Peak City Pig Fest 2016 – June 20, 2016

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“The Peak City Pig Fest 2016 provided a wonderful weekend activity for many who live in the Triangle, and produced some of the best barbecue pork in the southeast. Besides being a fundraiser that ultimately benefits the community, this and other town festivals contribute to the superior quality of life that has propelled Apex to be named as the The Best Place to Live in America.”

Lance Olive, Mayor
Apex, NC

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Money from the Dead

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Government Taking Money

US Government: Taking money from the dead

The San Jose Mercury News has reported that a very wealthy client has taken out life insurance policies worth a world record 201 million US dollars, spending at least 5% of that in annual premiums. Financial experts attribute just one likely motive — to mitigate and/or avoid estate taxes upon death.

The United States has had a federal estate tax in place since Congress passed the War Revenue Act of 1898, the purpose of which was to raise funding for the war with Spain following the sinking of the USS Maine in Havana Harbor, Cuba. The Republican who proposed the original House of Representatives bill #10100 to fund the war favored fair public participation via sales taxes. The Senate Democrats, however, along with a few Republicans, made several amendments that added an estate tax to the bill. For the past 115 years, countless Americans have paid those taxes on their demise.

Despite the Supreme Court’s finding that these estate taxes are constitutional, we should ask if they are a good and fair way of raising revenue, and if the law should be finally be repealed.

Much of this debate centers around the definition of fair taxation. The conservative approach focuses on everyone’s participation through consumption, or sales taxes. The more one purchases, the more one pays, using a percentage of the price to determine the taxes owed. By contrast, the liberal approach is to tax the rich Americans at a higher rate, taking a disproportionate amount (due to an increasing rate) based on their possessions. And the least objectionable way to do that is to tax them when they die.

At this point, you might be saying, “Yeah, but this estate tax only applies to the super wealthy.” But first consider how you would respond to this approach if the law did apply to you, a middle class citizen.

Imagine this scenario: Your parents are driving down to Florida for a nice beach weekend together and have an unfortunate and fatal accident. The probate comes through and your tax attorney informs you that you have inherited all their possessions, with a net worth of $100,000. By today’s standards, that’s not a lot, but it’s something. Then he says, “But you need to pay the federal government $23,800 immediately.”

If you would object to the government taxing your parents at their death, and putting you in the position of having to sell some possessions in order to get the IRS off your back, then you should object, out of principle, to this same approach being applied to the wealthy. This country is founded on equality and this should apply to taxation as well as rights.

Today, the estate tax applies to all US citizens, with a 5 million dollar exemption and a 35% tax rate. When structured correctly, the proceeds of the life insurance policy go directly to the beneficiary, rather than the estate, and therefore can be excluded from estate taxes. This is most certainly what the mystery record-setting policy holder has done to avoid, or significantly reduce, the amount of federal “death taxes” to be paid.

Attempts to use regulation to take from the rich are often thwarted by clever financial advisors and legal experts, even when the objective is to wait until someone’s demise. Once again, the middle class gets hurt by this attempt and the attorneys cash in.

So is it time to eliminate the federal estate tax? Consider the following countries who have recently abolished it:

  • 1972 Canada
  • 1979 Australia
  • 1981 Israel
  • 1985 India
  • 1992 New Zealand
  • 2005 Sweden
  • 2006 Russia
  • 2006 Hong Kong
  • 2008 Singapore
  • 2008 Austria
  • 2014 Norway

In America, the government already taxes our property and our income while while we’re alive. And it’s difficult enough to deal with the passing of our parents when it happens. Let’s work to eliminate the estate tax and stop taking money from the dead.

4 Valentine Arrows in Your Brain

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Advertisers Fire Valentine's Day Arrows Into Your Brain

Advertisers Fire Valentine’s Day Arrows Into Your Brain

Fellow Men:  For the last several days on television, have advertisers been firing arrows at your brain, hoping you’ll buy their products?  After all, you don’t want to be “that guy” that buys something lame, or worse, nothing at all.

One says skip the candy, because she’ll ask if she looks fat.  Another says skip the flowers, because they die in a few days.  What’s a guy to do when these companies are marketing directly at you mind, hoping to convince you to spend your money on their product, and telling you that doing so is the surefire way to get through Valentine’s Day unscathed.

These 4 advertisers seem to be spending lots of marketing budget doing just that.

1) Vermont Giant Teddy Bear – For only $99 you can give her a 4-foot tall teddy bear that “she will love because it will remind her of you when you’re not there.”  The funniest part of this TV commercial is when the man is getting his hug and mouths (to the camera) in slow motion, “Oh yeah…”  But ask yourself if this kind of gift really makes sense.  Don’t believe the marketing hype.  It’s not the size of the gift.  It’s what thought you put into it.  Chances are this will go over with more of a quizzical look that the same elated face as the actress on the commercial.

2) ProFlowers – It’s hard to go too wrong with flowers, but wouldn’t it be better to go pick them out yourself, than to order off the internet?  Besides, if you don’t know what flower your lady likes, shouldn’t you find out first?  So make a note to ask her randomly this June and make a note of it.  Then you’ll be prepared for next year.

3) 800-Flowers – Originally set up for phone orders, these folks contract with local flower delivery shops.  Word to the wise… they local shops don’t always deliver what’s ordered, sometimes different, sometimes smaller.  Buyer beware.

4) Pajamagram – Adult HoodieFootie purveyor.  Really?  You should really watch this commercial multiple times and break it down.  Analyze it.  They are appealing to your… let’s be honest here… hope that there will be some intimate times soon to follow.  If that doesn’t set off your alarm bells that you’re being targeted as a sucker consumer, I don’t know what will.  If you’re going this route, go with a gift card to a store that sells similar items and let her pick out what she wants, not what you want.

These advertisers’ arrows are aimed directly at your brain because they know that men are notoriously bad at Valentine’s Day, or at least are highly self-conscious about it, and we tend to either be oblivious to that fact, or aware and anxious that we’ll get it wrong.  But you don’t need those ads… the secret is not that complicated.

Pay attention to her all year so you know what she likes, change it up a little bit every year, and never ever forget to include a card that expresses how you feel about her.  And it never hurts to start the day off with breakfast, or at least, all of last night’s dishes clean.

“…be intoxicated always in her love.”  — Proverbs 5:19

Do you think you have better plans than falling for a TV ad?

Happy Birthday to my Wonder Wife

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Cheryl, you share a birthday with:
politician Aaron Burr (1765),
baseball player Babe Ruth (1895),
actor and POTUS Ronald Reagan (1911),
actor Mike Farrell (1940),
television anchor Tom Brokaw (1941),
reggae singer Bob Marley (1945),
singer Rick Astley (1967), 

Today in history:
Massachusetts became the sixth state to ratify the Constitution (1788),
The Union won its first major victory in the Civil War, capturing Ft. Hood (1862),
The Spanish-American War officially ended (1899),
Astronaut Alan Shepard hits three golf balls on the moon (1971).

Happy Birthday!  I love you!

Your Reputation Lingers

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Last summer I introduced myself to a stranger as we were sitting and waiting in the public area.  “Hi.  I’m Lance.  How are you today?”  He replied, “I know who you are.  My brother lives here and we’ve talked about you.”   “Uh-oh,” I thought.  “This could be bad…”

Thankfully, the next words out of his mouth were, “He says you are a good guy to know.”  That was quite nice to hear, and I was a bit embarrassed, but I think I moved deftly past that and asked him to tell me about himself.  Afterwards, I reflected on how that conversation could have gone.

Your reputation is one of the most valuable intangible assets you possess.  Like a shadow, it goes with you everywhere.  Like water spilled from a bucket, it spreads and covers a lot more ground than you might expect.

Your reputation not only precedes you, it lingers long after you’re gone.  Leave something for your children that they will cherish more than your money — your good name.

Choose a good reputation over great riches, for being held in high esteem is better than having silver or gold.

– Proverbs 22:1