Thursday, December 15, 2011

Way to go Luke; transplanted local boy does good.

December 15, 2011
The news as I see it and the views as I want them.
December 15 is … National Lemon Cupcake Day

This slot machine was a lemon. The response by the Casino would not go over in the United States. Sure, plenty of people leave casinos feeling like they got swindled, but not like Behar Merlaku.

According to the Daily Mail, the Swiss gambler was convinced he had won a slot machine jackpot worth $57 million at a casino in Bregenz, Austria. But when he went to claim his prize, casino officials told him the machine had suffered from a software error and should not have awarded the jackpot.

Apparently, though the jackpot alarms went off, the slot machine only showed four matching symbols instead of the required five. Merlaku was offered $100 and a free meal for his troubles. Instead of accepting the offer, Merlaku decided to sue the casino. Interestingly, in their defense, casino officials note that Austrian law forbids jackpots of more than two million euros, according to the Mail.

Now this should make us all mad. No matter what you call it, it is really bribery. Thirty of the largest companies in the United States spent more money on lobbying than they paid in federal taxes from 2008 to 2010, according to a report from the nonpartisan reform group Public Campaign. REPEAT, thirty of this country’s largest companies spent more on lobbying than they paid in federal taxes during a two year period. Some of the lobbying money went to lobbying for lower
taxes or tax breaks or rebates.

All of the companies were profitable at the time. In spite of this, and the massive federal budget deficit, 29 out of the 30 companies featured in the study managed through various legal tax-dodging measures to pay no federal income taxes at all from 2008 through 2010. The lone exception, FedEx (FDX), paid a three-year tax rate of 1%, nowhere near the 35% called for by the federal tax code.

In fact, the report explains, the 29 companies that paid no tax actually received tax rebates over those three years, "ranging from $4 million for Corning (GLW) to nearly $5 billion for General Electric (GE)." The total value of the rebates received was nearly $11 billion; combined profits during the same period were $164 billion.

The amounts spent on lobbying ranged from $710,000 by Intergrys Energy Group to $84 million by General Electric. Others that spent heavily on lobbyists were PG&E (PCG), Verizon (VZ), Boeing (BA) and FedEx. It all added up to a total of almost half a billion dollars -- $476 million -- over three years. Or, as the report notes, "in other words, roughly $400,000 each day, including weekends." The same firms spent an additional $22 million on donations to federal campaigns. Logically enough, the two biggest contributors were defense contractors: Honeywell International (more than $5 million) and Boeing ($3.85 million). General Electric wasn't far behind ($3.64 million).

Why is this not illegal? It is clearly unethical even if it is legal. When a bailout is needed, I wonder who is at the front of the bailout line.

For the complete report and executive compensation figures go to:

Congratulations to Luke Donald of Northfield, Illinois. The English professional golfer, who attended Northwestern University before going pro in 2001. Donald met his future wife, Diane, while both were attending Northwestern. The couple have two daughters. They are avid art collectors. Donald enjoys painting and drawing in his spare time and has had his work auctioned off at PGA Charity events.

Ten shopping days left until Christmas.

Just a couple of thoughts I had and you should too or at least think about.
DEKALB, IL 60115

Go to web sites below to buy books by Bruce A. Brennan. It is still a good time to purchase any of my books. The books are interesting and inexpensive reads. My third book is available. It makes a great Christmas present.  More information will be forthcoming about my fourth book currently under construction. (do a quick search, Title, my name) Do a Title or author search.

Book Titles:

Holmes the Ripper

A Revengeful Mix of Short Fiction

Public EneMe?