be permanently eliminated. Should corporations be taxed at all? Do you have property rights if you pay property taxes? How does government pay for the wonderful things both sides wants it to provide? We talk about it in When Tax Reform Isn’t-What Congress Giveth It Taketh Away-Podcast 676.

Already Socialists

So called conservatives like to argue the merits of capitalism versus socialism. It seems like I’d be on pretty safe ground if I suggested the United States has been collectivist for decades. Our economic system is not so much capitalist as it is a controlled market economy. Our elected Kings and their privy courts control our behavior and our futures with regulation and a tax code so complex, were it to be proposed as a single law in its present form, it would cause a revolution.

(Editor’s Note: While the first actual income tax in the United States was levied during the Civil War, it was later repealed as ‘unconstitutional’. Several attempts were made to establish an income tax through the late 1800’s which were unsuccessful, until the 16th amendment, ratified in 1913.)

Sponsored by Ryan Plumbing and Heating of Saint Paul and Reliafund

When Tax Reform Isn’t-What Congress Giveth It Taketh Away-Podcast 676

Podcast 538

Western Minnesota Road Trip. Freestyle talk about my travel in the last last 6 weeks. My reflections on a weekend jaunt to Western Minnesota’s New Ulm and Walnut Grove, tying in the talk about technology threatening jobs in the future. Recent road trips have intensified my interest in the history of the Western United States. There is a lot of significant western history in Minnesota. We often think of historic topics like Indian Wars and Pioneers has happening further west, but one of the bloodiest clashes between settlers and American Indians happened in New Ulm in 1862, when the mostly German townspeople had to barricade the streets of their town to fight off attacks by the Dakota. Further west is Walnut Grove, the home of Laura Ingalls Wilder and the famous ‘Little House On The Prairie’. While the museum in Walnut Grove could use a little bit better curation, some of the artifacts in the museum are interesting, especially grasshoppers or Locusts the size of a man’s hand, which plagued the settlers of Walnut Grove. When you examine items in a museum, it’s easy to think about how old they are. For the people of the time though, it was new technology. It’s fun to flip the script and wonder what our descendants will think of the artifacts of our time in a museum at some point a hundred years from now. Today, supposedly new tech like robotics and autonomous machines and software threatens millions of jobs. Proposed ‘solutions’ to this ‘threat’, like guaranteed minimum incomes and job retraining programs don’t make much sense. When people came west for opportunity, 140 years ago, they didn’t have job retraining programs. They couldn’t have known they’d be plagued by grasshoppers the size of a man’s hand. Yet they came anyway. We need to start thinking about the opportunity new technology provides us in building a new world, and stop being so negative all the time. Sponsored by Karow Contracting and Hydrus Performance.

Podcast 441

Shopping, Trump, Lies & Liquor. Welcome back from the big Thanksgiving weekend. The weeks starts with the National Retail Federation, AKA The Propaganda Ministry for the Big Box Retailers. If they’re not making up stories about how many people will shop the day after Thanksgiving, they’re blaming lackluster retail numbers on … wait for it … The Internet and specifically Amazon.com. This is the latest nonsense cooked up to convince lawmakers ‘something has to be done’, and that something is regulation of the Internet, so people will continue to shop at obsolete brick and mortar retailers located inside something called ‘The Mall’. Do we have data that shows the Internet is killing the Mall? Not really. Meanwhile ‘Black Friday’ is more and more an example of all that is wrong in America, and provides a great ‘look at the fat Americans fighting over flat screen TV’s’ story often seen in the foreign media. Maybe people aren’t shopping because they don’t believe the fairy tail about our growing economy, or because the new job only pays half what the old job pays, or because there’s a double digit health insurance premium. Yeah, right. We’re going to ‘spend the savings on two dollar gasoline’ at the mall. You know, like a tax cut. Meanwhile, Political Information Lag produced a lot of surprises at the Thanksgiving table as relatives discovered each other were rooting for Trump, or Bernie Sanders. Both candidates are outside the ‘establishment’ Republican and Democrat story line. Everyone HATES Washington and they HATE mainstream media charlatans who lie to them, while they work for candidates like Hillary Clinton. Once real people actually start voting, we’ll see whether anti-establishmentarianism is a ‘thing’, or not. Jeb! shouldn’t hold his breath tho. Meanwhile the City of Edina’s liquor store apparently can’t complete with ‘cut throat’ discount liquor stores (that actually have a responsibility to their stock holders to make money; how quaint.) Thus, the Mayor of Edina wants a liquor store tax, to make up the loss. “It’s a good business, and we’re going to stay in it”. Why are municipalities in the business of selling liquor? Bottom line, if government can’t even make money selling liquor apparently its incompetence knows no bounds. Sponsored by Ryan Plumbing and Heating of Saint Paul and X Government Trucks.

Podcast 429

Politics as Sport. Millions of people watched the most recent Republican debate on CNBC this week, and everyone is talking about how the candidates ‘really gave it to the moderators’. The moderators had it coming, but was this a surprise? Do you mean say the media is biased? Really? How shocking if true, right? Meanwhile this week a US Destroyer sailed past man-made islands claimed by China provoking quite a response. While the US should challenge Chinese ‘ownership’ of these islands this is just the kind of incident that creates foreign policy crises seemingly ‘out of nowhere’. To add insult to injury House Republicans this week voted to increase federal spending by 50 billion dollars in 2016 and something like 30 billion in 2017. (Editor’s Note: Republicans were shocked and dismayed in the 1970’s when President Carter’s budget deficit hit 45 billion.) Talk about the GOP betrayal of their voters? No, let’s talk about media bias, again. Republican and Democrat candidates running for their party’s nomination to run for president – technically not running for president yet – continue to play to the biases and fears of their most vociferous supporters, as part of a sick and dangerous symbiosis between media, pollsters, and politicians. People watch to see who will be ‘thrown off the island last’. Indeed, politics is being covered not as sports as covered, but is in fact a sport in itself. Why not talk about video games and fantasy football at the debates? The election is already a fantasy football league or video game, or reality TV show, anyway. With most people getting their news in shards from social media, google searches, You Tube and other sources like this, the story about three deep space objects hiding behind the moon is perceived with the same credibility as the story of US Special Forces and Navy Helicopters being deployed to Syria, where they may be as likely to get into combat with Russians and Chinese troops as they are to fight ISIS. We’re ‘Cruisin For A Bruisin’ in the United States if this is how we expect to elect the next President, and subsequently run the country. Don’t forget to join The Bob Davis Podcasts and Jason Lewis for a live podcast Saturday, Halloween at 11:00 AM in Lakeville, Minnesota at the Main Street Cafe. Sponsored by Ryan Plumbing and Heating of Saint Paul. (Editor’s Note: I refer to Russia Today, which is a propaganda outlet for the Russian Government as Russia Times. It’s RT or Russia Today.) 

Podcast 308

Cars. A prominent British auto collector said recently the driverless car will have a catastrophic impact on the auto industry, sooner than you think. Recently a few stories about the twentieth century romance with the automobile may have caught your eye. The son of a collector in France, who’s vintage Ferrari’s, Spyder’s, and Maserati’s were forgotten for decades, and an auto dealer in Pierce, Nebraska who saved his unsold inventory, resulting in a stunning collection of hardly driven Chevy cars and trucks from the 1930’s onward. Nothing says twentieth century like the car. From the Model T and Al Capone’s 16 cylinder Cadillac to the muscle cars of the 1960’s and 1970’s. This is not a technical automotive discussion, more a talk about how automotive technology conveyed independence and freedom for the first Model T owners, all the way up to the baby boom generation. For many, the car IS the American Dream. With student loan debt averaging around 8 thousand dollars, credit card debt and rents increasing, today’s young adults struggle to afford a car, and many don’t want one anyway. What conveys freedom today? The smart phone and the technology and communication it brings. While many are nostalgic for an easier time – cruising the Dairy Queen or main street on a Friday night – disruptive changes technology brings can be frustrating and frightening … but they can also inspire. Today’s new technology actually does convey independence and freedom in ways Henry Ford couldn’t imagine. Today’s industrialists in Silicon Valley and Seattle, worry about artificial intelligence; smart machines some believe threaten humanity. Meanwhile, Bill Gates and those following in his footsteps are rushing to create autonomous software and machines that can do everything from pick fruit to work as medical orderlies. There is a new world coming, and its coming fast. Many of our social institutions were created for the twentieth century world, which will soon be left in the dust, and it doesn’t seem like we’re ready to accommodate new ideas like the Driverless Car, autonomous machines, robotics and many other innovations. What happened to the romance of the open road, and the Plymouth Road Runner? It got stepped on by an iPhone. Now what? (Editor’s Note: I like this podcast because it also includes a lot of memories from my childhood, and some great car songs.) Sponsored by My Complete Basement Systems, and Depotstar

Podcast 302

Mass Markets and Politics. As the death rattle of the Mass Market echoes through the land, why do politicians, specifically those on one side of the spectrum continue to attempt to appeal to it? In discussing the rhetorical and organizational challenges of the politics recently, it was suggested that the reason some politicians make lurid comments is to ‘appeal to the mass markets’. If you were born at a certain time in the US, you became very familiar with something called ‘The Mass Market’. From Elvis, to the 1960 Nixon/Kennedy Debates, the Beatles on Ed Sullivan, favorite TV shows and songs and the radio stations people listened to, there was a collective experience. Millions had to wait a week for the next episode of their favorite show. You had to go to a big department store to examine consumer goods. It was an era of shared experience; one after another, from Johnny Carson to Star Trek, to All in the Family and Miami Vice. Radio multiplied from AM only to AM and FM, but all still served a mass market and provided a mass experience. First came cable television, which brought scores of nationwide channels into the home, then the VHS machine, the DVD, Netlfix and very recently, on-demand audio and video, You Tube, Google Hang Outs, Vimeo, Netflix, iTunes, Amazon Prime, HBO Go, and more to come.  Now people can have the experience they want, when they want it, how they want it. They can research characters, content and what it said. Now, the experience is between the content provider, the retailer, politician, entertainer or writer and the individual. While we still have shared experiences, we may have it at different times, we may binge listen and view, we may not have the same experience as someone else. Why then, do politicians insist on lining up and yelling at each other, say ridiculous things to get publicity, why do political parties insist on mass promotional orgies called conventions be televised on the ‘networks’, when the era of Mass Specialization is upon us, and growing stronger every day? Are candidates that play to the mass markets making a mistake? What new tools are there and how can they be used to win. 1965 called, and left a message. It’s not coming back. Ever. Sponsored by Ryan Plumbing and Heating

Podcast 268

Not 1995! Lots of stories in the news about real estate and consumer culture, and the state of retail. Its starting to feel like the business models that have propelled us from the 90’s aren’t working so well anymore. Now analysts wonder why millennials aren’t buying homes. Zillow theorizes that people are trapped in a high rent situation that prevents them from saving for a home down payment. There’s a greater question though. While we have been subjected to one rosy scenario after another about housing’s comeback — which really hasn’t materialized —  when repairs, taxes, assessments, interest and other costs of home loans over thirty years are considered, do you think owning really that much economical? With millennials burdened by student loans, the specter of higher lifetime social security costs and poor quality employment, is anyone really that surprised they’re not in the home buying mood? Then, when you consider higher spending and debt levels, and the pension commitments for state and local governments, would you say you think taxes will be going down, or up? Potential buyers are also factoring this in, and the cost of the urban utopia created by subsidies, federal spending and higher taxation. Finally, have you priced homes in these urban utopias millennials supposedly want to live in? By the way, a new survey says the one thing people ‘blow’ their budget on these days is eating out, all the more expensive in the ‘urban utopia’, ruled by broke hipsters. When millennials finally do start families, they’ll be looking in the suburbs for housing because its more affordable. Then there’s the retail question. This week congress decided not to tax purchases made on the Internet, much to the chagrin of retailers that have been manhandling their legislators to push for a tax to ‘even the playing field’. More and more there are examples of how retailers want to use law and licensing to fence off competition. Meanwhile their business models suck. Poor service, high prices, snooty attitudes; It’s no wonder people want to buy things on line. Uber’s fight to get into Portland and New York City are just two examples; There taxi drivers try to fence off competition by selling ‘licenses’ rather than providing a service people want. We’re on the cusp of big changes when it comes to consumer culture in America, and it’s a good thing. Sponsored by Ryan Plumbing and Heating of Saint Paul and by Depotstar

Podcast 147

Memorial Day Weekend 2014! Some selected top stories for your trip to the lake this weekend. Or, where ever you’re headed. A Super Bowl For Minneapolis in 2018. Aren’t we happy. The question is, will the 450 million dollars (plus) Minnesotans are on the hook for be a net gain, or a net loss, when the costs are factored in. Not to mention the drug dispensing (alleged) NFL always begging for so many subsidies it would even make Cliven Bundy blush. Don’t expect the media in Minneapolis-Saint Paul to tell you the truth about the Vikings Stadium, the grocery clerks running these media outlets are terrified of the NFL and the Wilfs. Meanwhile, those sanctions against Russia are working so well, Putin has been driven into the arms of China, and now all three are making nice with Iran. And, the VA is such a mess the President is ‘madder than hell’, but how does he take down his favorite example of Government Run Health Care? That’s why no one is getting fired at the VA. Say goodbye to real people taking your order at MacDonald’s, cause they’re trying to form a union. Canceling ‘Honors Night’, Bike Riding Coaches for little Ashley and Dylan, and Hand Shakes are more dangerous than smoking! This is some holiday weekend! Sponsored by Edelweiss Design

Podcast 141

Is there rebirth  after the big corporate job? A FaceBook request from a Bob Davis Podcasts listener provokes a full podcast. Jeremy suggested talking about how a person changes after they lose the ‘big’ corporate job. With 94 million people remaining out of the work force in the current economic ‘recovery’ it’s an important question and deserves a full response. Today’s technology amplifies the individual as never before making this the time to start your own business and never look back. Bob Davis talks about his interest and work in radio, and rebirth as the chief cook, bottle washer and janitor at The Bob Davis Podcasts, relates it to all business, provides an inspirational message to all people who find themselves ‘let go’ … cooks dinner and watches The Twilight Zone all at once. Thanks Jeremy, for the question and thanks to all the sponsors and listeners of the Bob Davis Podcasts present and future! Sponsored by XGovernmentcars.com