Sunday, April 28, 2013

Are Immigrants taking American Jobs?

Immigration is a hot topic bracketed by views from the right and left that aren't predictable based on party affiliation.... maybe because the Hispanic vote has taken on such a high priority for the 2014 elections? From the Ag perspective, getting a sufficient supply of legal farm help has continued to be an increasingly difficult task forcing many farmers to use whatever help they can find. While the Wine Business is not as dire given the higher wage paid, you're foolish to think the current debate wont have any real impact here given the breadth of the discussion.

Some of the questions raised: Is it really fair to give a free pass to people who have ignored the laws of the State and are here illegally? Should you deport families whose children are born in the US and are citizens? Is it fair to taxpayers to be forced to educate illegal immigrants when our education system is in such a poor state? Is it fair to have Americans pay for illegal immigrant's medical expenses when they go to an emergency room? Are they taking jobs from Americans? You might think the jobs are low wage, but what about the high-paid jobs that are being filled by immigrants under the H1-B Visa program? Wouldn't Americans want those jobs? Under the Bill, estimates are that we will be granting up to 1.1 million illegal farm workers some measure of a legal status. Does that make sense?

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Bovine Excrement & Global Warming


I will get to the topic at hand but first, a moment of silence .......... <that's enough> because last Friday Jonathan Winters passed away. In his honor, I've pinned a video of he and Dean Martin to the blog to remember his greatness, and give a little chuckle to all those who spent the weekend bleary-eyed doing taxes. For you Millennials who don't recognize the other guy in the video, that is Dean Martin who was of course the founder of Men's Warehouse.

Jonathan Winters was a brilliant comedian of a thousand voices. Only 27 actually took up residence inside his head at any one time according to staffers at Bellevue. No matter which personality was home, the man was truly a gift to humanity. He could ad lib on almost any subject. I wish he were here to help explain in his own special way what exactly happened to the 16th Amendment. That's the one that makes us all go crazy to meet the filing deadline. I'm sure he'd have quite a bit to say about that. For you Boomers who weren't born yet, the 16th Amendment is the one that says in it's entirety:
"The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration."
That's it. That's the whole Amendment. I'd love to hear Jonathan explain how we moved from those 30 words to the present 6,000 pages and 500 million words. It's so complex we spend $6BN annually processing our returns. Ninety percent of the populace today have to use a tax professional or tax software to process their returns.

And now to the point of the blog, it would have really been great if Jonathan Winters could explain Climate Change. Like the tax code, understanding Climate Change requires us to listen to others who know more than us. We have to try and decipher the meaning of the technical writings so we can plan and avoid any negative forecast impact. But like all things, wisdom begins with understanding. The problem is understanding gets really difficult for us when we start listening to unqualified on-line writers who give us their interpretations of technical reports, whether its the tax code or Climate Change.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Why Join a Wine Club that Ships Adult Diapers?

I'm probably not the only man around that has a hard time giving gifts. As Dirty Harry aptly put it, "A man's got to know his limitations," and I understand that about me. Oh sure.... chocolate, flowers, jewelry, wine ... the usual accouterment I can handle. I'm not a total hack. I don't forget occasions .... well my PDA doesn't forget occasions, but getting something unique and impactful isn't that easy for me.

I'm not as bad as my dad so that's something. Even as a kid, I knew mom wouldn't understand getting a handheld blow-dryer as a birthday present. Was that supposed to be a signal about the state of her coiffure? My dad was the kindest man I ever knew so I'm guessing it was a practical gift to help her speed up her morning routine (still not a good reason ... I know).  My mom's expression which is still seared into my 7-year-old mind was like the woman to the left who was gifted Tae Bo videos. Even I'm smarter than that. A gift has to be something the other person wants or could use.

So that leads to the question of the week: Would you pay to be in a program that automatically charged your credit card and sent a surprise gift that's guaranteed to be 30% off the normal retail price, even if the company running the program had no clue about you or your tastes? Would you pay to be in that program? What if you are a healthy 40 year old and they sent you adult diapers 30% off. Is that a gift with which you'd be happy - even if it's cheap?

That's an apt description of the traditional wine club that still dominates the wine business. It's one screwed-up model at this point.