Thursday, March 29, 2012

The president has finally brought us together

The president finally got strong bipartisan votes on something. However, since it was his budget, I doubt he will be praising the congress on finally being brought together. The republicans in the house introduced the president’s budget. It failed 414-0! Yes it was unanimous. Not a single democrat voted for it. Since even members of the Congressional Black Caucus voted against it, I guess no one can play the race card. This is reminiscent of the president’s budget failing in the senate last year by 97-0. So the president is on a roll.
At least the president is consistent but these votes are a stunning rebuke from his own party. It is amazing that democrats from safe districts could not bring themselves to vote for these budgets. On the other hand, 10 republicans joined all the democrats voting against the Ryan budget which passed the house 228-191. As I have pointed out before, this is a tone deaf budget that seems to forget that this is an election year. I am surprised that only 10 republicans ran away from it.

P T Barnum lives!

There is a frenzied rush of advertising over gold. Everywhere you look there are ads after ads on TV and on radio. It reminds me of when real estate was hot. Companies that you had never heard of had ads all over the media. Moreover, real estate companies that only had an 800 number opened up store front offices in major cities. The same is now true for gold. There are ads everywhere offering to sell you gold.

I went on the web and looked for predictions of the future price of gold. Here are a few:

“Gold Price outlook of $2,200/oz.”
“$3000 is a pretty conservative price target. I tend to think we’ll see something closer to $5000 when all is said and done.”
“Experts predict gold at $10,000 per oz.”

So the fundamental question is “If the price of gold is expected to increase from $1,700 an ounce to $2,200 or even $10,000, then why would anyone sell it?” Remember in order for you to buy it, someone has to sell it.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Obamacare and the supremes

Today the Supreme Court began hearing oral arguments on Obamacare. What is unusual about this case is that since it has not been implemented, no one has be overtly harmed. Generally, the court hears cases in which an aggrieved party sues claiming a violation of constitutional rights. In this instance, there is no aggrieved party unless it is the constitution itself. That is the crux of the matter and makes this one of the most important cases of our lifetime if not the lifetime of the country. In essence, if the court rules in favor of the administration then the power of the federal government is deemed to be unlimited. The founders had structured a federal government whose power was constrained by the rights of the individuals and could not be superceded by the feds. If the federal government has the power to mandate that the citizens purchase a particular product, then the governmental power is basically no longer limited. It is interesting that the supremes, the administration and the congress swear to uphold the constitution. All therefore could be in violation of that oath. Although I am no legal scholar, I would have thought that this case would be a slam dunk and thrown out on a unanimous vote. I am of course naive. Nonetheless, a majority vote in favor of the administration will fundamentally change the role of the federal government and fundamentally change this country. On the other hand, a vote against the administration will call into question a plethora of legislation and federal government actions. I remember hearing James Clyburn of South Carolina saying in an interview that much of the legislation passed by the congress violated the spirit - if not the letter - of the constitution because the document as written was not applicable to modern times. Thus if enough members of the supremes think this way - that the constitution should be a living rather than static document - then we all will find ourselves living in a different America subject to the whims of the times. In that case it will be almost impossible to change. Even if there were a republican president and a republican majority in both houses of congress, it would be difficult to repeal intrusive legislation. The republicans would not likely have 60 votes to repeal in the senate and I am not convinced that the majority of republicans would even try. I hope it does not come to that and Obamacare will be found unconstitutional. Let's keep our fingers crossed.

Friday, March 23, 2012

The new Ryan budget

I am confused. Paul Ryan has just introduced his budget – actually the budget voted out of his committee. It is apparent that Ryan must not have a life. Why go to all the trouble since the budget has no chance of passing the senate and being signed by the president. This budget is essentially the same as the one introduced last year predictably to be body slammed by the democrats (remember the ad with the Ryan look alike pushing granny over the cliff)? It was also body slammed by Newt Gingrich who called it “right wing social engineering”. With its rather arcane provisions on medicare and targeted decreases in federal expenditures including defense, it almost begs the question as to why Ryan did not come up with something that the republican nominee could embrace and incorporate into his platform. Sure there are the lowering of the corporate income tax and the elimination of 4 of the income tax brackets but the rest of the document contains stuff to run from rather than to run on. This is evident since Ryan could not even get 100 percent of the republicans on his committee to vote for this budget. So I am confused. Why would Ryan choose to introduce a budget that seems to not help the republican nominee and then has no chance of passing even if the republicans win the presidency and take over the senate? Wouldn’t it have been easier simply to adopt for the most part the recommendations of Bowles-Simpson? It is bipartisan, reduces the budget, lowers the deficit and strengthens the dollar. What is there not to love?

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Racist? I guess they will be condemned to a week of cultural sensitivity

One sign that we have come a long way is that when I saw a banner at the bottom of the screen during an ESPN broadcast that 5 members of the Southern Mississippi pep band had been disciplined for racially taunting a player from Kansas State during an NCAA game was that I wondered what racist taunts could come from a group that had 5 black starters on their team? Surely whatever they said could not come close to what Perry Wallace, now a professor of law at American University, heard when he became the first black athlete in the Southeastern Conference, playing for Vanderbilt in 1967. The arenas were small and intimate with the crowds right on top of the court. Verbal abuse came not only from the fans but from the other teams.

This is from an article in the Tampa Bay Times:

During his first varsity game at Ole Miss, Wallace was punched in the eye and injured going for a rebound. The crowd cheered.
"Both of the Mississippi schools and both of the Alabama schools — those were the worst," Wallace said. "In other places, you still had prejudice, at Louisiana and at the University of Tennessee, those could be bad. But the Mississippi and Alabama schools were the worst.
"These people were mobsters, like Klansmen, and these were people right from that world," he added. "They knew how to destroy a black person. And that's what they tried to do to me. They did what they could to try to induce fear in me and basically make me fail. I had to make sure that I did not succumb to that."

And now the sons and daughters of these students who were yelling racist taunts are now cheering for 5 black players? How ironic. So what were they yelling at the K State player Angel Rodriguez? It was “Where is your green card?”

Monday, March 19, 2012

Dump the Dow!

Isn’t it time to dump the Dow? The Dow is the closest watched (by much of the public) indicator of the stock market. Yet the Dow is made up of only 30 companies. It started out in 1884 comprised of nine railroads and two industrial companies. The value of the Dow is not the actual average of the prices of its component stocks, but rather the sum of the component prices divided by a divisor, which changes whenever one of the component stocks has a stock split or stock dividend, so as to generate a consistent value for the index. (see Wikipedia). The components of the Dow changes over time with GE added in 1911 as its longest lasting member. However, there are over 15,000 publically traded companies in the US with about 5,000 traded on the exchanges. Now it is understandable why there was such a small number on the Dow initially given the logistical difficulties of calculating a composite average for all publically traded firms. But that is no longer a problem. The Dow is top heavy with the highest priced stocks carrying more impact than the lowest priced stock. Recently, the biggest company in market cap Apple surged with the Dow falling. How could this happen? Its because Apple is not included in the Dow! So the question of the day is why not ditch the Dow and do something akin to the S&P 500 which accounts for market capitalization? Better yet, since we have the technology, why not include all stocks traded on the major exchanges and have a weighted market cap average. Now that would be an accurate representation of what is happening in the market rather than citing an outdated anachronism of the past?

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The decline of civilization: Has any generation thought otherwise?

I got the following from a friend. Afterwards, I have included my reaction.

Western Civilisation: Decline – or Fall?

By Niall Ferguson

As a freshman historian at Oxford back in 1982, I was required to read Edward Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. Ever since that first encounter with the greatest of all historians, I have pondered the question whether or not the modern West could succumb to degenerative tendencies similar to the ones described so vividly by Gibbon. My most recent book, Civilization: The West and the Rest attempts an answer to that question.

The good news is that I do not believe that Western civilization is in some kind of gradual, inexorable decline. In my view, civilizations do not rise, fall, and then gently decline, as inevitably and predictably as the four seasons or the seven ages of man. History is not one smooth, parabolic curve after another. The bad news is that its shape is more like an exponentially steepening slope that quite suddenly drops off like a cliff.

To see what I mean, pay a visit to Machu Picchu, the lost city of the Incas. In 1530 the Incas were the masters of all they surveyed from the heights of the Peruvian Andes. Within less than a decade, foreign invaders with horses, gunpowder, and lethal diseases had smashed their empire to smithereens. Today tourists gawp at the ruins that remain.

The notion that civilizations do not decline but collapse inspired the anthropologist Jared Diamond's 2005 book, Collapse. But Diamond focused, fashionably, on man-made environmental disasters as the causes of collapse. As a historian, I take a broader view. My point is that when you look back on the history of past civilizations, a striking feature is the speed with which most of them collapsed, regardless of the cause.

The Roman Empire did not decline and fall over a millennium, as Gibbon's monumental work seemed to suggest. It collapsed within a few decades in the early fifth century, tipped over the edge of chaos by barbarian invaders and internal divisions. In the space of a generation, the vast imperial metropolis of Rome fell into disrepair, the aqueducts broken, the splendid marketplaces deserted. The Ming dynasty's rule in China also fell apart with extraordinary speed in the mid–17th century, succumbing to internal strife and external invasion. Again, the transition from equipoise to anarchy took little more than a decade.

A more recent and familiar example of precipitous decline is, of course, the collapse of the Soviet Union. And, if you still doubt that collapse comes suddenly, just think of how the postcolonial dictatorships of North Africa and the Middle East imploded this year. Twelve months ago, Messrs. Ben Ali, Mubarak, and Gaddafi seemed secure in their gaudy palaces. Here yesterday, gone today.

What all these collapsed powers have in common is that the complex social systems that underpinned them suddenly ceased to function. One minute rulers had legitimacy in the eyes of their people; the next they did not. This process is a familiar one to students of financial markets. Even as I write, it is far from clear that the European Monetary Union can be salvaged from the dramatic collapse of confidence in the fiscal policies of its peripheral member states. In the realm of power, as in the domain of the bond vigilantes, you are fine until you are not fine—and when you're not fine, you are suddenly in a terrifying death spiral.

The West first surged ahead of the Rest after about 1500 thanks to a series of institutional innovations that (to entice younger readers) I call the "killer applications":

1.Competition. Europe was politically fragmented into multiple monarchies and republics, which were in turn internally divided into competing corporate entities, among them the ancestors of modern business corporations.

2.The Scientific Revolution. All the major 17th-century breakthroughs in mathematics, astronomy, physics, chemistry, and biology happened in Western Europe.

3.The Rule of Law and Representative Government. An optimal system of social and political order emerged in the English-speaking world, based on private-property rights and the representation of property owners in elected legislatures.

4.Modern Medicine. Nearly all the major 19th- and 20th-century breakthroughs in health care were made by Western Europeans and North Americans.

5.The Consumer Society. The Industrial Revolution took place where there was both a supply of productivity-enhancing technologies and a demand for more, better, and cheaper goods, beginning with cotton garments.

6.The Work Ethic. Westerners were the first people in the world to combine more extensive and intensive labor with higher savings rates, permitting sustained capital accumulation.

For hundreds of years, these killer apps were essentially monopolized by Europeans and their cousins who settled in North America and Australasia. They are the best explanation for what economic historians call "the great divergence": the astonishing gap that arose between Western standards of living and those in the rest of the world. In 1500 the average Chinese was richer than the average North American. By the late 1970s the American was more than 20 times richer than the Chinese.

Westerners not only grew richer than "Resterners." They grew taller, healthier, and longer-lived. They also grew more powerful. By the early 20th century, just a dozen Western empires—including the United States—controlled 58 percent of the world's land surface and population, and a staggering 74 percent of the global economy.

Beginning with Japan, however, one non-Western society after another has worked out that these apps can be downloaded and installed in non-Western operating systems. That explains about half the catching up that we have witnessed in our lifetimes, especially since the onset of economic reforms in China in 1978.

I am not one of those people filled with angst at the thought of a world in which the average American is no longer vastly richer than the average Chinese. I welcome the escape of hundreds of millions of Asians from poverty, not to mention the improvements we are seeing in South America and parts of Africa. But there is a second, more insidious cause of the "great reconvergence," which I do deplore—and that is the tendency of Western societies to delete their own killer apps.

Who's got the work ethic now? The average South Korean works about 39 percent more hours per week than the average American. The school year in South Korea is 220 days long, compared with 180 days in the U.S. And you do not have to spend too long at any major U.S. university to know which students really drive themselves: the Asians and Asian-Americans. The consumer society? 26 of the 30 biggest shopping malls in the world are now in emerging markets, mostly in Asia. Modern medicine? As a share of gross domestic product, the United States spends twice what Japan spends on health care and more than three times what China spends. Yet life expectancy in the U.S. has risen from 70 to 78 in the past 50 years, compared with leaps from 68 to 83 in Japan and from 43 to 73 in China.

The rule of law? For a real eye-opener, take a look at the latest World Economic Forum (WEF) Executive Opinion Survey. On no fewer than 15 of 16 different issues relating to property rights and governance, the United States fares worse than Hong Kong. Indeed, the U.S. makes the global top 20 in only one area: investor protection. On every other count, its reputation is shockingly bad. The U.S. ranks 86th in the world for the costs imposed on business by organized crime, 50th for public trust in the ethics of politicians, 42nd for various forms of bribery, and 40th for standards of auditing and financial reporting.

What about science? U.S.-based scientists continue to walk off with plenty of Nobel Prizes each year. But Nobel winners are old men. The future belongs not to them but to today's teenagers. Here is another striking statistic. Every three years the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development's Program for International Student Assessment tests the educational attainment of 15-year-olds around the world. The latest data on "mathematical literacy" reveal that the gap between the world leaders—the students of Shanghai and Singapore—and their American counterparts is now as big as the gap between U.S. kids and teenagers in Albania and Tunisia.

The late, lamented Steve Jobs convinced Americans that the future would be "Designed by Apple in California. Assembled in China." Yet statistics from the World Intellectual Property Organization show that already more patents originate in Japan than in the U.S., that South Korea overtook Germany to take third place in 2005, and that China has just overtaken Germany too.

Finally, there's competition, the original killer app that sent the fragmented West down a completely different path from monolithic imperial China. The WEF has conducted a comprehensive Global Competitiveness survey every year since 1979. Since the current methodology was adopted in 2004, the United States' average competitiveness score has fallen from 5.82 to 5.43, one of the steepest declines among developed economies. China's score, meanwhile, has leapt up from 4.29 to 4.90.

Not only is the U.S. less competitive abroad. Perhaps more disturbing is the decline of meaningful competition at home, as the social mobility of the postwar era has given way to an extraordinary social polarization. You do not have to be an Occupy Wall Street activist to believe that the American super-rich elite—the 1 percent that collects 20 percent of the income—has become dangerously divorced from the rest of society, especially from the underclass at the bottom of the income distribution.

But if we are headed toward collapse, what will it look like? An upsurge in civil unrest and crime, as happened in the 1970s? A loss of faith on the part of investors and a sudden Greek-style leap in government borrowing costs? How about a spike of violence in the Middle East, from Iraq to Afghanistan, as insurgents capitalize on our troop withdrawals? Or a paralyzing cyberattack from the rising Asian superpower we complacently underrate?

Is there anything we can do to prevent such disasters? Social scientist Charles Murray calls for a "civic great awakening"—a return to the original values of the American republic. He has a point. Far more than in Europe, most Americans remain instinctively loyal to the killer applications of Western ascendancy, from competition all the way through to the work ethic. They know the country has the right software. They just cannot understand why it is running so damn slowly.

What we need to do is to delete the viruses that have crept into our system: the anticompetitive quasi monopolies that blight everything from banking to public education; the politically correct pseudosciences and soft subjects that deflect good students away from hard science; the lobbyists who subvert the rule of law for the sake of the special interests they represent—to say nothing of our crazily dysfunctional system of health care, our overleveraged personal finances, and our newfound unemployment ethic.

Then we need to download the updates that are running more successfully in other countries, from Finland to New Zealand, from Denmark to Hong Kong, from Singapore to Sweden. And finally we need to reboot our whole system.

Voters and politicians alike dare not postpone the big reboot. If what we are risking is not decline but downright collapse, then the time frame may even be tighter than one election cycle.

My Comments:

I can just hear the author sniffing while he was writing this. First to call Gibbon the "greatest of all historians" makes Ferguson - a decent Western historian in his own rights - a bit suspect. I won't bore you with a critique but Asimov's Foundation Trilogy is essentially dedicated to Gibbon. Nevertheless, all the examples Ferguson cites are spinoffs from what we either have done or are doing. However, if you take each country as a whole, ask yourself "would I want to live there?". My answer is no - I'd rather live here. Why? The fundamental item that drives the US is economic freedom (private ownership of property and the ability to make one's own decisions). Our decline has been due to a decline in freedom as the government is allowed to intrude more and more into our lives (personal as well as business). We don't need to download any apps from abroad. This reminds me of the book that said that the Japanese would take over the world. Then they promptly went into economic stagnation for the past 20 years. Now the same snobs are lauding the Chinese and the South Koreans? Give me a break. Also, Jared Diamond's Collapse was trash and sullied his reputation made by his marvelous Guns, Germs and Steel (one of my top 10 books). If you want an indicator of decline, it will be when all those highly touted countries stop sending us their kids to educate. Anyway, never listen to anyone who spells civilization with an "s". Regards, HB

I'll have fries with that!

I live in Tennessee and today is "Super Tuesday" which is not when McDonald's will supersize a meal for free but rather when the Republican primary is being held. I am a registered republican because it is the only party that pays lip service to markets, capitalism and economic freedom. However, I am not voting today because the candidates have not deigned to give me a reason to vote for them. Every ad I have heard or seen is a negative ad telling me why I should vote against someone. I have yet to hear an ad telling me why I should for for someone. It is as if candidates have only negative attributes rather than positive ones. Even in the interviews, each candidate beats up on the other guy rather than telling me what he would do. I keep hearing that negative ads work - the poster child being Romney's antiGingrich ads in Florida. Maybe negative ads work in keeping people like me from voting period. I also keep hearing ads (an commentators) telling me that the nominee should have good debating skills because only a good debater can win. Really? Didn't these people say that Bush was inarticulate? Then he must have lost the debates to both Kerry and Gore and yet somehow still was elected? What percent of the voters look at the debates anyway? I have not seen a single one because I research what a candidate does rather than whether he has snappy repartee. So I am not voting for anyone today but in November I will show up to vote against someone.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

An obvious slow news day in Knoxville

Retired UT professor Harold Black recalls civil-rights 'adventure' at U. of Georgia

* By John Shearer
* Knoxville News Sentinel
* Posted February 20, 2012 at 4 a.m.

There were the curious looks, the cold shoulders, repeated vandalisms.

But there also were close interracial friendships and a "God moment."

Recently retired University of Tennessee finance professor Harold Black was the first black male freshman to enroll at the University of Georgia in 1962.

He had somewhat of an unusual experience, even among civil-rights pioneers, in that he enjoyed the vast majority of his time as a student, despite being harassed plenty in that era when the Deep South was first undergoing social change.

"I had a wonderful time at Georgia," Black said. "I couldn't have asked for a better experience. I had a wonderful and fulfilling social life. I absolutely loved the whole classroom experience."

Born in Macon, he attended Booker T. Washington High in Atlanta and decided to apply to Georgia, even though a good education was also available at such all-black schools as nearby Morehouse College.

The reason was that he wanted to be a participant, and not just a supporter, in the civil-rights movement.

"I was caught up in the civil-rights thing," Black said. "I had participated and knew a lot of the participants. I knew I would be doing the civil-rights movement a disservice if I picked an all-black school."

Despite the hurdles required at that time for a black student, he was admitted.

When he and his parents drove to Athens, Ga., that September to check in at the still-standing Reed Hall next to the north end of Sanford Stadium, the lobby full of other students and families parted like the Red Sea in the Bible, Black remembered, as people looked curiously at them.

Because of that and the fact that he was assigned a single room as the only black male in the dorm, his mother encouraged him not to go to school there.

He wanted to stay, however, and that night he experienced what he called a "God moment."

He went to a beginning-of-the-year meeting in a nearby auditorium and sat down near the front.

Numerous other students around him immediately rose and sat elsewhere. But five male white students in front of him remained. One turned around and began conversing with him, and they soon learned they were all slightly scared freshmen from the Atlanta area.

Suddenly, the similarity in experiences became more important than the difference in race.

"Those guys got up and all sat next to me," Black recalled, tears almost welling in his eyes 50 years later. "It was like I was instructed to go and sit there. From that first day, I had friends at the University of Georgia, and they remained close friends."

The students were Presbyterian, and they invited him to come to the campus' Westminster Center. As a result, it became a haven and center of social activity for him throughout college, he said.

Georgia had enrolled its first two black students — upperclassmen Hamilton Holmes and longtime Public Broadcasting System correspondent Charlayne Hunter-Gault — in January 1961, and only seven blacks were attending when Black enrolled.

Because no black cultural center existed in those days and they all lived in different places, they actually had little contact with one another, Black said, despite the common challenges and experiences.

For Black — a Dean's List student at Georgia who has gone on to a career as a lecturer and writer on financial institutions and the monetary system — the harassments were plenty.

They included having students not sit by him in class, getting the window of his dorm room broken almost every day of fall quarter of his freshman year, and having plumbing damage done to his hall bathroom.

Rather than get frustrated and quit, Black often came up with creative ways of dealing with a problem.

For example, after the situation with his large bathroom — which the other students on the floor refused to use — he went and used every shower and commode in the other hall bathroom, telling the students he would do that every day until they stopped bothering his bathroom.

"To me, it was an adventure," he said. "To me, it was fun. Why should I be bitter? For this period of time, I had the right disposition."

By the time of his senior year at Georgia in 1965, Black had continued to adapt socially and decided to go with some white friends up to Ann Arbor, Mich., to watch Georgia play Michigan in football, despite his mother's warning against it.

When they arrived in Ann Arbor, they stopped to eat at a restaurant. Black remembered that they marveled at being able to eat together, which they could not do at an off-campus restaurant in the still-segregated South.

"We just sat there and grinned at each other," Black said.

When he returned to Athens, he did not tell his parents where he had been that weekend. But his mother told him that she had seen him on TV. Either because he was a black student supporting the Bulldogs or simply because he and his friends were carrying a Georgia sign, he ended up getting a lot of TV exposure in the stands, he said.

Georgia had won that game in an upset to help give young coach Vince Dooley — father of current University of Tennessee coach Derek Dooley — a boost early in his career.

Since then, some have said Black's actions at Georgia greatly helped propel the early integration effort there in a positive direction as well.

In fact, noted journalist Calvin Trillin, who wrote a book about the early Georgia integration experience, called Black a hero in a signed copy of an updated reprint he gave him during a recent Georgia integration anniversary celebration.

"No one had ever used that term, and I had never called myself a hero," said Black. "I still don't. I was just a kid who went to college."

Lower corporate tax rate really a tax hike

Knoxville News-Sentinel
Posted March 3, 2012 at 4 p.m.

Question: When is a tax decrease a tax increase?

I used to ask students "What is the purpose of the internal revenue code?" Students being naive would answer "To collect taxes." Of course if that were the case then the tax code would be one sentence (all income will be taxed at 18 percent) rather than 75,000 pages.

The purpose of the tax code is to reward some while punishing others. The poster child illustrating this point is not Warren Buffett but rather Jeffrey Immelt's company, General Electric. A report from Citizens for Tax Justice finds that GE for the years 2008-2010 had an effective tax rate of -45.3 percent even though it earned a profit of $10 billion.

Over that period 30 profitable corporations paid no federal income taxes and received rebate checks from the Treasury of $21.8 billion. Personally I don't feel outrage at those firms — only envy.

Obama's lowering of the corporate tax rate is really a tax increase. While most of the media has reported that the projected increase stems from imposing a minimum tax on offshore earnings of American corporations, this actually is not the case.

In reality the likelihood is that the imposition of a minimum tax on offshore earnings will result in a reduction of tax revenues. The proposal closes loopholes (for example on oil and gas — not an Obama favorite) yet keeps loopholes for manufacturing and "renewable" energy (an Obama favorite).

Citizens for Tax Justice report that 70 percent of U.S. corporations they surveyed paid an effective tax rate of 17 percent or less over 2008-2010. What is interesting is that many companies in industries that have fewer loopholes and must pay higher taxes have been moving their headquarters out of the country. Tyco (health care) moved to Bermuda and health care pays the highest effective rate at 30 percent.

Also companies that earn most of their revenue outside the country like Foster Wheeler have relocated instead of being subjected to double taxation — paying taxes abroad and then having to pay U.S. taxes. With fewer loopholes, Harold Black's first law ("Any law worth circumventing will be") will still hold. The only question is how? The result may be that more firms will relocate their headquarters out of the country, lowering tax revenues.

Recall that companies located their credit card businesses in no rate cap South Dakota and Delaware in the face of state ceilings on consumer interest rates. Corporations moved to business-friendly Delaware.

It has been reported that more than 50 percent of the profits of U.S. corporations come from abroad. So if Obama's proposal were somehow enacted, the 70 percent of the firms who would have to pay a higher rate and those firms with a large percentage of foreign sales will both have an incentive to move out of the country.

Apparently no one in this administration has heard of the law of unintended consequences.

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