Location: Columbus, Ohio, United States

Friday, January 30, 2009

Trapped in Hell

My wife is watching "America's Next Top Model" and it makes me want to throw a chair.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Rush Limbaugh

I'm not a Rush Limbaugh fan, but he wrote this in the journal
I disagree with his economic theory, and obviously it's Rush Limbaugh so this isn't fair scholarship, but it is an interesting piece.
My Bipartisan Stimulus
Let's cut taxes, as I want, and spend more, as Obama would like.


There's a serious debate in this country as to how best to end the recession. The average recession will last five to 11 months; the average recovery will last six years. Recessions will end on their own if they're left alone. What can make the recession worse is the wrong kind of government intervention.

I believe the wrong kind is precisely what President Barack Obama has proposed. I don't believe his is a "stimulus plan" at all -- I don't think it stimulates anything but the Democratic Party. This "porkulus" bill is designed to repair the Democratic Party's power losses from the 1990s forward, and to cement the party's majority power for decades.
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Keynesian economists believe government spending on "shovel-ready" infrastructure projects -- schools, roads, bridges -- is the best way to stimulate our staggering economy. Supply-side economists make an equally persuasive case that tax cuts are the surest and quickest way to create permanent jobs and cause an economy to rebound. That happened under JFK, Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush. We know that when tax rates are cut in a recession, it brings an economy back.

Recent polling indicates that the American people are in favor of both approaches.

Notwithstanding the media blitz in support of the Obama stimulus plan, most Americans, according to a new Rasmussen poll, are skeptical. Rasmussen finds that 59% fear that Congress and the president will increase government spending too much. Only 17% worry they will cut taxes too much. Since the American people are not certain that the Obama stimulus plan is the way to go, it seems to me there's an opportunity for genuine compromise. At the same time, we can garner evidence on how to deal with future recessions, so every occurrence will no longer become a matter of partisan debate.

Congress is currently haggling over how to spend $900 billion generated by American taxpayers in the private sector. (It's important to remember that it's the people's money, not Washington's.) In a Jan. 23 meeting between President Obama and Republican leaders, Rep. Eric Cantor (R., Va.) proposed a moderate tax cut plan. President Obama responded, "I won. I'm going to trump you on that."

Yes, elections have consequences. But where's the bipartisanship, Mr. Obama? This does not have to be a divisive issue. My proposal is a genuine compromise.

Fifty-three percent of American voters voted for Barack Obama; 46% voted for John McCain, and 1% voted for wackos. Give that 1% to President Obama. Let's say the vote was 54% to 46%. As a way to bring the country together and at the same time determine the most effective way to deal with recessions, under the Obama-Limbaugh Stimulus Plan of 2009: 54% of the $900 billion -- $486 billion -- will be spent on infrastructure and pork as defined by Mr. Obama and the Democrats; 46% -- $414 billion -- will be directed toward tax cuts, as determined by me.

Then we compare. We see which stimulus actually works. This is bipartisanship! It would satisfy the American people's wishes, as polls currently note; and it would also serve as a measurable test as to which approach best stimulates job growth.

I say, cut the U.S. corporate tax rate -- at 35%, among the highest of all industrialized nations -- in half. Suspend the capital gains tax for a year to incentivize new investment, after which it would be reimposed at 10%. Then get out of the way! Once Wall Street starts ticking up 500 points a day, the rest of the private sector will follow. There's no reason to tell the American people their future is bleak. There's no reason, as the administration is doing, to depress their hopes. There's no reason to insist that recovery can't happen quickly, because it can.

In this new era of responsibility, let's use both Keynesians and supply-siders to responsibly determine which theory best stimulates our economy -- and if elements of both work, so much the better. The American people are made up of Republicans, Democrats, independents and moderates, but our economy doesn't know the difference. This is about jobs now.

The economic crisis is an opportunity to unify people, if we set aside the politics. The leader of the Democrats and the leader of the Republicans (me, according to Mr. Obama) can get it done. This will have the overwhelming support of the American people. Let's stop the acrimony. Let's start solving our problems, together. Why wait one more day?

Monday, January 26, 2009


I was in the car today so I was unusually plugged in to politics.

Obama Today:
Geithner: OK. Tax stuff is annoying but he seems smart. Wanting the job means he's either brave or stupid.

California Emission Standards: I'm torn. Federalism is good. Local higher standards fuel innovation in NY and CA that informs national and international markets. On the other hand we have a similar issue--different standards in different regions or states--in some provisions of the Clean Water Act. It's hard as an entrepeneur, particularly if you are in an industry of a scope where economies of scale matter.

Updating Spectrum Policy: I don't really understand that much but smart people seem happy about it. This seems like an area where coordination and efficiency should win the day, the kind of wonky stuff that Obama could make as the poster boy for some of his "efficiency" stuff.

Overall fuel efficiency standards: Good. High standards require smart, creative people. This is the competitive advantage of our nation.

Actual Stimulus Package: Stupid. I haven't read the whole thing but condoms and national mall at 1/2 billion are just dumb strategy.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Good writing

We reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals,Our Founding Fathers, faced with perils we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations. Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience's sake."

Thursday, January 08, 2009

The advice of many...

Today I went to a thing for owners of green energy companies. Good times, but I left the meeting super jazzed about the WilderHill Clean Energy ETF. An ETF is kind of like a mutual fund that trades like a stock. Again, me...super jazzed.
I log on ready to jump in, google for general information on ETF-s, and read this on Motley Fool:

Before investing in this mutual fund you need to ask the 3 basic questions:
1. How diversified is it? Very, in one sense: The 37 stocks are spread over diverse industries, but quite a few of these companies, including perennially unprofitableBallard Power (Nasdaq: BLDP) and strugglingPlug Power (Nasdaq: PLUG), are small and bleeding money. It also ignores one of the world's largest wind energy technology companies in General Electric (NYSE: GE). Hmmmm.

2. What will it cost? The PowerShares WilderHill ETF is relatively cheap in that it charges only a 0.60% expense ratio annually. That's decent, and not far off from other low-cost, broad-market index funds. Let's move on.

3. Is it run by someone you can trust? Probably, but there really isn't any way to tell. I mean, yeah, the prospectus (which you can download here) mentions that portfolio manager John Southard has been in the business for at least 13 years and with PowerShares since 2002. But it doesn't say whether he's had any success investing in speculative small caps or in the clean energy industry. His returns as a fund manager don't appear to be mentioned either. Uh oh.

I can't find a good reason to invest in the PowerShares WilderHill ETF, especially when I know so little about the manager. Remember: When you buy an ETF or a mutual fund, you're spending good money to hire an expert who will make you more cash than you could have made on your own. Buying for "exposure" to clean energy or any other sector is like spending money on the lottery because you want "exposure" to gambling. Neither makes sense -- unless, of course, your only aim is to lose money. Again, no thanks.

My point isn't that you should or shouldn't buy an ETF, it's that I do better when I sit down and shut up and learn before doing stuff.

Sunday, January 04, 2009


Apparently this was one of JFK-s favorite anectdotes:

The great French Marshall Lyautey once asked his gardener to plant a tree. The gardener objected that the tree was slow growing and would not reach maturity for 100 years. The Marshall replied, 'In that case, there is no time to lose; plant it this afternoon...

I don't mean to sound bubble gum, but so much of doing great stuff is starting to do great stuff.

One of the most important things that's ever happened to me was the Agincourt Project. In essence this was a curriculum designed to aggregate micro-level entrepeneurship to help people in a developing nation. I'm confident it will impact the world in a signficant way.
Two things:
1) It hasn't helped many people yet.
2) It wasn's about any of the stuff I just said when it started.
My point isn't "Do as I wish I did..." it's that things have to start. There's a little line in "Good to great" about how Good is Often the enemy of the best, sure but I think sometimes Good is Better than perfect because we twiddle our thumbs looking for perfect when we should jump in with a good idea and then get better in the fight.

So here are four things somebody needs to do:
1. Work with me to bring Agincourt from concept to full execution.
2. Develop a micro-entrepenurship program aggregating church, university, and private parties in _____________ (insert Central city or depressed rural area here).
3. Some backround: Many central cities are enacting policies leading low SES populations out to the suburbs. Nice in concept, but in practice there is lower capacity in the suburbs and the low SES populations are falling behind and thus creating a new low SES cohort in their schools. This is obviously bad for many reasons. You can start a tutoring program with your company helping these students get up to par.
4. Organize people you know to support Asia's Hope.