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Death Taxes

This is your Captain speaking…

Rush had a guest host today who spent a lot of the last hour on the estate tax. This is a subject that Jr and I disagree diametrically.

The death tax, which is the government’s last shot at your earnings, may not be all that bad a thing. Democrats always talk about tax cuts for the wealthy. Let me tell you a secret: Wealth is not taxed by the federal government at all. If you have an excellent income and are trying to get wealthy, you get taxed to death. But except for death taxes on their estates, “Wealth” has no taxes.

The wealthy own a lot of real estate. Real estate is one of the best tax shelters for those aspiring to wealth, and the rich use it to not only make themselves richer but also to shelter their normal taxable income. “Wealth” has no taxes.

There are a class of bonds called Municipal bonds. These are the debt of states and cities all over the country. They incur no taxes on the income they produce, and Munis are a favorite investment of old money, the “coupon clippers” of our society. Once again, “Wealth” has no taxes.

If you earn money by the sweat of your brow, or the insights of your brain, you pay income taxes and FICA taxes on what you earn. But if you earn money by investments, and if you hold these investments more than a year, you pay no Social Security or Medicare taxes on your profit, and you pay almost no taxes on the capital gain itself, even though it is undeniably income. Guess what, “Wealth” has no (or very little) taxes.

I guess I spent too long earning a nice income only to see the governments take half of it in income and FICA taxes that I begrudge the special treatment that the truly wealthy get in our tax system. There is no way we can get a national sales tax, which will at least get a federal tax on the money they let slip away and buy stuff with. We cannot get a flat tax enacted which would take away all these shelters. So how can we tax the wealthy? Can’t do it while they’re alive, so we got to get ’em when they die.

A federal tax that is way too large on estates that are way too large seems to me to be a good idea. Maybe that way we would not have Paris Hilton cluttering up our TV’s on nothing else than her greatgrandfather’s skill in hotels. I’m not talking about a tax on normal sized estates, those of your average farmer who is rich in land but not money. I’m talking Ford money, Kennedy money, Rockefeller money. Put it at something in the neighborhood of 100 mil and index it to inflation, then take it all. Almost it all. 100 mil may be too high, maybe 50 mil is enough of an advantage to give your kids.

Don’t exempt gifts to charity either. Charitable foundations are a huge source of funds for the Dems, since everyone who works there are libs. The people who earn the money in the first place are pretty well split between the two major parties, but the second and third generations tend to believe the socialist teachers and profs they study under. Are there any more liberal universities than the Ivy League in the east, the Northwests and Rices of the midwest, and the Stanfords and Cals in the west? If we can fund the government and defund the Democrats at the same time, I think we are doing good. A well-structured estate tax just might do both.


Show recap

Tony has the big details.

I have spent the morning in utter frustration, listening to myself not only from the first two shows but also my audio posts. I’m still addicted to “Ahs” and “umms” and I just don’t know how to shake it. I’ve now spent over 24 hours on radio, and I’m not as polished as I’d like to be.

However, the general reaction has been that the show improved. My goal is a little improvement every week. I’ll also be doing more audio posts on the blog, and I think I’m going to make use of the production studio at 1450 KNSI some more. I’m not sure what to do to improve, however I assume it involves practice and experience.

And study. I spend any extra time I have listening to and making notes on the radio programs of others. I also listen to all my tapes and audio posts. I intend to take radio seriously and as a profession. I just wish there was a text book for it.

I’m also trying to consume knowledge like it was water. I read encyclopedia (wikipedia) articles everyday, I try to get through as many newspapers and articles as I can, and I read lots of books. That’s what I learned from Bob Davis. Bob is my favorite radio guy, and he reads lots all the time. He’s over prepared for every show.

That’s also a product of my stint on “the Duece.” There were times that I was caught in ignorance, and I knew it.

Other than other suggestions I’ve gotten from others I’m not certain what else I can do to improve my radio.

Unfortunately, I know a lot more about writing and blogging than I do about radio.

My interview with Dr. Cheri Yecke about her book is available here. The interview was done over the top of the hour break, so I felt a little rushed. It still turned out okay.

Here is her book:

Random Link o’ the Day:


A weekend away.

This is your Captain speaking…

This weekend my wife’s sister is visiting, and the whole clan went off to Parker’s Prairie, her natal metropolis, to a series of parades, reunions and unending discussions of Bob and Jane and their cousin who lives up 83 ’bout a mile near Leo’s place whose wife run off with the nurse’s husband and they…

I didn’t go.

Wonderful people, great cooks, but three of the four husbands are not from here (my wife is one of 4 sisters), so we deserted the womenfolk, played golf, ate their cooking when they came home, and may have gained 10 pounds over the weekend.

That’s not what I did most of the time, however. Coinage magazine came in on Thursday, so I went to the bank, took out my coin collection for the first time in months and played with that.

Shoulda, coulda, but didn’t. That was what I thought when I looked at the one really great investment in my coins. In 1995, the mint put out a set of gold proofs that had an extra silver coin; a $1 silver eagle proof that was minted at the West Point mint, the first silver eagle proof minted there. The only way you could get that proof silver coin was to buy the gold set, and the gold set was expensive. I knew then that that silver coin was going to be valuable, so I bought a gold proof set. Shoulda cashed in the mutual funds and bought a bunch of sets. The set went for a little less that $1000. The gold proofs are worth about $1350. That silver proof, though, is worth about $5500. Spend $100,000 then, .68 mil now. And I knew it would happen. Would not have been able to get that by the wife. Try telling someone who does not believe in collectables that this can make us rich. If I had invested that much money in coins then I would be rich and single now… Hmmm. (Just joking, dear.)

That set may still be worth buying. They are not making any more, and the new state quarters and the new nickels have brought a whole new generation to coin collecting.
Up until these new coins we have had some of the worst looking coins in the world. Our coins are worth nothing intrinsically, with all our coins being made of copper and nickel (except for the penny, which is zinc.) So there has not been any motivation for new people to start coin collecting. Sure ain’t the money (in more than one sense.) But now we have coins people want to have and keep, and that leads to new collectors.

Took all the good stuff back to the bank; my toys now out of sight for awhile. At least I did get one set, and it has never gone down in value no matter how expensive it gets.

I did order some new stuff from the mint, though I do not think it will explode in value the way that silver eagle did. There is a Marine commemorative coin that may go up somewhat. There will always be new Marines, they will always be justly proud of becoming a Marine, and this coin will always be a good gift for them. Built in demand is always good.

Peter Jennings dead at 67

Peter Jennings died of lung cancer this Sunday.

He is the first of the great anchors (in fact, he was from the last generation of the monolithic network anchors) of my generation. Borne of the style started by Walter Cronkite, whose origins stem from the beginning of television.

Walter Cronkite is not someone I remember. Cronkite was the first of those longterm, legendary network news anchors that was there with this country during some of the most incredible events of the past century.

I grew up in a post Cronkite era Tom Brokaw, Peter Jennings, Ted Koppel. These were the anchors of network television that I have memories. Ted Koppel, in my mind the least of the three. I was once told I sounded like Ted Koppel, I took that as a compliment.

The greater of the three was always Tom Brokaw. Brokaw seemed taller, had a deeper voice, had more of the Cary Grant look. Brokaw’s books about the greatest generation were quite touching, especially considering my happy memories of my grandparents (one still living). Brokaw also had the bigger ratings. Brokaw recently retired and passed the torch to a lesser Brian Williams.

However, the book that I own is not the Greatest Generation, but it was Peter Jennings “The Century”.

I liked this book, it was a scrap book of writings and photos from the greatest century of our race’s history. It wasn’t just a glittering generality of a generation of Americans like Brokaw’s book. Jennings had a broader view and took history in a scope befitting an historian more than a journalist.

Jennings was a classic story. A high school drop out that got a job in radio, later got his big break in TV but lost to entrenched veterans, he proceeded to build his reputation and resume by going international. He did reports from the Middle East, South America, all around the globe.

He later became the anchor of ABC News World Tonight.

To me, Jennings was the most personable of the great anchors. Brokaw was always drenched in an holier than thou shroud. Koppel has grown on me, but I first found his show intolerable. Jennings was the man.

I have to admit one of the cracks in my conservative credentials here. I actually like the news coverage provided by the networks more than I like anything on cable.

With all due respect to FoxNews, I’d take an arrogant Tom Brokaw over Bill O’Reilly anyday.

And I know that Jennings, Brokaw, and Koppel are biased. I know that the networks are liberally biased. I didn’t care. I take everything with a grain of salt, and do so quite easily.

There is just something authoritative about network news. I can’t fully describe it. I don’t watch a lot of television, and in the last five years, when I’ve had a television around, it typically didn’t have cable. So maybe my viewpoint is skewed.

But I just get the feeling that cable news networks are a little shrill. Twenty-four hour coverage is overhyped, louder, obnoxious, anxiety inducing. Jennings had a calming effect. I remember that it was ABC News that was piped into the auditorium in the Moos Towers at the U of M in 2001 when the WTC fell. It was Jennings, in the fifth of his more than 60 hours of broadcasting that week, who described the horrors of 9-11.

There was always something about him though, that even when he was getting choked up, that better times were ahead, and bad times were behind us. The network anchors all had a stiff upper lip, and Jennings started smoking again after 9-11 to give him the calm he needed to maintain composure.

It was good to see that Jennings was human. It’s uplifting to know that even Peter Jennings was stressed. It was also good that he kept that internal anxiety inside himself for the most part. It shows the rest of us that we don’t need to wear our emotions on our sleeves, despite how strong those emotions are.

Jennings was the most human of the great anchors of my childhood and young adulthood. His loss is a reminder of how things have changed. Network news is changing in ways I don’t appreciate, and the holders of those anchor positions are a modern breed of journalist. The modern breed of journalist sees the world as a game, and ratings as the goal. Jennings was a journalist with an historical mind. He was someone that didn’t see world events as seperate from himself and his viewers. He knew world events effected his audience, and they effected him.

I remember Walter Cronkite reporting the death of JFK from a documentary. Cronkite was emotionally effected and obviously drained. However, Cronkite reported the news with a stiff upper lip that was once an expected trait of masculinity. I remember Jennings maintaining that same composure on 9-11-01.

Peter Jennings, goodbye and God Bless.

From his bio on ABCnews.com:

As one of America’s most distinguished journalists, Peter Jennings has reported many of the pivotal events that have shaped our world. He was in Berlin in the 1960s when the Berlin Wall was going up, and there in the ’90s when it came down. He covered the civil rights movement in the southern United States during the 1960s, and the struggle for equality in South Africa during the 1970s and ’80s. He was there when the Voting Rights Act was signed in 1965, and on the other side of the world when South Africans voted for the first time. He has worked in every European nation that once was behind the Iron Curtain. He was there when the independent political movement Solidarity was born in a Polish shipyard, and again when Poland’s communist leaders were forced from power. And he was in Hungary, Czechoslovakia, East Germany, Romania and throughout the Soviet Union to record first the repression of communism and then its demise. He was one of the first reporters who went to Vietnam in the 1960s, and went back to the killing fields of Cambodia in the 1980s to remind Americans that, unless they did something, the terror would return.

In broadcast journalism, Peter Jennings has a reputation for putting the most complex and difficult issues on the agenda when others have largely ignored them. From his early days in the Middle East and South Africa, to the contemporary challenges in Africa and the former Soviet Union, on education, health care and tobacco — these are issues with which Jennings’ stewardship at “World News Tonight” and his special series, “Peter Jennings Reporting,” have been associated.

He is the author, with Todd Brewster, of the acclaimed New York Times best seller, “The Century.” Structured as an epic tale about “ourselves,” it is a lavish book that features astonishing first-person accounts of the great events of the century. In 1999, he anchored the 12-hour ABC series, “The Century,” and ABC’s series for The History Channel, “America’s Time.” He and Brewster have recently published a new book, “In Search of America,” a companion book for the ABC News series.

On December 31, 1999, Jennings anchored ABC’s Peabody-award winning coverage of Millennium Eve, “ABC 2000.” 175 million Americans watched the telecast, making it the biggest live global television ever. “The day belonged to ABC News,” praised The Washington Post, “with Peter Jennings doing a nearly superhuman job of anchoring.” Jennings was the only anchor to appear live for 25 consecutive hours.

Jennings led the Network’s coverage of the September 11 attacks and America’s subsequent war on terrorism. He anchored more than 60 hours that week during the Network’s longest continuous period of news coverage, and was widely praised for providing a reassuring voice during the time of crisis. TV Guide called him “the center of gravity,” while the Washington Post wrote, “Jennings, in his shirt sleeves, did a Herculean job of coverage.”

Jennings joined ABC News on August 3, 1964. He briefly served as the anchor of the “ABC Evening News” from 1965 to 1968. In 1972 he helped put ABC News on the map with his coverage of the Summer Olympics in Munich, as Arab terrorists took Israeli athletes hostage.

Prior to his current appointment, Jennings served as chief foreign correspondent for ABC News and he was the foreign desk anchor for “World News Tonight” from 1978 to 1983. He established the first American television news bureau in the Arab world when he served as ABC News’ bureau chief for Beirut, Lebanon, a position he held for seven years.

Jennings was named anchor and senior editor of “World News Tonight” in 1983. In the only five years that the Washington Journalism Review gave an award for the country’s best anchor, Jennings was named each time. In 1995 the Boston Globe noted “the passing of Edward R. Murrow’s mantle to Peter Jennings.” He has won the Harvard University’s Goldsmith Career Award for excellence in journalism and the coveted Radio and Television News Directors Paul White Award, chosen by the news directors of all three major networks. This year, “World News Tonight” was honored with the Edward R. Murrow award for best newscast.

His extensive domestic and overseas reporting experience has proven to be invaluable during “World News Tonight’s” coverage of major crises. He has reported from all 50 states and locations around the globe. During the 1991 Gulf War and the 2003 War in Iraq, his knowledge of Middle Eastern affairs brought invaluable perspective to ABC News’ coverage. During the historic transfer of sovereignty to Iraq in June 2004, Jennings was one of only two television journalists to witness the historic transfer of power and one of only three Western journalists to be in the room for Saddam Hussein’s first appearance before an Iraqi court. He has anchored the ABC News coverage of every major national election since 1984.

A funny thing happened at the radio station today…

This last show was quite an adventure. I’m told that you’re not supposed to talk about errors behind the scenes, but this stuff is too funny to keep under the rugs.

I showed up to the studio in St. Cloud a little later than I would have liked, but I needed a good breakfast. When I finally entered the studio, a hyper Tony Garcia was going crazy in the studio trying (and failing) to set up an ethernet router. I walked over to one of the production studios, and ran into our producer Tom the Bomb, who was just finishing up some of our bumpers.

I, feeling completely worthless, decided to photocopy some of our show prep for my own sinister usage. As I was walking around the building, I noticed that there was just a static sound going over the speakers. I walked over and checked the producer’s side of our studio and noticed that the lights are off, and none of the equipment appeared “on.”

I, not being an engineer, just assumed that any problem would have been noticed and that everything is fine. I think I spent the next half hour avoiding Tony and watching TV.

Of course, something was very wrong. 1450 KNSI was not on the air. Tony was told this by of the 104.7 FM jockeys. Tony had no idea what the lady was talking about, and got back to freaking out about the router.

Luckily, the jockey gets 1450 back on the air. At that point Tommy is done with the production studio and gets into the producer side of the glass at 1450. There is a problem. The power in the studio won’t turn on.

We call the Ox, and he’s not available.

After a healthy “freak out” period Ox gives us a ring. To turn on the studio, you have to make sure the light fixture on the left end of the studio is juggles around a little. Tommy Bomb did that and 1450 KNSI turned on.

My father, waiting around on the phone for his interview, regarded my conveyances with some humor. He told me that the light was causing a short and that the entire studio was wired in serial. In fact, this is quite an amatuerish set up. When I relayed to Ox what my father told me, about trying to fix the problem, he mentioned that he’d hate to mess around with something that works.

So, if the switch doesn’t work, grab that light fixture and jostle it around a bit.

I love radio.

Park Diner

1531 West Division Street
Waite Park, MN 56387

The Park Diner is a throwback, 50’s style diner that likens itself to the famous Mickey’s Diner that has been the staple of downtown St. Paul since the 1930’s. The Park Diner has the look and feel of Mickeys, minus some of the earned character. The Park Diner is actually a prefabricated building special ordered from a company that is in the business of making these 50’s style diners.

I don’t have that much of an objection to this. Sure, it’s not a real diner car nor is it an historical building, but I like the fact that there is a company that is making these roadside, classic looking diners and actually making money doing it.

They have a dine-in or take-out option, and either works. They, like all true diners, serve breakfast around the clock. Their burgers are actually not of the highest quality, the beef patties are frozen and cooked to a decent level so taste. However, they’d be better off getting their own supply of chopped steak and preparing it themselves, without freezing.

If you do get the burger, get the “batter bits” instead of the fries. The batter bits are crispy chunks of potatoes that have a much better taste than the fries that tend toward the soggy.

I’ll reserve final judgement on The Park Diner until I have their breakfast, but other than the ambiance, the sandwich offerings are not special enough to go out of your way to get to this locale.

However, their malts and shakes are worth a look see. In Minnesota, the standard for any diary products is fairly high, and a surprisingly large number of places fails to live up to expectation. The Park Diner doesn’t fail. The malts and shakes are made with a high quality ice cream that is noticeably creamier than anything I’ve had in my many travels in Minnesota, including the storied “Crema Cafe” in Uptown (Minneapolis).

Not having tried any other dessert places in St. Cloud, I’m not yet ready to declare this a “Top Spot” for desserts, but it’s really good. I have to recommend a visit to the Park Diner, if only for the malts.