Smoke Bomb Tossing ‘Occupy’ Protestor Violates Key Protest Tenet

Jan 18, 2012, 11:57 am EDT

The burgeoning “Occupy” movement in the United States received another black eye late Tuesday, after a protestor at a Washington, D.C., event tossed what appeared to be a smoke bomb over the White House fence. Additionally, one protestor was arrested for assaulting a police officer and three others were arrested for crossing a police line.

As a result of Tuesday’s events, the White House was locked down for an hour (though President Barack Obama and his wife were not present at the time), and the north gate to the residence was closed while the tossed object was investigated.

These events stand in stark contrast to both the otherwise peaceful protests carried out by other “Occupy” activists, some of whom came from as far away as Nevada and California to participate, and to the ideals of Martin Luther King, Jr., whose birthday was recently celebrated. King’s efforts to obtain civil rights for African-Americans were rooted in the principles of non-violence first popularized by Mohandas Gandhi. And while these two men, and their supporters and followers, suffered terribly for their cause, their efforts eventually bore fruit. Gandhi played a crucial role in India becoming independent from British rule, and African-Americans still might be unfairly disenfranchised from voting if not for King. Read 

Congress Will PAY YOU to Avoid Public Transit in 2012

Jan 18, 2012, 11:29 am EDT

As part of the 2009 stimulus package passed by the Democratic controlled congress, commuters could qualify for a subsidy of $230 per month towards mass transit expenses. But your tax write off for parking? Ten bucks more at $240.

So much for Washington believing in public transportation.

If that isn’t crazy enough, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (that’s the formal name for the “stimulus” bill) only offered a temporary increase to mass transit reimbursement. As of January 1, commuters getting a pre-tax reimbursement for transit will revert to just $125. Read 

Mitt Romney’s Taxes: The Battle Escalates

Jan 18, 2012, 9:55 am EDT
Mitt Romney’s Taxes: The Battle Escalates

For the past decade, Republican Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney has been jobless. But it doesn’t really matter, of course. While the head of private equity firm Bain Capital — until 1999 — Mitt created a fortune that’s estimated to be over $250 million.

However, was this the result of plundering companies and firing employees, as his GOP primary rivals are charging? If anything, such claims are just a warm-up for the epic battle Romney may fight against President Barack Obama.

But for now, it seems that staunch Republicans, Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry, are the ones engaging in “class warfare” as they try to paint Mitt as a “vulture capitalist.” It’s all part of their strategy to get a win in the upcoming South Carolina primary. Read 

Who Will Emerge As the GOP’s Small Business Candidate?

Jan 18, 2012, 9:48 am EDT

Despite the seemingly endless number of Republican debates we have digested during the primary season, it seems that small business owners and entrepreneurs are not satisfied with what they have heard from the GOP field. Do they have reason to feel slighted? And what does the GOP have to offer small business? What has the Obama administration done to help or hurt small business?

The lack of policy clarity for small businesses stems from a variety of factors. The term “small business” itself is ambiguous–the small business “label” applies to a widely diverse group of firms. The political gridlock and polarization across the country and on Capitol Hill is exacerbating existing problems for small business and arresting the policy process that should be working for them. As small-business owners struggle to make decisions about the future, they are hampered by endless political infighting, vows of repeal and lawsuits over the constitutionality of existing law. It’s hard to imagine any politician right now has a good claim on the small-business vote.

The politics of “small business” are clear and easy. Americans in general love the idea of small business, love the small business owner and any attempt to support such a noble cause is met with resounding approval. James Surowiecki notes that small businesses have a hold on the public imagination. “We may spend our dollars at Walmart and IKEA, but in our hearts we have a soft spot for the corner store.” According to Gallup, almost 80% of the public has confidence in small business owners to create jobs and we are three times as confident in small business generally as we are in big business. It makes perfect sense for the President and his challengers to angle for the support of small businesses. Read 

New Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac CEOs to Take Pay Cuts

Jan 18, 2012, 8:55 am EDT

Government backed mortgage firms Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac — formally known as Federal National Mortgage Association  (OTC:FNMA) and Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp (OTC:FMCC) , respectively — are apparently catching on to the cost-cutting crazy that seems to be fashionable in Washington right now. The companies will not offer new CEOs the lush compensation deals previously available.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac regulators said Tuesday that new executive teams are unlikely to receive the controversial, multi-million dollar pay packages given to predecessors.

“[We] anticipate a substantial decrease in CEO compensation when the new CEO’s are hired,”a spokeswoman told CNNMoney. Read 

Investors Should Be Bearish on China

Jan 17, 2012, 3:22 pm EDT

I have long advised against direct investment in China. Among the many reasons I am bearish on the country is its vastly distorted economy.

China’s is a command-style economy run by an unelected political party — the Communist Party of China (CPC). The CPC’s policies have resulted in a grand misallocation of capital. A mercantilist currency policy, perverse incentives for provincial-government officials and crude monetary-policy tools have helped inflate a fixed-asset and real estate bubble that makes the U.S. real estate bubble seem trifling. Economic Growth: China’s Quality Problem

It should be obvious to most observers that things are not as they seem in China. The country has reported GDP growth of 9% or more in every quarter over the last two years, yet the Shanghai Composite Stock Index has plunged more than 30% during that time. If China’s economy were truly booming, Chinese shares would most likely be trending up. When it comes to economic growth, China doesn’t have a quantity problem — it has a quality problem. Read 

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