Category Archives: Finance

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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Filed under Business & Commercial, Character, Family, Finance, Journalism & Media, U.S. Society

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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Filed under Citizenship, Finance, Government & Politics, Health and Medicine, Incompetent Elected Officials, Journalism & Media, Leadership

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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Hypocrisy? No. An Absence of Integrity? Absolutely.

Whay ever happened to this guy? Boy, we sure could use someone like him about now...

Whay ever happened to this guy? Boy, we sure could use someone like him about now…

As we all know by now, President Obama is refusing the negotiate over raising the debt limit, which, since the House of Representatives refuses to agree to raise the limit without some kind of concessions in spending by Democrats, is raising the  specter of a catastrophic default.

Conservatives have been citing as an example of the President’s hypocrisy the fact that he voted against raising the debt limit in 2006, when Bush was President and the debt owed was just about half what it is today, posing far less of a threat to the nation’s fiscal future. At that time, Senator Obama said this:

“The fact that we are here today to debate raising America’s debt limit is a sign of leadership failure. It is a sign that the U.S. government can’t pay its own bills. It is a sign that we now depend on ongoing financial assistance from foreign countries to finance our Government’s reckless fiscal policies. . . . Continue reading

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Celebrity Values: The Good, The Bad And The Ugly

Sprouse-West-Cano

Celebrities have the opportunity to use their disproportionate and sometimes unexplainable fame to pass along good values, priorities and ethical habits to those who admire and follow them. The problem is that the U.S. culture’s current values are in a muddled state, with virtues sometimes being treated as embarrassments, and the enthusiastic embrace of non-ethical goals that once were regarded as the seven deadly sins are now often looked upon as the norm, and even appropriate. Here are some recent events in the strange world of celebrity values:

The Good: This headline on numerous web sources piqued my interest: “Dylan Sprouse Defends Restaurant Host Job.” Dylan Sprouse is a former Disney child star, a long time lead, with his brother, on the long-running “The Suite Life of Zach & Cody,” one of those loud, hyper-frenetic tween comedies that Disney and Nickelodeon acquire from some production company in Hell. Dylan was seen working in a restaurant, and this immediately spawned multiple rumors that he was broke, had blown through his millions, and was, in brief, a pathetic loser….because he has the same kind of job most American twenty-somethings fresh out of college would be thrilled to have.

Thus Dylan, who along with his brother decided to get out of the child star rat-race that has recently put Lindsay Lohan in rehab, Amanda Bynes in a mental health treatment facility and Miley Cyrus naked on a wrecking ball, and start a more conventional life with a college education (at NYU). Sprouse decided to address the weird criticism being sent his way on social media and in the gossip blogs by writing, Continue reading

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Thanks, Lenddo, For A Brave, New…Crummy…World

I hate you, Jeff, and I hate your friends.

I hate you, Jeff, and I hate your friends.

Some ideas that brilliant young people have in the technology field should have remained unthought, and if thought, promptly rejected on the grounds that however clever and profitable, they will make the world a crummier place. This is one of those ideas:

From CNN Money we learn that Lenddo, a new financial lending companies (apparently none of the brilliant young people work in the marketing department—Lenddo???)  has figured out that one’s Facebook friends, and how friendly you are with them,  are a revealing indicator of your credit worthiness. If one of those FB friends is late paying back a loan to Lenddo, their data indicates that it means you are more of a credit risk than if that friend was right on time. Not only that, if the delinquent friend is someone you frequently interact with on the social network, it means you are even more likely to be a deadbeat.

“It turns out humans are really good at knowing who is trustworthy and reliable in their community,” happily crows Jeff Stewart, a co-founder and CEO of Lenddo. “What’s new is that we’re now able to measure through massive computing power.”  Fascinating, Jeff!

You suck. Continue reading

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