This week, Bloomberg Politics reported that investor and businessman, Sheldon Adelson, was taking advantage of a loophole in the current tax law to pass assets on to his heirs. Passing new tax laws in 1990–both the House and Senate were Democratic controlled at that time–is what created the loophole initially. It takes advantage of a special trust called a “GRAT” (grantor retained annuity trust), which allows placing assets into an irrevocable trust, where the person creating the trust pays a tax. The trust pays an annuity every year, and upon expiration, the beneficiaries receive the remaining assets in the trust, tax-free.
Adelson and other businessmen have successfully used this mechanism to pass their assets to others and to avoid paying penalizing government fees and estate taxes to the tune of $100 billion over the past 13 years. Adelson himself has been able to pass $7.9 billion of his money to his heirs. Mark Zuckerberg (of Facebook fortune) and Lloyd Blankfein (of Goldman Sachs Group) have also taken advantage of the loophole.
Proponents of big government seem suddenly to realize the additional billions that they could spend if the loophole were closed, and they bemoan the fact that it’s still available. Adding to that, the fact that there is simply such large amounts of money mentioned, and other’s greed and envy kick in as well. Ironically, the concerns that people utter, reflect the same thinking as Adelson et al., namely that, “I don’t have enough” and “I need a way to save what I have now for myself and my children”.
Quickly after that, any parallel thinking ends, and arbitrariness kicks in. All too suddenly, a self-concerned commenter engages in the conditioned response of this administration– “Surely those terribly rich men have enough money already? Why shouldn’t I be able to help spend some of that? Those businessmen must have made that money illegally or exploitatively…”
So, let us review: Congress screws up when they rewrite the tax code, Congress continues to refuse to fix the loophole, people are able to save their own money, and give it to their children. And the unavailable money that the government cannot collect is largely the businessman‘s fault? I am not sure what mental gymnastic enables one to bend logic that far, but it is quite a stretch.
I expect it will be some time before Congress does anything to close this loophole, since the right’s opposition to taxes is well-known, and the left has far too many big donors taking advantage of the loophole to close it. One thing is certain–whenever a government attempts to increasingly micromanage and legislate things, they will always underestimate the ability and ingenuity of the people to find ways to wriggle out of the most awful laws. The people may be dumb enough to vote for the Congressman, but they are smart enough not to follow his laws.
This week, a prospective merger between American Airlines and U.S. Airways stalled, when the United States Department of Justice and six states’ attorneys general filed an antitrust lawsuit. If the merger succeeds, it would create the largest air carrier in the world. The DOJ cited numerous concerns over the effects that a newly merged airline company would mean for consumers.
In a refreshing change, it seems the DOJ is suddenly oriented toward thrift, and consumer protections. It is the government you have always wanted – they are looking out for you. It sounds great, right?
Read the rest on Conservative Daily News.
The man came from the east, and rode aboard a midnight black steed, with angry fire in its eyes. The steed seemed reluctant to allow anyone but its rider to even get close to it. The mount whinnied uneasily, and lived for moments it could swoop in and, with its rider cause confusion and destruction. Once its rider saddled up, they were unstoppable. Always riding all-out, and never looking back, they rode without care nor conscience.
One of the most infamous raids, that so many remember, came one day in the 90s, in the middle of the country. Mitt-ila with his steed, Bain, came to the steel mill, licking his lips, and casing everything that he would soon own and be able to plunder and turn asunder. Sparks flew from the horse’s hooves as they rode onto the grounds. The horse and its master began the blood-letting – the guild members, their pay, the equipment – they began laying waste to everything in sight…Soon, their nefarious plans were complete, and the tiny factory was no more.
What is this? This is the Newt-would-approve-if-he-read-it-version of Mitt Romney’s time at Bain Capital. This is the, politically-expedient version of what happened in Kansas City. Mitt of course, the ardent anti-capitalist and destroyer of all that he touched, only wanted the companies Bain invested in for their liquidity values, right? I mean, why would anyone invest in a company that they may be able to resurrect, and restore to profitability (and make far more money, than just relying on the liquidity value)? Once a company is seen to have its best days behind it, the person who attributes this “un-profitable operating” designation could never have any ways of turning it around – its only value is in plundering anything and everything that still has any value. Right? So it is raid and plunder away.
Except – that is not always the way that business happens. I would venture to guess it is seldom that a capital company step in and buys a company solely for its liquid assets, before it has declared bankruptcy, when the investing company can buy it for a song. That seems like paying extra for the “privilege” of going through bankruptcy proceedings and haggling with creditors. With the intention of retrofitting and upgrading the facilities at Kansas City located “GST Steel”, Bain made investments and attempted to turn the troubled steelmaker around. After investments of $100 million were sunk into the plant, due to myriad mismanagement issues, tons of cheap Chinese-made steel (made and sold at a loss, to gain market share), and the debt-load created to save the plant, it still had to be closed. 750 people lost their jobs as a result.
It should be mentioned, but seldom seems to be, that the Chinese steel is probably more to blame for GST’s failure than any other factors, including: Bain Capital’s “raiding”, more competitive American steel foundries, and obsolescing equipment. Add to that, some of the most misguided management that I have ever read about (like hiring managers for this steel plant, that had previously worked in retail for Wal-Mart), and it appears that the factory was always doomed. Some 40+ other American steel companies went under in the same time GST was slowly rusting away.
My main issues with the attack of Romney (and attacks of him, under the guise of attacks of Bain) are the fact that supposed conservative and right-wing candidates are making the majority of them. The fact that some are using Romney’s time at Bain as a way to compare him to Bernie Madoff, and his criminal Ponzi scheme (that was James Clyburn), is also disheartening. As a matter of fact, Mitt wasn’t even with Bain at the time GST finally gasped and was shuttered. Now it’s like all hands on deck for a thrashing of the mechanism that built this country, and gave so many people the lives we enjoy.
The way that I see it, if a person is going to attack a function of capitalism, and stand behind their point, whether it is legitimate or not, it would also mean that the same arbitrary condemnation could apply to any function of capitalism. You don’t like paying some of your bills – then don’t, because you think it’s “unfair.” You don’t like having to pay a manufacturers’ makeup? Well, don’t pay it then – you’ve deemed it “unfair” too. When we slip into a mindset of the left, where, this is fair, that is unfair, this group over here has more than you (and you really deserve it more than they do), and that some big, bad, government boogie-man is piling on with those filthy rich fat cats, it is easy to find yourself getting angry. The trick is to channel that anger and frustration – almost like using that destructive feeling for something…Creative.