Jeff Neal for C.U.R.E. - Certain Unalienable Rights Endowment

Posts Tagged ‘money’

Pink Ribbons, Health Care and Money

In Economics, Financial, Health Care Reform, Opinion on April 23, 2011 at 12:18 pm

Who can argue with wanting the most affordable, high-quality health care for the most people? An abundant supply of a good thing is a desire that is unassailable by any one who wants to be a welcome participant in the public discourse. So, our challenge is to discover the best means of maximizing the supply of the unarguably good thing, right? Read the rest of this entry »


Budget Cuts – Congress plans to ban charitable deeds!

In Economics, Opinion, Political Critique on April 18, 2011 at 11:24 am

Why do some people equate what our government does with what our country does?

This nation is comprised of individuals, men and women, all of whom have the freedom to act on their own beliefs – they may help the poor, feed the hungry, abort the babies of the unfortunat­ely pregnant, or subsidize the purchase of windmills for T. Boone Pickens.  I will not object to Harry Reid’s efforts to raise a fund to pay for any and all of those things, so long as he keeps the power of Congress and the IRS out of the process.

The question is, why does he, and his ilk, think those things are only possible if plann ed and done by the federal government­.  And why are they deemed worthy only after the IRS has forceably taken money from men who, maybe, wanted to invest those dollars in a new farming process that might double the output of corn per acre of farmland, thus making food more affordable for millions of children?

Reducing government spending does not vaporize money or ban good deeds – it simply lets the men and women who OWN that money choose for themselves how it should be deployed.  Who, other than a member of Congress and lobbyists, believes that 535 men/women in Congress know better what to do with YOUR money than you do?

No government Shut-down (and No Mandatory Suicides!)

In Opinion on April 8, 2011 at 11:36 pm

We are blessed, aren’t we?!  No mandatory suicides ordered by the government!  Thank you, sir.  May I have another?

Senator McConnell announced a few minutes before mid-night on April 8th, that the Senate/House/POTUS “made history” by agreeing that the government would stay open . . . until next Friday!!

How low can the bar be lowered?  The government has closed its eyes, put its pedal to the metal, and driven us to the edge of a cliff for the umpteenth time, and now, again, they want a medal for opening their eyes and looking for the brake.

And all of the pundits and lobbyists give three cheers.

Question – What are the odds that this collection of ‘leaders’ are going to rein in government spending?

Answer (in the form of a Socratic question) – How many of Paul’s lobbyists get paid handsomely to convince politicians to stop taking Peter’s money to help Paul?

We need a better brand of politician.  SOON.

Thank Goodness for Child Labor

In Economics, Everyday Life, Financial, Opinion on March 27, 2011 at 12:17 pm




Child Labor – we only outlawed it because we could, because capitalism improved productivity enough that we could let the kids go to school instead of making a living for their families.  It’s not like mom and dad were sitting at home living off their kids’ wages.  Everyone was working and conditions sucked.

The employers of those pitiful kids were driven by the profit motive.  That term is better stated as one’s desire to own the fruits of one’s labor and to have the freedom and the ability to dispose of that fruit as one sees fit.  That one word – Freedom – is the key.  If you try to eliminate the profit-motive, you are eliminating freedom, simple as that.

The profit motive, freedom, is the reason – and the only reason – we were able to write “child-labor” laws and let the kids spend the first 18-22 years of their lives being sponges instead of having to earn their way.

Can it really be true that it was a businessman’s “greed” and evil that made him hire children for $.10 per hour (or whatever it was) instead of hiring his mother or father for $5.00 to toil in his factory?  It was a necessity, it was the only way he could make a profit, and without a profit, the job wouldn’t have existed, the child and his family would starve.  Without the potential to make money, the businessman could not have borrowed or otherwise raised the money it took to build the factory to begin with.  It had to start somewhere.

Were there examples of “evil” and crooked businessmen who abused their power over a small portion of the labor force?  Of course there were.  But, be serious – if that practice were as widespread as we’re often led to believe, where were all the complicit, cruel parents, and why did they sit idly by?  The kids were working because the family needed them to, don’t you think?  If the vast majority of the businesses that employed child labor were the monsters we often see portrayed, and the families didn’t really need the extra money, wouldn’t the parents have let their kids stay home or at least do the work themselves?  The jobs were low-skill, low-pay jobs that enabled the factory owner to keep the factory open – and open the next one and the next one, increasing productivity and replacing, eventually, the kids with machines.  God bless those factory owners who fed families – including his own, by the way – while building a world in which the next generation of kids could spend their youth contemplating and protesting the evils of child labor, instead of shoveling manure out of the family barn.

Do you really think, for example, that a small businessman, a family farmer in Davenport, Iowa in 1905 worked his whole family from dawn ‘til dusk because he hated his only son, Frank E. Neal, Sr., or because he wanted to, God forbid, make a profit off of his own child?  No, we know he did it that way, because otherwise the family wouldn’t have had enough to eat – Frank, Sr. would have starved.

Because he didn’t starve, and since we live in a free country where innovation is driven by the profit motive, that farmer’s son later moved to Tennessee, became a letter carrier for the US Postal Service and sent his third son to Isaac Litton High School in Nashville.  That son then attended an insurance company’s training program, sold property and casualty insurance for several local and national agencies, and raised six children, four of whom make their living working for the independent insurance agency he founded in 1975.

Which of those two men – the farmer in Davenport or the businessman in Nashville – is an ogre, using the labor of his children to line his own pockets.  Neither.  My father, Frank E. Neal, Jr., is the same man as his grandfather and his father – just standing on their shoulders.  I’m grateful that my great-grandfather pushed my grandfather out of bed every morning to milk the cows and tend the crops.  If that’s abusing child labor, I’m all for abusing child labor.

Glenn Beck and Finance

In Financial, Opinion, Regulation on March 27, 2011 at 10:31 am

Mr. Beck,

You contributed to the downfall of America on March 1 by perpetuating a couple of myths.

First, oil speculators CAN NOT force the price of oil up.  In every futures contract, there is a ‘long’ side and a ‘short’ side.  For a speculator to make money on the way up, someone has to lose money; for there to be a gain on the UP position, some third party will have speculated on the opposite movement, DOWN, and his loss is the first speculator’s gain.  So, unless there is a complicit, knowing loser on the other side of the trade, forcing the price up by speculation is impossible.  To say otherwise is to feed fear, the last thing we need.

Second, you spoke at some length about “bear-runs” – circumstances where companies’ stock prices were “forced” down by short sellers.  For starters, see above – there are two sides to every trade – some one else believed the opposite, that the share prices would be stable or rise.  In addition, the examples of Bear Strearns and Lehman are telling.  The problems in those two situations were not the short-sellers; the main problems were those companies’ business plans, plans which the short sellers believed would fail.  The short sellers invested their money such that they would profit if their assessment of the plans turned out to be accurate.

In the case of Bear, that problem was worsened by US Treasury Department intervention to (1) assume all of the liabilities of Bear Stearns and (2) sell the remaining assets for a price that didn’t take that $30 Billion white-wash into account.  JP Morgan stole the company with the government’s sanction, getting to keep the assets with the assurance that the contingent liabilities that were on Bear’s balance sheet would be paid by the government – nice work, if you can get it.

With Lehman, the government doomed Lehman when it said “we’re not saving Lehman.”  (I’m not suggesting the government should have ‘saved’ Lehman – the government should have never been involved in the matter.)  We will never know if Lehman could have made it out of their over-commitments to real estate, but they were never given the chance.  Instead government intervention and mark-to-market accounting forced them into insolvency.  Eventually, Lehman filed for bankruptcy and, notwithstanding all the predictions to the contrary, the world did not end.  The market deals with failure almost as well as it does success.  It cleanses the system of bad business plans, and government intervention to keep the market from finding the bottom, so it can bounce, prolongs the pain and moves the bottom DOWN further.

Much can and has been written – much of it wrong – about the financial crisis of 2008.  More populist, anti-Wall-Street-trader rhetoric will not help the country avoid future crises.  More regulations, more government and more mud throwing will all worsen the problem and lead to worse outcomes.  A more clear understanding of how markets function – including how they function to punish failure – will make for a less interventionist government and better outcomes.

Tax Cuts for the Rich!

In Economics, Financial, Humor on March 17, 2011 at 10:28 am

The Tax System Explained In Beer – by unknown author.

Suppose that every day, ten men go out for beer & the bill for all ten comes to $100. 

If they paid their bill the way we pay our taxes, it would go something like this : 

The first four men (the poorest) would pay nothing. 
The fifth would pay $1 
The sixth would pay $3 
The seventh would pay $7 
The eighth would pay $12 
The ninth would pay $18 
The tenth man (the richest) would pay $59 

So, that’s what they decided to do. 

The ten men drank in the bar every day and seemed quite happy with the arrangement, until one day, the owner threw them a curve ball. 

“Since you are all such good customers,” he said, “I’m going to reduce the cost of your daily beer by $20”. Drinks for the ten men would now cost just $80. 

The group still wanted to pay their bill the way we pay our taxes. 

So the first four men were unaffected. They would still drink for free. But what about the other six men- the paying customers? 

How could they divide the $20 windfall so that everyone would get his fair share? 

They realized that $20 divided by six is $3.33. But if they subtracted that from everybody’s share, then the fifth man and the sixth man would each end up being paid to drink his beer. 

So, the bar owner suggested that it would be fair to reduce each man’s bill by a higher percentage the poorer he was, to follow the principle of the tax system they had been using, and he proceeded to work out the amounts he suggested that each should now pay. 

And so the fifth man, like the first four, now paid nothing (100%saving). 

The sixth now paid $2 instead of $3 (33% saving). 

The seventh now paid $5 instead of $7 (28% saving). 

The eighth now paid $9 instead of $12 (25% saving). 

The ninth now paid $14 instead of $18 (22% saving). 

The tenth now paid $49 instead of $59 (16% saving). 

Each of the six was better off than before. And the first four continued to drink for free. But, once outside the bar, the men began to compare their savings. 

“I only got a dollar out of the $20 saving,” declared the sixth man. 

He pointed to the tenth man, “but he got $10!” 

“Yeah, that’s right,” exclaimed the fifth man. “I only saved a dollar too. It’s unfair that he got ten times more benefit than me!” 

“That’s true!” shouted the seventh man. “Why should he get $10 back, when I got only $2? The wealthy get all the breaks!” 

“Wait a minute,” yelled the first four men in unison, “we didn’t get anything at all. This new tax system exploits the poor!” 

The nine men surrounded the tenth and beat him up. 

The next night the tenth man didn’t show up for drinks, so the nine sat down and had their beers without him. But when it came time to pay the bill, they discovered something important. They didn’t have enough money between all of them for even half of the bill! 

And that, boys and girls, journalists and government ministers, is how our tax system works. 

The people who already pay the highest taxes will naturally get the most benefit from a tax reduction.. 

Tax them too much, attack them for being wealthy, and they just may not show up anymore. 

In fact, they might start drinking overseas, where the atmosphere is somewhat friendlier. 
For those who understand, no explanation is needed. 
For those who do not understand, no explanation is possible.


Who is John Galt?

Job Creation Fallacies

In Economics, Opinion on March 6, 2011 at 1:27 pm

Some months ago, Congressman Kucinich proposed encouraging early retirement to make room for newly hired employees who will cost less.  He said it would create one million jobs.  And not one of the brains on multiple news programs could find any of the dozens of fundamental flaws with that idea.

One of the commentators even said, “If the money comes from returned TARP funds, then it’s cost neutral, right?”  Are you kidding me?  Another said that it might sound like a good idea, but it would actually cost more to hire and train someone new than to keep the older person on the job.  Maybe that’s true, but it’s not relevant, is it?

So, euthanasia is next?  When we decide that Grandpa has taken someone else’s spot on ACME Inc’s payroll, we’re going ask him to ‘volunteer’ to retire.  What will stop us when we decide he’s eating someone else’s meal; we’ll ask him voluntarily to go on a ‘diet.’   And, when Grandma’s taking up someone else’s time on the mammogram; tell her to take a pill?

How does this (or any other government ‘stimulus’) idea “create” any thing new?  Does it reduce the amount of food we need to exist tomorrow?  Does it create a new task or product?  Does it increase the output of the economy?  Does it in any way ADD anything to anything?

And one of the Republicans’ counter-proposals that Mr. Obama seems to approve is a $5,000 tax credit for a new hire – is that a good idea?

When I ran a company, I never hired a new employee because I thought it was my responsibility to ‘create a job’, because I wanted that person to have a job, so that person could afford health care, so Obama could get more votes in his reelection campaign, or so John Boehner could be Speaker instead of Minority Leader.  I ONLY did so whenever I had something for him to do that was productive and valuable to me.

And I sure as hell didn’t fire one person to make room for another, no matter how old my CFO might have been, or even if the government was willing to ‘pay’ 10% of the new-hire’s salary – I would still be stuck with the other 90% for a gal who would stand around looking for something to do.

When we BUY something (hiring a new person is buying more labor) we buy it because we need it, not because a door-to-door salesman told us it was the best vacuum cleaner ever made and it is 10% off today, and today only.  And it’s even better than that old Hoover in the closet, too!

Would telling everyone they get a 10% rebate from the government encourage someone without the means to do so to buy a new Jaguar convertible?  Of course not.  Nor will $5,000 encourage any employer to hire someone he otherwise would not hire.  It affects economic behavior, if any, only on the margins, bridging the gap between what the employer and employee think is the fair wage.

Want new jobs?  Here’s the answer.  Repeal all laws that breach the Federal government’s constitutional limits on power, or short of that, leave the federal law books alone and take a five-year break from making any new laws.  Adjourn Congress, subject to national security emergency declaration by President Obama, so that businessmen can figure out how to be productive even when weighed down by the tens of thousands of pages of rules and regulations that purport to control and improve economic behavior.  In five years, America will have out-innovated even the most energetic regulator, and for a generation or so not even Congressman Waxman will be able to catch-up to turn off the wealth creation machine.

I want to know, I really do. Why does smaller government offend some?

In Everyday Life, Opinion on February 20, 2011 at 9:56 am

What am I missing.  Why am I wrong.  Why am I the bad guy?  I honestly want to know.

At a big party recently a pleasant conversation with a friend of a friend turned political – government should or should not do this or that.  Her husband makes a good living (I’m led to believe) and is a Republican, while she is a Democrat, socially responsible and sympathetic to a variety of good causes.

I suggested to my interlocutor that government funding of [fill in the blank] good cause isn’t fair, because I [or her husband] or some other tax-payer might prefer that his money be spent other than the way Barney Frank wants to spend it.  Turns out, she was willing to let Barney and Nancy decide how her [husband’s] money should be spent.  I had no objection to that, but made clear that I wanted Barney no where near my financial decisions.  I think that’s where we started to disagree – seems that since SHE trusted Barney’s judgment, I was supposed to agree that he knew better how to spend my money.

After 2 or 3 minutes of what I would call a friendly debate, I suggested that she should have a higher opinion of her husband (and other taxpayers) and what he might do with his money absent government forced ‘charity.’  She disagreed (poor guy, her husband).  So, to make peace, I said that I would let her do whatever she wanted to do with her [husband’s] money – and that I would respectfully ask for nothing more than the same favor in return (to do as I please with my money – I don’t have a husband).

So she said something like “what about the poor woman who needs” this or that.  “Who should look out for her?  What’s a few [of my] dollars to help her?”

After explaining that I earn a finite amount of money, and my charitable priorities (not that one is required to have such) are likely to differ from hers or Barney’s, I said “anyone but the government” should take care of that woman.  She walked away, visibly disgusted.  It was as if I had suggested that her grandmother should be the victim of a death panel.  It was clear she had concluded I was unfit for polite company.

Why are people so willing to impose their personal preferences on me, while telling me in the next breath “you can’t legislate morality” or some version of that leftist tripe when it comes to, say, abortion.   Then, in the next moment, I’m told how my charitable inclinations should be forced and directed by the government.

Why is my ‘selfishness’ (“let me dispose of my money”) unacceptable while hers (“the government must take your money to do with it as I please”) heroic.  Please tell me.  I want to know.  What did I say that is so offensive?  I don’t want to say it ever again.

Guest Letter – Reply to Elmo/Army

In Recommended Reading on February 17, 2011 at 4:32 pm

A friend replied as follows:

“Like taking candy from a baby.”

The problem I’m seeing in the budget discussions occurring across the country is not so much that they undervalue children, but rather that they under value my children. Every special interest in the United States is standing in line to take more money from the government trough for their needs.  As a small business man/entrepreneur I have to write real checks to pay for these “needs”.  Money that I earned by the labor of my hands and the sweat of my brow; money I earned for the benefit of my children was taken from my children’s mouth by special interests who banded together to elect politicians who would take more of my money.  What I want to know from those who have practiced this and are now demanding that I not “give” less are, “Do you really think that your causes and children are more valuable than my children?”  If you do believe that, then say so. Other parents will figure out you don’t care about their children, and you will be deemed useless. If you don’t believe your children are more valuable than mine, then stop stealing my kid’s money.

Government Spending and Egypt

In Economics, Financial, Opinion, Political Critique on February 14, 2011 at 1:04 pm

The Obama administration claims to look for ways to control spending, to control the national debt – some day in the future, after it’s done ‘investing’ our money for us.


The discussion (noise) about spending in the federal government is spoken in code, isn’t it? Nothing makes any sense to me, and my English is pretty good.  Here’s a translation of the $3.7 Trillion budget discussion.

Government officials, Republican and Democrat, have concluded that the only good spending is government spending, since that is the only kind that results in the accumulation of more power in the hands of 535 men and women.

How does Egypt come into the picture?  Hosni Mubarak did not continue to siphon money from the Egyptian economy after he had X-Teen billion $s in the bank so that he could be more fabulously rich.  In truth, he continuted the theft to broaden his reach, to increase his power over the apparatus that ruled every facet of Egyptian life.
Back in the USA — $3.7 Trillion divided by 535 is approximately $7 Billion.  We have 535 Hosni Mubarak’s in the US Congress, and their job is handing out – each of them – $7 Billion, every year.

The same desire that drove Mubarak, the same all-consuming thirst for control, drives Washington, DC.  The spending machine gets bigger and bigger by the day, it feeds lobbyists, union officials, campaing consultants, media trainers, congressionial staffers aspiring to be on TV, the compliant media machine, and on and on . . . NO ONE represents the tax-payer in Washington; the entire conglomerate feeds off of government spending, and it has to enlarge itself constantly or it starves.

Defeating that beast is the challenge of Americans. Unfortunately the so-called “campaingn finance” laws make it virtually impossible to mount an effort to fight the party machines, because it is illegal to accumulate the resources (i.e. money) necessary to buy a big enough megaphone to be heard over the above-mentioned noise.

Take a look:

There is an answer and when we get enough voices to join us we will announce it, and the unConstitutional FEC laws will not stand.