January 24, 2008 – Alan Cooper

January 24, 2008

January 24, 2008

Fair Tax
Income taxes were implemented early in the last century as a temporary measure to fund WWI.  Mike Huckabee says that abolishing these taxes on income and implementing a Fair Tax will be like “waving a magic wand over our pain and unfairness.” The Fair Tax makes the IRS redundant and effectively eliminates April 15th from the calendar.  Let‘s just try it for a while, on a “temporary” basis and go back to a 20,000 page income tax code if it doesn’t work out.

I think there is widespread panic in the Republican Party that this Fair Tax thing is too radical a change, and that this is the main reason there has been a shift away from Huckabee towards McCain.

Sovereign-wealth funds
Recently, the governments of Singapore, Kuwait and South Korea provided as much as $21 billion in cash to two American banks, Merrill Lynch and Citigroup, hard-hit by the mortgage crisis.  I never cease to be amazed at the dramatic ironies inherent in the promotion of the free movement of goods and capital, and labor.  Sky high oil prices and record Asian exports have created a situation where emerging countries are bailing out developed countries.

It’s simply international capitalism at work as money flows around the world in search of a good rate of return.  The United States, beacon of light, promoter of democracy and freedom for the rest of the world, has to play a lead role in this worldwide global movement.

“If you want to dance, you have to pay the band”.  (One of my favorite sayings is, “Why go to the market when you can milk the cow through the fence”, but that is only mildly relevant here).

But when you take money from someone in business, you have to give up some degree of control.  More seats on the Board so they can have a direct influence on the CEO?

The productivity of the French
I confess that I watched Michael Moore’s movie on the health care system, Sicko.  Ever since he did Roger and Me way back during the first auto crisis in Detroit in the early 1980’s, I have been amused by the tone of his movies.  I don’t think the movie actually played in Columbia, SC – it just sort of skipped this town. I suggest that you put aside your phobia of being painted a left-wing, liberal and secretly go out and rent the movie.  I recommend it.

I am not going to get into the dreaded health care debate.  Here is a different point that was brought up in the movie, and, like a lot of Michael Moore points, I have a very hard time believing it.

The French have surpassed the United States in terms of productivity!  Their output per worker is better than in the United States.  If that’s true, forget the banking crisis, the low dollar, the crazy stock market, if we can’t out produce the French then we are in for serious bad times ahead.

Here was the point. The French don’t have to worry about health care, or about expensive university bills, and they have plenty of time off during the year for rest and relaxation.   They have 2 hours lunches, siestas in the afternoon, and as for vacations, they start by taking at least the entire month of August off.  The French are so relaxed and contented that they are more productive.

I would like to make one suggestion.

Can we all agree that people, the South Carolina worker included, need at least some time off to recharge their batteries?

Why is it then, that the only holiday, the only long weekend here in South Carolina between New Year’s Day and the 4th – is Memorial Day?  I think Memorial Day is a state holiday, isn’t it?  I actually remember not too long ago when there was confusion over Memorial Day, but we got that worked out, didn’t we?

Unless you work for a bank or the Post Office and take off Martin Luther King Day, President’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, April Fools Day, and Earth Day, for the average working stiff, there is no time off between January and late May.

Can we not get the legislature to agree to one, long weekend holiday somewhere in that stretch where everybody shuts down?

Call it something neutral like Palmetto Day so that no one will fight over whether it’s appropriate to take the day off.  Or maybe just call it something not so neutral like Good Friday.

Maybe it would make us more productive.


Alan Cooper


Publisher, MidlandsBiz.com