Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Henry Zimmer

Henry Zimmer is a writer at Politizoom and a regular contributor to posts at Daily Sound and Fury. Email: contact@politizoom.com

Thank God, As Do I, That You’re Not One Of Trump’s...

I am both a U.S. and Canadian CPA.  For over twenty years, I specialized in Canadian taxation, wrote several books and textbooks, was a university lecturer, and co-developed what became, at that time, Canada’s most popular income tax software. One of the lessons I learned early on from reading tax cases,  was that, while your […]

In Rushing To Replace RBG, Trump Is Really Conceding the Election

In some ways, making politically-based decisions  can be compared to an ongoing high-stakes chess game. In February 2016, former Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, Antonin Scalia, died. He had been described as the “intellectual anchor of the Court’s Conservative Wing”. Not surprisingly, former President  Barack Obama nominated  a Liberal-leaning candidate, Merrick Garland, a […]

Your Money Or Your Life?

You had better think long and hard before you push for a premature opening of the U.S. economy. By the end of this month, about one million more  Americans will be muttering to themselves” I shudda been more patient…” . Well, maybe less than one million because at least  50,000 more  people will be too sick to say anything-or will already be dead! We are all familiar with the Coronavirus numbers and have watched them as they have increased day-by-day. But, I have not seen anything that compares the changes over, say, a specific two-week period. This is what I am going to show you here. I have taken the number of cases and deaths  reported up until April 16, 2020 and have compared the totals to the cumulative numbers as of May 3, 2020. The table below reflects the percentage increases for the 20 states with the most cases. Not surprisingly, the “Top 20” lists are identical, although there has been some movement in the relative “Standings”. Before we turn our attention to  the details, here is a look at the totals for the whole country . (All numbers are based on statistics published by Worldometers.info)                                     May 3, 2020            April 16,2020           % Increase Number of Cases    1,147,358                666,949                                172% Number of Deaths      66,640                   33,875                                197% In the tables below, I have rounded the numbers for ease of presentation. In all but three states, the number of cases during this two-week period increased by 50% or more and, in all but two cases, the number of deaths increased by 50% or more. In some cases, the number of deaths has  TRIPLED. During this two-week period, most of these states practiced “shelter-at- home” and “social distancing” and the increases in the  numbers are still frightening! So, ask yourself: “What is the likely outcome by the beginning of June if most of  the states drop (or even curtail) these safeguards and open up their economies?”  “What would happen if people from the “open” states decide to visit friends and family in states that are still closed?” “What will happen to me if I go back to work and catch the virus?”  “ What will happen if  the plague really takes off and my employer is forced out of business permanently ?” “ Is it possible that, if safeguards are lifted,  the number of new cases will totally overwhelm the healthcare infrastructure?”  “Why did the White House block Dr. Fauci from testifying at the House coronavirus hearing”?  “Why will Donald Trump risk hundreds of  thousands of American lives to open the economy as quickly as he can?” I can help you answer the last of these questions: Donald Trump cares deeply about every American (o.k.- citizens only) and is absolutely indifferent to his appointees and  the multi-millionaires and billionaires who kiss his rump as often as they can. And, if you believe me, I have a bridge that I can sell you! U.S. State # of Cases # of cases  % Increase # of Deaths #of Deaths   % Increase           May 3       April 16         May 3       April 16 New York 319,000 226,000 141% 24,000 16,000 150% New  Jersey 124,000 75,000 165% 7,700 3,500 220% Massachusetts 64,000 30,000 213% 3,700 1,100 336% Illinois 56,000 25,000 224% 2,500 900 277% California 52,000 […]

To Get Tested or Not To Get Tested, That Is The...

I am only a lowly accountant, but numbers don’t often confuse me. I am, however, befuddled by the constant barrage  of  reports evaluating the different states based  on the number of daily Covid-19 tests performed, the numeric and percentage results, and what they mean. By now, I think I can safely say that everyone who can read or watches TV knows the symptoms of Covid-19. Logically then, if most people who present themselves for testing   in a particular  location feel sick, the numbers of positives will be high relative to the number of tests performed. Conversely, if many people simply want reassurance that they are healthy, they probably are. I have read that, in a perfect world, everyone should be tested, but I fail to grasp the logic here. Just because someone tests negative today doesn’t mean they won’t catch the disease tomorrow or next week. So, what’s the point? I also have trouble understanding the need for antibody tests. These are  supposed to inform the person tested whether he or she has had a previous infection. It seems scientists are not sure whether or not someone who has recovered from a Covid-19 infection will be immune from a recurrence and, if so, for how long? So, again, what’s the point? This morning, I decided to do a bit of simple research and I Googled the words “Who should get tested?”. Up popped a CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) article titled “Evaluating and Testing Persons for Coronavirus Disease 2019 (Covid-19)”. The article explains in remarkably simple language exactly who should be tested: PRIORITIES FOR COVID-19 TESTING (Nucleic Acid or Antigen) High Priority Hospitalized patients Healthcare facility workers, workers in congregate living settings, and first responders with symptoms Residents in long-term care facilities or other congregate living settings, including prisons and shelters, with symptoms Persons identified through public health cluster and selected contact investigations. Priority Persons with symptoms of potential COVID-19 infection, including fever, cough, shortness of breath, chills, muscle pain, new loss of taste or smell, vomiting or diarrhea and/or sore throat Persons without symptoms who are prioritized by health departments or clinicians, for any reason, including but not limited to:  public health monitoring, sentinel surveillance, or screening of other asymptomatic individuals according to state and local plans. In a companion article that I found by Googling “Testing for Covid-19”,  I found a CDC Self-Checker. Naturally, I took it for a spin .The computer program first asked for my location (country and state). The next question was “Are you ill or caring for someone who is ill?”. I answered “no”. I was told politely to buzz off. (“The Coronavirus Self-Checker system is for those who may be sick.”) What can we conclude from this? Here are two quotes from an article by Mark Sumner in Daily Kos “Spotting a spike in new cases in the midst of an epidemic isn’t as simple as looking at the numbers for the day. For example, Louisiana reported 295 new cases on Monday, but with over 27,000 cases already reported, this was both a significant decrease over previous days and a fairly low value overall—just a 1% increase in known cases. Those new cases were also backed up by 4,000 new tests. Meaning that the testing on that day resulting in 7% positive cases. That’s not great, but it’s definitely an improvement.” “On the […]

Trump Calls For Live West Point Graduation Ceremony — A Clear...

Late last week, Donald Trump decided to practice for a possible role as Kim Jong Un’s successor by cancelling the West Point virtual graduation in favor of a live event. This is in contrast to a decision made recently by The Naval Academy. The Air Force Academy sent its underclassmen home, locked down its seniors and moved up its graduation ceremony. The event respected the Doctrine of Social Distancing and the featured speaker was Mike Pence. It seems that Trump, not to be outdone, wants all the graduates packed closely together to worship him and  continue the tradition of flinging their hats into the air in a “Thank God, it’s all over” moment at the end. From what I read, it seems that all the graduates will be tested before leaving home and will be quarantined in dorms (either alone or in pairs) for two weeks. I understand that  a further quarantine will be imposed when they return home afterwards. When I completed my  university studies   in 1964, students had  the option of graduating “in absentia” in exchange for a small fee and receiving their diplomas in the mail. Sadly, since money was tight, I decided to attend. It was arguably the most boring day of my life. Watching paint dry is exciting by comparison. The only fond memory I have whenever I look at my  framed but faded diploma ( that I still can’t understand ‘cause it’s in Latin) is that mine was the last year they were written by hand on  genuine sheepskin. Of course, West Point graduates don’t have the choice of opting out. If they try, it is likely their careers will end before they even start . Moreover, if they fail to meet their service commitments, they may be on the hook to pay back  the entire cost of their programs, which I believe is about $400,000. After I read about all this, I asked myself “How can the (not so) Esteemed Leader of the Free World be stopped”? The first idea that popped into my head was to suggest that the mainstream media (other than Fox News) be convinced to boycott the event-or at least refrain from quoting, or even mentioning, Trump’s speech. I think that idea has some merit if any of you reading this have the necessary media  connections. Then I thought of something else. I am not a lawyer, although I have practiced and taught tax law for almost 50 years.  I like reading legal novels and, like many people, I’m familiar with the term “Reckless Endangerment”. Since the proposed graduation ceremony is slated to take place in New York State,  I researched their definition of this crime: “A person is guilty of reckless endangerment in the first degree when, under circumstances evincing a depraved indifference to human life, he recklessly engages in conduct which creates a grave risk of death to another person. Reckless endangerment in the first degree is a class D felony.” All that is required is the creation of “grave risk”.  No one necessarily  has to die as a result. We all know that Coronavirus can kill. Is it likely Trump would be found guilty? Here is an expanded  definition from LegalMatch:  “It must be proven that the defendant intended to commit the act giving rise to the charge. Further, it must be shown that the defendant knew […]

Donald Trump Jack of All Trades Master of None

I wonder if the majority of Donald Trump’s minions really believe that their Fearless (Fearsome?) Leader is qualified to prescribe Coronavirus cures and effective prevention technique? Obviously, some are and have become seriously ill or have died for their sins. Believe it or not, we all must take responsibility for a Donald Trump presidency. Frankly, I find it surprising that it has taken about 225 years before a seriously deranged person has been able to steal an election by combining reality TV  exposure,  the ability to sling  bullshit,  and  an archaic Electoral College framework that ignores popular vote totals. About two weeks ago, I wrote a piece that outlined some of the early history of the U.S. presidency. I presented my reasoning as to why a major Constitutional overhaul is long overdue. Here is a summary of what I said: In America, in contrast to the English “model”, the Founding Fathers decided to invest its President with numerous powers, including the role of Commander-in- Chief of the armed forces, primary responsibility for the management of national and international affairs and the right to veto bills approved by Congress. Some of these powers were contained in the Constitution and some evolved over time. Harry S. Truman summed it up nicely with the sign on his desk that read “The Buck Stops Here.” So, now I ask the question whether, by Constitutional right, a sitting president can appoint himself Epidemiologist-in-Chief. I understand that Trump has an undergraduate degree in Finance, but I can find no references to a Master’s   Degree,  a PhD,  or any medical qualifications whatsoever. Am I missing something? Then again, Trump  never served in the military, but he is nevertheless  the Commander-in Chief of the armed forces. So maybe he  is automatically entitled to prescribe Coronavirus remedies. After all, he is familiar with a malady called “bone spurs”. I fervently hope that our Epidemiologist-in-Chief  is looking at his last few months in office before he becomes buried in lawsuits for the rest of his life. Today, I want to warn you of  a potentially interesting “problem” that we may soon have to face on top of all the other crap that is raining down on our collective heads. I am old enough to remember the recurring  polio epidemics in the 1950s   when I was a kid growing up in New York City. I remember how relieved my parents were when Jonas Salk’s (intravenous) vaccine was first  made widely available. Back then, for a short time,  it was either Salk’s vaccine or nothing. A few months later Albert Sabin (remember him?) came up with an oral vaccine that is now widely used all over the world. Neither Salk nor Sabin ever patented their inventions. According to an article I read  online  in Forbes, Salk’s decision not to patent cost him $7 Billion! Now, I can foresee several potentially safe and effective vaccines ready for  distribution at about  the same time. Choosing the “best” one  then becomes problematic. There is an incalculable amount  money at stake and, as a general rule, I think capitalistic greed  today easily trumps (sorry)  the altruism of the 1950s. So, who will make the decision for us in America? Is our Constitutional Commander-in Chief who might  really  also be  the Epidemiologist-in-Chief? Ironically, a small part of me (exceedingly small) hopes that there will be no cure ready before Inauguration Day, […]
Wayne Moran / Flickr Statue of Liberty New York City...

“Give Me Your Tired, Your Poor, Your Huddled Masses”……Oh, Forget It!

The first nine words in the title to this article  are from  a poem by Emma Lazarus that is inscribed on the inner wall of the pedestal of the Statue of liberty. However, as we all know, our country today is not exactly known for its willingness to lay down a red carpet to welcome new immigrants. Below are two more quotes: “Those who come hither are generally of the most ignorant Stupid Sort of their own Nation. Not being used to Liberty, they know not how to make a modest use of it. [They] are generally of what we call a swarthy Complexion; as are the Germans also, the Saxons only excepted”.  “The influx of foreigners must, therefore, tend to produce a heterogeneous compound, to change and corrupt the national spirit; to complicate and confound public opinion; to introduce foreign propensities.” Surprisingly, the first quote is from the writings of Benjamin Franklin and the second was penned by Alexander Hamilton. History tells us that immigrants have never been welcomed  to America with open arms. Between 1820 and 1860 almost 2 million refugees from Ireland arrived, 75% of these after the Great Irish Famine. It was many years  before job postings that included the words “No Irish Need Apply” disappeared. By 1910, there were more people in New York City of Irish ancestry than Dublin’s entire population. In the 1860s, Chinese immigrants were imported to toil on the growing network of  American railroads, but, by 1882, Chinese immigration was outlawed. In 1917, an act was passed mandating a literacy test for immigrants which allowed certain Asiatic persons entry from Japan and the Philippines , while barring most others. In 1924, the U.S. introduced a quota system to limit immigration from Eastern and Southern Europe. At the time, the main criterion for U.S. citizenship was being  categorized as “Caucasian.” Interestingly, restrictions on citizenship did not apply to Mexicans, although  between 1929 and 1944, about 2 million were deported to create depression-era jobs for whites. During World War II, Japanese-Americans were interned, and the U.S. did not readily offer asylum to Jewish refugees from Nazi persecution. It wasn’t until 1965, that the U.S. scrapped the quota system, in accordance with former President Kennedy’s vision of America as a “nation of immigrants”. For decades, no one group was targeted or marginalized -until 9/11. We now live in a society where the present government in Washington  is not only hostile to Muslims but is vehemently opposed to immigration from Mexico and Central America. Here is another quote: “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re sending people that have a lot of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with them. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”           I venture that there are very few adult Americans who cannot identity the person who uttered these words.           Is President Trump a racist? I believe the answer is unequivocally  “yes”, but, sadly, I also believe that he is not alone.           I’ve done some research on the question of whether racist beliefs are an  innate component of our makeup, or whether  a racist outlook is a result of upbringing and environment. The experts seem to be divided.           My personal belief is that we are […]

Resurrecting the American Dream Post-Trump

Let’s stop  thinking about Donald Trump for a few minutes and ask ourselves where we’re at in America the Beautiful- Land of Opportunity in the Spring of 2020 and where we can all go from here. According to the Tax Foundation 93.6 % of tax-filers will receive at least part of the $1,200 Stimulus Payment that is the cornerstone of the $2.2 Trillion coronavirus Stimulus Package signed into law on March 27th. Nevertheless, every day, we read about the countless number of Americans who can’t pay their April rent or utilities and those who can’t meet their mortgage payments. (It seems that 65% of Americans own their homes- most with lending -company partners.) While the multitudes check their banking records several times daily in the hope of spotting their anticipated “windfall” (lifeline), there are others who wouldn’t bat an eyelash if they spent $1,200 on a single  bottle of wine. So, here are a few questions to consider. Is “Socialism” such a terrible thing? By definition, Socialism is an economic theory of social organization that advocates that the means of production , distribution and exchange should be owned or regulated by the community as a whole. It is NOT the same as Communism. The main difference is that, under Communism, most property and economic resources are owned and controlled by the state (rather than individual citizens); under Socialism, all citizens share equally in economic resources as allocated by a democratically elected government. In previous articles, I have stated my belief  that most American (including Bernie Sanders) don’t really focus on the difference. They believe that Socialism begets Communism. That is why I suggested that we should embrace a new structure –Enlightened Capitalism– which is Capitalism with a conscience. If you stop to think about it,  accepting  the anxiously awaited Stimulus Payment is nothing more than a tacit acceptance of Socialism. How do you like them apples? Do you wanna give the money back? The evolution of thought processes is gradual. Frankly, I’m surprised that most of us ( leaving aside all the protesting rednecks) don’t react negatively to the terminology “social distancing”. Maybe they should have called it “Shelter at Home and Shun Your Neighbors”.  2.What happened to the American Dream? At the risk of being politically incorrect, it’s about time to dispel one of the great myths of our time. I don’t think too many Americans would argue against giving everyone the same rights and responsibilities under the law, regardless of religion, race, or creed. In these respects, we are all equal. On the other hand, at the risk of being politically incorrect, I submit that we are not all created equal when it comes to our diverse aptitudes and abilities. Most people are content with earning a regular paycheck. But then, there are those whose aptitudes lead to careers in making or managing investments, overseeing manufacturing, wholesale or retail businesses, resource development, technology, real estate, and banking. These are the people who, by their very natures, are willing to accept varying levels of risk in exchange for the expectation of greater rewards. The rewards are often measured in terms of monetary wealth, but they also bring the satisfaction of having created a new structure, such as an attractive housing development, a new business enterprise or innovative technology. After a certain point, wealth accumulation often becomes nothing more than keeping […]

My Challenge Goes Out to Donald Trump

Before I can share my challenge to Donald Trump with you, let’s quickly review what happened recently — if I can get my head to stop spinning. Wednesday, Donald Trump told governors that some could begin reopening their states by May 1 or earlier if they wanted. He initially backed down from his confrontation with them by making clear that he would not seek to impose his will on when they reopen businesses, schools and everyday life. That Trump DIDN’T say  was that he would convey his blessings on  those governors who choose to open for business later than May 1st. In fact, this afternoon,  he changed course and  proceeded to threaten to “close down”  any states that refuse to reopen on his demand. I wonder if he possibly could have thought” Hey, wait a minute , I may be doing them a favor!” (Not likely, I guess.) At the time I am writing this, Worldometers, an internet site that keeps track of total cases and deaths by state (as well as internationally),   shows a total of 673,215 cases in the U.S. and 34,384 deaths. For the past few weeks, I have been composing  articles in which I have calculated projected infections and deaths to the end of October based on medical experts’ analyses. Assuming an infection rate whereby one infected person will pass on the virus to 2.2. other people, here are the numbers yet again: If we open the country on                       May 1               May 15 Number of infections by late October   2.9 Million           1.1 Million Number of deaths                              83,600                       35,900 The projected infection  rate  based on 673,215 cases now is                          4.3 times               1.6 times If the infection rate jumps from 2.2 to 2.3:Infections by late October    10.5 million            2.9 Million Projected to die                                    280,100                  92,000 10.5 Million cases over the next few months would totally destroy our ability as a nation to provide healthcare. And, if you think our economy has suffered so far, well, it’s possible that you ain’t seen nothin’ yet… I know that the impatient redneck assholes who can’t stand  being told what to do and hate sitting at home when they could be out  carousing in their neighborhood bars aren’t going to read this-assuming they can actually  read. But if you are reading this, PLEASE pass my message  on to the mainstream media. (I find that there is too much reporting and not enough analysis.) Those of us who are willing to listen to well-meaning leaders like  Governors Cuomo in New York, Whitmer in Michigan and Newsom in California are really the ones who should be shouting “Don’t Tread on Me” from the rooftops. As careful as one may be, there is always  the risk of  contracting  the virus from someone who has it but is asymptomatic.(Once a week, I go to the grocery store during senior hours.) Nevertheless,  I don’t want to assume the risk of interacting with anyone who has consciously abandoned all efforts to stay safe. Today, The New York Times reported on  the question: “How will we know when to reopen the country?” The Times referred to an American Enterprise Institute report,  compiled by Scott Gottlieb (former FDA Commissioner), Caitlin Rivers, Mark B. McClellan, Lauren Silvis and Crystal Watson . The experts staked out four goal posts for recovery: 1.Hospitals in each state must be able to safely treat all patients requiring hospitalization, […]

The Revolution Has Begun — Your Bunker Awaits, Mr. Trump

Taking to Twitter on Monday, Trump said “some are saying that it is the Governors decision to open up the states, not that of the President of the United States & the Federal Government. Let it be fully understood that this is incorrect…it is the decision of the President, and for many good reasons.” — Associated Press, April 13, 2020 Please permit me to present a very short lecture on the role of the presidency in  American history. It is taken from a book I wrote in 2013 called “The Enlightened Capitalism Manifesto”. In my opinion, George Washington was really King George I of the United States, since the U.S. congressional system was actually modeled after the Houses of Parliament in England. However, long before the U.S. Declaration of Independence was signed, the English King had become not much more than a figurehead. In the centuries following the ratification of the Magna Carta in 1215, an elected Parliament assumed the rights and responsibilities of English government. The last time a British monarch exercised the right to veto a measure passed by Parliament was in 1708. Today, the monarchy is simply part of a long ceremonial tradition that serves to unify the United Kingdom, although, to their credit, members of the royal family are involved in charitable and humanitarian endeavors. In America, in contrast to the English “model”, the Founding Fathers decided to invest its President with numerous powers, including the role of Commander-in- Chief of the armed forces, primary responsibility for the management of national and international affairs and the right to veto bills approved by Congress. Some of these powers were contained in the Constitution and some evolved over time. Harry S. Truman summed it up nicely with the sign on his desk that read “The Buck Stops Here.” Consider the many changes that have occurred over the past 250+ years. In the early history of our nation, there was generally little need to consider anything more pressing than domestic issues- the concept of Manifest Destiny, which stood for America’s quest to expand its borders from coast to coast.  Compared to today, international trade was quite limited; there was no highly sophisticated stock market, and the U.S. did not have to deal with enemies armed with weapons of mass destruction. It was a very homogenized Protestant society, except for a large Catholic presence in Maryland. Maybe the time has come for a Constitutional overhaul. End of lesson. It obviously takes a strong ego to run for the presidency in the first place. One would hope, however, that a successful candidate’s intentions would be honorable and well-meaning. One would also hope that a president would have the common sense pay attention to  knowledgeable advisors, even if he does not necessarily agree with them. The danger has always existed that the presidency might some day fall into the hands of an unstable megalomaniac-by definition “a person who is obsessed with their own power”. Until now, there have been good presidents, bad presidents and mediocre presidents. But I don’t believe there have been any who could be described as  deranged and downright EVIL. Yes, there have been misguided presidents too. How else can one describe George W. Bush, whose actions in Iraq were the results of bad advice regarding the existence of  weapons of mass […]

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