GreggHoulden's Posts (12)

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This is amazing.  Even more amazing is that this hasn't been published long before now.

Unbelievable, but the speech below was written in 1899... (check Wikipedia - The River War).

The attached short speech from Winston Churchill, was delivered by him in 1899 when he was a young soldier and journalist.  It probably sets out the current views of many, but expresses in the wonderful Churchillian turn of phrase and use of the English language, of which he was a past master.  Sir Winston Churchill was, without doubt, one of the greatest men of the late 19th and 20th centuries.

He was a brave young soldier, a brilliant journalist, an extraordinary politician and statesman, a great war leader and British Prime Minister, to whom the Western world must be forever in his debt.  He was a prophet in his own time.  He died on 24th January 1965, at the grand old age of 90 and, after a lifetime of service to his country, was accorded a State funeral.


"How dreadful are the curses which Mohammedanism lays on its votaries!  Besides the fanatical frenzy, which is as dangerous in a man as hydrophobia in a dog, there is this fearful fatalistic apathy.  The effects are apparent in many countries, improvident habits, slovenly systems of agriculture, sluggish methods of commerce, and insecurity of property exist wherever the followers of the Prophet rule or live.

A degraded sensualism deprives this life of its grace and refinement, the next of its dignity and sanctity.  The fact that in Mohammedan law every woman must belong to some man as his absolute property, either as a child, a wife, or a concubine, must delay the final extinction of slavery until the faith of Islam has ceased to be a great power among men.

Individual Muslims may show splendid qualities, but the influence of the religion paralyses the social development of those who follow it.  No stronger retrograde force exists in the world.  Far from being moribund, Mohammedanism is a militant and proselytizing faith.  It has already spread throughout Central Africa, raising fearless warriors at every step; and were it not that Christianity is sheltered in the strong arms of science, the science against which it had vainly struggled, the civilization of modern Europe might fall, as fell the civilization of ancient Rome ..."

Sir Winston Churchill; (Source: The River War, first edition, Vol II, pages 248-250 London).

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PROMISE: Obama Promised That He Wouldn’t Raise Taxes On The Middle Class. OBAMA: “I can make a firm pledge. Under my plan, no family making less than $250,000 a year will see any form of tax increase, not your income tax, not your payroll tax, not your capital gains taxes, not any of your taxes.” (Senator Barack Obama, Remarks, Dover, NH, 9/12/08)
The Middle Class Will Be Hit By ObamaCare Taxes

FAIL: The Associated Press Headline: “ObamaCare Credits Could Trigger Surprise Tax Bills.” (Stephen Ohlemacher, “ObamaCare Credits Could Trigger Surprise Tax Bills,” The Associated Press, 4/2/13)

Millions Of Americans “Could Get Stung By Surprise Tax Bills.” “Millions of people who take advantage of government subsidies to help buy health insurance next year could get stung by surprise tax bills if they don’t accurately project their income.” (Stephen Ohlemacher, “ObamaCare Credits Could Trigger Surprise Tax Bills,” The Associated Press, 4/2/13)

“Millions Of Middle-Income Families” Could Get Hit By Higher Tax Bills If They Fail To Accurately Project Future Income. “What happens if you or your spouse gets a raise and your family income goes up in 2014? You could end up with a bigger subsidy than you are entitled to. If that happens, the law says you have to pay back at least part of the money when you file your tax return in the spring of 2015. That could result in smaller tax refunds or surprise tax bills for millions of middle-income families.” (Stephen Ohlemacher, “ObamaCare Credits Could Trigger Surprise Tax Bills,” The Associated Press, 4/2/13)

Former Health Care Counsel For Internal Revenue Service: “I Can’t Think Of What Else They Do In The Tax System Currently That Works That Way.” “‘I think this will be the hardest thing for members of the public to understand because it is a novel aspect of this tax credit,’ said Catherine Livingston, who recently served as health care counsel for the Internal Revenue Service. ‘I can’t think of what else they do in the tax system currently that works that way.’ Livingston is now a partner in the Washington office of the law firm Jones Day.” (Stephen Ohlemacher, “ObamaCare Credits Could Trigger Surprise Tax Bills,” The Associated Press, 4/2/13)

ObamaCare Contains “The Largest Set Of Tax Law Changes In More Than 20 Years.” “The health care law ‘includes the largest set of tax law changes in more than 20 years,’ according to the Treasury inspector general who oversees the IRS. The agency will have to hire thousands of workers to manage it, requiring significant budget increases that already are being targeted by congressional Republicans determined to dismantle the president’s signature initiative.” (Stephen Ohlemacher, “The Tax Man Cometh To Police You On Health Care,” The Associated Press, 7/7/12)

The Nonpartisan Joint Committee On Taxation Projects That The Tax Will Cost The Middle Class $40 Billion. “Twice since the health care law was passed Congress has increased the caps for how much people will have to repay. Combined, the two measures are expected to raise more than $40 billion over the next decade, according to Congress’ Joint Committee on Taxation.” (Stephen Ohlemacher, “ObamaCare Credits Could Trigger Surprise Tax Bills,” The Associated Press, 4/2/13)

PROMISE: Obama: “And If You Like Your Insurance Plan, You Will Keep It. No One Will Be Able To Take That Away From You. It Hasn’t Happened Yet. It Won’t Happen In The Future.” OBAMA: “They’ll see that if Americans like their doctor, they will keep their doctor. And if you like your insurance plan, you will keep it. No one will be able to take that away from you. It hasn’t happened yet. It won’t happen in the future.” (President Barack Obama, Remarks By The President On Health Care Reform, Portland, ME, 4/1/10)
Many Americans Will Be Forced Out Of Their Current Health Care Plan

FAIL: CNN Money Headline: “Most Individual Health Insurance Isn’t Good Enough For ObamaCare.” (Tami Luhby, “Most Individual Health Insurance Isn’t Good Enough For ObamaCare,” CNN Money, 4/3/13)
Americans Are Finding Out That Obama’s “Keep Your Plan” Promise Is Just Not True. “President Barack Obama promised over and over during the health care debate that ‘if you like your health care plan, you can keep your health care plan.’ It turns out that, for a lot of people, that isn’t true.” (David Nather, “4 Hard Truths Of Health Care Reform,” Politico, 3/16/12)

University Of Chicago Study Found That A Majority Of Health Plans Will Have To Change To Meet ObamaCare Standards. “Just over half of the individual plans currently on the market do not meet the standards to be sold next year, when many key provisions of President Obama’s Affordable Care Act kick in, according to a University of Chicago study. That’s because the law sets new minimums for the basic coverage every individual health care plan must provide.” (Tami Luhby, “Most Individual Health Insurance Isn’t Good Enough For ObamaCare,” CNN Money, 4/3/13)

ObamaCare’s Requirements Will Likely Lead To “Higher Premiums Than Today’s” Plans. “Most individual plans sold next year, even the lowest-level ‘bronze’ plans, are likely to charge higher premiums than today’s most bare-bones individual insurance.” (Tami Luhby, “Most Individual Health Insurance Isn’t Good Enough For ObamaCare,” CNN Money, 4/3/13)

Current Health Care Plans That Don’t Meet ObamaCare Standards “Will Likely Disappear.” “So what happens to the plans that don’t meet the new minimum standards? They will likely disappear. A handful of existing plans will be grandfathered in, but the qualifying criteria for that is hard to meet: Members have to have been enrolled in the plan before the ACA passed in 2010, and the plan has to have maintained fairly steady co-pay, deductible and coverage rates until now.” (Tami Luhby, “Most Individual Health Insurance Isn’t Good Enough For ObamaCare,” CNN Money, 4/3/13)

PROMISE: Obama Promised that ObamaCare Would Provide “Cost-Savings” To Employers. OBAMA: “Americans who get their insurance through the workplace, cost-savings could be as much as $3,000 less per employer than if we do nothing. Now, think about that. That’s $3,000 your employer doesn’t have to pay, which means maybe she can afford to give you a raise.” (Barack Obama, Remarks At George Mason University, Fairfax, VA, 3/19/10)
Obama Has Delayed “A Major Selling Point” Of ObamaCare That Would Lower Health Care Costs For Businesses

FAIL: The Obama Administration Is Delaying “A Major Selling Point” Of ObamaCare That Would “Provide Affordable Health Insurance To Small Businesses.” “Unable to meet tight deadlines in the new health care law, the Obama administration is delaying parts of a program intended to provide affordable health insurance to small businesses and their employees – a major selling point for the health care legislation.” (Robert Pear, “Health Law Provision For Small Business Delayed,” The New York Times, 4/1/13)

The Measure “Was Portrayed As A Major Advantage” Of ObamaCare. “The promise of affordable health insurance for small businesses was portrayed as a major advantage of the new health care law, mentioned often by White House officials and Democratic leaders in Congress as they fought opponents of the legislation.” (Robert Pear, “Health Law Provision For Small Business Delayed,” The New York Times, 4/1/13)

Coal Operators Shared With The Federal Reserve That “Rising Health Insurance Premiums” Are A Concern. “We heard several reports of layoffs by coal operators. Many of our contacts pointed to rising health insurance premiums as a concern.” (“Current Economic Conditions,” Federal Reserve, 3/6/13)
Cleveland’s Manufacturing Sector Cited “Rising Health Insurance Premiums” As “A Challenge.” “Wage pressures are contained, although rising health insurance premiums remain a challenge.” (“Current Economic Conditions,” Federal Reserve, 3/6/13)

As The Cost Of Health Care Continues To Increase, Employers Plan On Shifting The Higher Costs On To Employees. “Costs for healthcare and other benefits continued to increase; some contacts noted that they were passing along the higher costs to employees.” (“Current Economic Conditions,” Federal Reserve, 3/6/13)

The Obama Administration Has “Failed” Small Businesses. “The key incentive for small businesses to support ObamaCare was that they would be able to shop for the best deals in health care super-stores-called exchanges. The Administration has had 3 years to set up these exchanges. It has failed to do so.” (Joe Klein, “ObamaCare Incompetence,” Time, 4/2/13)

PROMISE: As A Candidate, Obama Promised That His Health Care Reform Would Save American Families $2,500 By The End Of His First Term. OBAMA: “If you’ve got health insurance, we’re going to work with you to lower your premiums by $2500 per family per year. And we will not wait 20 years from now to do it or 10 years from now to do it. We will do it by the end of my first term as president of the United States of America.” (Senator Barack Obama, Remarks At Campaign Event, Columbus, OH, 2/27/08)
The Obama Administration And The Nonpartisan Society Of Actuaries Have Concluded That ObamaCare Will Raise Premiums

FAIL: “The Obama Administration Acknowledged Tuesday That Some People Could See Their Premiums Rise Under The Health Care Reform Law.” (Elise Viebeck, “Premiums Could Rise Under Health Care law, Sebelius Concedes,” The Hill’s Health Watch, 3/27/13)

Obama’s Promise To Americans That ObamaCare Will Bring Down Health Premiums “Seems A Stretch Now.” “Obama has promised that the new law will bring costs down. That seems a stretch now. While the nation has been enjoying a lull in health care inflation the past few years, even some former administration advisers say a new round of cost-curbing legislation will be needed.” (Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar, “Study: Health Overhaul To Raise Claims Cost 32 Percent,” The Associated Press, 3/26/13)

The Nonpartisan Society Of Actuaries Has Found That ObamaCare Will Increase Health Insurance Costs “By An Average Of 32 Percent Per Person.” “The Society of Actuaries, a nonpartisan professional association, has issued a new report warning that the cost of medical claims in the new individual-insurance market could rise by an average of 32% per person over the first few years the law is in place, as more people with higher medical needs get coverage, and that the impact will be very different depending on the state. Medical bills are another key factor in determining premiums.” (Louise Radnofsky, “Sebelius: Some Could See Insurance Premiums,” The Wall Street Journal, 3/26/13)

The Premium Increases Come From ObamaCare’s Effect On “Medical Claims Costs — The Biggest Driver Of Health Insurance Premiums.” “Medical claims costs – the biggest driver of health insurance premiums – will jump an average 32 percent for Americans’ individual policies under President Barack Obama’s overhaul, according to a study by the nation’s leading group of financial risk analysts.” (Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar, “Study: Health Overhaul To Raise Claims Cost 32 Percent,” The Associated Press, 3/26/13)

An “Overwhelming Majority” Of States Will Face Double-Digit Increases. “While some states will see medical claims costs per person decline, the report concluded the overwhelming majority will see double-digit increases in their individual health insurance markets, where people purchase coverage directly from insurers.” (Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar, “Study: Health Overhaul To Raise Claims Cost 32 Percent,” The Associated Press, 3/26/13)

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The Cyprus the EU and HUGE warning to the US

There are some very frightening aspects to the horrific decline of the Cypriot economy and reputation. I visited the Island almost 15 years ago and even played Rugby against the RAF team based there. It was truly an idyllic, blessed, historic and welcoming place. It had the Cypriot Pound, which were worth about $3 US but a Pint of excellent beer was C£0.50 and a 3 course meal C£.5.00 including wine. And I am talking a sit down silver served feast not Burger King. So what the heck happened to the fantastic place I remember?

So to put this in context some latest news. This week the EU demanded as part of an Euro10Bn bailout, yep another one, the Cypriot government set a levy of between 9-10% of bank deposits. For those who don't understand that's the government taking/seizing 10% of all the money you have in savings, your checking account and bonds etc. Taking! This is not Tax BTW, people will have already paid tax at source on their earnings. It's also not capital gains which takes a % of the money you make on, but not the capital it is derived from. OUTRAGEOUS I hear you say...I say its a warning as many of the Cypriot governments failings are seen in Obama's reckless "Bet to Win" financial strategy. 

Over the last decade Cyprus spent huge amounts of money on infrastructure, public sector employment, Greek like state pensions and retirement benefits based on the assumption membership of the EU would produce unsustainable and unrealistic growth in its GDP. The EU was quite happy, as complacent as ever, and smiled benignly on the prolific mismanagement. Why? Because it's essentially a left wing statist organization. Big government is their dream model. Big government and Keynesian theory works until it all grinds to a halt as tax revenues and GDP fail to reach targets, banks stop lending and other countries stop taking your checks. Cyprus essentially utilized Obama's spend our way out of recession theory and bet/borrowed money on future growth. 

If you want to see the disaster we risk read about Cyprus, about families losing everything. The poor, the supposed who's cause the Democrats defend inevitably, are the ones who have nothing. When the government goes bankrupt welfare stops. The slaves stop getting checks. Then Obama declares a totalitarian state and seizes all funds to save the save the poor!


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By Gregg Houlden

We have a huge problem with youth unemployment and as I leave the UK today after a long 2 months. I wanted to share this great idea we should borrow from the Brits. It's not ground shaking innovation its eminently sensible pragmatic politics. Not every young person is cut out for college. Yet we shouldn't at that point write them off for a life of minimum wage mediocrity.

Vocational training is in many ways far better and produces the skilled workers industry scream out for. Some organizations do already provide apprenticeships yet I think we as a party should support national programs the support and promote companies to introduce apprenticeships. In the UK they have a well thought out program that partners community colleges, the government and employers to deliver well rounded programs that take youngsters aged 16 to 19 from high school (youngsters leave school at 16 in the UK btw).

The programs mix classroom further education with on the job training. The government supports the employers by providing partial funding towards the youngsters wages, money they would normally pay anyway via welfare. For business its a win win concept.  A new report from the Center for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) has found the average apprenticeship completer increases business productivity by £214 per week leading to increased profits, lower prices, better products and higher wages.

This figure rockets to £414 for engineering apprentices and £401 a week for construction and planning trainees.

And the number of annual apprenticeship completions is forecast to rise across all sectors of the economy over the coming decade, growing from an annual 260,000 in 2012/13 to 480,000 by 2021/22 - meaning the total amount contributed to the economy by 2022 will be £4.2 billion.

Charles Davis, head of macroeconomics at the CEBR said ahead of the report: "Raising the skills of the UK's workforce translates into improved UK competitiveness in a challenging post-financial crisis environment. This is a vital part of re-balancing the UK economy and raising the chances of sustained export-led growth."

Despite the evidence, many small employers were struggling to get the message, according to David Way, chief executive of the National Apprenticeship Service.

The Service is working with Barclays (a Major British Bank) and charities Tomorrow's People and The Prince's Trust (A very good idea set up by Prince Charles) , as well as Route 2 training, to introduce the Bridges To Work scheme, designed to help 10,000 young people into work in the coming years. 

Through Bridges Into Work, businesses across England will be able to receive additional free support to take on an apprentice, whilst local Barclays Business Managers will help match up suitable apprentices and businesses in their area.

Way said: "I regularly speak to employers who tell me about the benefits that Apprenticeships bring to their business. Apprentices not only increase productivity but also bring creativity and dynamism into the workplace; the very best examples of which are being showcased in this year’s National Apprenticeship Week.

"We need to get this evidence across, particularly to small employers. The Bridges Into Work Programme will help us to do this, by being able to reach many more small businesses who would benefit from taking on an apprentice."

I also see a similar opportunity to offer welfare recipients still of working age this style of back to work scheme. What do you think?

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By Gregg Houlden

I was thinking yesterday we hardly ever hear explanations as whats going wrong with our economy or Obama's fiscal policy in terms we can all understand. One of the great successes of the 2012 campaign for the DNC was Axelrod’s and his teams ability to get across the “Hope and still needs changing” theme to the great under informed voter at large. I might hate the guys politics but he managed a great team, developed strategies that delivered the message via every medium and totally glossed over the fact his boss was a liar and a cheat.  Frankly, I am impressed. Wish I could say the same thing about Rove and his stupid white boards!

However, back to Economics. So forget Keynes and FDR's “New Deal”, forget the Gold Standard they all have merit to the conversation but to be honest, have no meaning to the low information voter.  I thought I would try and explain in an analogy the basic concept behind the Obama's economic stimulus and recovery plan.

Analogy A (Aimed at Low Information women voters)  The recovery driven bet!

Ms A...look at your partner, yes the one drinking beer in front of the game. Imagine he is managing the family's finances. Right, its getting close to mortgage check posting time and you are wondering why he's so desperately focused on the game. Well what you don't know is your partner thinks he’s smarter than the rest of us therefore, decided that saving is for mugs. Instead he's got a system and is betting the mortgage money with a Vegas Bookie.  But don't worry as soon as The Cardinals beat the Giants by 20 points you can pay the mortgage and if Black 32 comes up, get a new car! Might happen right, so don't him?

You then check the mail, Oh from the Bank, you are in arrears and have a month to pay or lose your family home. Hey Bill what's going on why didn't you pay last months payment? “Its OK babe trust me I have a system..this month the cardinals are going to win!” Oh BTW I put the kids college fund on Black 32...just watch we are going to be rich!

OK a huge simplification but in reality a pretty close approximation as to Obama's fiscal plan. Obama is betting the US economy on a short term recovery, that recovery needs to be deep and deliver 34+% growth in tax revenues before 2015.  The last 4 years have shown stagnant flat growth and in fact a worsening of the disposable income each family has to live on.  Obama pitched the low information voter in 2012 on “it just needs a little more time to work”...In other words “I have a system, don’t worry as soon as Black 32 comes up and the Cardinals win the Super Bowl” America will be rich. Obama is like the Vegas gambler betting the rent money and running up $6bn on his credit card certain his numbers will come up on the next spin of the wheel.

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By Gregg Houlden

If 2012 teaches anything it should be conservatives have to take messaging more seriously. David Axelrod strategized and delivered an absolute tour de force of message domination, making the conservative and GOP teams look rank amateurs. (Karl Rove, yes looking at you here.) I hate Axelrod's politics, his boss and the end product of his success. However, one has to respect and applaud his delivery, planning and broad spectrum methodology. In business, marketing has evolved to take into account the changes in the ways people get their information. A huge change in the last 10 years is the rise of Social Marketing. Social Media has become, for a huge voting demographic, the primary brand reputation battlefield as it encompasses word of mouth and inbound marketing channels. Karl and his Neanderthal bunch of has-beens ignored the huge potential and mismanaged the conservative message. Brand's look for, what I like to call "Persistent presence". This describes the; what, where, when, how and how often your target receives your message. $600m of money raised from hard working conservatives went to deliver our message. It failed!

 So I am going to post a few Blogs on methods to reinvent our message delivery, and by doing so reinventing the conservative brand. It's something we can ALL get involved in as we all have access to social media channels. Social Media makes every one of us a micro media outlet or Non Main Stream Media channel. My first Blog will touch on a basic concept which we can all use in our own efforts "Story telling". Obama was able to dumb down and talk to the low information voter that we needed to engage via the populist methodology of story telling. It's parables, it's humanizing or visioning in buzz speak but realistically, it's how you would talk to your neighbor, family member or work colleague. WE all can get involved! ;-)

Thinking of the conservative cause as a brand.

Storytelling is one of the most powerful ways to breathe life into your brand. By giving your products and services an identity by capturing and sharing the stories they really are, you can take your target audience on a journey they yearn to experience. In order for consumers to form a personal connection with your brand, company stories must be authentic, creative and inspirational.

Emotional branding is a progressive marketing strategy that has the potential to drive revenue and increase customer retention.How a person feels about your brand typically determines whether they buy your product. When you tell a story that embodies human challenges, you create an experience that resonates with your customers.

Fundamentals of storytelling

Stories are captivating for a reason. From childhood through adulthood, we are drawn to the lessons we learn, the exciting journeys we embark upon, the knowledge we gain and the opportunity to unleash our imaginations. Stories celebrate our culture, and stories are a testament to the lives we have led.

When crafting your brand story, you must be specific in what you are asking readers to do and illustrate why it is important to their lives. Outline actual steps to be taken and show readers how they can recognize the reward. The sell must be creative, yet subtle, so the audience does not feel misled or cheated at the end.

Just like a fairy tale, a captivating brand story must have three acts that set up the situation, chronicle the conflict and offer a resolution. However, business stories are unique because they require a fourth element – a call to action. The ultimate goal of a marketing campaign is to inspire, whether it motivates change, encourages the buying of a product or draws people into your store. Your desired outcome must drive the direction of the story.

Identifying stories to tell

Stories must be personal. Think about how your brand was born, what inspired you to create the company and what your personal mission is. The story must be compelling but factual. While it is important to tell your own story, client narratives have the largest long-term impact on brands. The customer should be the main character, with your company serving as the supporting character that offers tools to help them create successful resolutions.

For example, if you sponsor a campaign to buy new playground equipment for a community center, the story should focus on why the equipment is needed and who benefits from it. Concentrate on one or two recipients, illustrating what the donation means to their lives. Praise should always come from another person, in the form of a quote, not from a company spokesperson.

Testimonials can be your most powerful weapon in building customer loyalty if they are told in the right way. A testimonial that is just a few sentences is forgettable, but a story that delves into a customer’s personal life and challenges, chronicles the lengths an employee goes to solve the problem and illustrates the positive outcome achieved will stick with readers long after they move on from your marketing materials.

Tapping the most effective medium

Any medium can be used to tell a story, including blogs twitter, Facebook, film, print and multimedia. Each medium elicits a different reaction from your audience, so stories must be tailored to fit. The key to success is knowing which story to tell in which medium. Short, snappy messages work best on television and the Internet, while online conversations, conferences and seminars provide a personal connection.

In order to be a good storyteller, you must listen to your audience so you can genuinely understand their desires and concerns, their beliefs and attitudes. You must continue to listen as your story unfolds so you can gauge the reactions of your audience. Let this help determine how your brand evolves. As your objectives and goals shift, you must plan new initiatives that propel the story forward and inspire renewed calls of action.

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10 hidden taxes you didn't know you're paying

OK as this board is quite well informed many of you may know this however, for those who are interested I wanted to give you this update.

1. Medicare tax: The amount withheld by your employer from your paycheck (often under the line item "FICA," which stands for Federal Insurance Contributions Act) helps cover the cost of running the Medicare program, the federal system of health insurance for people over the age of 65. Employers pay one half of the FICA tax and employees pay the other half. The employee contribution is 6.2 percent for Social Security and 1.45 percent for Medicare on wages up to $110,100. The temporary payroll tax cut for tax years 2011 and 2012 reduced the employee portion for Social Security by 2 percent but... Whoa its back on as last pay check.

2. Self-employment tax: A Social Security and Medicare tax for individuals who work for themselves. It is similar to the Social Security and Medicare taxes withheld from the pay of most wage earners. The self-employment tax consists of two parts: 12.4 percent for Social Security and 2.9 percent for Medicare (hospital insurance) on income up to $110,100. However, the temporary payroll tax cut for tax years 2011 and 2012 reduced self-employment tax by 2 percent. You can deduct the employer-equivalent portion of your self-employment tax in figuring your adjusted gross income. This deduction only affects your income tax. It does not affect either your net earnings from self-employment or your self-employment tax.

3. Alternative minimum tax (AMT): The alternative minimum tax was created in 1969 to ensure that wealthy taxpayers pay at least some minimum amount of federal income tax, regardless of deductions, credits or exemptions. In essence, it is a flat tax with two brackets, 26 percent and 28 percent. The problem with AMT is that it now ensnares not only the wealthiest Americans, but 4 million to 5 million taxpayers with annual incomes between $200,000 and $1 million. Congress has yet to approve a new inflation "patch" that would allow millions to escape AMT (the last patch expired in December). If a new one is not enacted, the AMT will hit 31 million taxpayers this year, reaching deeply into the middle class.

The utility taxes that Americans pay can add up quickly, as do the so-called "sin taxes" on alcohol and tobacco products.

4. Electricity or natural gas tax: A tax collected by energy suppliers based on consumption during the billing period.

5. Cable tax: Tax imposed on cable television subscribers.

6. Landline phone tax: Federal and state tax associated with use of a fixed phone line.

7. Cellphone tax: Federal and state tax imposed on mobile telephone users.

8. Federal and state gasoline tax: A tax on every gallon of gasoline sold, which account for 11 percent of the cost of a gallon of gas, according to the Energy Information Administration. Federal excise taxes are 18.4 cents per gallon and state excise taxes average 23.44 cents per gallon.

9. Cigarette tax: The tax on cigarette use varies from state to state. New York City has the highest rate, charging $4.35 per package of 20 cigarettes on the state level, plus an additional local excise tax of $1.50 per package of 20 cigarettes, bringing the combined tax rate in New York City to $5.85.

10. State alcohol tax: The tax imposed on the purchase of beer, wine and spirits varies state by state. The highest rate for spirits can be found in Washington and the highest for beer is Alaska. Wyoming has the lowest rate.

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Obama and Lew the Perfect Fiscal Storm

By Gregg Houlden

Every Investment Banking professional including myself look upon Lew's nomination with little less than despair. Not really for our personal wealth, as we can as easily operate from London and Singapore as NY or LA, but for the average working American. Already the effects of Obama's amateur and ideology led economic management is beginning to bite. (4th Quarter GDP Estimate Reduced to .8% from 1.5%). 

What does the Lew appointment mean to the average American? In my professional opinion, two major problems. An almost certain further downgrade by S&P and Moody's probably in Q1 13 will deliver higher interest rates. That means every Credit Card, Mortgage or Loan will become more expensive. The second point is more direct and will hit the middle class with a double whammy, the long term effects on manufacturing and large scale employers of Obama Care and increased payroll tax will be felt. I expect certain initial indicators to flag deeper problems. Already, Amex has decided to shed 5,500 jobs. I expect other Finance Houses to follow suit as they outsource to London or other destinations with more corporate friendly administrations. Manufacturing already burdened by the Unions and Obama's leftist led FMCS will once again to look to globalization to reduce costs. Don't blame the company as will the Democrats and Obama, blame academic theory meeting objective reality. 

Basic concept; If company A with US Costs can make and sell a widget for $3.30 and company B (in India or China) without Obamacare and unionized costs makes and sells the same widget for $0.50 even the most patriotic organization will go with B.  

In November, Obama lied, cheated and enabled by a barely competent MSM deceived the electorate. I will only make the 2% pay more. Well we had already globalized our portfolios Mr President. Now we see the first hike on the middle class, a payroll tax increase of around $100-200 per pay check. As Obama ramps up his spending as he only sees ideological value rather than fiscal. Basic economics say, the revenue to fulfil his grand schemes cannot come from the 2% even at 100% tax. It has to come from the 47% of working Americans. Now with a sycophant like Lew as Treasury Secretary, Obama's stupidity, lack of empathy and downright narcissism will have no voice of reason. Spend, Spend, Spend will lead to a tank in the dollar. S&P analysts will have conniption fits over the worsening debt ratio and economic indicators. I project by Q1 2014, if Obama is not stopped by the GOP House, our S&P rating will be A+. (Good is AAA BTW, as we used to be) Our bonds and debt (TBonds) will have to yield anything up to the Spain and Portugalesque 6% which will knock on to a 6 -11% jump in your personal interest payments. 

What really becomes a problem at that point is what economists call “Confidence”. When confidence fails in an economy buying ceases, investment halts and people don't trust anything. Banks fail, corporations saddled with debt and increasing labor costs close or relocate and USA Inc goes bankrupt.

Obama is a rank amateur that's too stupid and too arrogant to know his own limitations and seek competent help to mitigate the deficiency. We need our GOP leadership to change and replace Speaker Boehner with a competent and strong leader who will resist and slow the Obama disaster.  In effect save America from Obama and his foolish and childlike policies.

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Why is it unethical to comply with the law? That is precisely what anyone who claims a company or the “rich” is immoral if it legally minimizes its tax is saying. This also rings true for the 24% who pay 87% of our Federal Taxes , as universally they are net investors in the economy.

First of all, what place does morality have in this? There are some universally agreed moral principles – do not kill is pretty widely accepted – but does this really fall into the same category? Is it right, for example, to have a friend round to dinner rather than send some money to feed the hungry? Some will say one thing, some another. Universal moral principles are of the greatest importance, but are not a guide to every detail of life.

And in practical terms, companies actually do not bear the burden of a tax. Companies are not individuals. They are organizations designed to produce and supply things. They employ people, machinery, intellectual property, capital, raw materials, and so on, and combine them to produce things for people. Companies are intermediaries.

If a company has to pay as tax some of the money it makes from selling its output, that leaves it with less to distribute. So it pays less to shareholders, employs fewer workers, and buys less in the way of raw materials. And of course it makes and sells fewer goods. In other words, some of the profits may be handed over by the company, but the burden is borne by the company's shareholders, employees, suppliers, and customers.

Note too, that much tax is paid in consequence of the activities of companies; income tax, capital gains tax and, in many countries, sales tax etc. That is one of the reasons governments try to produce tax regimes designed to attract businesses. Those who complain about tax avoidance by companies should see that the more tax a company avoids, the more tax its owners and employees will pay. Criticizing corporations for avoiding tax is actually criticizing them for doing what governments want. Governments all round the world compete to provide favorable tax regimes for business. They accept the phenomenon of legitimate tax avoidance, taking advantage of the tendency in, for example, efforts to incentivize pension saving, or industrial development in particular regions. Obama and his socialist czars are making the US very unattractive. Only this week my Firm and I had serious offers from Singapore and Australia to set up  primary offices and transfer our capital.  This is fair play really they see Obama making life uncomfortable for the investment community and they see an opportunity to boost their own economy by Billions of Dollars.

Governments also engage in tax competition to attract firms. They do that to bring jobs, investment, and innovation to their countries, with all the benefits that can spill over from those to the rest of the economy. Companies follow such tax incentives because if they can conduct their business with decisions unaffected by tax paid by the business, then they can operate as efficiently as they can and let the taxes on the outcome be paid by the individuals who actually benefit from that outcome – the shareholders, employees, and suppliers.

When companies do what is legal to minimize the taxes they pay, they are actually doing what governments want them to – they are responding to incentives. If governments complain about this, it may be because the structure of the business is not what they thought or because they have made taxes so complicated that there are numerous ways to avoid them. Governments may want money in difficult times, but companies can use it too, to create jobs.

Obama "If you want different results, you have to have a different set of rules."

In thinking about these rules, politicians, and others concerned about the taxes companies pay, should remember the advice of two politicians of earlier generations. When he was UK Chancellor of the Exchequer, under the tremendous Lady Thatcher, Nigel Lawson said that taxes should be "low, simple, and compulsory". Tax competition helps keep taxes low. If politicians want taxes to yield what they expect – want them to be compulsory – they should keep them simple, not make them so complex that the result is a surprise. And on morality they might be better to "leave morality to the church and people’s belief in god".

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I want to share a story of a good man, a heroic man. He’s British and a SAS Sgt but operated with our SF in the Tora Bora actions and saved many US lives. He’s now sitting in Military Prison after the greatest travesty of justice I have ever seen. I was a Marine and had the chance to work with Danny’s unit in Afghanistan and I can’t let this slide without at least spreading the word. The British should be shamed and ridiculed and he should be returned to his family before Christmas. Here’s a excerpt from the British Newspapers. Read his story if you are a veteran or support those who keep our freedoms?

Even if they wear a different uniform!

“Sgt Nightingale, 37, is serving an 18-month sentence for possession of a firearm after a pistol given to him by Iraqi forces he trained was found in a locked box in his Army accommodation while he was on tour.

The SAS sniper had forgotten about its existence because of brain damage caused when he collapsed during an endurance sport event in which he was taking part to raise funds for the families of dead and injured SAS soldiers.

The sergeant, who had served 17 years in the Army, 11 of them in the SAS, pleaded guilty to possession of a handgun earlier this month, after his quarters were searched in an unrelated incident involving another SAS member.

 Civilian police found a 9mm Glock in a locked box.

 It had been given to Sgt Nightingale in 2007 by Iraqi special forces. He had intended to have it deactivated and kept as a souvenir in the SAS sergeants’ mess.

 But after he was ordered to accompany the bodies of two fallen comrades back to Britain, the pistol was packed with his other equipment and left in storage at SAS headquarters in Hereford.

 The SAS soldier then took part in an endurance running event in Brazil to raise money for the families of dead and wounded comrades, collapsed due to over-hydration and suffered brain damage which left him with lapses in his memory, which included forgetting about the existence of the pistol.

 The weapon was eventually transferred to his quarters, where it was found in the raid while he was on active service in Afghanistan.

Note - There is also growing concern over the quality of the case brought against Sgt Nightingale, and the actions of his Army superiors.

The Telegraph has learnt that the civilian West Mercia Police, which conducted the original investigation, decided not to press charges against Sgt Nightingale because “no criminal intent was suspected or could be established”.

 In a separate development, a leaked email from the SAS also showed that many of Sgt Nightingale’s colleagues believed that he had been “hung out to dry”.

 However, the email, which was sent to members of his squadron by a warrant officer, wrongly claimed that Sgt Nightingale stole operational equipment including weapons, body armour, radios, night vision goggles and ammunition."

Full Story -

His wife and Lawyer asked me to get the message out to other veterans here and get as many to sign this petition asking for his release on bail to await a new hearing. Please sign here - Lets get him home for Christmas.



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Obama’s administration has produced the greatest ever reliance on the state in US history. Never have Americans had the option of being so dependent on welfare programs as today.

What is welfare dependence and what does it deliver to the despot or dictator. If a person becomes lost in the vacuum which is non-work, they lose a number of basic but fundamental freedoms. Life as a non worker is one of marginalization, ones sense of value is lessened, and you lose self confidence and independence. Your choices become increasingly limited as the financial trap is set. You don't get to choose your clothes as you can't afford. You can't choose your food as you can't afford and you don't drive the car you want as you can't afford. However, you can get welfare assisted clothing, food and even a mobile phone thanks to the great leader.  The great leader provides for you as you have no other choice. You don't have the freedom that comes with earning a living wage. 

What frightens a welfare slave? Well what frightens everyone? Having things taken away, no money, food, totally losing everything?  The strategic benefit for the despotic regime is that you provide the things. You control everything! You control fear! Someone disagrees with, you take away the things. You blame dissenters for the problems and the fact that no ambition can be fulfilled. They don't believe so they are anti-progressive, an enemy of everyone. After all if they succeed the great leader will not be able to give you things anymore. One day a citizen wakes to find they have no say, choice or chance.

When a person works and chooses their work destiny is based on their effort, their determination and inherent drive to succeed. America is about the chance to succeed without limits. You can drive a Bentley, wear Hugo Boss or eat at any restaurant you choose if only you work for it. That is not unfair. The successful did build that.

The nice liberal term of art for Socialism or Marxism is now social justice. Lets face it its redistribution by any other name. This holds “there should be no disparity in society between the rich or the poor, the lazy or productive”. Its utopianism at its most naive and simply results in mediocrity.  The famous comment from Soviet Workers “While they pretend to pay us we will pretend to work” defines its danger.

Conclusion, socialism isn't about social welfare, social care, social justice or even concern for your fellow man. Its a delivery model for power; its a methodology by which you make an underclass without power or hope. What socialism presumes is that a small elite of theoreticians know better than the majority and therefore, democracy doesn't work as the voters are just not competent. 

Our danger, once you reach the level when a majority of the populace is totally dependent on the benevolence of a great leader, and his bi weekly check. Then democracy fails and we become a dictatorship.

Obama and his key advisor's are socialists, and they do think they are the smartest in the room. We have a great leader in waiting.

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Sun-Tzu made the famous observation “lose the battle win the war” yet when translated into fiscal policy it’s not desirable, yet our GOP leadership are going to roll hoping to come back later.  I recently made the move to the Tea Party as I cannot in good faith watch the GOP leadership horse trade with peoples lives. The fiscal cliff will be seen in the coming years as just one of many artificial dramas engineered by leaders on both sides as part of a process. That process is called “real politik” but it simply defends the status quo. 

What we need is a dramatic change in direction as a nation; education delivers generations into welfare slavery. We spend like a lotto winner in Vegas and the “Washington Crowd” simply posture while making no radical proposals. We are going broke yet we act like the irresponsible sub-prime borrower.  

I am a Venture Capitalist; I invest in innovation and entrepreneurship, the very driving forces which put this great nation at the top of the world. Yet I wonder, do any of our leaders understand it anymore? In the real world you must spend less than you receive and build strategic reserves so you can weather a harsh winter. Under the stewardship of our leaders we have become dependent on the benevolence of other nations.  We are on welfare!

So what's the solution?  Well as hard it will be, we need to cut benefits. We need to loosen the death grip the extremist environmental movement has on our energy pioneers. I could go on yet what we have to do as a matter of urgency is start with a joint understanding that the country cannot continue to borrow, whilst overseeing the destruction of our ability to produce wealth.  If you lose your job, its not a good idea to keep spending on Visa.


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