Monday, February 22, 2010

After Osama Bin Laden Is Dead

I normally don't do politics on my blog, but I wanted to put these thoughts down.

What happens after Osama Bin Laden is dead? Over the past four weeks, with the help of the Pakistanis, the US has captured or killed a number of high ranking terrorists. They have made a break through on where the bad guys are hiding at and are getting some traction. Eventually, our old buddy Osama will be killed or captured by somebody. I think they still have the $25 Million bounty on him. Just like the Mafia, someone will flip on him. It may not be this year, but it will happen.

So when Osama Bin Laden is dead, what will become of America and her allies' resolve in the "War on Terror" (a stupid name since terror is a tactic, not a people)? The easy answer is that everyone will have a ticker-tape parade and call it a victory. While it will be as such, it will not be the end. Just like Bobby Kennedy's fight against organized crime, it will be long and unending.

It is possible that the Muslim world will tire of the constant suicide bombings that generally kill more of their's than ours. Maybe the chain will break like it did with the Black Panthers, the Weathermen or other domestic terror groups in the U.S. Maybe a two state solution will stick in Israel and the Middle East will settle down for a much needed period of peace. These "what-ifs" are all possibilities, but are not likely.

What is likely, is that after Osama is dead, that the "War on Terror" will follow the same path as the "War on Drugs" where we never really win it, but is just settles into a lower intensity than when it first started. Think back to the 80's when the drug runners were everywhere. Today, they are still around, just like the Mafia, but they are at a lower volume level and therefore not as much of a threat.

I do think that Osama will be caught, killed or die of disease before long. When that day comes, we will be faced with a problem of not having a face and a name for our ultimate enemy. And without a nemesis, the American people will lose interest. Of course, if history repeats itself, there will be some unintended consequence to rise up to replace it. There always is: WWI and Hitler, Hitler and the Cold War, The Cold War and the Russian invasion of Afghanistan, the Russian invasion of Afghanistan and the Mujahidin, the Mujahidin and Al Qaeda, Al Qaeda and  9/11, 9/11 and Afghanistan. So we will have Afghanistan and something else.

Monday, February 01, 2010

The Jobs Bill

Since I am a big proponent of entrepreneurism, I thought it might make sense to give my opinion of the Presidents jobs bill ideas. Now keep in mind, the bill has not been written yet. So the final bill might not have all the parts in it that are currently being proposed. Based on the big three issues, here is my take:

1. Tax Credit of $5,000 per New Employee: This would be fantastic for creating new jobs. Any business would take advantage of this if they could. However, the is a real issue with fraud and abuse. What happens if someone just shuts down one LLC and starts up another one under a different name thereby firing and re-hiring everyone on staff? How this is worked out, remains to be seen. If they can fix the fraud question, then you are likely to see serious job creation this year. 

2. No Capital Gains Taxes for Small Businesses: This to my mind (and experience) would not really be stimulative. A business has capital gains when they sell something for more than what it is shown on their books. For instance, if you have a pickup truck that is fully depreciated and you sell it for $1,000 then you have a capital gain of $1,000. I guess this would reduce the cost of replacing older equipment with newer stuff. That would kinda be stimulative. But the problem is that sometimes you might just sell the truck and not replace it since you laid off the guys who would drive it. The tax reduction is only helpful if people really see the correlation. If it is complex, like capital gains taxes, most won't even know about it and therefore they would not make the actions you want them to make (sell the old truck and buy a new one.)

3. Increase Lending to Small Businesses: This is huge. Right now, the only way to get new money (not loan renewals) is to get a federal guarantee. The feds (SBA, Stimulus and USDA) only have so many people on staff to review all this stuff. That means that there is currently a serious backlog in the lending and borrowing. I know plenty of businesses that could get going if they could just get the money. Increasing the lending is going to be key, but then you need to figure out how to back the feds out of the lending relationships so it will go back to banks and entrepreneurs. Once you are on the i.v. it is hard to get off.