Category Archives: Finance

Great, Now Magneto Wants To Wipe Out Professional Theater…

Magneto McKellen

Maybe he should run for Vice-President on a ticket with Elizabeth Warren.

Quoth revered British actor Ian McKellen, Magneto (and Gandalf ) in the flesh:

“The one thing you can ask, I think, is that actors get paid a living wage. I would like it if all the repertory theaters that currently exist could do that. It would make a huge difference.”

It sure would. It would put most small professional theaters out of business, make theater unaffordable for any but rich theater-lovers, and eliminate a huge number of acting jobs. It is an idiotic, ignorant, irresponsible, but very, very nice, liberal, compassionate, well-intentioned and Elizabeth Warrenish suggestion that willfully ignores reality and basic economics—in other words, it is consistent with progressive mythology. We owe the Magster a debt of gratitude for illustrating exactly what is wrong with blanket endorsements of minimum wage increases and “living wages.”

The fact is, and it is a fact, that most theaters cannot afford to pay actors what they do now, unless they are heavily subsidized by government grants and philanthropy. The audiences for live theater are dwindling, and each rise in costs results in higher ticket prices, which restricts the audiences further, and worse, by making it unaffordable to take children to productions, strangles interest in and appreciation of live theater among future generations.

As Magneto once knew but perhaps has forgotten now that his alter ego is paid obscene amounts to do very little acting, as in the last X-Men film, art doesn’t pay and never has, except for elite exceptions Few good artists are in it for the money, and in most cases, once art is produced for the money, the integrity of the art and the artist is defenestrated. Pass a law that requires a living wage for actors, and there will be fewer theaters, smaller casts, fewer jobs, fewer audience members, higher ticket prices, fewer playwrights, fewer plays produced, less theater and a less healthy and literate culture. Naturally, this would require the government to add more theater costs to its budget, unless those culturally astute lawmakers decided that funding services for the poor, the aged,and the disabled, fixing roads, bridges, sewage systems and airports, maintaining the military and not letting the national indebtedness put us on the slow boat to Athens were less crucial than underwriting productions of “The Odd Couple.”

What a great plan!

But then Magneto is evil, isn’t he?

And apparently none too bright.

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Grand Master Of Deceit

"May the spin be with you..."

“May the spin be with you…”

I thought about adding his name to the title, but really: who else could I be referring to?

I think it’s good to know, comforting even, that Bill Clinton is still shameless, still at the top of his game, still adept at manipulating language for the deception of gullible listeners. So much changes! The Tunnel Tree lies on the forest floor among the great Sequoias, the Great Stone Face has fallen off the mountain, and Jennifer Connelly no longer looks like a Vargas Girl. Yet Bill Clinton goes on, spinning, parsing, obfuscating, lying like the master he is. It’s almost inspiring.

Almost.

Bill recently showed he was still in playing trim by offering a deceitful defense of his wife’s absurd claim that Hill and Bill were “dead broke” when they left the White House, telling NBC’s David Gregory that “It is factually true that we were several million dollars in debt.” Yup, and here are several other things that are factually true: Continue reading

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Unethical Quote Of The Week: SunTrust Bank

pop weasel2

“SunTrust supports the rights of all Americans to fully exercise their freedoms granted under the Constitution, including those with respect to free speech and freedom of religion.”

—-SunTrust Bank, doing its best Cracker Barrel imitation by reversing its decision, announced  earlier in the day, to pull all of its listed properties with the Benham brothers’ bank-owned property business.

SunTrust was following the lead of craven, political correctness bully-enabling HGTV, which a week ago announced it was canceling a planned home renovation show hosted by the Benhams as punishment for their conservative views on same-sex marriage, because, as we all know, gays are the heart and soul of the home renovation business. Thus emboldened, the bank decided that citizens opposing same-sex marriage as taught by the faith they had been raised to embrace deserved to have their business harmed, since that’s what the SunTrust suits’ moistened fingers in the wind told them their sensitive, right-thinking customers wanted.

But the announcement turned that wind into a roaring hurricane of protest from conservatives, and, we can at least hope, some actual liberals among Democrats who comprehend that banks should not be enforcers of the growing, un-American movement to make life nasty, brutish and short for anyone who dares to see the world differently from the news media, the universities, and the rest of the thought-crime legislators among us. Thus the quick reversal, and the noble words above.

So why is SunTrust’s impeccable affirmation of their iron-clad support for our precious freedom unethical? Continue reading

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Anderson Cooper’s Reflections on Inheritance: Not Unethical, Perhaps; Just Ignorant, Self-Serving and Presumptuous

I was going to let this go, but it kept gnawing at me, and nobody in the news media called out Anderson Cooper on his outrageous misrepresentation of history and human character. I guess it’s up to me.

gloria-vanderbilt-anderson-cooper

“Thanks for nothing, Mom!”

Cooper is the son of fashion designer Gloria Vanderbilt, and thus an heir to one of the most storied of American family fortunes. Apparently Cooper has known for some time that he’s getting none of his mother’s estimated 200 million dollar estate, and he told Howard Stern recently that he was fine about it, an had no bitterness or regrets.

“I don’t believe in inheriting money, ” he told Stern. “That’s a total fantasy … I think it’s an initiative-sucker, I think it’s a curse. Who’s inherited a lot of money who’s gone on to do things in their own life? If I felt that there was some pot of gold waiting for me, I don’t know that I would have been so motivated.”

As for his mother, who inherited many millions and who still made a name for herself by launching a  line of designer jeans, Cooper told Stern, “I think that’s an anomaly.”

Cooper is free to adopt whatever myths and rationalizations that help him get over the fact that his mother is cutting him off. He is not free to misinform the historically ignorant that a tendency exists which may describe his own mental state but which is far from the presumptive norm with others throughout the centuries. “Who’s inherited a lot of money who’s gone on to do things in their own life?” The answer to that question is “Too many to mention, Anderson. Are you kidding? Do you know anything about history?”

Just counting U.S. Presidents, which I think even in this period of reduced stature among White House occupants, would still qualify as “doing something with your life,” we have Washington, Madison and Monroe, all of whom inherited substantial property and assets from their families, as did William Henry Harrison and his grandson, Benjamin Harrison. Both Roosevelts inherited substantial wealth; so did William Howard Taft, whose family was (and is) one of the richest in the U.S. Both Bush’s managed not to let the curse of inherited wealth undermine their wills to succeed. Continue reading

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Ethics Quiz: How Do We React Ethically To THIS?

"Oh, Naaaaancy! Naaaancy!

“Oh, Naaaaancy! Naaaancy!

Today,the Congressional Budget Office made this announcement, as reported by The Hill:

“The new healthcare law will cost the nation the equivalent of 2.5 million workers in the next decade, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated in a report released Tuesday. The nonpartisan agency found the healthcare law’s negative effects on the economy would be “substantially larger” than what it had previously anticipated. It said the equivalent of 2.3 million workers would be lost by 2021, compared to its previous estimate of 800,000. It also projected that labor force compensation would be reduced by 1 percent from 2017 to 2024 — twice its previous estimate — and that declining economic growth would add $1 trillion more to deficits.”

Well, of course. We, and by we I mean intelligent, objective people who pay attention to history and know how government programs work, knew this revelation, or some version of it, was coming along sooner or later. And yet, when the Affordable Care Act was being debated and railroaded through Congress–and that is a fair description of the strong-arm, gimmick-driven, dishonest and anti-Democratic manner in which  it was passed—critics who said the law would increase the deficit and the debt, not reduce them; that it would lose jobs, not create them, and that it would retard economic growth, not boost it were savaged by the media, commentators and Democrats, called obstructionists, cruel, liars and worse.

I particularly remember MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, arguably the most credible of her far left colleagues, furiously railing, while serving as a reporter at the Republican National Convention, about the utter dishonesty of GOP speakers who kept saying—in defiance of the CBO projections, mind you!—that the AFA would increase the deficit, not reduce it. Chris Matthews, to give credit where it’s due, intervened and said, in essence, ‘Well, now Rachel, you have to admit that the record of big federal programs has not been good in this respect.’ No, she wouldn’t admit it. Continue reading

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When “Heartless” Is Responsible

The Neverending Emergency....

The Neverending Emergency….

Nancy Pelosi just designated the extension of unemployment benefits yet again—they were first extended in 2008 and have been continuously extended ever since—as Congress’s top priority for 2014, which is instructive. She called the Republican determination to end the extensions as “immoral;” others in her party and the media have called it heartless. “Starting tomorrow, too many American families will face the New Year with uncertainty, insecurity, and instability as a result of congressional Republicans’ refusal to extend critical unemployment insurance,” she said. “The first item on Congress’ agenda in the New Year must be an extension of unemployment insurance. That must be our priority on day one.” The budget deal cut between House Democrats and Republicans ends the extensions, unless something is done.

Pelosi’s argument is intellectually dishonest. I would like someone to define the exact point at which the number of families dependent on as yet unsuccessful job-seekers would no longer be regarded as “too many.” Isn’t any number too many? If the nation decides that it should provide a living stipend to the unemployed as long as they are jobless as policy, then so be it: I think that would be a mistake, as the Welfare experiment demonstrated and as the federal disability assistance programs continue to demonstrate, but that’s a debate that needs to be had. As seems to be habitual with the Democrats, they apparently want to make this the policy deceptively and without admitting so, by the device of never-ending “emergency extensions,” with spokespeople like Pelosi ready to hammer any opposition as a “heartless.” Continue reading

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Crossing The Line Between Fun And Corruption: The Elf On The Shelf

elf_on_the_shelf_6

“LOOK BEHIND YOU!!! LOOK BEHIND YOU!!!”

Ever since I first encountered an “Elf on the Shelf” at a friend’s home, I have wrestled with the alleged tendency I have to perceive serious  unethical consequences into trivial matters. I have wrestled long enough: the “Elf on the Shelf” is an unethical addition to a child’s home, and parents should think long and hard before subjecting their children to its sinister influence.

If you have been lucky enough to avoid this relatively new addition to American holiday traditions, here is what is going on, right from the Elf on the Shelf website, where you can buy these small KGB agents in pajamas:

“The Elf on the Shelf® is a special scout elf sent from the North Pole to help Santa Claus manage his naughty and nice lists. When a family adopts an elf and gives it a name, the elf receives its Christmas magic and can fly to the North Pole each night to tell Santa Claus about all of the day’s adventures. Each morning, the elf returns to its family and perches in a different place to watch the fun. Children love to wake up and race around the house looking for their elf each morning. There are two simple rules that every child knows when it comes to having an elf. First, an elf cannot be touched; Christmas magic is very fragile and if an elf is touched it may lose that magic and be unable to fly back to the North Pole. Second, an elf cannot speak or move while anyone in the house is awake! An elf’s job is to watch and listen. Elves typically appear in their families’ homes at the beginning of the holiday season (around Thanksgiving in the U.S.). On Christmas Eve, the elves return to the North Pole with Santa Claus–until next year!” Continue reading

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Ethics Quote Of The Month: Tom Crist, Canadian Lottery Winner

“I just retired at the end of September so I was fortunate enough in my career to set myself up and my kids anyway, and there was no doubt in my mind where that money was going to go, it was going to go to charity.”

Tom Crist, of Calgary, Canada, announcing that he was giving the 40 million dollars  he won in Canada’s Lotto Max jackpot on May 3 to support cancer research.

Tom Crist, who understands what "enough" is.

Tom Crist, who understands what “enough” is.

Just in time for Christmas comes the aptly- named anti-Scrooge named Tom Crist. Christ retired as president and chief executive of the electronics company EECOL in September, and has said that he had done well enough in his career that he did not need the money.

He did not need the money. How often does anyone in this country say that, feel that, or think that? In a nation that is founded on the principles of liberty and self-determination, the freedom to make as much money as we can also imparts the freedom to say, “Ok, that’s it: enough.” Yet we do not.

Why?

Continue reading

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Ethics Quote Of The Month: Dr. Jonathan Gruber

“We currently have a highly discriminatory system where if you’re sick, if you’ve been sick or [if] you’re going to get sick, you cannot get health insurance. The only way to end that discriminatory system is to bring everyone into the system and pay one fair price. That means that the genetic winners, the lottery winners who’ve been paying an artificially low price because of this discrimination now will have to pay more in return. And that, by my estimate, is about four million people. In return, we’ll have a fixed system where over 30 million people will now for the first time be able to access fairly price and guaranteed health insurance.”

—– Dr. Jonathan Gruber of MIT, an economics professor who is among the designers of the Affordable Care Act, a.k.a Obamacare. He was interviewed by NBC’s Chuck Todd regarding the troubled law’s problems.

lottery

Could it be that the act of getting involved with this administration turns even non-politicians into deceivers and liars? For an economist to talk so deceitfully and manipulatively is distressing. He, of all people, certainly knows how insurance works, and has to work. The insurance company accepts, in essence, wagers from its insured, in the form of premiums, that they will “win” by incurring health care costs that require more funds more than the accumulated “wagers.” The insurance company gambles that it will “win” by the insured remaining relatively healthy, so that the premiums (and whatever investment income they generate) exceed what the company has to pay in medical costs for that individual. The only way a company can keep providing insurance is to win more bets than it loses.

Saying that an insurance company is “discriminating” (in the unjust and biased sense) when it refuses to  accept a wager that is virtually certain to win is like saying that a poker player is engaging in discriminatory conduct by refusing to play with a new player who brings a royal flush to the table with him. It is not discrimination to refuse to lose money, and Gruber knows it. But  like an expert liar, as I must presume he is, he plants a false definition of discrimination at the beginning of his discussion and then treats it as an agreed-upon description of what is occurring. Not selling something to a customer who can’t afford a fair price is not discrimination, and refusing to gamble with someone who is assured of winning is also not discrimination. But discrimination is something that everyone regards as wrong, unfair, and unlawful, so that is how the lawful operation of insurance companies is framed by this clever, learned, dishonest man.

I no longer trust Dr. Gruber, nor should you.

His statement is of additional interest, however, because it starkly defines the unique Progressive definition of “fairness,” by his repeated use of lottery imagery to describe the fact that some people, through no fault of their own, have fewer advantages than others, while those others, often through no virtue of their own, have more resources and opportunities. Progressives regard this as inherently wrong and unfair, and so unfair that it must be remedied by obtrusive government interference. The rest of America regards this as “life.” Continue reading

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If Your Institution Is Named After George Washington, Shouldn’t We Be Able To Trust It To Tell The Truth?

The General is not pleased.

The General is not pleased.

Shame on George Washington University (in Washington, D.C.), not only for lying to its students and community, but also for dishonoring the name of the scrupulously ethical American icon which they presumed to expropriate as their own. Such things carry with it some crucial obligations.

For years, the GW admissions and financial aid offices have claimed in printed materials and on the University website that admissions were independent of need. The admissions process does not consider financial need during the first round of screening applications. Before applicants are notified, however the University examines its financial aid budget and decides which students it can actually afford to admit. Wealthier students are accepted, taking the spots of students who would need more financial aid from the University.

Last week, a GW administrator confessed to a student newspaper—one ironically called “The Hatchet” after the apocryphal axe little George used to cop down that cherry tree in Parson Weems’ fable—– that financial resources indeed were considered in the admissions process, and have always been considered despite University statements to the contrary.  As  recently as last weekend, admissions representatives told prospective students that their applications would be judged without consideration of their financial aid profiles. Until it was removed Saturday evening, the newspaper reports, the undergraduate admissions website read, “Requests for financial aid do not affect admissions decisions.”

That site now confirms a “need-aware” policy that has always been in place. George Washington University just had another policy of lying about it. Continue reading

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