A total of $58 billion has been given in corporate welfare to the ag industry over 10 years related ONLY to crop insurance. This has nothing to do with subsidies and other pork spending. Over the last 10 years the “Risk Management Agency”, which is part of the USDA…has operated at a -45% net margin…An agency calling themselves “Risk Management” that spends almost 2x over the premiums it takes in, is a JOKE. Let’s kill Ag subsidies, insurance and let the private sector sort it out.
- Termites Working Together
In the current political climate there seem to be some poles that are forming…On the right you have the GOP, Randians, and other individualistic-minded folk that believe that Government should be small (whatever that means). They also believe that “They did it alone (whatever that means).” In effect, they believe that any type of Government-funded/organized/facilitated action is a step towards the slippery-slope of something evil (Socialism, Communism, Collectivism, etc.).
Which brings me to Ants, et. al. There are dozens (100′s?) of examples of species working together for the greater good of the species. It can involve specialization of activity, often based on physical characteristics; or it can even be inter-species. For example, see this very interesting post regarding different species working together to make their ‘collective’ lives easier:
My point is simply that there is clear evidence outside the human species that intra and inter-species collaboration is a positive and mutually beneficial activity. I wish that some of the aforementioned ‘segments’ could see the grand things that the human species has accomplished by working together: modern plumbing, road infrastructure, the creation of a legal system, educational systems, healthcare, firehouses, police stations, etc. There are a crazy number of activities that we, collectively, have contributed funds to, that, in-turn, have come back to benefit us. Do we think the US would have spread electricity as fast as it did without government coordination? Or school-based childhood vaccination programs?
Which brings us to today. I am not an apologist for big Government or high taxes, but I am in support of a functioning, ever-improving, federal government that works for the people and not special corporate interests. There is scale in supporting things like healthcare if we all pitch in. Building a common US military is also a great example of collective behavior. We have one (albeit multi-faceted) defense system to protect our society. It works. Defending our borders and interests is not necessarily a “profitable” enterprise like Apple making iPads, so it makes sense for our society to share the cost. Likewise, to defend against disease and chance that can lead to personal bankruptcy and the destruction of families and individuals, we can work together to collectively hedge our bets. To leave this hedging to an unregulated private sector will always lead organizations to seek profit and there is NO profit in helping sick people, only cost.
We can discuss the details of a public option. Should certain procedures be regulated or not included in the base-healthcare? Should there be age limits on certain procedures? Should certain expensive drugs not be covered? These are very difficult decisions to be made. Clearly, everyone can’t have everything all the time. But if everyone had something all the time, I think we could improve the entire US economy, US productivity, and even save corporations a fortune on healthcare expenses.
If termites can work together, we can too!
It is perfectly clear that the wealth gap is growing rapidly…Since 1979 (through 2007), the annual income of the 1% has grown about 3x faster than the 99%. This has nothing to do with taxes being reduced per se, but the mechanisms of wealth creation itself — access to capital, access to education, access to technology. All of these things are very good for anyone to get. But people must realize that money begets money (a good thing!)…Put another way, your first million is generally much more difficult to earn than your second million, etc. Wealth creation is progressive! So it’s not crazy to think that taxes should be progressive as well (within reason)…In 1920 we had 53 tax brackets with the top bracket being $1 million in 2008 dollars. We should really go to a 100% progressive tax systems that is formula-driven, not bracket driven, which creates distortions in decision-making (e.g. To stay in the lower bracket, I’ll donate $3,000 charity.). Creating a system that can go from 0% tax rate to say 49% tax rate, from $0 income to $1 billion, would be the best way to go…We would just need to develop the formula and the curve. Should this be linear or non-linear? I think non-linear as wealth creation is non-linear. The more money a person has, the easier it is to gain more with less risk and effort (e.g. Take all of your profits and put in stock, bonds, real estate, and simply collect proceeds). The wealthier a person is, the more they can plow back into investments (i.e. not spend). So the curve would be relatively flat from $0 to say $250K, but then start ticking up from there to a 49% marginal rate. If we kept the current structure and simply added a formula that extended the curve up to 49%/$1 billion, we would quickly raise funds to pay down the debt. This is essentially going back to a tax system that was present in the early 1980′s. It’s important to keep the tax system and ‘brackets’ relatively flat to motivate people to rise out of poverty (i.e. work more, make more)…But beyond the band of the 99%, work is no longer tied to a 40 hour work week; it is generally tied to equity in your own company and a growing war chest of collected wealth. Regardless of the tax rate above the 99%, people aren’t really motivated by the simple work:money equation. A billionaire does not wake up and say, “Geez, I should really work an extra 10 hours this week, so I can pay for Junior’s education.” I think it’s critical that the tax rate never go above the magical 49% as the government should never take the majority of one’s dollar – under any circumstances (but alas, this itself, is really an arbitrary figure). Other taxes and tax loopholes, must be addressed as well.
As always comments welcome.
There have been scandals of late involving non-profits…Three of them:
1) SPCA International Scandal (no relation to the ASPCA)…more here: Pierre Barnoti, the controversial ex-executive director of the humane society in Montreal was booted from that post and created SPCAI.com. This org raised millions, but then spent almost all of it at two (really one) direct marketing firms: Quadriga Arts, Inc. and Brickmill Marketing Services. While Pierra was heading the Montreal firm, he spent more than he took in on Quadriga as well…Now he did it again with his new outfit SPCAI.com.
2) Disabled Veterans National Foundation: Again, raised a ton of money and spent all of it at Quadriga/Brickmill. The senators said their interest was sparked by reports that DVNF raised nearly $56 million in donations since it was founded in 2007, yet paid marketing firm Quadriga Art and its subsidiaries nearly $61 million. They spent MORE than they took in with one firm!
3) National Veterans Foundation: Again, raised a ton of money…spent it all at Quadriga…
Coincidence, I doubt it. If the senate and government keep making this a tax issue (i.e. should they revoke their non-profit status), they are missing massive criminal goings-on. This has money laundering written all over it…Three non-profits, all raising MILLIONS and then ALL using the same shady marketing firm to get more money…See the virtuous circle here (or in bizspeak: Vertical Integration)…The real problem here is that the non-profits are simply the fronts for the money laundering…The real “smarts” here is in Qaudriga and Brickmill.
Some of the key players at Brickmill Marketing Services:
Brian Renda, Chief Executive Officer
Dean Schulhof, President
Robert Dragonette, Senior Vice President of Operations
Leslie W. Hubbard, Managing Director
Robert J. Drummond, Board Member
Marianne Molleur, Corporate Controller
Some of the key players at Quadriga Art, Inc.
Update 5:01pm, Friday, June 15, 2012
Quadriga Arts says it’s based in the Netherlands, but I can’t see any Dutch employees on LinkedIn or anywhere…There may be on or two somewhere, but for a company that claims 1000-5000 employees and has an HQ in The Netherlands, one would think they have employees there. Odd. Also, there is less than 100 LinkedIn profiles associated with the company, yet almost all in US. Also funny is that Mark Schulhof claims to be President of Quadriga while a relative, Dean Schulhof, is President of Brickmill (this is an assumption only based on last names being the same). Brickmill also has a history of being located in NH, yet their address is the same as Quadriga in NYC:
Quadriga Art Global Headquarters
30 East 33rd Street, 10th Floor
New York, NY 10016
Quadriga Art International
A Google maps shows that 30 East 33rd Street, 10th Floor, is also Yeshiva University, but I could not confirm this from Yeshiva Universities website – only the awning in the picture leads me to believe this. It does show other tenants, both Brickmill and Quadriga among them. Their Amsterdam street view looks like a nice, quaint, yet very small office building shared by other tenants…Not sure where you put 1001-5000 employees in these two locations. There are offices in Philly, NH, I believe…but not sure if they actually have 10001-5000 employees. Does *anyone* know anyone who works at one of these firms? Would love any insight into the culture and history.
Update 5:21pm, Friday, June 15, 2012
Google’s map search doesn’t pull up the correct address. It pulls up 50 32nd street, which is really weird: http://goo.gl/maps/Y0FJ
Bing seems to work: http://www.bing.com/maps/?v=2&cp=40.746885999999996~-73.98287&lvl=17&dir=0&sty=x~lat~40.746886~lon~-73.98287~alt~-13.56~z~30~h~219.5~p~-3.7~pid~5082&app=5082&FORM=LMLTCC
All in all, this warrants physically visiting.
Hmm…looks like Facebook is way too greedy. They might finish below offering price ONLY because their underwriters have agreed to prop it up. Since they are making millions off of the offering, they can afford to do this, but not for too long…My bet is Facebook will be at $32/share by end of next week. Facebook was waaaay too aggressive with their IPO. They scooped up a bunch of money because of demand, but most insiders were selling into the IPO…This used to be a HUGE no-no with IPOs…Why would anyone invest in an IPO where all major insiders were cashing out? Duh? Let the beast settle, then buy…
Just for fun…A great photo of Freddie Mercury winning a photo contest when a baby. In 1947, mind you, there couldn’t be that many baby photo contests! But he surely took naturally to the camera and feeding off attention.