Archives for November 2013

It’s Almost “That” Time!

Well, it’s that time of year, and everyone is preparing their list of tax deductions in hopes that the jolly Internal Revenue Service will provide them with tax breaks. Between now and year-end I will be addressing year-end tax planning, and hopefully, filling everyone’s stockings with deductions.

A perennial question is the deductibility of legal fees. I have received a request from an attorney, whose primary practice is the sale of businesses.  He wrote:

“We have a client who has asked whether our legal expenses for Trust and Estate planning could be run through his company (he is the sole owner). I am curious as to the accounting basis for doing this deduction. I will obviously have the client double check any course of action with his CPA, but I’m curious as to your thoughts on this matter. Any help or advice you can offer would be very much appreciated.” [Read more…]

Quack, Quack! Discernment Needed!

I am a fan of humor, which is off-kilter, offbeat and unconventional. One of my favorite authors of this genre is Douglas Adams. In his book Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, he provides the following reinterpretation of a familiar phrase: “If it looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, we have at least to consider the possibility that we have a small aquatic bird of the family anatidae on our hands.”

In a previous posting I made mention of how critical it is for consumers to understand how financial planners are compensated. I stated that for the majority of the financial services industry “compensation falls into two broad categories: products and services provided and employment relationship. Both of these categories can have an impact on recommendations provided by the financial planner.”

[Read more…]

Essential Health Benefits: Pablum for the Masses

I am having entirely too much fun with the Affordable Care Act. The next item I would like to review is the list of Essential Health Benefits. I have entitled the posting “Pablum for the Masses.”

Pablum is an entendre on several levels: it means bland or insipid, which this Act most certainly is. It is a bland soft cereal for infants, and our government is certainly treating its citizens as infants by the passage of the act. Finally, it may mean simplistic writing, speech, or conceptualization, and the act is simplistic to the point of absurdity. [Read more…]

Follow the Money

Wisdom counts and appearances can be deceiving! For decades the phrase “Follow the money” had been attributed to the character Deep Throat in Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein’s book All The President’s Men. It had been reported that this phrase was whispered to reporter Bob Woodward by Deep Throat as a path to cut through the lies and deceptions, and to discover the truth about the Watergate scandal.

In 2012, the writers of the screenplay for All The President’s Men, Bob Woodward and William Goldman, admitted this phrase was not in the book and that it was never spoken by Deep Throat. Yet today “Follow the Money “continues to be misattributed to Deep Throat and the book.

[Read more…]

Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Affordable Health Care

Our Declaration of Independence contains the much quoted phrase, “We hold these truths to be sacred and undeniable; that all men are created equal and independent, that from that equal creation they derive rights inherent and inalienable, among which are the preservation of life, and liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” This sentence was originally written by Thomas Jefferson in the first draft of the Declaration of Independence. “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” survived the editing process and was ratified by Congress.

Try as I might, I am unable to find a constitutional right to affordable healthcare. Nowhere do I find an explicit right to health care. The Supreme Court has never interpreted the Constitution as guaranteeing a right to health care services from the government. And interestingly enough, the Supreme Court has held that the government has an obligation to provide medical care for prisoners. I leave you to draw your own conclusions. [Read more…]

Major Tom to Ground Control!

“Once again, please check to make sure your seat belt is securely fastened, your seat back and tray table are in the full upright and locked position, and all carry-on luggage is placed completely underneath the seat in front of you.” At some point, everyone who travels by air has heard this familiar refrain. There’s even a feeling of comfort in this familiar routine of flight. But what if the next time the Emergency Briefing Public Announcement said, “Once we reach our cruising altitude we will engage the auto pilot and return to the cabin and begin our cabin service.”

I’m fairly certain fear would break into our “comfort bubble.” Feelings of unbelief and incredulity probably would surface and maybe even some anger. We might think, I’m paying for a service: air transportation. For this service I expect flight attendants in the cabin to provide safety and a snack. I also expect the flight crew to pilot the aircraft! These feelings and responses are entirely appropriate and natural, and yet . . . .

[Read more…]

The Truth about Health Care Reform

I have held my tongue, bided my time, and hoped that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, like some bad dream would just go away. This singularly momentous act illustrates, quite clearly, the meaning of ‘absurd.’

Absurd is a Latin word meaning “out of tune.” In today’s English it may be either used as a noun or as an adjective. As an adjective it means wildly unreasonable, illogical or inappropriate.  As a noun it is an object which arouses derision or is ridiculous. It is patently ridiculous to assert that government intervention into health care is going to miraculously make it affordable. The proponents of the law have completely ignored an essential quality of human nature: free will. [Read more…]