Tax reform, the hard way. How Morneau and Trump screwed it up

leona_helmsley_mugshotTax policy by Leona?

A long, long time ago, I learned in business school the difference between tax evasion and tax avoidance. Simply, one is legal, one is not. I learned more about the distinction from my first employer, when the company deferred indefinitely the payment of a full year of income tax by essentially forming a partnership with itself. That was avoidance. And it was entirely legal at the time. So was Donald Trump’s claiming of $916 million in business losses to shield his income from taxes for subsequent years, even though the majority of the losses had been absorbed by his bankers, not by him or his companies. So was Apple Inc.’s parking of the bulk of its income in low-tax Ireland, by claiming a corporate residency of…nowhere. So is the wholesale reduction of corporate tax by tech giants Google, Facebook, Microsoft, etc. by housing their IP assets (and hence reported income from those assets) in tax havens. It’s not a stretch to suggest that the most creative, innovative people within these companies are not involved in product design and development – they’re in the tax department.  Continue reading “Tax reform, the hard way. How Morneau and Trump screwed it up”

Still unanswered: how to keep the nuclear reins from the hands of an unbalanced president.

strangelove

Donald Trump gets a new hat?

The editors of both the New York Times and Scientific American recently expressed their concerns about the fact that the US president can decide unilaterally to launch a nuclear attack against an enemy.  Since the Atomic Energy Act of 1946, the president can order a nuclear strike – alone.  That is, Donald Trump can exert sole control over a decision to unleash a nuclear arsenal against North Korea, Iran, or any other enemy state.  That should frighten everyone, for as Hillary Clinton pointed out during the 2016 campaign, “A man you can bait with a tweet is not a man we can trust with nuclear weapons.” Unfortunately, as Alex Wellerstein said in the Washington Post last year, the one sure way to keep President Trump from launching a nuclear attack would have been to elect someone else.  Continue reading “Still unanswered: how to keep the nuclear reins from the hands of an unbalanced president.”

The Art of Political Lying

“The superiority of his genius consists in nothing else but an inexhaustible fund of political lies, which he plentifully distributes every minute he speaks, and by an unparalleled generosity forgets, and consequently contradicts, the next half hour. He never yet considered whether any proposition were true or false, but whether it were convenient for the present minute or company to affirm or deny it…”

Hands up – who thinks this refers to one Donald J. Trump? Continue reading “The Art of Political Lying”

Donald Trump, Loser.

Donald Trump likes to characterize people and institutions using simple repeatable epithets that end up sticking like glue – Crooked Hillary, Little Marco, Lyin’ Ted, Failing New York Times, Weak Jeb, Fake CNN, and now Leaker Comey.  These simple insults resonate.

In search of a simple tag to put on Donald Trump, I Iooked at the ones already in play – bully, misogynist, blowhard, ignorant,  incompetent, etc.  None really captures The Donald fully and completely.  He can be any and/or all of the above at any given time.  I came to realize that there is, however, one term that does describe the 45th President simply and accurately – one that he himself has used when he wants to completely dismiss an adversary.  The word is “loser”.  The more I thought about it, the more I realized that Donald Trump is a Loser.  With a capital “L”. Continue reading “Donald Trump, Loser.”

Intolerance and Free Speech — Trump, Breitbart, and Milo

trump-prayer-breakfast2

“We will not allow a beachhead of intolerance to spread in our nation.”

So said Donald Trump on February 2, 2017 to a public audience at the National Prayer Breakfast.

Mr. Trump, cut the crap. There is already a well-established, well-fortified beachhead of intolerance in your nation — it has been supported, encouraged, and rewarded by you and the people you have hired to develop and implement your agenda. Intolerance? It starts at the White House. Continue reading “Intolerance and Free Speech — Trump, Breitbart, and Milo”

Do business leaders make better political leaders? A look at Kevin O’Leary

Kevin O’Leary has just announced that he is running for the leadership of the Conservative Party of Canada.  His qualifications?  He has built a business, understands business, has negotiated deals, and knows his way around financial statements.   This background, O’Leary argues, makes him uniquely qualified to stabilize the Canadian economy, deal with a newly nationalistic U.S. on trade matters, and address such varied and complex issues as tax policy, international relations, and climate change.  Mr. O’Leary believes that his business acumen, as well as his lack of political experience, would make him the right man at the right time to lead the country.

Since Donald Trump improbably parlayed his business background and his position as a political outsider to occupancy of the White House, many critics have focused on Trump’s temperament, his questionable policies, and his continuing lack of familiarity with facts.  Some have questioned the actual success of the Trump business empire.  Very few, however, have questioned his basic premise – that a business background produces good, effective political leaders.   Now that O’Leary wants to travel the same route as Trump, let’s look at that premise. Continue reading “Do business leaders make better political leaders? A look at Kevin O’Leary”

Media Matters: The Relevance of Walter Cronkite

You know the mainstream media is on the defensive when The Globe and Mail, with a host of issues to comment on, devotes a year-end editorial to defending and praising the media.  Maybe it’s not surprising, when we’ve come through a year full of fake news, outrageously biased opinions masquerading as news, and widespread criticism of reputable news providers for even reporting the news accurately.   When anyone with a laptop can now broadcast “news” to a potential audience of millions without any regard for journalistic integrity or even truthfulness, maybe it’s appropriate to throw a bit of praise to those who do maintain some standards. Continue reading “Media Matters: The Relevance of Walter Cronkite”