Saturday, May 16, 2009

Why ASU Chose NOT to Award Barack Obama with an Honorary Degree

I was not really surprised to hear that ASU decided not to give President Obama an honorary degree -- as would be customary -- on the occasion of his commencement address there this week. Their stated reason was that "Obama's body of work is yet to come."

My wife and I moved to Arizona in the summer of 1989. After the initial shock of daily 116 degree weather, it was the cultural anachronisms that really hit us. Seeing a large family ordering in a McDonald's dressed in old-fashioned clothes with the father openly bearing a side-arm was weird (no, it wasn't Halloween or anything.) On being introduced as recent transplants from California, we were asked point blank if we were married, "because we don't really go for that California co-habitation stuff here." We got used to that fact that they don't observe daylight savings time. But the big controversy was about not observing Martin Luther King Day. The reasons given ranged from "he was an adulterer" to "federal employees don't need another holiday." Of course, the real reason had less to do with the content of his character than with the color of his skin. They eventually caved on the issue because, well, they REALLY wanted to host a Superbowl.

In the end, it was the culture in Arizona, not the heat, that most encouraged us to move on to New Mexico. Hearing about the slight given to Obama this week, the way it resonated with our previous experiences there made the real reason for it rather transparent. (Hint: it is NOT because he is a "communist.") Of course, with the degrees he EARNED from Columbia and Harvard Law School, his experience as a professor of constitutional law at the University of Chicago -- not to mention having been elected President of the United States -- he really doesn't need a puff-up from the likes of ASU.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Media Slant

I'm so happy I discovered! I love to listen to Bloomberg Radio while futzing around. I especially enjoy the show "Bloomberg on the Economy" with Tom Keene. It's a comfort to listen to actual smart people talking bluntly about what's going on.

But I laughed this morning when I read the headline "Obama Seeks to End Tax-Haven Strategies That Save Companies $190 Billion." My first thought was, "You mispelled, '... that cost taxpayers $190 billion.'"

The article itself mentions that the administration's rationale for the change is that the current policy creates an unfair advantage for multi-nationals versus purely domestic companies, and that the recommendation was made in 2005 by the nonpartisan congressional Joint Committee on Taxation. The headline seeks to make Obama look like a bad guy for wanting the biggest multinational corporations to pay more than the 2.3% tax rate they are effectively paying now. (The top tax rate for domestic companies is 35%.) If you have ever lost or feared losing a job due to offshoring, it might bother you to know that our current taxation system rewards companies for moving jobs overseas.