The Balanced Budget Amendment Fallacy

July 30, 2011

Not much, if anything, would be worse for all of us than a balanced budget amendment. Never mind how you feel about government, taxes and spending. Forget about the politics. Simply, the effing thing can’t work.

Budgets are devices that allow people to plan. In government-speak, however, a balanced budget law mandates that an entity not spend more than it collects. Fine! Anyone who lacks credit knows all about not spending more than what’s in the till. (Can you spell “Got any spare change?”) So what’s wrong with telling government it cannot spend more than it has? Lots, if what you’re doing involves more than simply expressing the notion that you oppose borrowing lots of money you don’t have!

Most

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Lessons From Highway Driving

July 4, 2011

I get most of the highway driving duty in my family. I guess we’re a pretty traditional trio, and within our milieu driving long distances is “men’s work.”  We never go very far:  Round trips to Phoenix are the norm, and there’s a very occasional excursion to San Diego or Orange County. Thank goodness!

As a young driver I learned a few rules of the road. One that stuck was “stay to the right.” Drive in the right lane on the highway, move to the left lane to pass and, then, move back to the right lane. Simple and sensible! And the law, as well, as it is set forth in Title 28, Section 721, Arizona Revised Statutes.

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A Father’s Day Thought

June 18, 2011

I’m reading The Social Animal by David Brooks. (Yes, that one!) It’s sort of a work of fiction about an imaginary couple and, so far, their son. I’ve followed the relationship between Julia and Rob and have observed their son Harold from birth through, so far, his senior year in high school. Throughout, Mr. Brooks provides a ton of information about how people relate to one another and, in the process, learn and love.

So yesterday, I’m sharing with my wife how much success in life depends on the bonds we have with parents, other relatives, teachers, etc. Jane asked, if that’s so, how do we scale up when so many people don’t have these relationships in the right doses

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Lower Tax Rates = More Jobs?

May 29, 2011

I’ve been an employer for about 30 years. “But you’re an attorney,” you say. “Yes, of course I am, but I’ve always had a secretary, and the firms with which I have been affiliated have had associates, contract attorneys, legal assistants, bookkeepers, files clerks, etc.” So, directly and indirectly, I’ve been employing people for three decades.

My practice focuses on business and real estate issues. My clients are employers, large and small, in many, many different industries.  I’ve represented my clients in times good and bad, and often talk with them about employment issues.

My point? Never, not once, have I decided to hire someone because I–or my firm–had extra money lying around. And never, not once, has a

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A Little Truth

January 28, 2011

A Little Truth is the first post of what I hope are several more, identifying falsehoods in our discourse that don’t get challenged.  I hope you enjoy these brief encounters with reality, that they make you more critical thinkers and better citizens, and that you tell your friends.

So, it’s a given that people live longer than they used to and, therefore, the United States of America must raise the retirement age for Social Security to save us from ourselves.  Right?  No, wrong, although I’m sure those people who argue for increasing the retirement age will quibble with my characterization of their main argument in support of their position.  To them I say, get your own

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Random Thoughts On The Tucson Tragedy

January 16, 2011

I’ve been quiet until now. “Mostly quiet, ” to be totally truthful. We did have a dinner party on January 8–the food was ready and the friends close, so we saw little reason to cancel–and, at about 9:30 and with a snoot full of wine in me, I answered the phone. A reporter from JTA, an international Jewish news service, was calling from Washington, wanting a referral for an article he was writing about the shooting. (Long story about why he was calling me.) I told him I’d get him Jonathan Rothschild’s number in the morning. Jonathan is my law partner, a dedicated Democrat, an active member of the Jewish community (and, most likely, the next Mayor of Tucson.) I

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Don’t Sell Us Out!!

January 15, 2011

I met with a client not long ago and heard a story I can’t let go of. My client’s business interfaces with the federal government. One of his employees failed to comply with a notice requirement associated with a regulation. A screw-up, absolutely, and a violation of a federal regulation, you bet! That all said, the violation was insignificant and, when it was discovered, my client’s people self-reported the violation. What followed was Kafka-esque, and only ended with the payment of a very, very large fine. The fine bore no relationship to the harm caused by the violation. (X times nothing, with nothing representing the harm, will always equal nothing.) I imagine my client could have fought the assessed penalty,

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Straight Talk About Tax Cuts

November 13, 2010

Tax cuts, and whether they will expire at the end of 2010, have been discussed for months. Sadly, almost every article/column/blog post I’ve read has been wrong on simple facts.

The facts are really simple. Proposals advanced by President Obama and the Democrats in Congress leave the so-called Bush tax cuts in place with respect to the first $250,000 of taxable income earned by families. Thus, the Bush tax cuts will remain in place for all taxpayers who pay federal income tax, as to the first $250,000 of taxable income.

The 2% figure you hear about represents the percentage of Americans with taxable incomes that exceed $250,000. As for them, they get the lower tax rates on the first $250,000

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Pizza

August 7, 2010

I’ve been eating pizza for 50 years. I’ve had lots and lots of good pizza, some bad pizza and a fair amount that falls “in between.” And that only includes the pizzas made by others, for I’ve been making my own pies for 35 years or so. In that realm there have been a few good ones, and many that have been unremarkable.

For the past several years I’ve been curious about “the best” pizzas. Are they really good? Exceptional? Memorable?

There’s no standard for “the best,” of course. (My daughter used to be sweet on Chuck-e-Cheese pizza. I thought she wanted to play games and collect little red tickets, so she could exchange them for plastic junk I’d throw

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