2020 Olympics

Location of Tokyo within Japan

Location of Tokyo within Japan (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Tokyo has been selected to host the 2020 Olympics. Not only will all the events be shown tape-delayed in the US because of the time difference, all the athletes will be forced to compete wearing protective gear. Cameras will be remotely controlled from underground bunkers.

On a more serious note, choosing Tokyo or any site in Japan now is a bad idea. The disaster at Fukushima is growing worse. Who knows what conditions will be like in seven years? Shortly after the earthquake and tsunami, the Japanese government consulted with the government of China about evacuating all of Tokyo and the surrounding area to an unpopulated area in a remote part of China.

Wild cards

Bicycle brand playing cards, showing one of ea...

Bicycle brand playing cards, showing one of each type plus the joker. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Pay no attention to current polls nor to pundits.  I have listed below some of the wild cards that may influence the November election:

  1. Iran develops a nuclear device.
  2. Israel attacks Iran.
  3. Al-Qaeda attacks US soil again.
  4. Spain or Italy leaves the Euro currency.
  5. Japan permanently abandons Tokyo because of increased radiation levels.
  6. Mother nature produces rash of tornadoes and hurricanes.
  7. Supreme Court rules on Obamacare.

I am sure that there are other wild cards that I don’t know about that should be added to the list. The results in November are likely to fall in one of these three categories:

  1. Democratic sweep leading to faster recovery from Great Recession.
  2. Divided government causing slow recovery from Great Recession to continue.
  3. Republican sweep leading to Paul Ryan budget and the Great Depression 2.

Executive salaries

Plot of top bracket from U.S. Federal Marginal...

Plot of top bracket from U.S. Federal Marginal Income Tax Rates for 1913 to 2009. Data are from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Income_tax_in_the_United_States#History_of_progressivity_in_federal_income_tax (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Why are top executives in the US paid so much more than their companies’ lowest paid employees? There once was a rule of thumb (I have it written on my thumb) that the CEO’s salary was limited to a relatively small multiple of the janitor’s wages, such as 100 to 1 or 250 to 1. Now the sky is the limit. In Japan, I believe the old standard of 40 to 1 still holds true. In Europe, much smaller multiples than in the US are sufficient to attract and hold top talent to the CEO position. Only in the US are we told that outrageous salaries and bonuses are required to attract and retain top talent. And then those talented individuals earn their money for the company by increasing sales and profits, as Wall Street demonstrated during the onset of the Great Recession.

I think that the arguments put forth for CEO pay are specious. If US corporations will not rein in their CEO pay, I think that the marginal tax rates on outsized salaries and bonuses should be raised to the 90%+ level. The argument against higher personal taxes on CEOs and higher corporate taxes in general is that the consumer will be forced to pay higher prices. That argument is true in some cases, but not all. Consumers can resist higher prices if there are competitive products available. Then corporations are forced to accept a lower profit margin, stockholders receive lower profits and stock prices, and corporations have less money to pay outrageous salaries. Corporations have plenty of money now to pay their CEOs. If outsized salaries and bonuses were required to attract and keep top talent, then Japanese and European firms would not have any CEOs.

Brother’s keeper

Mosaic of the Transfigration, St. Catherine's ...

Image via Wikipedia

I am my brother’s keeper; I am my sister’s keeper. And all the people of the world are my brothers and sisters. This is not a religious conviction with me; it is the result of a logical thought process. In our shrinking and interconnected world, events abroad will quickly or eventually come home to roost.  The effects of famine in Africa, war in the Middle East, earthquake and tsunami in Japan, and epidemics in China can be spread quickly by electronic messaging and/or air travel. Terror has no boundaries nor does love and compassion.

Some of us want to return to a simpler time of smaller government, lower taxes and fewer rules and regulations. Those times are gone forever. There are too many of us living too close together for us to forsake big government. Civilization as we know it requires rules and a police force to enforce those rules. The Wild West is gone and rule by the six-gun went with it. We are a civilized society now even if not everyone acknowledges the fact or complies with our rules.

Please see Love thy neighbor