Archive for August, 2019

China adopts “calm attitude”…

August 30, 2019

This week, we’ve been highlighting China’s 9 Principles for Replacing America as the Global Superpower

  1. Don’t provoke a powerful adversary.
  2. Turn your opponent’s house on itself.
  3. Be patient to achieve victory.
  4. Steal your opponent’s ideas and technology.
  5. Target an enemy’s weak points rather than relying on an accumulation of brute strength.
  6. Beware political states that have a dominant influence or authority over others.
  7. Deceive others into doing your bidding for you.
  8. Establish and employ metrics for measuring your status relative to other potential challengers.
  9. Maintain a deeply ingrained sense of paranoia.These principles are excerpted from a book titled  The Hundred Year Marathon: China’s Strategy to Replace America as the Global Superpower by Michael Pillsbury.

Principle #1 – Don’t provoke a powerful adversary – was evident this week in the apparent escalation in the tariff dispute.

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Let’s recap the bidding….

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China: Playing the long game in tariff war…

August 29, 2019

This week, we’ve been highlighting China’s 9 Principles for Replacing America as the Global Superpower

  1. Don’t provoke a powerful adversary.
  2. Turn your opponent’s house on itself.
  3. Be patient to achieve victory.
  4. Steal your opponent’s ideas and technology.
  5. Target an enemy’s weak points rather than relying on an accumulation of brute strength.
  6. Beware political states that have a dominant influence or authority over others.
  7. Deceive others into doing your bidding for you.
  8. Establish and employ metrics for measuring your status relative to other potential challengers.
  9. Maintain a deeply ingrained sense of paranoia.

Note these principles are excerpted from a book titled  The Hundred Year Marathon: China’s Strategy to Replace America as the Global Superpower by Michael Pillsbury.

Quite an appropriate title given CNBC’s observation regarding the current escalation in the tariff dispute.

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Let’s dig a little deeper…

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The Chinese theft of Intellectual Property…

August 28, 2019

Earlier this week, we outlined China’s 9 Principles for Replacing America as the Global Superpower

  1. Don’t provoke a powerful adversary.
  2. Turn your opponent’s house on itself.
  3. Be patient to achieve victory.
  4. Steal your opponent’s ideas and technology.
  5. Target an enemy’s weak points rather than relying on an accumulation of brute strength.
  6. Beware political states that have a dominant influence or authority over others.
  7. Deceive others into doing your bidding for you.
  8. Establish and employ metrics for measuring your status relative to other potential challengers.
  9. Maintain a deeply ingrained sense of paranoia.

Excerpted from The Hundred Year Marathon: China’s Strategy to Replace America as the Global Superpower by Michael Pillsbury.

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Today, let’s focus on #4 — Steal your opponent’s ideas and technology — and drill down on … the Chinese theft of intellectual property..

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The Chinese cyber-threat…

August 27, 2019

Yesterday, we outlined China’s 9 Principles for Replacing America as the Global Superpower … excerpted from The Hundred Year Marathon: China’s Strategy to Replace America as the Global Superpower by Michael Pillsbury.

  1. Don’t provoke a powerful adversary.
  2. Turn your opponent’s house on itself.
  3. Be patient to achieve victory.
  4. Steal your opponent’s ideas and technology.
  5. Target an enemy’s weak points rather than relying on an accumulation of brute strength.
  6. Beware political states that have a dominant influence or authority over others.
  7. Deceive others into doing your bidding for you.
  8. Establish and employ metrics for measuring your status relative to other potential challengers.
  9. Maintain a deeply ingrained sense of paranoia.

Today, let’s focus on #5 and drill down on  the Chinese cyber-threat.

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Michael Pillsbury nails the point in his book …

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China’s 9 Principles for Replacing America as the Global Superpower

August 26, 2019

Keep that in mind during the escalating tariff war … there’s a higher purpose. 

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One of my summer reads has been The Hundred Year Marathon: China’s Strategy to Replace America as the Global Superpower by Michael Pillsbury.

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Pillsbury is a bona fide China expert, having served 8 administrations in a variety of high-level positions in the state and defense departments and having worked for heralded think tanks, including RAND and the Hudson Institute.

Note: To me, the guy seems very credible since (a) he footnotes every major point with compelling source documentation, and (b) he is very self-effacing – often pointing out the mistakes that he had made in his China analyses.

As the title indicates, Pillsbury concludes that China is about midway through a 100-year strategy to replace the U.S. as the global superpower…

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How do the rich get richer ..

August 23, 2019

… while others seem to just tread water?

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Interesting study reported in the NY Times

The rich really are getting richer …  growing net worth faster than those on lower wealth rungs.

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… and, there’s a logical reason why.

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So, how many “rich” folks are there?

August 22, 2019

Yesterday we reported survey results from Schwab and the WSJ that pegged the threshold for being classified as “rich” or “wealthy” at about $2.5 million.

Just being a millionaire doesn’t make the cut any more.

See What’s the “magic number” that makes you wealthy?

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Source: NY Times

OK, so how many households do make the cut?

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What’s the “magic number” that makes you wealthy?

August 21, 2019

Several years ago I asked a colleague “What do you need to retire?”

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His answer: “$5 million and playmates.”

Playmates?

What he meant was having enough leisure-time folks to hang out with during the day.

So, about the  “magic number” …

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Shouldn’t Trump be eyeing Iceland instead of Greenland?

August 20, 2019

Recent reports are that Trump is mulling the idea of the U.S. buying Greenland from Denmark.

Rationale: Strategic military locale, rich resources, historical legacy.

True or illusory, got me wondering whether Trump has his eye on the wrong target.

Some friends & family recently tripped to Iceland.

They loved it, but remarked “it was pretty cold”.

I asserted that you waive you right to carp about chilliness when you choose to go to a place called “Iceland”.

After chuckling, I said “sounds to me like a  branding issue” … and, my friends said “that’s right … and there’s a story about the naming of Iceland and Greenland.”

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Digging a bit, here’s the story that I’ve been able to piece together …

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Is breakfast over-rated?

August 19, 2019

Recent studies indicate benefits from fasting … and, breakfast may be on the chopping block.

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From the WSJ

For years, conventional wisdom has been “Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and supper like a pauper.”

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But, recent research suggests that intermittent fasting (aka.  time-restricted eating) may be a better route to weight loss and improved health .

Specifically, some doctors are advising patients to omit either dinner or breakfast, so that they don’t ingest any food for at least 14 hours at a stretch.

Here’s why…

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“Making dishwashers great again”

August 16, 2019

For years, my wife has been justifiably complaining about how  dishwasher performance has gotten way worse because of goofy environmental rules enacted by the Feds.

Ostensibly, DOE rules were put in place to reduce energy and water consumption.

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While well-intended (maybe) , from the get-go, consumers started complaining that dishwashers made under the new rules don’t clean very well — dishes come out dirty and smelly … and take forever to run … often requiring follow-on runs to finish the job.

DOE itself has acknowledged this is caused by its regulations, saying: “To help compensate for the negative impact on cleaning performance associated with decreasing water use and water temperature, manufacturers will typically increase the cycle time.” Source

The news: help may be on the way….

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$$$: What’s the impact of the Tax Cut & Jobs Act on house prices?

August 15, 2019

Answer: For sure, the TCJA put downward pressure on home values … how much depends on a home’s value before deduction caps were put in place.

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In a prior post, we started thinking about this question (since nobody else seems to have landed on the issue) … and took a stab at estimating the isolated impact of the TCJA’s cap on the mortgage interest deduction.

A couple of readers asked (1) What about the impact of the SALT deductions cap?, and (2) Can you work through a example from start to finish … as simply as possible?

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Always aiming to please my loyal readers, here’s a try at answering both inquiries with a simple(?) example….

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All the Olive Garden you can eat … for life!

August 14, 2019

For 2 years, I’ve been “punishing” Olive Garden for sleazy practice of adding $2 to my bill for the tablet computer that was on our table — even though we didn’t use it!

For the gory details (and a great read), see these prior posts:

I ended my personal boycott because I had the taste for Olive Garden bread sticks, not because the restaurant chain just announced a special promotion: the Olive Garden ““Lifetime Pasta Pass”.

The deal: Shell out $400 and you’re entitled to “a lifetime of unlimited servings of pastas, sauces, and toppings. Plus unlimited soup or salad and breadsticks.”

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Of course, there are some small print restrictions and and plenty of fodder for belly laughs …

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Nums: A historical perspective on race relations in the U.S….

August 13, 2019

Controversial topic, so we’ll stick to the numbers…

Everybody knows that Obama’s words eased the racial divide … and that Trump’s words are blowing the gap wide open

Right?

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Well, according to Gallup, that’s only partially right…

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Is the middle class vanishing up or down?

August 12, 2019

Analyzing Census Bureau data, economist Mark Perry concludes:

The “middle-class is disappearing” as we hear all the time, but it’s because middle-income households in the US are gradually moving up to higher-income groups, and not down into lower-income groups.

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That conclusion is way different than we’ve been hearing from Dem Presidential candidates … and the mainstream media.

So, let’s dig a little deeper…

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Did Trump spur a Baltimore clean-up?

August 9, 2019

Last week — following Trump’s tweet calling out Baltimore — we reminded readers that:  Once upon a time, Baltimore was thriving…

Noting former mayor William Donald Schaefer’s positive leadership and attention to detail, concluded:

imagine a mega-initiative to clean-up the inner city — haul away the garbage (and maybe some of the rats).

Hire Baltimore’s notorious squeegee boys (and other unemployed residents) to attack the problem.

It wouldn’t fix all of Baltimore’s problems, but it would be a conspicuous step forward.

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Well, the city administration didn’t rally the notorious squeegee boys (nor anybody else, as near as we can tell).

But, some people did step up…

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What’s the biggest middle class tax break?

August 8, 2019

Hint: Medicare For All would eliminate it and nobody seems to be talking about it.

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Anybody remember the Simpson-Bowles Report?

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It was commissioned by President Obama shortly after he was first elected … reported out in 2010 …  and trash-canned shortly thereafter … since it predictably recommended spending cuts and  tax increases.

According to Simpson-Bowles, the “biggest“Federal tax break” is ….

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The (personal) economics of Medicare premiums

August 7, 2019

After paying Medicare taxes for years, weren’t the benefits supposed to be free?
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Yesterday, we argued that Medicare’s payroll taxes can thought of as a mega-joining fee … or, as prepaid premiums that amortize to the equivalent of $10,000 per year over a retiree’s post-65 life span.

See Ouch: The (personal) economics of Medicare payroll taxes

And, we pointed out that the prepaid premiums are just the tip of the iceberg.

Once retired, the Feds collects additional annual Medicare premiums.

This may surprise pre-retirement folks who think that they pay in during their working years, but then get “free” healthcare insurance when they retire.

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Today, let’s take a look at Medicare premiums…

 

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Trump: Inspired by the 1972 Cuban Olympic boxing team?

August 5, 2019

Last week the WSJ ran a piece calling him “Trump: A Brawler for Democracy” .

That calls for a reprise of a HomaFiles post from August 2015 … way ahead of its time !

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Trump: Inspired by the 1972 Cuban Olympic boxing team?

Many of you may be too young to have witnessed and remember, but…

In the 1972 Olympics, the polished U.S. boxing team was predicted to sweep the competition.

But, something happened on the way to the medals’ platform that shocked the sporting world.

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Here’s the story and why Trump’s first days in office jogged my memory of the 1972 Olympics …

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Ouch: The (personal) economics of Medicare.

August 5, 2019

Over the years, I’ve anteed about $250,000 into the Medicare tax kitty.

And, you may have  thrown in more than you think!
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Motivated by Medicare for All hype coming from far-left-leaning Dems presidential candidates, I finally took a serious look at the buckos that I’ve thrown into the Medicare kitty over the years.

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I’d like to say that I was surprised, but I really wasn’t.

Here are the details…

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Once upon a time, Baltimore was thriving…

August 2, 2019

Anybody remember Mayor William Donald Schaefer?  Tom Peters does…

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Baltimore has gotten a lot of attention this week … with Pres. Trump indelicately singling the city out as a poster child of inner-city blight and political malfeasance.

It wasn’t always so.

We lived in suburban Baltimore County for 10 years … starting in 1990.

The city had its issues, but they seemed to be under control.

Why?

“Excellence” guru Tom Peters credits the leadership of a William Donald Schaefer.

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Who?

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Joe was more sleepy than mean…

August 1, 2019

But, this time,  it was Kamala that got Kamala-ed.

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On balance the debate was pretty boring and uninformative.

The gang of many tried to pile on Biden

Joe was wobbly and a bit tired … but fended off the punches … often by putting up his strategic ObamaShield … saying implicitly: “If you attack me, you’re attacking Barack”.

For example, did you notice how Joe hung with “ObamaCare” … but other candidates kept referring to the “Affordable Care Act”?

I expect that’ll be Biden’s go forward strategy: wrap himself with an Obama cloak … and trade on borrowed adulation.

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Basically, I think Biden played to a tie.

The bigger story last night was Tulsi Gabbard taking Kamala Harris to the hoop…

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