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David's Macro Blog

Analysis and commentary on business, economics, real estate, financial markets, and other fun topics

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Archive for April, 2011

Richard Davis - Flip This House

Richard Davis - Flip This House

Reality TV is entertainment.

Remember the halcyon days in the mid 2000’s when everyone thought they could make money flipping real estate for profit after watching shows like Property Ladder and Flip This House?

Richard Davis, host and inventor of real estate reality television series Flip This House, sued distributor A&E Television Networks for his share of the profits from the TV show. He claimed to have an oral agreement with an A&E representative to split profits from the show 50/50.

One reason for the profit split was because flipping houses for television wasn’t a profitable business.

The Post and Courier reported: Ginger Alexander, Richard Davis’ partner, “testified that the firm’s normal business took longer because of the series and that, overall, the company lost money creating episodes of the show because it still holds a few unsold properties.”

Also from the Charleston Post and Courier: A federal jury awarded Richard Davis $4 million in his lawsuit for his share of the profits from the successful television show.

A&E disputed that any agreement existed. Its lawyers declined to provide immediate comment on the ruling, which came after more than five hours of deliberation.

“I’m very pleased with the verdict,” said Mount Pleasant attorney Frank M. Cisa, who represented Davis. “These cases are very tough to prove.”

Excellent coverage of the whole story is available at Flip This Lawsuit

In Yosemite Nature Notes – Episode 9 – Frazil Ice (video below), you see the shifting, natural melting process of frazil ice produced by Yosemite Falls. The water freezes on its descent from the river down to the base of the falls, forming something similar to a giant snow cone. This “frazil ice”, small crystals of frozen mist, then mixes with liquid water and snow to form amazing and interesting patterns downstream.

Makes you want to visit Yosemite in the spring, doesn’t it?

Texas Congressman Ron Paul is fed up with the invasion of privacy by the federal government through TSA’s intrusive inspections at airports.

Congressman Paul complains about the “porno-scanners,” public groping, and underwear inspections. He introduced a common sense bill in the U.S. House that would prevent the government from doing anything a private citizen can’t do.

Ron Paul on the House Floor

Ron Paul on CNN

Some questions to think about:

  • Should the TSA be prohibited from touching or scanning you?
  • Do you waive your rights when you buy an airline ticket?

It seems like a sure victory for proponents of Initiative 1098, a state ballot initiative that would subject a few wealthy individuals to a state income tax for the first time. Washington is one of only seven states without an income tax.

The initiative, if passed, would tax the wealthy Washingtonians like Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos (founder of Amazon), and other very successful corporate leaders. Who could possibly vote no, especially in a state known for left-of-center politics and home to the liberal urban epicenter known as Seattle?

The Washington Examiner has an excellent piece on the wisdom shown by voters who defeated the initiative by a wide margin.

Here are a few select quotes from the article.

The political math was simple and should have been fool-proof: Proponents of a high-earner income tax in the state of Washington needed only a majority of voters to approve a tax on a tiny minority of their peers.

After all, Initiative 1098, which would have imposed a 5 percent tax on the adjusted gross income of individuals who earn more than $200,000 — or $400,000 for couples — and a 9 percent tax on the AGI of individuals who earn more than $500,000 — or $1 million for couples — would have affected barely more than 1 percent of the state population.

But this week, more than 65 percent of Washington voters cast their ballots against I-1098.

“The voters overwhelmingly agreed that this tax would likely be expanded,” said Scott Stanzel, Defeat 1098 campaign manager. “The fundamental issue in this fight was that people didn’t trust the politicians to not expand it to them.”

“The public very much wants to see governments try to get their fiscal house in order on the spending side and just make really concerted efforts at that before they tackle the tax side,” he said.

Washington voters showed rare political acumen in rejecting Initiative 1098. Politicians have proven incapable of leaving taxes at one place and always expand them. For example, millions of Americans are now subject to Federal AMT (alternative minimum tax) that was originally designed to tax a couple hundred wealthy citizens living off dividend and interest income.

Hopefully political leaders across this country recognize their constituents’ interest in reducing government expenses and taxes.

By the way, Washington attempted passing an income tax by ballot initiative in 1932, but it was ruled unconstitutional by the state supreme court in 1933!

Here is the main ad in favor of the initiative:

Here is the main ad opposing the initiative:

Sometimes we wonder if anything is made in the United States anymore. It seems all the products at the big box retailers are made offshore somewhere.

Well, it is nice to know that all official NFL footballs are still made in the U.S. by Wilson’s Ada Football Factory.

This video takes a behind-the-scenes look at how every NFL football is created step by step.

The Wilson football factory has made all footballs for 40 years in Ada, Ohio. Surprisingly, most of the manufacturing process is hands-on, one football at a time.