“The Biggest No-Brainer In the History of Mankind”

Seattle's Lenin statue.

Equality is a huge deal nowadays. But a distinction should be made between equality of outcome, as promoted by Vladimir Lenin, and equality of opportunity. Equality of opportunity results in the closest thing to equality of outcome because no one has a favored status dictated by the elites necessary for enforcing equality of outcome.

If this seems a bit hard to digest, look at it this way: Do you see the people responsible for spreading the wealth around living in squalor? Where is the greatest concentration of wealth in the United States? The answer: The neighborhood around Washington D.C.

I’ve always found a bizarre relationship between the so-called Left and Right. The Left used to oppose war. The Right used to oppose the welfare state. They are both equally destructive and the common thread between the two is they both require huge, intrusive and confiscatory government to exist.

The conflict reported in the news between the Left and the Right is contrived in order to make it seem like there is no such thing as the alternative, a limited government that works. This is because there is just too much to be gained by those with connections to the unlimited government for any limits to gain traction.

Government limits opportunity and limited opportunity limits equality. If you doubt this, try selling your house and then and buying a similar one near D.C. with the proceeds.

So in this column I try to attack the Left and the Right equally. I want to be fair.

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“The Biggest No-Brainer In the History of Mankind”

Back in 1977 I got a letter from my grandpa in Dumont. This was different. Grandma was always the one who wrote. But she was in the nursing home dying of cancer.

At 27 years of age I figured I’d survived the choker-setter life well beyond the odds and so I struck out for Iowa. My mom and sister were tied down and I looked forward to being Grandpa’s friend instead of a distant stranger, as had been the case forever.

But this column is about investing. I’ve been an accidental investing genius. The first one is a personal thing so I’ll just say that my wife, Dawn, is the best investment I ever made. Second best was the 1963 Chevy pickup I bought in Portland in 1978 for $500.

That pickup served us well on the farm for thirty years hauling hogs, feed, and seed. We just sold it for $500 to a young man who plans to use it to pull his camper. Good investment?

I could list some bad investments I’ve made but they are too embarrassing, so I’ll just discuss some investments that other people have made. But before I go on, a word about the word: investment. I’ve found the word is passed around by politicians like cigars in a maternity ward. Invest in education, invest in jobs, invest in national security, and invest in equality come to mind. Those things are not investments any more than Medicare is insurance.

There is a huge difference in the old Chevy and the investments made by politicians. I worked for the money I invested. Politicians simply take the money from one person and hand it to another, claiming it will be spent more wisely there.

A good example of a great investment would be “put options” on Morgan Stanley Dean Witter (who occupied 22 floors in the twin towers) in the three days before the 9/11 attacks. Volume of buying these bets against the international banker’s stock increased 1200% in those three days. The result was $10 million in profit for someone when trading resumed. The same thing happened with the airlines involved in the disaster; United and American.

After the attacks by mostly Saudi Al-Qaeda, the United States attacked Iraq (go figure), beginning a $4 trillion spending spree by our defense department in the Middle East. Take a guess on how defense industry stocks have fared in the last sixteen years.

But let’s be fair. Government doesn’t only lay waste in phony “defense” schemes. Here are some statistics on our “investment” in the War on Poverty. The year 1964 has the same significance as September 11, 2001 as a turning point.

Children from fatherless homes are more likely to drop out of school, die by suicide, join gangs, and commit crimes. In 1960, 22% of black children were raised in single parent families. After a generation of living with the investment of the War on Poverty, that number jumped to 75%.

It is no coincidence that the initiation of Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society was a turning point in the decline of equality for black people. For 100 years with no investment but a granting of freedom, blacks made steady progress. Then along came the academics, civil rights leaders, and politicians who believed investing can’t be left to individuals but can only work when guided by superior beings like themselves.

Rather than blame the sad state of equality on something that happened a hundred years prior to that, the blame should go on the welfare state that obviously started it.

As the radio ad for some investment scheme goes, “It’s the biggest no-brainer in the history of mankind.” We were not using our brains when we decided we can’t invest for ourselves; that it has to be done by people whose primary skill is getting elected.

Image result for lenin statue

The Richest Company in America. But Not Rich Enough.

Image result for Apple

The case of Iowa government giving Apple $208 million dollars is a good example of extortion. When the payoff is so minuscule one has to wonder why. Does the governor get a sticker?

Here are some facts to consider:

$208 million given to Apple will “create” 50 jobs at over $4 million apiece.

The claimed “up to” $100 million Apple will invest in local infrastructure in return uses the same misleading terminology as the Volkswagen diesel scandal’s “up to” 40 times of emissions standards. “Up to” in Apple’s case would only happen if unrequired expansions occur. Like VW’s emissions, neither is certain.

Governor Kim Reynolds claimed that tax credits are not the same thing as subsidies. Check the balance sheet and get back to me.

Apple just gave rabid hate group, the SPLC (Southern Poverty Law Center) a million dollars. Whether SPLC is right or wrong in their activities is not as important an issue as the fact that Iowa government has no place funneling taxpayer funds through Apple toward any advocacy group. I just happen to hate SPLC myself.

Donald Trump endorsed such economic development extortion in December saying … “they can negotiate good deals with the different states and all of that.”

Economist Richard Florida, in a 2012 study found… “virtually no association between economic development incentives and any measure of economic performance.”

Another study found even slower growth associated with these handouts because management ignored real business efficiencies as they focused the extortion of taxpayer money.

Iowa State economist, David Swenson says of the Microsoft and Google data centers already in Iowa, “They’re just big, sterile, hot boxes that don’t feed into Iowa’s economy.” In fact, employment there has shrunk as computer babysitters are replaced by automation.

Doesn’t this, and other economic development scams still smell like Iowa’s film incentive program that resulted in several felony corruption convictions? Profit, earned through willing transactions between people free to walk away, has no victim except through fraud. Government has no such restraint with dollars confiscated through taxation.

Another thing, having traveled around this country before settling in Iowa, I see it as sinful to cover Iowa soil with “hot boxes” when there is plenty of unproductive soil to build on elsewhere.

For those who feel the need to hate success, there is the fact that some single mom in Waukee is donating to the richest company in America and probably doesn’t even know it.

I can’t see any benefit to anyone in this except for a politician needing a rose pinned on their nose. Might there be something we are missing?