Tuesday, April 26, 2011

I've been thinking about this for a while...

Do the most successful entrepreneurs become wealthy and create those jobs we all hear about, because of tax incentives or because they are who they are, their values?

If they were taxed more and earned just half their billions, would they have been less successful?

Would Bill Gates have created fewer jobs if he had paid higher taxes? If his taxes were doubled he'd be worth only $28B now, so did he do it for the money?

My question is, Are we too focused on the impact of taxes and not focused enough on the impact (or lack thereof) of role models and values?

I heard Arne Duncan, Secretary of Education, interviewed a couple of days ago and he spoke passionately and enthusiastically about the 'race to the top', the Bush tax cuts, the unions, taxes, but not once did he mention parents, discipline, cultural values, arguably the most important factors in whether or not we can educate our children.

That is not to say that taxes play no role in our success, of course they do.  But the future of this country will be determined less by money than the breakdown of values like integrity, honesty, honor, education etc.  All the boring stuff.

That Snooky, Snoop Dog, Rap, Crap, Lohan, Lady GaGa, Charlie Sheen and Donald Trump get so much public attention is far more indicative of our real troubles.

Maybe it's just me.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Is it a duck?

There's an old expression that says, "If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, it's probably a duck"

This is a story about Google and me.  I don't know if it's discrimination, a violation of fair trade practice or simply an error but I'll tell you what happened and let you decide.

I invented a marine product some years back and for the past 18 years have sold it exclusively on the internet. Being retired I was very wary of investing our retirement money in this venture so I have been trying to minimize expenses as much as possible and I run the business on a shoestring.  I'll never get rich from it but I enjoy doing it because my buyers really like the product.

About a year ago I tried a marketing strategy called Google AdWords.  For a fee, Google will display a website link when people enter relevant search words; the more you pay, the closer to the top your ad appears.

It didn't seem to make much of a difference so I closed the campaign, paid what I owed and that was the end of the story.

Recently I thought I'd try the campaign again so I re-activated my account. The campaign appeared for a day and then I got a notice that it was being suspended because of a violation to their policy.

I tried to find out just what that violation might be but couldn't.  I restarted the campaign and it was suspended again after a few hours, again with no explanation.

This happened three times, once even after I received a voucher inviting me to sign up for AdWords!

The person who answered the help line could not understand what was happening either and did some 'research' with me on the line.  He came back and said he had no further information and could not give me any more than I already knew.

Then, believe it or not, I got an email asking if I would fill out a satisfaction survey. I did.

Perhaps my name is linked to some terrorist group, maybe they don't like retired dentists, maybe they don't like boaters, maybe they think I'm really Rep. Henry Waxman (my name is Harvey Waxman). Who knows? They probably legally can refuse to accept a customer for any reason but aren't people entitled to at least know the reason?

In any case I smell something fishy and I can't get to the source of the smell. It seems only right that a company as huge as Google, which essentially is a monopoly on search engine technology and usage, should provide at least the courtesy of an explanation to the people whom they refuse to serve, even though they function nearly as a 'public utility' in their business practices. If they were the phone company I suppose I'd be using smoke signals.

In any case I wanted to share this with everyone about Google.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Is Deceit Legal in the General Assembly?

We all have heard about bills that are "held for further study". Is there any record of or minutes of committee hearings that can reveal just when that study took place, who participated in the meeting, results of any actions, votes, etc?

If, as I suspect, these bills are never discussed again does this mean that the committee essentially deceived, lied to the public as well as the bill's sponsor?

Is it a violation of any state statute to deliberately misrepresent the future actions of a committee by such committee simply not doing what it had publicly stated it would do?

I'm just asking.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Adoptee Compromise

I agree with the Providence Journal's editorial position, that adoptees have a legitimate interest in knowing their past health history, "Adoptees deserve to know", Aug 3, 2011.  I also believe that biological parents have a right to their privacy.

Why not modify the proposed bills (S0361 & H5453) to allow adoptees access to pertinent and important medical information only? Upon the request from a registered health professional, the biological parents would be requested to provide only the medical information relevant to and necessary for the welfare of the adoptee. They would be assured that their identity would be protected but also would have the right to refuse. This would preserve the anonymity of biological parents while providing important information to adoptees.

But maybe it's just me.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

All Men Are Not Created Equal

With all due respect to Thomas Jefferson, all men are not created equal.

There are people who will become great athletes, artists, musicians, singers, poets, writers and mothers, teachers, plumbers, builders, etc. Others may never achieve more than the more menial jobs in our society.

Our task as a democratic nation, which prides itself on fairness and opportunity and often brags about its exceptionalism, is to be certain that everyone has an equal opportunity to reach his or her goals.

In fact, what makes this country great among nations, is that we believe, or at least are supposed to believe, that all, even the "less equal" among us, shall be treated with respect and dignity. 

I fear we are in danger of falling from that honorable position. When I hear folks holler  "We want our country back", I wonder from whom they want it back?