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The media as enforcer

It is a thought, it is my thought and I wonder if there is enough that I am correct? You see, most people are crying foul, blaming rich people. Making noises on the need to tax the rich and the media is helping out. That is the operative part, the media is helping out. To show you just how far they go, let’s take a little trip.

Search by Google
When you search for ‘Charles P. Rettig’ you see two results. One by LGBTQ Nation, one by Mondaq. Consider the following parts
1. Charles P. Rettig is the Commissioner of the IRS.
2. Taxes are on the plate of responsibility of the IRS.
3. The media has nothing to report on the IRS? They are merely all flaming the tax the rich part?

Looking at the media
The BBC gives us another flame article on how ‘How billionaires pay less tax than you’, yet no one is looking at the simple fact that people like Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos and other billionaires are doing what they are allowed to do, and it is not “special strategies to avoid paying income tax, say experts”, it is “Merely paying what Tax laws and tax codes are telling people how much to pay”. A setting that comes from the office of Charles P. Rettig, the people who were there before him like John Koskinen, Daniel Werfel, Steven T. Miller, Douglas Shulman, Linda Stiff, and Mark Everson a collection of people that were there for almost 20 years when nothing was done to overhaul taxes, and the media is not reporting on it, is it not news or is it part of the filtered information that some people do not want you to have. Yes, I am focussing here on the US, yet the mess in the EU is not better, it is actually worse as they got well over 20 nations to do NOTHING!

I am not stating that Elon Bezos and Jeff Musk are innocent (or was that the other way round?), I am stating. I am saying that they use tax laws as they are ALLOWED to be used, in black letter setting (meaning: literal interpretation) all whilst the media is shouting about the spirit of the law, the spirit of the law is not in writing, in writing we find “A tax code is a federal government document, usually numbering thousands of pages, that details the rules individuals and businesses must follow in remitting a percentage of their incomes to the federal or state government”, yes, and then the politicians added tax codes, exclusions, tax write-offs and that results in people like the ones we see mentioned as well as the Koch Family ($113,000,000,000), the Walton family ($220,000,000,000) and the Mars family (not the planet) with $127,000,000,000 we do not see these names do we? Just like Charles P. Rettig we see very little on them, we see houses bought and sold and two weeks ago we see ‘Influential Koch network rocked by an alleged affair scandal, donor departures and a discrimination lawsuit’ and I only see the CNBC mention, the other papers seemingly left it alone, why is that?

So whilst we see all flames we do not see anyone (including media) invoking the need to overhaul tax laws, no one seems interested in the essential step that is required. 

More important, no one in media is taking that step either, why is that? You still think that they are free to speak their journalistic minds, or does the hierarchy of Shareholders, stake holders, advertisers starts making sense. To realise that you the reader are a mere 4th place in any media source, how does that feel?

It is not a setting where the rich pay less, it is a setting that non-overhauled tax laws benefits the rich more and this is not semantics, consider that CNBC gave you “So if you want to find a way to lower your taxes like the rich do, it could be a good idea to meet with a financial advisor or CPA”, for a really rich person a CPA ($119,000 annual) is nothing, and they KNOW what tax laws are there to aid and which ones are not. And it was simple, it has been for decades and no one seems to focus on that part, they merely advertise the scream ‘Tax the Rich’ which is funny, because it goes nowhere and gets people nothing and when you realise that the taxation laws were the problem for decades, when will you see that the politicians and their IRS commissioners were part of the problem and never any part of the solution the USA desperately needs. So whilst the news is all about ‘Biden signs legislation raising US debt limit, averts potential default’, now consider your own situation. How much upgrades can you get on your credit card until is gets blocked, banned and retracted? How many upgrades can you get until you show more income? That is the stage; that is also why tax laws need overhaul. It is not names like Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk, it is the stage that the USA has according to some sources 614 billionaires. You still think that there is no gain in overhauling tax laws? Oh, and when we look at those with a value that tops $100,000,000 you get to a number of people that is slightly surpasses 5000. When you consider all this, do you think it makes sense that the media has zero interest in people like Charles P. Rettig? Consider that he should be in the targeting view of EVERY American media outlet, but he is not, why is that you think?

I am starting to believe that the media is nothing more than an enforcer that uses the old premise of panem et circenses, a stage introduced by the poet Juvenal. Decimus Junius Juvenalis (his original name) was around in the age of Nero and Galba and a whole lot of other emperors, including the year when they had 4 of them (it is a hazardous job). A stage we see now exploited by media, politicians and rich people. Making us all watch where they want us to look, not where we need to look and the US (EU too) is running out of time. When the US defaults, what do you think will happen to the Yen and the Euro? So when you get angry at Jeff Bezos, wonder why the media is so focussed on giving him the limelight and they are actively avoiding the limelight on a whole group of 614 equally filthy rich as Jeff Ross (sorry the other comedian) Jeff Bezos and we do not see their names, not ANYWHERE, why is that? Consider that for a moment before you start shouting ‘Tax the rich’. Let’s be clear I have nothing against taxing rich people, but that is what tax laws are for, to tax all 5000 of them, not the three overly mentioned in media and there is the rub, that is where the media needs to ask people like Charles P. Rettig and the tax laws makers behind him very serious questions, but the media is not doing that. Why is that?

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Stupid people never learn

This is not an accusation, it is merely a setting we need to accept. This all started half an hour Aho when the BBC gave us ‘Protesters hit Amazon buildings on Black Friday’ (at https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-59419572), with the setting “An international coalition of unions, equality and environmental groups called “Make Amazon Pay” is staging a day of action, demanding concessions”, it is like the approach of a hurricane, and making the one person who left a window open giving him (or her) a bill for the draft damage. People just do not get it, and I am at a loss why that is. It is not hidden information, it is not secret information, it merely is information out in the open for anyone to read.

The setting is not “Amazon takes too much and gives back too little”, the setting is that governments would not overhaul tax laws for the longest of times. I first make a case for overhauling tax laws in 1998, now 24 year later none of it EVER happened. Amazon did not take too much, it took what Amazon was entitled to take. Amazon (only) gives what it is mandated to give. There are las out there and Amazon, Netflix, Apple, Facebook and Google adhere to these laws. All the rest is merely discriminatory bullshit. So when I see “Worldwide, nearly 50 organisations have signed up to a list of “common demands”, published by the Make Amazon Pay coalition”, so I wonder who they are. And it does not really matter as they cross over from one into the other. Consider “A global union federation representing 50 million workers in 140 countries in a range of sectors”, this implies less then 350.000 per nation, which includes the US, which imply that they basically amount to nothing. Then we get “A global union federation of journalists’ trade unions, representing more than 600.000 media workers from 187 organisations in 146 countries” I merely wonder whether they include the same essay writers that grace the ICIJ, a fair question, because journalists are supposed to be smarter than this. All the flames, the bullshit and the need for click bitches that spike digital revenue, all to have a go at a company that struck it big by being actually innovative. 2 years ago Amazon would not be on the mind of console gaming. Now the Amazon Luna overtakes what Google and Microsoft have and that is just for starters. They equal Apple in a few ways and there is no end to Amazon at present. All that and they adhere to laws, or lets just states that they adhere to what their legal department states that they need to adhere to. And no one is putting actual and factual pressure on the politicians that need to get shit done (like overhauling tax laws) but then people get quotes like “It is a really complex situation”, so complex that in 24 years nothing was done, so the utter nonsense of 50 organisations that have call signs making them close to ludicrously useless. If they were not useless, they would put pressure on politicians overhauling tax laws. 

The lesson has been out there for almost 25 years, the facts were out there for almost 25 years and still the people will not learn, the politicians do not want them to learn, because they will have to do something and over time it might amount to something pissing of the rich friends they have. In all this, the setting is much larger then the FAANG group. It includes people like the Walton Family, the Green family, the Koch family, the Yuan family and as such several dozens more. All billionaires, all doing what the law allowed them to do. The feigned anger against Amazon is just pointless bullshit and we need to wake up. Flames and emotions will not get us anywhere and that is the problem with Grassroots people, all about anger and emotion and when the anger subsides, when they realise (if ever) that the law was adhered to we see the pointlessness of the situation and stupid people never do so, in this, how come the journalists are part of this? Who do they serve? Because in the end they serve the shareholders and advertisers. But what of their stakeholders? Who are they and why are they embracing pointless actions? Did you ever consider that part of the equation? 

As such will you learn, or will you just pointlessly embrace a coalition that wastes another two decades going nowhere? It is up to you, you can chose and making the choice that goes somewhere is always better, even if the destination is not better, sometimes things get worse before they get better, that is the outcome of change, the changing process is never better, the outcome can be, it is up to us to make that so, and it is not an easy fight, that much is an absolute given.

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Insights or Assumptions?

Yesterday’s article in the Washington Post (at https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/global-opinions/wp/2018/01/22/the-rise-of-saudi-arabias-crown-prince-reveals-a-harsh-truth) is an interesting one. In this article Professor Bernard Haykel gives a view on the issues we are optionally likely to see in Saudi Arabia. I am not sure I can agree. You see, he might be the professor of the ‘Near Eastern Studies and the director of the Institute for Transregional Study of the Contemporary Middle East, North Africa and Central Asia’ at a prestigious place like Princeton, but my pupils tend to shape like question marks when someone’s title requires 13 words to be merely one part. We see in the article “depict him as power-hungry and corrupt, and cite these two impulses for his behavior and policies. When King Salman designated MBS as his heir in June 2017, MBS effectively became the most powerful man in the kingdom. And despite ill-advised purchases (including a yacht and a French chateau, which have cemented the impression of the crown prince’s greed)“, so how does that work? You see Prince Mohammed bin Salman is wealthy, his family is very wealthy, and as such is a yacht a splurge? It would depend on the price. Second there is the mention on a French Chateau. Well, I have taken a look and I fell in love with a house in France too, in Cognac (my favourite drink). The house (at http://www.rightmove.co.uk/overseas-property/property-58209296.html), has 7 bedrooms, is amazing in looks and in a nice village. The amount comes down to a little over a million dollars (money I obviously do not have), but consider that the same amount will only get you a decent 2 bedroom apartment in the outskirts of Sydney, within some suburbs and in the city, those prices will go up from 250%-1500%, depending on how outlandish your view needs to be, in a measly 2-3 bedroom apartment. So how does that make the Crown Prince greedy? Now his choice is a chateau 50 times that price and a family that owns billions can splurge a little. His place is west of Paris. And let’s face it, as some economies are going, having your money in something substantial is not the worst idea. His second splurge, linking him to greed and power hunger is a yacht. So how does that leap rhyme? I have no idea and I find the professors view slightly too speculative. Yet, the man is not done. He then gives us: “MBS is trying to deal with a harsh truth about Saudi Arabia: The kingdom is economically and politically unsustainable, and is headed toward a disaster“. There is a truth in that. As Saudi Arabia is dependent on oil, there will be a lull in their lives, as the need for oil exists, with prices going down, there is no real prospect of fixing it, but wait that is exactly what the crown prince is doing. He is setting forth his 2030 view, a growing move away from oil dependency, which is actually a really good thing to do. It does not make him greedy, merely a visionary that technological evolution is essential to the continuing future of Saudi Arabia. We then get two quotes that matter. The first I already gave light on with “a sclerotic state with limited administrative capacity and an economy that is largely reliant on declining oil revenues“, yet sclerotic? That means “losing the ability to adapt“, which is exactly what the crown prince is trying to achieve, adapt the nation to other options and new ways. The second is a lot harsher, but requires additional focus. With: “a venal elite comprised of thousands of royals and hangers-on who operate with impunity and are a huge drain on the economy. It is saddled with a bloated public sector which employs 70 percent of working Saudis, and its military is incapable of defending the homeland despite billions spent on armaments“, so we can argue on the wisdom of ‘employs 70 percent of working Saudis‘, I am not stating that it is true, but when we see Walmart in the US, who employs 1% of Americans pumping billions of profit into that one Walton family, we should wonder how wrong the Saudi actions are. So we might not see corporate greed like in the US, but is one method better than the other? I am not sure that this is the case. The other part I need to comment on is: “its military is incapable of defending the homeland“, what evidence is there (it is not in the article at all)? Let’s not forget that Iran has been a warmongering nation for DECADES! How many wars did Saudi Arabia get into? There was the Saudi -Yemeni war of 1934, The Gulf War, where Saudi Arabia was a member of the allied forces, the Saudi intervention in Yemen and the current upcoming conflict with Iran. So, regarding the inability to defend the homeland? Is that perhaps merely gesture towards the incoming missiles from Yemen? Well, we can bomb the bejezus out of Yemen, but it would imply thousands of civilian casualties as these people are hiding in the civilian masses. Something they learned from groups like Hamas and Hezbollah I would reckon, but that this is merely an assumption from my side. I found the restraint that Saudi Arabia has shown so far quite refreshing.

I am not stating that Saudi Arabia is holier than thou. Like any nation, it makes mistakes; it has views and a set infrastructure. It is moving at a pace that they want, not the pace Wall Street wants, which is equally refreshing.

The article gives us truths, but from a polarised setting as I see it. Yes, there is acknowledgement on the achievements too, in both the directions of the USA and Russia, and we can agree that just like 86% of all other nations (including the USA) that the economy is a weak point. So how is America dealing with a 20 trillion in debt? From my point of view, the USA has not done anything in that direction for over a decade. Instead of lowering the corporate tax to the degree it did, it could have left it 5% higher and let that part be reserved of paying of the debt and interest, oh right, the 5% will not even take care of the interest at present, so as such the USA is in a much worse place at present, which is not what the article is about, but we should take that into consideration, and the end of the article? With “Ultimately, MBS wants to base his family’s legitimacy on the economic transformation of the country and its prosperity. He is not a political liberal. Rather, he is an authoritarian, and one who sees his consolidation of power as a necessary condition for the changes he wants to make in Saudi Arabia“, is that true? The facts are likely true and when you employ 70% of a nation, economic transformations are the legitimacy of that nation. There is the one side Americans never understood. In the end, Saudi Arabia is a monarchy; their duty is the welfare of that nation. So it does not make him authoritarian (even as he might be seen as much), he is the upcoming new monarch of Saudi Arabia, a simple truth. Within any monarchy there is one voice, the King/Queen of that nation. So it is in theory consolidation of power, in actuality it is a monarch who wants all voices and looks to be towards an area of focus, what that is, the future will tell, but in the end, until the Iran-Saudi Arabia issue is solved, there will be plenty of space for chaos.

In this his path is clear and that is the part the professor did illuminate too. With: “MBS is trying to appeal to young Saudis, who form the majority of the population. His message is one of authoritarian nationalism, mixed with populism that seeks to displace a traditional Islamic hyper-conservatism — which the crown prince believes has choked the country and sapped its people of all dynamism and creativity“, it is his need to create a population that is nationalistic, that sees Saudi Arabia as a place of pride, which is not a bad thing. In a setting where the end of hyper-conservatism, as it can no longer reflect any nation in a global economy, is an essential path. He is merely conservative in not handing out all those large benefits and multi-billion dollar revenue in the hands of opportunists who are eager to take those billions over the border, out of Saudi Arabia at the drop of a hat, any hat. That will drag down the Arabian economy with absolute certainty. A dynamic and creative nation, especially fuelled by youth and enthusiasm could spell several wells of innovation and profit that could benefit Saudi Arabia. I think that the path from hyper-conservatism towards where it needs to be in 2023 is so far well played. He is not there yet, but the path is starting and that is in the end a good thing. The only thing that the US needs to fear now is that the creative and innovation path that Saudi Arabia is on, could spell long term problems for a nation that has been fixated on a iterative technology path where the US is no longer the front runner, they were surpassed by Asia some time ago, the US merely has Apple and Google. Oh no, they do not, because those are proclaimed global corporations. So where does that leave the US?

So as we see Bloomberg (at https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-01-22/imf-sees-global-growth-picking-up-as-u-s-tax-cuts-gain-traction) gives us ‘IMF Says Global Growth Picking Up as U.S. Tax Cuts Take Hold‘, which is a number I find overly optimistic, Global growth is set to 3.9%, yet the bad news cycle has not started yet, so I reckon that if the global economy ends at 2.45% it would not be a bad achievement. In that light I find the mention “The IMF also predicted that the tax plan will reduce U.S. growth after 2022, offsetting earlier gains, as some of the individual cuts expire and the U.S. tries to curb its budget deficit“. I believe that the US economy takes a hard hit no later than 2020 and the idea of ‘curb its budget deficit‘ is equally amusing, they have not been able to do that for 15 years and as there is at present every chance that President Trump is a one term president only, the Democrats are now likely to win by large margin and the entire budget curbing would be immediately off the table, because spending is the one thing the democrats have proven to be utter experts in, they merely leave the invoices for others to deal with, which is equally unhealthy for any economy.

And in that article we see exactly the fears that are mounting towards Saudi Arabia too. With “the IMF flagged protectionism, geopolitical tensions and extreme weather as risks to the global economy” we see a new frontal attack starting on protectionism. Mentions like “A reduction of Germany’s surplus would help reduce global imbalances” and it is not one source, hundreds of articles over the last 16 hours alone, all hammering the protectionism word in a bad light. It is now becoming all about trade protectionism, even under the terms of Brexit, we saw on how people were stating that it was a disadvantage, the single market falls away and as such the UK cannot benefit. Now that Brexit is still pushing forward, the IMF is changing their tune and it is now on protectionism and trade protectionism. Another way to state that tariffs and import fees are now a problem, it is the final straw in giving large corporation the push for benefit they need and many are in the States (IBM, Microsoft, 3M and so on), they would benefit and even as I mention Brexit, it also affects Saudi Arabia. As we saw last July: “Being a WTO member, Saudi Arabia is expected to bind its tariffs on over three-fourths of U.S. exports of industrial goods at an average rate of 3.2 percent, while tariffs on over 90 percent of agricultural products will be set at 15 percent or lower“, so the IMF is not merely voicing the fear of the US, it is equally scared that the stimulus backlash is about to his impeding presented global growth, the protectionism and trade protectionism are set to plead for open doors, I wonder if that also means that patent protectionism would have to end. I doubt that because pharmacy is what keeps the US afloat in more than one way, and is not a subject that is allowed to be tinkered in.

So were these insights or speculations?

I believe both the professor and myself were doing both, I admit to that upfront, whilst the professor set it in a text that is acceptable yet should have been raising a few more questions that the Washington Post is bargaining for. We can argue that this is a good thing, but it is my personal belief that even as it was a good and insightful article, in the end all the mention of power hungry and corrupt, in the end he showed no real evidence that this was a move of a power hungry person, especially as the person in question (Prince Mohammed bin Salman) is set to be the future king of Saudi Arabia, the crown prince is at the tip of the pyramid, so he needs not be power hungry. That can only be shown if he starts expansion wars with his neighbours. In addition no evidence is shown of corruption, I do not state that this is not the case, but if you accuse a person of being corrupt it would be nice to add actual evidence of that, which is merely my point of view.

In the end, through insight and speculation, I hope that you got some insights of that and feel free to google ‘IMF protectionism‘ and see how many articles were added in the last week alone. It is clear that Davos is about removing limitations, not actually growing a true economy. Which implies from my point of view is that Davos is about big business and what they need, not what the people desperately require. Consider that when you read about the ‘World Economic Forum Annual Meeting’ and when you see who is present. My mind wonders on how many informal meetings there will be and how Theresa May is likely to get hammered on Brexit issues as Emmanuel Macron, Jean-Claude Juncker, Angela Merkel and perhaps even Donald Trump unite against Brexit. It is an assumption from my side, but at the end of the week, will I be proven wrong?

 

 

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