Transparency

transparency

When we know what's going on we can change it.

 

Knowledge

knowledge

The more we know, the better ideas we have.

 

Rationality

rationality

The more objective thinking we do the better decisions we make.

 

Compromise

compromise

We all live together and and depend on each other.

 

Economics

How many times have you received a notice that a class action suit has been settled and, if you have documentation, you can share in the settlement pool? Example: "To receive a payment, you must submit a claim form by... and have spent at least $1.00 on AdWords ads served on parked domain or error pages between July 11, 2004 to March 31, 2008." This was receive in 2017.

It is bad enough that consumers were apparently initially taken advantage of (as found by the settlement), but then this common process for remuneration is so onerous that it screws the consumer a second time - who has records from up to 14 years ago? Who knows where their ads were served? Who spent enough on this specific set of ad placements to make it worthwhile to file? Who has a life?

Though attorneys and class actions serve a vital legal function, this all too common type of settlement is as anti-customer friendly and pro-attorney fees as could be.

"The remedy is worse than the disease." ― Francis Bacon

Capitalism has proven itself to be the most effective economic system for delivering progress and benefits to society at large as well as brave individuals. However, there are requirements to keep its forces from acting in pure self interest. Because capitalism is based on the brain's survival, greed and drive-to-win attributes, unfettered capitalism crushes itself as a system. When looking at the methods needed to get the benefits of market forces, while minimizing the negatives, think of capitalism as a sports league. Here are the boundaries needed:

  • Rules (everyone must play by the same rules - not have special allowances garnered by lobbyists and campaign contributions)
  • Referees (we need regulators that are rule enforcers - not people who can be drafted to play for one of the teams later)
  • Penalties (bad behavior should have repercussions equal to the offense - not a fine that is an income statement rounding error)
  • Fairness (monopolies and oligopolies are not permitted)
  • Player Safety (child labor, sweatshops and discrimination are not allowed)
  • Honesty (we don't want people selling snake oil as medicine)

You would never allow an NFL game to be played without the above; it wouldn't work. The same applies to the economic system. Government is responsible for organizing the playing field for capitalism, managing the boundaries and letting people play ball.

"Capitalism is about adventurers who get harmed by their mistakes, not people who harm others with their mistakes." ― Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Advertising experts know more about how you think than you do. If given a choice between a Large popcorn at $7 and a Small popcorn at $3, most people choose the Small because the Large looks too expensive. When a third choice is added, a Medium popcorn at $6, most people choose the Large popcorn because it is now only $1 more than the Medium, therefor it looks like a better value. Your brain just tricked you because the human brain makes some of its decisions by comparison. Many other such brain-tricking tools are known and used by advertisers, politicians, magicians, proselytizers, issue champions and others. $14.99 instead of $15.00 is proven to actually work as long as you don't know you are being manipulated.

"In almost every act of our daily lives, whether in the sphere of politics or business, in our social conduct or our ethical thinking, we are dominated by the relatively small number of persons...who understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses. It is they who pull the wires which control the public mind.” ― Edward L. Bernays

Prior long-term government investments in the U.S. have yielded astounding improvements in all parts of society. Just a few are: railroads, interstate highway system, postal system, telephone expansion, education, biological and chemical research, medicine and technology. Too much focus on short-term issues and expenditures allows the infrastructure foundation of any economy/society to suffer until there is a prolonged decline. Here are types of infrastructure in dire need of repair, modernization and/or revamping:

  1. Transport - streets, highways, bridges and ports
  2. Aircraft control
  3. Electrical grid
  4. Healthcare
  5. Internet connectivity
  6. Education
  7. Basic research in all sciences
  8. Environmental stability
  9. Water management
  10. Land erosion

These areas do, and will always, affect every human being. Such investments are required, not optional, and yield enormous returns (though in the very next election or paycheck). Government does not have to create, fund and manage every one of the investments, but it needs to be the driving force for action.

"For an economy built to last we must invest in what will fuel us for generations to come. This is our history - from the Transcontinental Railroad to the Hoover Dam, to the dredging of our ports and building of our most historic bridges - our American ancestors prioritized growth and investment in our nation's infrastructure." ― Cory Booker

The portions of the Glass-Steagall Act that separated traditional lending banking from securities activities should be reinstated. The intractability of "too-big-to-fail" banks and the risks of creating, buying and selling complex securities are too complicated to "fix" after the fact.

Is is generally easier to prevent damaging acts then it is to repair damage after the damage has occurred. The complicated banking regulations, requirements, costs and oversight are like trying to plug 20 holes in a dyke with ten fingers. It is better to prevent the melding in the first place and allow banks to decide whether they want to be deposit/lending banks or investment banks.

“I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies.” ― Thomas Jefferson

It is only fair that retailers collect and remit the same taxes whether online or physical. At the very time we rue the decline of local stores, they not only have the extra costs of physical locations, but they are put at a competitive disadvantage when online competitors can ignore sales tax collection.

“The only stable state is the one in which all men are equal before the law.” ― Aristotle

Scientific progress should be advanced by government through education and research facilities because it creates benefits for all of society and much of basic science would not be conducted by free enterprise since there is often not a clear, acceptable economic return to a specific business. However, government should not try to guide development or decide which companies win in free enterprise by investing public money into specific companies.

Basic science is a province of government; application of science to business is the province of capitalism.

“There is nothing which can better deserve our patronage than the promotion of science and literature. Knowledge is in every country the surest basis of public happiness.” ― George Washington

A complicated tax code creates cheating, corruption and a costly filing/administration system. A simple tax code would increase payment compliance, honesty and a better attitude toward government.

“It's not rocket science. Hong Kong has 95% tax compliance, because its code is only 4 pages long with a 15% flat tax.” ― Ziad K. Abdelnour

Governments should collect the statutory rate of tax from all individuals and organizations, then send a check to anyone who passes muster in debate as deserving a disbursement for their activity or condition. The raising of tax revenue would be fairer, easier and more effective. There would be far fewer credits and exemptions if they had to be debated as a proactive disbursement rather than a politically arranged credit or exemption.

Tax exemptions and credits are used to encourage or discourage various economic and social activities. Not only is this unrelated to direct raising of revenue through taxes, it has become a way for multitudes of parties to avoid taxation. Tax exemptions and credits have the same effect as if governments collected taxes and then sent checks out to negate portions of the taxes.

“Every culture has some ritual for joining two people together and making them stay that way, and ours is giving tax breaks.” ― Bauvard

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