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June 20, 2024


If only The Lorax was around to prosecute those tree-murderers.

I haven't even read this yet, but I am reeling from the fact that I had just finished reading a story about that exact case in today's Times, not 10 minutes ago!

Finished, now. Janie, I was going to post a comment asking if you had heard about this case - I'm assuming this was your post!

Since it's an open thread...

Intel is in the process of doing the heavy construction for its new leading-edge fab in Ohio. (A significant part of the cost is being paid by the federal government through one of Biden's economic bills.) Many of the components are assembled elsewhere then shipped in. Several of these are "super loads" that have to crawl to the final site at very slow speeds. The article below talks about one such load: a self-contained unit that produces the cryogenic liquids needed by some production steps. Comes in at just over 900,000 pounds.


GftNC: yes, it's my post. I snuck it in when I was getting ready to go to the dentist, hence forgetting the byline and not having time to post a bigger image to Flicker. Will rectify later today.

And I got the On Golden Pond connection wrong.

From here:

Long before the movie, Maine’s Belgrade Lakes were drawing fishermen, summer rusticators, writers, and even beauty queens. On Golden Pond, that dreamy sunset-of-life film starring Katharine Hepburn, Henry Fonda, and Jane Fonda, may have been filmed in New Hampshire, but playwright Ernest Thompson took his inspiration from Great Pond, the largest of Maine’s Belgrade Lakes.

Yeah, no...rage.

I've got nothing constructive to say on this one.

The part of me that has been playing fantasy RPGs for 40+ years thinks the answer is to awaken some trees to sentience and let them go all Isengard on her ass.

We can throw in Peter Thiel for good measure, since he's the one with the Palantir...

Now let me go try to simmer down my inner Arne-Næss-but-violent a bit.

I think the reason why this story breaks the outrage meter for me is the extra touch of her going to Lisa Gorman to offer to help pay for those poor sick oak trees to be taken down.

Like, in the very first place Amelia Bond coveted a view she didn’t have, though she already had wealth beyond most people’s imagining. (Yes, that’s who you are if you can afford a mansion on the ocean in Maine that is probably not even your primary dwelling.)

Didn't she notice when they bought the property that the view of the sea was obstructed? Maybe she did, and she knew already what she was going to do. Or okay, maybe she and her husband inherited the property instead of buying/choosing it; the article does say it’s in trust. But it actually isn't hard to see gorgeous views of the ocean from coastal Maine -- just not necessarily from your front window, unless you're lucky or very wealthy.

Then, she had to learn enough about poisons to know which one to use.

Then she had to bring the poison all the way from Missouri. (SERIOUSLY?) (I remember our realtor all those years ago saying, "Why not spend your money in Maine?" LOL.)

Then she had to sneak out there at a time when no one would see her...if you look at the original article, you will see that the two mansions are quite close together, so that must have been a bit tricky in its own right, although I suppose people who own homes like that are in their other homes quite a bit of the time.

So this wasn't a sudden whim, someone losing their temper and saying or doing something regrettable. This took forethought, planning, and care. Or “care.”

Having done all that, she also wanted to swan about getting credit for helping to pay for tree removal. (Probably, at bottom, because she thought Lisa Gorman wasn’t getting it done fast enough. Hey! I paved the way, now you do your bit!)



nous: Thanks for the "go all Isengard" image. That's perfect. :-)

And here's the old BBC take on the march of the ents:

...and a slowed down remix of the same:


me: Maybe she did, and she knew already what she was going to do.

Or maybe she did, and she was so accustomed to getting her way that she just thought she'd deal with that little problem in due time. Then she found out it wasn't so straightforward, so she had to take matters into her own hands.

I had to go out for the evening not long after commenting, but as I drove to and fro and I was thinking about this story, I just kept thinking:
"she's a sociopath". I didn't even remember that Janie had used that word. And, moreover, while no doubt publicly being a "nature-lover", she did one of the most awful things you can do in that world: kill old trees. And not just any old trees, oaks. Or maybe oaks don't have quite the same resonance in the US as they do here? We have a thing for them, "heart of oak" to denote a particularly brave, stalwart person, and also the connection between oak and our 17th -19th century navy. Anyway, this seems like a particularly disgusting, greedy and selfish act. I hope (and imagine) that she will be a pariah from now on, will probably have to sell the house (it's probably only in a trust as a tax dodge), and leave Maine.

GftNC: oaks are certainly part of myth and story in the US, but maybe not to the extent that they are in England. For me personally, maple trees are the iconic tree.

Here's a wonderful old story involving oak trees in England, which I remember from Gregory Bateson and the Whole Earth world from decades ago.

The sad thing is, the moral of the story depends on a reasonably stable climate long term, and we can't count on that anymore. The American chestnut is a cautionary example, even though it was wiped out by a fungus and not climate change. My point is: it was the dominant tree across a big chunk of North America, from Maine to Georgia: wonderful wood, chestnuts that fed people and animals, shade...and then it was gone.


Bond's bio page at ACG that I linked now gives the message: "You are not authorized to access this page." Not so much fun to brag about your 32-foot lobster boat under these circumstances, I guess.

[ETA: typo fixed, jm]

And yes about the trust as probably/possibly a tax dodge.

...and then it was gone

Same for our elms, from Dutch Elm disease. But apparently there is a small number of elms which survived, and are being bred or cloned or something, so that England can be repopulated by another iconic tree.

We also have various diseases affecting our oaks (probably climate change related), and the thought of losing them is very hard.

This story infuriates me. But it hardly surprises me.

The guy who poisoned the Toomer's Corner oaks at Auburn with the same stuff in 2010 got a 3-year sentence and 5 years probation. Hopefully, Maine will consider that in what is, bluntly, a crime against generations.

Do I think she'll face anything more than having to write a check? Cf. my surprise. NPR and other outlets have picked up the story, so I hope she's at least banished from the land. I can't imagine she'll be welcome in town any time soon.

Since it was mentioned, we recently found what we believe to be an American Chestnut at my grandfather's old garden lot on Long Island (NY). He used to have a few on the property and as a kid running around barefoot in the summer, I quickly learned where they were. We contacted SUNY College of ESF to take a sample for their restoration project. Here's hoping we have a resistant strain.

We lost our elms too. I don't know anything about them, but I do know that there are ongoing efforts to bring back the American chestnut. There's a stand of them at the Viles Arboretum in Augusta, where they hand out seedlings sometimes, and last I heard there were several sites in Maine where attempts are being made to find a cross-breed that will be resistant to the blight but still have the valued qualities of the tree.

Good book about the American chestnut.

I asked a state forester once what our woods would look like if the American chestnut came back -- because in fact it was the dominant tree (at least maybe among deciduous trees?), and I thought my heart would break if it crowded out the maples. He said that will never happen.... How he thought he knew I don't know, but we are heading into such changing times that I don't think anyone knows much. Or maybe some people know too much.

Example -- there was this article in the Bangor Daily a few days ago: Maine is preparing for a future without its iconic pines

Pete -- that's a cool story about a possibly resistant American chestnut. The book I linked said that when the disease came, scientists and various advisors told landowners to cut down their American chestnuts pronto, because the wood would still be good in the beginning but useless later. Only too late was it discovered that there *were* some trees that were resistant, which would have been incredibly valuable in attempts to breed a resistant hybrid. But apparently they are still found deep in the woods here and there. Here's hoping!

Not the Pines!!!

I get what they're trying to do and I know nothing about the science but "assisted migration" has the terrifying ring of "unintended consequences".

Since she loves Wanderin so much, maybe Amelia could do some community service pulling pots.

In November.

There's probably some room for a winch by the aft wet bar if she doesn't want to do it the hard way.

From an article published in late May, before this story got legs:

The couple purchased the four-bed, five-bath, 4,116-square-foot Camden home on Metcalf Road in 2018 for $1.8 million, according to town records, although the deed to the property is in a revocable trust – a tactic sometimes used to reduce tax burden. Recent Zillow estimates put the home’s value at more than twice its purchase price.

[snip -- it's a very long article]

Lisa Gorman was cordial with the Bonds but was not interested in sharing the cost of cutting any trees. Already that spring, her landscapers had stopped a crew hired by the Bonds from attempting to cut trees on Gorman’s property.

$1.8 million is a ridiculously low price for that house. You can't buy a 1000-square-foot family home inland for less than a few hundred thousand these days. So ... shenanigans all around.

Pete: Since she loves Wanderin so much, maybe Amelia could do some community service pulling pots.

Community service ... lots of possibilities there. But if I were a betting person I would bet that the Bonds will not enjoy picturesque Maine so much any more, and that they will sell the property and find some other place to hang out in a "seasonal home."

Some details on a genetic approach to saving the chestnut tree.

"For generations, the American Chestnut dominated East Coast forests—a tree vital to both wildlife and humans and prized for its bountiful nuts and rot-resistant lumber. Around the turn of the 19th century, a devastating blight began to wreak havoc on the species, wiping out an estimated four billion trees. Today American Chestnuts rarely survive to maturity, making them functionally extinct."
Can Genetic Engineering Save the American Chestnut?: “I think the Chestnut is an example of an interventionist approach,” says scientist Jared Westbrook. “We might have some capabilities and responsibilities to correct some of the problems that we created.”

Pretty sure I know exactly where that house is.

$1.8 million? For that hovel? With a tree-obstructed view of the harbor? Next to the park where the common rabble are allowed to mill about? It's almost a 5 minute walk to French and Brawn!

But if I were a betting person I would bet that the Bonds will not enjoy picturesque Maine so much any more, and that they will sell the property and find some other place to hang out in a "seasonal home."

I wouldn't be surprised if they had to go no further than Kennebunkport, unfortunately.

I wouldn't be surprised if they had to go no further than Kennebunkport, unfortunately.

You may be right, but I was thinking about Maine's "one big village" aspect. If the whole state is one big village in a way, then the slice of the population that would be social equals for these people is much, much smaller. On the other hand (your hand), each village is its own little insular realm, so....who knows. I suspect I won't ever know, actually. I was once very plugged in to connectedness centered around state government, not so much around connectedness centered around wealth. Now I'm just a hermit.

I understand. But these people have no shame and they'll be welcomed back to some enclave with like-minded people "of means". I mean, "sociopath" is spot-on. According to the article, they're still members of the Camden Yacht Club - a couple hundred feet down from the beach they poisoned.

And the only reason they got caught was messing with someone with deeper pockets.

Later articles have said they are no longer members of the yacht club....

And as for shame -- I mentioned above that her bio page (which I linked in the OP) is now offline, or at least invisible to me, which it wasn't as of this morning. That could be the organization's decision and not hers, of course. It seems to have been partly a speaker's bureau of some sort, related to non-profits, and who wants a speaker with this sort of infamy? At least until it dies down....

Yacht club reference.

Although how they know this ... I have no idea. Can you be booted out of a club you've paid yearly dues for? Maybe there's a rule about character defects. ;-)

My bad. The article I read indicated that their membership was current. I would imagine these clubs have bylaws to prevent - let's say "contamination" - of the institution from individual scandal. But my experience with them has been minimal.

Apologies for hijacking the thread, so here's a twist: TikTokkers and YouTubers and Instagram influencers aren't the only ones who do awful things for "views".

If I ran the world, this woman would first take her lying, narcissistic, tree-killing ass to prison for just long enough to give her a taste of how it feels not to have any resources whatsoever to use in remaking the world according to your every whim, regardless of anyone or anything else’s rights or wishes. (Not to mention regardless of the law. Maine has strict rules about what you can do with land that's next to water, even if it's the tiniest of creeks.)

The rest of her sentence would be lifelong confinement to a desert place where she would never see a tree or open water again.

All this because you are a nice person. So you can't generate what she really deserves:

Start with a nice long prison sentence somewhere with no ocean view (nor trees) like west Texas. Follow up with a couple decades probation someplace (since she's so fond of the sea view, but not trees) like Johnston Island. (Which I've only heard of because my father was stationed there near the end of WW II.)

it's probably only in a trust as a tax dodge

Certainly possible. But putting your property, and other assets, into a "revokable living trust" isn't that uncommon in the US. Not for tax breaks, but merely to let your heirs avoid the (sometimes rather extensive) hassles of going thru probate.**

Having been the executor for my parents "estate" (basically a single family house and furnishings, plus a savings and checking account), I can tell you I was very glad not to hassle with probate.

** In California, we're talking 12-18 months (that's for a simple estate; complex ones typically take longer), plus 2%-4% of the value of the estate.

Re: clubs and their abilities to chuck people out, I think most have a clause whereby they can do so if you "bring the club into disrepute" or words to that effect. And really, as well as all the other terms we've used to describe her (or their) behaviour, one would think disreputable would be a slam dunk.

But putting your property, and other assets, into a "revokable living trust" isn't that uncommon in the US.

A couple of years ago I set up a revocable trust to be operated for the benefit of my wife. It was obvious at the time that she was no longer competent to manage assets, and she now lives in a memory care unit. Transferring joint accounts to the trust is straightforward in the event of my death. Transferring property is more difficult in this state, so our townhouse has already been put into the trust.

to be operated for the benefit of my wife

If it isn't too personal a question, can you say whether the trust is administered by let's say a law firm, vs a friend or relative whom you trust?

(And PS: I looked at your link from above about the movement of that 900,000 pound load through Ohio. Kind of unbelievable. If I'm reading it correctly, it's equipment, not a substance that could be released in a crash. Is that right?)

At 5-10 miles per hour, it would be a slow but difficult-to-stop crash.

While chips have gotten very cheap, the plants to manufacture them have gotten very expensive. Some of the individual machines can cost $100,000,000 each. The plants cost billions. With the pressure building for AI chips, they're talking about plants costing ten billion.

Some video of the equipment move.

The Loop 06.21.24: The first of four extra-large super loads is on the move.

Thanks for the video Charles. Almost as long as a football field....sheesh.

Wow. Thanks for the video link, Charles.

It does seem odd to site the plant where they apparently have. Rather than, say, someplace with a port. (If I have understood correctly, this load came along the Ohio River on a ship from somewhere.)

Back when Congress mandated the location for pork barrel projects, this sort of thing happened a lot. (Redstone Arsenal in Alabama leaps to mind.) But I thought we got rid of that nonsense.

An infamous example is booster rockets built in Utal. They had to be segmented so they could be shipped to the cape by rail. And they needed O rings when assembled.

If the chips are intended for the domestic market -- insurance against China interfering in Taiwan? -- maybe it doesn't matter about a port. (I know nothing about this but snippets I've picked up from headlines around the web over the years.) Also, Licking County is only a couple of hours by road from Cleveland. (A port....)

I was think more about getting the fab built than about shipping product.

I've been on the road with an oversize load (not this big, but long and wide compared to the usual). Which was moving faster than this load's 20 mph, but still at least 25 mph slower than the next slowest vehicle. Even so, the traffic snarl was notable. Not to the level of Ohio needing to put out traffic advisories, but....

And that could have been avoided, just by a different location decision. Granted, there might have been other factors involved. But it's not obvious, at least to me, what they might be.

wj, Here you go.

IOW, mirabile dictu, there were other factors involved. ;-)

Janie, I had no problem understanding why Ohio. I may not have realized all the factors. But some of the reasons were obvious, even to me.

What was not obvious, and the linked article barely hints at, is why certral Ohio? That is, somewhere not well located if you are going to have to ship in enormous chunks of infrastructure/plant. Which might be (OK, obviously is) tolerable the first time around. But Intel's got to at least be thinking about the future, when they can hope and expect to build another fab, probably in the same place.** After all, those monster plants have a very limited lifespan compared to most manufacturing facilities.

** This to leverage their trained workforce, who might be unenthused at having to up stakes when their job moves. Only consider how many people in the rust belt have resisted moving when unemployment is high there, and jobs are going begging elsewhere in the country.

Surprised that Hartmut hasn't chimed in with the odyssey of the KATRIN experiment.

Not so massive, but super-bulky and fragile. looks like an alien spaceship arriving, but the humans are celebrating!

I've been on the road with an oversize load (not this big, but long and wide compared to the usual).

Passing a big wind turbine blade on the interstate is an interesting experience. I've done that on a number of occasions. Pictures of turbine blades being moved on twisty little roads in Europe are kind of fascinating.

@JanieM, I'm the trustee. "operated for the benefit of my wife" is probably shortened too much. "Operated for the benefit of Mary in the event Michael predeceases her" is more accurate, but sometimes my fingers are lazy. The document that actually created the Cain Family Trust goes on for pages.

I was trying to provide an example of wj's point, that trusts exist in lots of forms for lots of purposes. If you check the county records here, the title to the townhouse where I live is held by the Cain Family Trust. No tax benefits (or penalties), just standard estate planning.

If I'm reading it correctly, it's equipment, not a substance that could be released in a crash. Is that right?)

In this case yes, equipment. Once the fab is in operation, though, there will be plenty of nasty toxins stored in relatively large quantities. Plenty of lethal chemicals will be shipped in on a regular basis. Shouldn't be too much hassle from a regulatory perspective: Ohio is already a major player in the chemistry industry.

Thanks, Michael. That helps. I don't own any property, and I doubt my estate is big enough to justify a trust. But I'm overdue for a conversation with the lawyer, so I will ask about it.

I was the executor named in my mom's will -- she was very particular about having one. When she died at 96 I wasn't looking forward to having to deal with probate (I'm in Maine, probate was in Ohio, Covid was raging) -- but she didn't own a car or any real estate, and she was in a nursing home and entangled with Medicaid (all deities bless my sister for handling that insanity of paperwork). So -- basically no estate and no probate necessary.

What was not obvious, and the linked article barely hints at, is why certral Ohio?

A better question is "Why Columbus?" The Ohio State University. Battelle. Columbus avoided the "crashed urban core" phenomenon common in other Ohio cities (which is likely reflected in the quality of infrastructure). Moving the big heavy stuff is a one-time operation. Staff maintenance is a forever task.

Moving the big heavy stuff is a one-time operation. Staff maintenance is a forever task.

Thank you for putting this so succinctly. :-)

Open thread, & I know there's nothing ObWi likes more than discussing sport!

So... Here's your Euro'24 update:

Disclaimer: I'm not there.

Germany is the perfect host nation, transit/transport issues aside (which are understandable) and the general behavior has been a joy, with particular acclaim to the Dutch supporters - do they have a national curriculum for this?

For Snarki: That was just a test run for handling the Oranje Army.

GftNC: I don't know how far north you are, but I hope Scotland goes through. If England, - Saka, Fodan, and Kane all off on an even match. Wtf, Southgate??? I suspect they'll go through, but... coming home might be a bit premature. #1, in the FIFA, fwiw.

In adjacent news, House GOP members have introduced a bill to leave the EU on the basis that Team USA did not qualify for the Euros, and hold up Messi as a right example.

Pete, sweet of you to ask, or believe that I have the slightest interest in football! If I do (a minuscule amount) it is for the sake of friends who care.

The only sport I care about is tennis, and since I hate to watch the fall of giants this has been a depressing period. (Clarification: although I am very aware that he is, by stats etc alone, a giant, I care nothing about Djokovich. But Federer and Nadal, and even Murray - he is such a good guy, and a serious feminist - it is sad to see). However, I have high hopes that Alcaraz may in time win my serious interest.

In adjacent news, House GOP members have introduced a bill to leave the EU on the basis that Team USA did not qualify for the Euros

Could we get a link for that? I can see one (any of several) of these clueless morons submitting such a bill. But a group of them? Getting together, working together, to do it? Color me a trifle skeptical.

My bad, wj. I made that up of whole cloth and the problem is that it might even have a sniff of believability.

@GftNC: Federer is GOAT, on so many levels. Murray? Are you giving yourself away? ;-) Cheers!

Surprised that Hartmut hasn't chimed in with the odyssey of the KATRIN experiment.

Hadn't actually heard about that one. I got a bit out of touch in that area.
Still waiting for the equatorial particle accelerator running once around the world.

Most stories about these massive equipment moves are about successes. After 9/11 the operator of the Fort Calhoun nuclear power station in Nebraska had to get a spare for the very-large one-off main transformer at the station, which weighed in at around 500,000 pounds. Siemens built it in Europe, it was barged to the coast, moved by ship to New Orleans, barged up the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers, then off-loaded to one of those trucks with all the wheels. At that point, it was three miles from the power station. While entering the power station grounds, the hydraulics for the truck's leveling system failed, the transformer tipped over and fell to the ground.

Near Berlin there is a huge airship hangar - now turned into a popular resort. That one was built as part of the Cargolifter project that intended to built huge airships for such transport tasks. It would have been able to get huge loads (350000 pounds were planned for the first generation) into remote areas without major road access, e.g. in Siberia.


I hate that bitch. Here's a story that goes in the other direction: sociopathy, water, trees. The demolition of the dam is restoring so much more than the salmon. In the case of the Shasta people, it's the restoration of home and community. https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/shasta-tribe-will-reclaim-land-long-buried-by-a-reservoir-on-the-klamath-river/ar-BB1oGUrX?ocid=msedgntp&pc=DCTS&cvid=6480433de82f4eac815be13ba6fac51e&ei=11

Re: the original post - it strikes me, and fairly clearly, that there is a moral hazard in accumulating excessive wealth. Where a simple common sense definition for "excessive" is more money than you can possibly use in your own lifetime, in any way that will make a tangible difference in your happiness or sense of well-being.

Having a lot of money enables sociopathy. It insulates you from the consequences of your own actions. It's a get out of jail free card, and that's a morally dangerous thing to have.

Not all wealthy people are assholes - many are upright and generous - but the ones who are believe they are entitled to be assholes.

There's a reason they call it "f**k you money".

And not “f**k you money” sense. I don’t have a problem with wealth accumulation, philosophically. But practically, when one can buy the odd bridge-dismantling in a foreign county for your ridiculous yacht or a motor coach or offer a spare seat for a “fishing” trip that costs more than the average annual household income… yeah, that becomes a problem.

russell and Pete's point is important, and I want to put next to it the (sort of) other way around.

If I ran the world (ha ha), no one would go hungry or live under a bridge or have to decide whether to pay the electric bill or take their kid to the doctor because they didn't have the $ to do both.

In a system where everyone had the right to a decent basic existence economically, I wouldn't even worry too much about the idiots who wanted to compete with each other to see who could grab the most extras. Let 'em fight each other as long as they leave the rest of us (and the oak trees etc.) alone.

But right now they don't, and the more wealth some people get the more they use it to buy politicians and judges, and huge piles of accumulated wealth are used in effect to buy harm for other people (think Clarence's yacht trips, Susan Collins's chumminess with Leonard Leo: gun laws, abortion laws, etc -- someone is in effect paying for all that stuff, which, acc' to opinion polls (will try to find links another time) most Americans don't want).

I was poking around the web looking for an updated version of my old after-tax income graph, but with data on wealth instead of income, and found this:


Haven't had time to dig into it yet but it looks interesting.

And there's always this:


Sorry for bare links and hasty writing. I haven't had my caffeine yet. ;-)

I'm hoping to do a post on this.....

When one has enough wealth to have bought all of the things, the only thing left to buy is people.

@Pete: like this?

From Facebook, so feel free to apply grains of salt to taste.

Average salary in the US is not quite $60K, median is about $37.5K, which is quite a spread. And "Median", of course, means half of working folks make less than that.

There will likely, pretty much certainly, always be rich people and poor people and people somewhere in between. If you're lucky enough or smart enough or ambitious enough or hard-working enough to become rich, mazel tov.

But kindly leave some space for the rest of us.


Yes. And that doesn't even begin to describe it.

I would say that our tax system is insufficiently progressive at the top.

  • If you are making over $1 million (including salary, stock options, interest, dividends, realized capital gains, etc.; income is income) in a year (feel free to insert a different number), you have no real need to the additional money. It's just something that let's you boast to your buddies. So, tax it at 100%, no deductions or exclusions. And you can still boast about your headline salary.
  • There's no right to inherit great wealth. You wanna be wealthy, work for it! So, set Estate taxes progressive and high. Want to leave each of your kids a house (one and only one)? No problem. Want to leave them half a million or so? Also OK. But beyond that? Nada. We don't need more born-wealthy, entitled, twits.
  • We really need to replace the kludge that is the negative income tax system. Just write everybody a check monthly; crib the software from Social Security.
It might take a few years, but it would resolve our ridiculous wealth concentration.

Further to the Murray question, it's not that I'm ever particularly nationalistic in my support for sportsmen and women, but it is his character that has won me over. And that is quite apart from the fact that he survived one of the only school massacres in our history, which of course engenders compassion. But watching his struggles, and his determination to overcome, them, has been moving. From today's Times:

After nearly two decades, it’s difficult to imagine Wimbledon without Murray in the mix, that tenacious, taciturn brilliance that won him titles in 2013 and 2016; the relentless drive that hauled him back from behind in so many five-set melodramas; his gritty, at times agonised fist pumps in recent years, as he willed himself back onto court and into form following a hip replacement.

Anyone with even a passing interest in tennis will miss Murray at SW19. He was not the greatest of a unique golden generation that included Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic; but his fierce and sometimes forlorn struggle to match those titans often made him the most human of the four, the most relatable.

wj -- !!!! And you call yourself a conservative?!?!?!

Yup. A conservative, just not a reactionary.

There is nothing particularly conservative about inherited wealth. Rather the opposite, in fact. Getting ahead on merit, by hard work, qualifies as conservative; spending your life leveraging a silver spoon does not.

That's also why free public education is a conservative plus. Don't want parent-lottery determining who gets the tools to show their merit. In fact, I'd go so far as to say college education also should be no cost, given our current economy. (Still waffling about grad school.). If the Ivy League universities want to compete on their claimed quality, more power to them. But state colleges should be accessible without having rich parents (or a receptive predatory lender).

I would say that our tax system is insufficiently progressive at the top.

Some counterarguments to quibble with. :)

Tax Reform

1) CharlesWT: I'm not going to quibble with an AI.

2) I'm not going to quibble at all until I get a chance to lay out the philosophical underpinnings of my position on this, which is quite like wj's in practice, but rests on some assumptions about the world that I think should be articulated.

3) So ... it will be awhile before I get time.

Some counterarguments to quibble with

Why bother to quibble?
Argument 1 -- assumes facts not in evidence. Except when it asserts stuff that is palpably untrue.
Argument 2 -- silly. The "family farms" argument had some force in the middle of the last century. Today? They're scarce as hen's teeth. The rest is even less cogent.
Argument 3 -- talk about quibbling! When it isn't totally off topic,

@GftNC: Murray struck me as a bit of a prick, early days. But my respect for him has grown as he seems to have grown into his position. I did not know that about his history, which explains a lot. Thank you for that.

Revocable Trust: My father has some property in this. It's not a tax dodge, but rather insurance to prevent my (sadly) estranged litigious sister from having standing. In many cases, it IS a tax dodge, but not always.

Re: Ohio. I dunno anything about it, but I assume there are a lot of things involved. I do know something about Plum Island. It's a bit deceiving - you can wade out a fair bit & almost think it's swimmable but for the New London ferry channel. Anyway, it makes (made) sense - anything gets loose, the prevailing winds take it off into the Atlantic. Of course, it's been shuttered and moved to Manhattan, Kansas. Because when studying things like Anthrax, why not not keep it in the middle of America's breadbasket and fucking Tornado Alley? Good call.

@Janie: Cur me Latinum legere?

@Pete: Cur me Latinum legere?

I'm missing something here....

Don’t make me read Latin, smarty pants. :-)

Don’t make me read Latin, smarty pants.

Not much danger of that...... ;-)

Some counterarguments to quibble with. :)


From 1945 until 1963, the top marginal tax rate was 90%. In 1963 that rate kicked in at $400K, which is about $4 million today.

Nobody got rich from 1945 through 1963? All the genius entrepreneurs went Galt?

russell, what you'll get in response, as I know from experience, is the assertion "but with all the loopholes nobody actually paid that much!"

Asserted without a shred of evidence, mind. No doubt some high earners cut their taxes some, in various ways. But the tax code was sufficiently simpler then that the opportunities were less than modern experience might suggest.

Asserted without a shred of evidence, mind.

I vaguely recall that it wasn't really the people at the very top who provided all the anecdotal evidence about loopholes, it was the people a level or two down from that. People like doctors who were hitting their income stride, whose small-firm accountants went to local seminars where someone taught them about investing $5,000 this year and claiming a $10,000 paper loss in each of the next five years.

I didn't go to graduate school until the 1970s, but in Texas at that time there were plenty of jokes about small drilling companies that specialized in dry holes.

Known as tax-loss harvesting, allowed individuals to lower their overall tax liability.

I'll confess that I come to this discussion with, more or less, a prejudice.

I have basically zero patience or sympathy for people who go to great lengths to avoid paying taxes.

I get the usual random assortment of nonsense on my news feed. One recent article was by some guy saying that the one and only vehicle to buy (as opposed to lease) was a $150,000 Range Rover.

Because it weighs over 6,000 pounds, and apparently if your vehicle weighs over 6,000 pounds, you can write off 100% of the purchase price.

The guy recommended paying cash.

My reaction to this was, first, why the actual f*** are we subsidizing personal vehicles that weigh over three tons?

And second, if you have the wealth to pay $150,000 in cash for a car, why do you need a tax write-off?

The top marginal income tax rate for 2024 in the US is currently 37%. That kicks in at $609,350 for single people, $731,200 for married and filing jointly.

More generally, if you make north of about $200K (double that for joint filers until you reach the very top bracket), your taxes on the amount you make above that are about a third of your income.

If your income comes from investments, it's less. If you have a mortgage, you can deduct the interest on that. If you are self-employed and are organized as an S corporation, DJT handed you a 20% deduction back in 2017 which, as far as I understand, is still in place.

If you're lucky enough to earn north of $200K (generally double that if you're filing jointly), uncle gets a third of your income above that and you get two out of three dollars. So if you're earning, for example, $300K a year, you keep about $66K of that last $100K.

Lucky you. Half the people in this country earn less than $37.5K. And that's this country, globally median income is something like a third of that.

You're at the top, the very pinnacle of the food chain. You're in the top 10%, or (if you're in that top bracket) 1%, or maybe even fraction of 1%, in one of the richest countries in the world.

You are freaking golden. Get down on your knees, thank your lucky stars, and pay your freaking taxes.

I'm tired of the bleating of the extraordinarily fortunate.

@russell -- i'm right there with you.

Sadly and frustratingly, the ruling philosophy in our culture (maybe built in to our species, I don't know) is: "WHATEVER I CAN TAKE AND KEEP IS MINE. MINE MINE MINE."

Taxes violate that world view; taxes are the rest of us saying no: you can't dam the river and keep all of the water for yourself, dribbling out bits at a time so that the peons you need to do all the scut work for you don't die of thirst.

And these activities are not mirror images of each other, or moral equivalents: grabbing everything you can get regardless of other people's needs is NOT the same as grabbing some of it back to spread around for the general welfare.

This applies to other things besides money....

But that's enough for tonight.

Some studies indicate that the rake for entrepreneurs is about 2% of the wealth they create.

the wealth they create

No one "creates wealth" alone.

True. They get 2% for facilitating the wealth creation and everyone else gets the 98%.

Some studies indicate... [Emphasis added]

A reference to one or two of said studies might be a nice touch. (Preferably ones published somewhere other than some libertarian rag.)

the rake for entrepreneurs is about 2% of the wealth they create.

Snarky side bet: they get that number by carefully taking the average of every company ever started. Actually, the median might be closer.

I shouldn't even have bitten the hook. As you (wj) point out via both your comments, "some studies" is so mushy as to be meaningless. But also, zeroing in one one vague number is useless in relation to this topic. What is the context? Who are "the rest of us"? Who gave entrepreurs their entrepreneurian talent in the first place, and how much did they "pay" for it? (This is sort of a trick question and again, I hope to get back to it.) How well is the "entrepreneur" in the first place? How much of our common resource base was used by the wealth creation process? (I would bet anything that the calculations that led to the 2% number didn't take this into account...)

And on and on.

Note to self: don't bite trick question hooks.

In my previous comment:

well -> wealthy

I blame babysitting.

Some studies indicate that the rake for entrepreneurs is about 2% of the wealth they create.

Leaving aside the vagueness of "some studies", what does this mean?

The entrepreneurial role is to recognize a heretofore unrecognized opportunity for creating value, especially if that involves a novel or innovative approach.

That's a very valuable role, and deserves recognition as such.

To go from "I have an idea" to an actual going concern is normally the work of many hands. Usually other people's money is involved, almost always other people's labor is involved.

And how is the "wealth they create" measured? Total net profit of the enterprise over it's lifetime? Total gross earnings? The value of any durable infrastructure created by the enterprise? Total ROI to investors?

What does that number mean?

It's hard to know what to make of this statement. What are we supposed to take away?

Be nice to entrepreneurs because they "create a lot of wealth"? Give them favorable treatment under tax law?

What's your point?

The 2% thing is a great way to distract from actual human experiences and practical discussion. Well, at least usually. Too many smarty-pants around here who don't fall for it. ;^)

A reference to one or two of said studies might be a nice touch.

As requested references are not from a libertarian rag.

"Entrepreneurs typically generate a surplus benefit above and beyond the profits they reap, finds the eminent Yale University economist William Nordhaus. Nordhaus has calculated that entrepreneurs capture only about 2 percent of this surplus, with the remainder passed on to society in the form of jobs, wages, and value. By creating so much value that does not accrue to themselves, regular entrepreneurs are also social entrepreneurs."
All Entrepreneurship Is Social: Let’s not overlook what traditional entrepreneurs contribute to society ("Schumpeterian Profits in the American Economy: Theory and Measurement": Abstract, Paper - page 16, last paragraph)

And yet:




Nordhaus is not looking at all at the return on investment for innovation in that article. The 2% that is getting bandied about there is not the percent of private profit, it's the amount of "Schumpeterian profits" that the innovator is capable of capturing out of the "total social value" of the innovation.

Numerous individuals and firms in a modern economy are engaged in innovative activities designed to produce new and improved goods and services along with processes that reduce the cost of production. Some of these are formalized in legal ownership of intellectual property rights such as patents, copyrights, and trademarks, while others are no more than trade secrets or early-mover advantages. Some of the innovative activities produce extra-normal profits (called Schumpeterian profits), which are profits above those that would represent the normal return to investment and risk-taking.

In this study, we take a slightly restrictive definition of Schumpeterian profits. These comprise only the profits that exceed the risk-adjusted return to innovative investments. In other words, any research and development (R&D) that yields a normal return on investment will lead to an increase in output or decrease in inputs but no increase in appropriately measured multifactor productivity (MFP).

Anyone with a better background in economic theory care to unpack this some more for us? It sounds to me like that 2% is a special class of "rake" that has to do with some abstracted measure of the social value of an innovation - how much "value" the product or service provides to society at large.

So if, say, an innovator developed a LLM that could produce ad and marketing copy that allowed businesses to lay off some number of copy writers and be more productive, then the 2% here is the percentage of that total savings to all those corporations that the innovator is able to capture in their own profits by offering that service.

Please correct me if I am misreading this. I have only a layperson's understanding of economics, and I'd value any clarification or reframing anyone with a stronger background could offer on this.

Also, go straight to the Nordhaus article and skip right past that Stanford Social Innovation Review piece, which is the equivalent of an op-ed, providing a personal critical perspective on someone else's research.

Back to the OP for a moment, here's the consent agreement between the State of Maine and the Bonds. #26 quotes the label requirements and cautions for the poison Amelia Bond used to get her view.

I dunno thing one about Economics, so the following is all Colberian "truthiness" that I feel in my gut. Whoever said, "figures lie and liars figure" surely had Economics squarely in mind. And probably the likes of Friedman and Greenspan in particular.

I kinda think there's a marked distinction between innovator and entrepreneur. From Janie's link in "The data is there" thread:

What Silicon Valley brought to the table this time around is a bit of light criminality, the same sort of "well, what if we just ignored all the damn rules" version of innovation that brought us Ubers instead of taxis and scattered unregistered micro-hotels anywhere a landlord had a vacant house to put to the task.

Innovation seems rare to me. Entrepreneurship seems commonplace and, in the interest of shoehorning my rant in to the topic at hand, relies largely on externalizing costs. Where's Facebook without the interwebs, or Bezos without the same (and roads, and airports, and GPS, and ports, and international shipping lanes, and...)? All paid for by tax dollars.

And it's not enough to get that "for free". Then the Rugged American Entrepreneur™ can pull up the ladder behind him. With the right help, of course.

I sometimes wonder if I - with unlimited land grants, use of the US military to clear and secure such, and slave labor - coulda made it as a railroad entrepreneur.

I read the Nordhaus article to be making a point about how those extra profits decay and what their present value is, both depending on certain conditions. It's about how the modern economy works for innovators (or did as of 20 years ago), not some morality play about who's virtuous.

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