Image As soon as I read some brief, and then read more in-depth, book reviews I knew that the new book by Thomas Picketty was going to do more to widen divisions rather than bring people together. Now, I think I’m going to read the book myself since, well, first I’m sort of a geek that way. And more importantly I’ve read enough about the book and Mr. Picketty himself to believe it is a worthwhile read on an important subject by a serious and well-respected economic scholar. But, I’ll be shocked if I don’t end up disagreeing with what most (overwhelmingly on the left) see as his central thesis: that the gap between rich and poor is growing and will foment social instability and unrest in our society if we don’t do something (like tax away the “excess” capital wealth and redistributing it).

I’m not a professional economist but I do like the subject. I loved it from the first Econ 101 class I took in undergraduate school from Dr. Laura Stern. Even I remember after all those years since Econ 101 some simple economic truths that Mr. Picketty ignores: Any tax on capital will, in the long run, result in lower wages. A confiscatory capital tax (e.g., 80%) makes a invalid assumption that workers and capitalists are two entirely separate groups of people. Some workers own no capital but most certainly do – homes, savings, 401k, IRA, pensions – and even if that capital wealth (and its income) is meager relative to Warren Buffett scale, it would still be impossible to permanently tax “capitalists”, hand the tax revenues to workers, and make the workers permanently better off. It is simply a short term transfer of wealth that will win votes and power until it runs out of gas (all the “excess” capital will have been taxed away). By then, left Progressives hope to have cemented their grip on power.

Progressive love with Mr. Picketty is not grounded in his economics or the welfare of future generations. They are simply a fan because it provides a short term tool to foment envy and unrest and salve it with the promise of someone else’s money to make it all better. When we are all equal – well, most will be equally poor – they will rewrite the rules.

Just as in George Orwell’s “Animal Farm“: “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”



I am against neither “affordable” health care nor better access to health insurance. What I am against is waste and incompetence and lacking leadership. In 1992 I wrote a management brief -this was BB (Before Blogs) – titled “The CEO is the CIO” knowing that I’d get (and did get) push back that the CEO doesnt need to learn software programming to be successful. My ready reply was that I agreed but they were missing my point. I said then and believe even more so now that information technology is vital to so much we do and hope to achieve in business and other endeavors – such that a CEO or any other senior leader cannot delegate the ultimate accountability for choices made regarding its use – nor duck accountability for failures of its deployment.

The CEO (or the President of the United States and his or her cabinet members) must exert clear and accountable leadership in IT for success to possible and sustainable.

Alas, read the article linked here below and you will see that President Obama has done identifiably the opposite of what is called for.

Don’t Blame IT for Obamacare’s Tech Troubles –

Our tax dollars at work.

Pick your favorite and post in the comments.

“Does Austerity Kill? A Look at 17,679 Things the Federal Government Has Done Since Sequestration.” –

The hilarity of this Reason piece is painful in many ways.

One, it gives light to the folly of a government that does too much already and yet is led and populated by people who miss completely the irony of an attitude of “do something” as the first and only response to a disaster. Would seem that this is part of the problem.

Two, the facts noted copiously in the article point out that rather than government being more hard hearted it is more open-check book than ever (note the rapid growth in disaster bureaucracy and aid)

Three, we as tax payers and voters let these people keep doing this to us.

While I have never believed all the blather about President Obama being born in Kenya,  being a Muslim or having not actually graduated from college or law school, it was mainly because these seemed politically motivated rumors and implausible given all we know about Barack Obama.

What is much more clear, and depending upon your take might be a sigh of relief or a shake your head in disgust is: he’s a perfect example of an All-American president. What I mean is he is proving to be the all-too-typical power hungry imperialist type we’ve suffered through often in our nation’s history – the most glaring example in modern times being the Nixon administration .

From the love affair the Obama administration developed with the appointment of “czars” to positions of unelected power in order to circumvent congressional oversight, to the use (and threat to ramp up the use) of “executive orders” to avoid working and negotiating with Congress, to the without-abandon use of drones to dispatch “enemies” that only the President gets to define and identify.

Could the Administration carry out drone strikes inside the United States?” Brennan’s response: “This Administration has not carried out drone strikes inside the United States and has no intention of doing so.”

The absolutely comical linguistic and legal contortions of CIA chief Brennan and the always purposely obtuse Attorney General Holder are all you need to know about the style and substance of our All-American president.

Senator Rand Paul (L-KY)

   Obama’s Death Drone Dodge

|Mar. 13, 2013 7:00 am

Last month the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence gave John Brennan, the new CIA director, another opportunity to answer a question he had dodged at his confirmation hearing: “Could the Administration car out drone strikes inside the United States?” Brennan’s written response: “This Administration has not carried out drone strikes inside the United States and has no intention of doing so.”

When asked how far President Obama is legally allowed to go in marking suspected terrorists for death, his administration has responded, again and again, with a description of what he so far has chosen to do. It is this kind of maddening evasiveness that provoked the inspiring, attention-grabbing filibuster that Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) staged last week, refusing to let Brennan’s confirmation proceed until the Obama administration deigned to address his questions about the president’s license to kill.

Although Paul declared“victory” and pronounced himself “quite happy” with the response he got from Attorney General Eric Holder last Thursday, very little was clarified. Here is the question that Holder chose to address in hisMarch 7 letter to Paul: “Does the President have the authority to use a weaponized drone to kill an American not engaged in combat on American soil?” Holder said “the answer to that question is no.”

That sounds straightforward, unless you realize that, according to the Obama administration, the people it identifies as members or allies of Al Qaeda (including “financiers“) are engaged in combat even when they are driving down the street or sitting in their homes, far from any active battlefield. The administration does not acknowledge any geographic limits on the president’s purported authority to issue death warrants.

Although the Justice Department’s leaked white paper about targeted killings focuses on people who pose an “imminent threat,” it defines that term so broadly that pretty much any alleged terrorist would qualify. In any case, the white paper emphasizes that the criteria it discusses are sufficient to order someone’s death but may not be necessary.

Hence all the questions about killing suspected terrorists inside the United States even when they do not pose an immediate threat of violence. The administration’s slippery responses to those questions have only reinforced the suspicion that Obama is trying to keep all his options open.

Asked if “drone strikes” are “allowed with citizens within the United States” during an online Q&A session on February 14, Obama said“there has never been a drone used on an American citizen on American soil.” In a March 4 letterto Paul, Holder likewise declared that “the U.S. government has not carried out drone strikes in the United States and has no intention of doing so.”

But Holder added that “in the circumstances of a catastrophic attack” such as 9/11, he would “examine the particular facts and circumstances before advising the President on the scope of his authority” to order domestic military action. That phrasing suggests Holder was not talking about using deadly force to defend against an attack, which clearly would be justified.

If an airplane were about to crash into the Capitol, there would be neither the need nor the time to prepare a legal memo. So it’s a mystery what Holder was imagining when he raised this possibility.

The administration’s evasiveness reached comical heights at aMarch 6 hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Responding to questions from Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Holder repeatedly refused to say whether it would be constitutional to use lethal force against a suspected terrorist in the U.S. who is not carrying out an attack but merely “sitting in a café” or “walking down a pathway.” Holder conceded only that it would not be “appropriate.”

Finally, after Cruz had given up on getting a straight answer, Holder said, “Translate my ‘appropriate’ to no. I thought I was saying no.” I’m not sure what that means, but it still counts as the administration’s clearest response to date.

The “national conversation” as the President and his allies like to call it, that we are having on “gun violence” and “sensible gun control legislation” is mostly illogical and nonsensical. Need evidence?

1. The recent congressional hearings on gun violence featured former congresswoman Gabby Giffords. She was shot last year at a public event by a crazy gunman. As a result she suffers greatly and will for the rest of her life. Ms. Giffords has shown great courage and resolve to rehabilitate herself though and be able to testify before Congress. Yet, what does she bother to say? Amongst other things – and the most replayed meme and soundbite – that “Too many children are dying; too many children. We must do something.”   This is pure emotion and not even objectively accurate.

1. Violent crime – including violent crime using guns – has dropped massively over the past 20 years

2. Mass shootings have not increased in recent years.

3. Schools are getting safer.

2. While the focus is on the sensational Newtown school murders of 20 school children last month, this focus is, again, done in order to prey upon emotion rather than reason. How about Chicago, the adopted hometown of the President and currently under the administration of the President’s former chief of staff (Mayor Rahm Emanuel)?  Chicago is starting off 2013 on pace to outpace the horrendous murder rate it infamously enjoyed in 2012: 506! In addition, and tragically, a young woman, who recently participated in the President’s inaugural ceremonies, was murdered in Chicago last week. Yes murder made the news but correspondingly, how often do we hear anything about the fact that Chicago has some of the most restrictive gun laws in the U.S.? Just what exactly have restrictive gun laws done to stop what Ms. Giffords is pleading for in her testimony (i.e., “too many children are dying”)? Answer: apparently nothing. Who is holding Mr. Emanuel and the President accountable for enforcing the thousands of gun laws already on the books?

3. In Hartford, CT on January 28, 2013 there was a public hearing on gun violence and one of the most eloquent statements made by citizens was by Henson Ong. Watch it here yourself.

Do we hear this side of the story? Do we hear the arguments and views of Mr. Ong equally aired by the media and given full hearing and analysis so that the “national conversation” can be just that, a conversation that gives and takes and considers all sides …. rather than legislators and the President telling us with an emotion-filled voice that we just need to “do something”.

The media is full of stories and quotes of of outrage from politicians, pundits, news outlets, and average citizens regarding the National Rifle Association’s recent ad that refers to the “elitist and hypocirical” attitude of the President and other wealthy liberals (e.g., David Gregory) who want to restrict gun ownership and are against arming school personnel yet send their children to exclusive private schools that employ armed guards.

Certainly it seems risky if not questionable for the NRA to adopt this media strategy that invokes the children of the President and others when the most recent trigger for gun control advocacy was the tragedy of innocent children murdered in their school by a madman.

A little over a year ago though there was polling that showed a long term trend toward and a resulting majority of Americans disfavoring stricter gun control, including any new or tougher restrictions of so-called “assault weapons”. Fast forward to today and every poll you can find shows an increase in support for tougher restrictions, particularly for “assault weapons”. While the Newtown horror provoked understandably visceral emotions in nearly every American it is also logical to assume correspondingly that there is a percentage of the public that supported the NRA positions previously that were thinking emotionally and at least not driven by facts.

Why? I think a glaring fact that is typically glossed over or just not reported is that a super majority of Americans are in favor of gun ownership – the poll in 2011 cited above is prime example. Yet recent polls asking Americans if they favor banning “semiautomatic guns” shows a strong increase and in some polls a slight majority of support. Many handguns are semiautomatic. A majority of new hand gun sales are semiautomatics. It is a feature that many millions of average American gun owners prefer. So how do a majority of Americans – today, 30 days after Newtown – favor both hand gun ownership and the banning of a type of gun that would make 10s of millions of gun owners criminals unless they turn over their weapons to the government?

A good percentage of Americans are easily persuaded by emotion, current events and simplistic arguments (and polls). While I personally think the NRA’s recent ad campaign is silly that is because I think I’m not in that percentage of Americans swayed by current events and simplistic arguments….. those ads are not aimed at me.

The NRA hopes, even if ham handedly, they can focus on the emotions and knee-jerk thinking of the 10 or 15% of their formerly more ardent supporters. How is this different than the President parading out children to be at his side for his announcement of new gun control orders and calls for gun control legislation, clearly wanting to use emotion and images to buttress his views and policies.